You have all fundamentals in place – a good diet, a sound training program and the determination to drop body fat. But you’re not quite as lean as you’d like to be.
You try all the tips and tricks that seem to work for others - adding in extra cardio sessions, supplementing with fat burners and cutting out all sugar – but they don’t seem to have an effect.
Maybe it is time to try something a little bit different when it comes to fat loss. Fat loss tricks that only the worlds top trainers are aware of. Methods that the typical gym goer hasn’t even heard of before…
It may be time to utilize some unconventional, yet highly effective fat loss tips & tricks!
Cold showers, ice baths, winter ocean swims… you often see professional athletes using various cold therapy techniques to aid recovery. But did you know that cold exposure, or cold thermogenesis (CT) as it’s referred to in the scientific community, is also a very potent fat burner?
One may think that being cold simply ramps up the body’s metabolism to produce extra heat. A higher metabolic rate burns more energy. This is true, but it is only scratching the surface of how CT works in regards to fat loss. Cold exposure has a far deeper biological and hormonal impact on the body.
CT is proven to increase adiponectin levels (1). Adiponectin is a hormone that stimulates fatty acid oxidation in muscle cells by activating AMP-activated protein kinase. Or in simple terms – cold increases adiponectin, adiponectin burns fat (2).
Not only that but CT lowers blood sugar levels by burning glucose as heat (3) and helps shunt blood glucose into muscle helping speed up recovery times (4). Clearance of excess blood glucose eliminates the possibility of blood sugar to be converted into fat by the liver. Meaning a 15minute cold shower can be the perfect fix for that tub of ice cream binge!
Finally, CT activates conversion of body fat (properly known as white adipose tissue or WAT) into brown adipose tissue (BAT) (5). BAT is shown to be closer to muscle tissue in regards to metabolic function – meaning it is dense in energy producing mitochondria (hence its brownish color) and utilizes body fat (typically from the belly and back) as its fuel source. And here’s an added benefit of CT for endurance athletes – BAT fat can be rapidly broken down into useable energy. For more on CT and how to incorporate it into your life, see my article How Rubbing Yourself In A Cold Shower Can Help You Burn Fat
Takeaway – Cold Showers and Ice Baths are effective tools for those seeking lower body fat levels. Do 5-10minute sessions 3-5x a week.
Saunas, for good reason, have been used for years as a fat loss tool. Hyperthermic treatment (heat exposure) has been shown to help improve insulin sensitivity (6), and poor insulin sensitivity is linked to obesity.
Infrared (IR) saunas provide not only heat that a traditional dry or steam sauna produces, but also a very specific wavelength of energy that has some unique effects on the human body by penetrating deep into the body.
IR saunas have been shown to have a direct positive effect on fat loss (7), but it is their detoxing power that reaps larger fat loss benefits. Though there is currently little research on the subject, IR light and thus IR saunas are believed to help break down toxins stored in the body. Quantified Bob followed a 30 day IR sauna protocol which lead to a lower body fat level. Read more HERE.
The body stores built up toxins in fat cells (one reason why you should only consume organic, grass fed meat and dairy). If the body cannot process these toxins (due to a sick or over burdened liver) you may never lose that belly fat, even under the strictest of diets. IR saunas allow the body to break down these fat cells. This is a great tool for those who are trying to undo the effects of a poor diet and lifestyle, or for those of us looking to lose those last few kg’s. If you are going to use IR saunas, be sure to use a low EMF sauna like those made by Sunlighten.
Takeaway – use infrared saunas once a week for it’s detoxifying and fat loss benefits.
Fasting is a great way to create metabolic efficiency and optimize the fat burning process. Fasting is the simple act of going without food for an extended period. From a fat loss point of view, fasting has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity, improve glucose uptake, and lower body fat (8).
Also, while you are fasting your body is running off fat, strengthening the body’s ability to use fat as its primary fuel, diminishing the need for carbs.
Humans evolved hunting and gathering, meaning our bodies are designed to go extended periods without food. In fact, there are even benefits in doing so. In the same way that not taking a break from training can cause a host of problems, not giving your digestive system time to rest can also be damaging. Think of fasting as a way to allow your cells to ‘clean house’.
There are many ways to incorporate fasting into your life. Many of my clients will use a 12 hour fast every day. Some people have great results extending this out to 16 hours, while others prefer a fortnightly 24 hour fast. For more benefits on fasting, be sure to read Fasting: How Skipping Meals Can Burn Fat & Increase Lifespan.
Takeaway – Incorporate 12-24 hour fasts into your life for fat loss and health benefits.
Yes this is highly controversial, hence why you won’t see nicotine in your conventional fat loss tips & tricks list. I need to make it clear that I don’t condone smoking; tobacco has some extreme negative health effects. But nicotine on its own has been shown to be a powerful fat burner.
Nicotine stimulates the release of epinephrine – adrenaline that boosts the bodies resting energy expenditure (9). Along with this stimulant effect, nicotine increases thermogenesis in the body – turning the body into a heater, a heater running off body fat (10).
Not only does nicotine have these potent fat burning properties, it also acts as a powerful appetite suppressant. Just look at the eating habits of someone quitting smoking. They start eating a lot more food! Bodybuilders have known this for years and often use nicotine gum or patches when dieting for shows.
Takeaway – Look at using Nicotine gum or patches to help shred fat and suppress appetite. Combine nicotine with fasting and caffeine for the ultimate fat burning effect. (Note, nicotine is addictive and works best in a cyclical – I recommend a 4 week on, 4 week off cycle).
This may not be the most unconventional item in this list as we all do it, yet many of us don’t sleep enough. Sleep is extremely important for fat loss. Sleep deprivation creates higher cortisol levels throughout the day which is linked to higher appetites (11) – both of which we do not want when we’re trying to lose fat.
If you’re in a constant state of sleep deprivation, burning the candle at both ends while trying to drop body fat levels, you may need to shift your priorities. Instead of getting up at 530am to do that fat loss class you’re probably better to get an extra hour of sleep. Coach’s orders!
If sleep is a problem for you, be sure to check out my popular Sound Asleep ecourse HERE. And if you're looking for a great way to track your sleep quality, get your hands on an Oura Ring, be sure to read my review of the OURA sleep tracker device HERE.
Takeaway – aim for 7-8 hours of quality sleep a night, even if that means skipping training sessions.
As more evidence continues to come out showing the relationship between gut health and overall health it shouldn’t surprise us that poor gut health is linked to higher body fat levels.
A great way to look after gut health is by consuming probiotics – either in the form of fermented foods or as supplements. Research has shown that consuming a diet rich in probiotics leads to a reduction in body fat and lower subcutaneous fat areas in the absence of diet and exercise changes (12).
If you can’t afford probiotic supplements like Seed, simply eat probiotic rich foods such as sauerkraut or kefir every day.
Otherwise look into The Program, as the first diet protocol is a 6 week Gut Reset protocol designed to improve gut health.
Takeaway – Look after your gut and it will help you achieve your fat loss goals.
Free, life-giving sunlight is the final tip in the list of unconventional ways to lose fat. Sunlight contains UV-B light, UV-B light exposure on the skin leads to vitamin D synthesis.
A lot of the population are deficient in vitamin D which is unfortunate as this hormone (vitamin D is actually a hormone) is a precursor to sex hormones such as testosterone. Higher levels of testosterone are linked to lower levels of body fat.
If you’re thinking of simply taking a vitamin D supplement for its fat burner effect, you may want to think again. Research has shown that UV radiation from sunlight is far more effective than simply supplementing with vitamin D when it comes to suppressing the development of obesity and fat gain (13). For more reasons why you should get outside, especially in the morning, read my article How to Improve Your Sleep With Morning Sunlight.
Takeaway – Get some sun exposure, not only will it help boost your testosterone, lowering body fat levels, but your newly uncovered 6 pack abs will look much nicer on a tanned body!
So there you have it. 7 unconventional ways to lose body fat. Implement these tips alongside your current training and diet plan and you’ll be well on your way to a lean physique you’ve always dreamt of.
This blog post was written by Alex Fergus. Alex is an ISSN Sports Nutrition Specialist, Fitness Professional and certified Superhuman Coach who continues to expand his knowledge base and help people across the world with their health and wellness. Alex is recognized as the National Record Holder in Powerlifting and Indoor Rowing and has earned the title of the Australian National Natural Bodybuilding Champion. Having worked as a health coach and personal trainer for over a decade, Alex now researches all things health and wellness and shares his findings on this blog. Learn more about Alex's Credentials HERE.
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