These 7 Things Are Making You Fat!
Health and wellness can get really complicated, but there are a few key aspects that you should focus on to keep you on the right track.
Here are 7 things that are keeping you from your goals:
1. Not Enough Sleep
AMAZING things happen in your body when you sleep. TRASH things happen in your body when you don’t get enough of it. Sound good? K let’s move on.
Just kidding. But really though, we need more sleep.
You need to be getting 7-9 hours of sleep a night. And if you a hyperactive spaz like me, you should probably be getting even more. And that nonsense about needing less sleep as you get older? Nah, that’s a huge myth.
Here are some of the benefits of adequate sleep:
- Better recovery
- Balances hormones
- Lower stress (Lowers cortisol!)
- Waste/toxin removal
- Disease Prevention (Dementia!!!)
- Improved mood
Woah, that’s a lot huh? We’re gonna focus on the cortisol one.
Sleeping enough allows your body to rid itself of toxins, which in turn allows your hormones to balance out, which in turn lowers your cortisol levels, which I can guarantee are higher than they should be considering the amount of stress we’re all under.
Cortisol causes your body to break down muscle tissue because it thinks it’s in danger (because you’re stressed/sleep deprived). This in turn causes an increase in blood glucose, which isn’t really needed because you’re not actually in danger, so your body has no choice but to store it as fat.
It goes like this:
- Stressed out
- Body thinks you’re in danger
- Body releases excess cortisol for survival
- Causes breakdown of muscle which results in higher blood glucose
- Excess blood glucose is stored as fat
- Less muscle tissue results in less calories burned overall (muscle burns more calories than fat)
- Fat gain
The moral of the story: get more sleep! Please 🙂
2. Not Enough Water
When your body is dehydrated it can cause you to gain weight, and more than just water retention. Your body thinks its in a crisis so it tries to retain as many nutrients as it can. Water is also used in almost all of your biological systems, so if you’re dehydrated, your body doesn’t function as well.
With your body’s systems slowed down, your metabolism slows down as well. Countless studies have shown that your metabolism speeds up after drinking water, and that being hydrated results in a faster metabolism overall.
Water is an appetite suppressant, and in addition to this, being dehydrated can often feel like you are hungry, which can lead to more weight gain.
Drink water! A good rule of thumb is to drink half your body weight in ounces per day. So if you weight 160 pounds, you need at least 80 ounces of water. Also, if you’re exercising, you need to be drinking a lot more than the basic amount, so drink up.
Other benefits of getting hydrated:
- Improved focus
- Better memory
- Improve your mood
- Potential weight loss/maintenance
- Better digestion and immune functioning
- Decrease inflammation
- Many more!
3. Doing Only Cardio
In the world of health, exercise is king. No question about it. But when it comes down to it, more isn’t always better. In fact I would argue that lifting weights 3 times a week at a high intensity with 20 minutes of cardio, is better for you than running for an hour every day.
Boom. Mind blown. Cardio isn’t all its cracked up to be. Mad yet? Bear with me.
Any form of exercise is great, but too much of any one thing makes it detrimental, running is no exception, and here’s why:
First off, cardio doesn’t burn as many calories overall as most other forms of exercise. It does in the short term, but long term, lifting weights or doing interval training burns more. The reason this happens is because of the effect on your metabolism:
Running for an hour may burn more calories than lifting weights during a given hour, but lifting weights causing something called EPOC (Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption), which is a fancy way for saying your body’s metabolism is elevated, and this can occur up to 16 hours after, which means you burn more calories over the long term.
Second, too much steady state cardio is wack for your hormones, and can cause you to burn muscle instead of fat. Cardio interferes with muscle building, in other words, it interferes with recovery. It also has an effect of burning whatever the body has in terms of storage. Basically it can’t tell the difference between fat and muscle and it uses both for energy.
Lifting weights causes your body to release testosterone and growth hormone, which causes your body to either retain (if you are in a caloric deficit) muscle mass or gain it (if you are in a caloric surplus). So in this way, cardio can be good, when combined with resistance training. This is the way to get around it.
What to do instead?
This is another reason you should always lift weights first, and do cardio AFTER, especially if you want to lose body fat. Lift weights so that your body releases good hormones, and then do cardio afterwards to burn calories (in this case you’ll likely be burning fat since you used all your blood sugar lifting weights).
If you don’t like resistance training that’s fine, there are other ways to elicit this response in your body. Another is to do interval training or HIIT. Basically, just don’t do just steady state cardio. An example of this would be to jog with sprints mixed in every 60 seconds, AKA jog for 60 seconds, sprint for 20 seconds, jog for 60, sprint for 20, rinse and repeat.
The other side of this, and I know I already covered this but: muscle burns more calories than fat. AKA if you have more muscle you burn more energy at rest. Cardio just isn’t going to cut it in terms of building muscle. So basically: more muscle = faster metabolism.
For new ideas on how to burn body fat click here.
4. Too Much Caffeine
I’m pushing a lot of buttons today, I know, but caffeine has got to go, or at least be put into place.
You don’t have to cut it out completely, but I would at least suggest lowering the amount you take in.
I admit that sometimes caffeine is good, especially before a workout, but it can be a double edged sword, so make sure you understand both sides.
- Some performance benefits during exercise
- Small boost to metabolism
- Increased cortisol levels (body fat!)
- Interrupts sleep pattern, can lead to insomnia
- Stimulates heart to beat faster
- Plenty more
Everyone loves coffee, and this can be a touchy subject, but at least be knowledgeable about what it can be doing to your body, and if you do have anxiety or insomnia, it might be time to cut it out!
5. Too Much Stress
This one goes hand in hand with cortisol. When you are stressed, your body reacts in a negative way because it thinks its in danger. This in turn causes your body to release cortisol. More stress = more cortisol. This isn’t what we want. And of course by reading this you’re thinking “well that’s helpful, now I’m stressed even more”, but try and relax!
Anytime I get really stressed out I just ask myself “What’s the worst that could happen?” Chances are you’ve got a lot to be thankful for. Realize how good you have it and be thankful for what you do have. Let the stress go. Whatever is going to happen is going to happen, and there’s nothing you can do about it, might as well just relax and go along for the ride. The hard times always get easier.
K, there’s my cliche zen moment for the day, chill out, life is good 🙂
Tips for dealing with stress:
- Leave work at the door
- Do deep breathing or meditation
- Get some exercise
6. Too Much Alcohol
This one goes without saying, and its super straightforward.
The key here is moderation. Sure, have a glass of wine or go out for drinks with your friends every once in a while, but don’t do it all the time. And if you’re drinking every day, it’s too much.
Alcohol acts very similarly to sugar in your body, except we usually consume A LOT more of it when we drink it. Alcohol causes a lot of weight gain, destroys your liver, has been linked to cancer, and increases blood pressure which can lead to heart issues, just to name a few…
In terms of exercise, drinking greatly inhibits your recovery after a workout, basically negating all the hard work you did. It interrupts your sleep, which further inhibits recovery, and it dehydrates you, which leads to even more problems.
If you want to achieve your fitness goals, lose some weight, gain some muscle, look more shapely, you’ve got to cut out or limit the alcohol intake. Just ask yourself how you want to feel. Do you want to look and feel exhausted, hungover and a little chubby? Or do you want to look and feel better, because cutting out some of the drinking is going to have one of the biggest effects of both your mental and physical well-being.
I’m not saying cut it out completely (but if you do, props!), but if you indulge more than you should, and you know if you do, try to limit it. Everything in moderation 🙂
7. Too Much Sugar
Cutting out added sugar is one of the first things any dietician will recommend when it comes to weight loss and general health.
Here are just a few of the many risks of excess sugar intake:
- Increased risk of diabetes
- Excessive weight gain
- Impacts mood
- Increased blood pressure
- Many other diseases, including heart disease
Just to name a few!
The issue with this is that there is sugar in everything. Most foods have way more sugar than you need. If you want to lose weight and achieve any of your fitness goals, cutting out processed foods and sugar will be one of the biggest and most beneficial changes you make both for your body and your mind. Cut out the empty carbs, eat real food, get some color in your diet, it’ll make you more mentally clear and your body will change dramatically.
Got questions or concerns? Want a specific topic discussed? Don’t be afraid to reach out! I’ll respond as soon as I can. Stay healthy and stay functional my friends 🙂