Instead of ditching your efforts altogether, it's time to dig a little deeper and uncover some of the fat saboteurs that make matters worse. These six "fat triggers" shift your metabolism and upset normal hormone function inside the body, causing you to gain and hold on to fat.
1. Allergenic Foods That Cause Inflammation
Have you ever been told to avoid eating gluten or dairy products? That's certainly a recommendation I've made for years to my clients and online audience. The reason is these foods trigger inflammatory responses in your body that make losing weight and enjoying good health almost impossible. Not everyone is sensitive to them, and not everyone will respond in exactly the same fashion, but I have yet to work with a human being on this planet whose health and waistline have not improved as a result of avoiding (or at least minimizing) these allergenic foods.
2. A Sedentary Lifestyle
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize that if we don't move enough, we won't be burning calories, and thus we will have trouble losing weight. In fact, we're much more likely to gain weight when sedentary, especially if we continue to eat higher amounts of the wrong foods. A simple solution for office workers? A standing desk. The evidence is quite clear: If you reduce the amount of time spent sitting, regardless of whether you exercise or not, you can reduce your risk of obesity and early mortality. If you did nothing more than just stand more throughout the day, your body would be primed to keep you lean and healthy. How, you ask? It's simple, really: Standing tones muscles, improves posture, increases blood flow, ramps up your metabolism, and burns extra calories.
More: 8 Small Changes for Major Weight Loss
Toxins come in all shapes and all sizes—from pesticides to plastic by-products and lots of stuff in between. They are found in our foods, in the water we drink, in the air we breathe, and even within our homes. Some of these toxic compounds have been banned, but the damage has already been done, as they continue to bioaccumulate in the food chain and pose long-term challenges to the farming soils throughout America.
Our bodies were not designed to process these substances. A 2008 study in the prestigious journal Lancet showed that environmental toxins indeed make you fat and cause diabetes. Toxicity is also a key metabolic problem for the two-thirds of Americans who are overweight. These chemicals contribute to weight gain in various ways, including disruption of the hormone signaling system that regulates your metabolism, damage to and accumulation in your fat tissue, and increased risk for poisoning during weight loss as these toxins are released back into the circulatory system once that fat starts disappearing.
4. Deadly Belly Bugs
A healthy gut is critical for ensuring that your digestive system runs smoothly and your body stays in good health. We are eating foods that hurt our gut, which in turn makes our gut more permeable to larger food proteins, or leaky. These larger proteins, which should normally be further broken down before being absorbed, seep into our bloodstream, which triggers an inflammatory immune response. The body responds in this manner because it considers these proteins foreign and potentially dangerous, even if they're seemingly harmless foods.
More: 5 Surprising Weight-Loss Foods
Lipopolysaccharides arise in our bodies as a result of bacterial imbalances within the gut. These toxins have been shown to stimulate the formation of new fat cells, thereby promoting weight gain. In addition, these cause leptin resistance, which significantly impairs your brain's ability to respond to the "I'm full" signal that's normally prompted after eating. Thus, you tend to eat more.
5. Sugar Overload
I believe that added sugar is the single worst ingredient in the modern diet, especially as it pertains to fat loss. Numerous studies show that eating excess amounts of added sugar can have harmful effects on metabolism, leading to insulin resistance, belly fat gain, high triglyceride levels, and increases in dangerous low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. Sugar is fattening, partly because it doesn't get registered in the same way as other calories by the brain, making us eat more. Not surprisingly, studies show that people who eat the most sugar are at a high risk of future weight gain and obesity.
6. Too Much "Frankenfood"
There are many causes of obesity, but one indisputable fact is that calorie consumption has increased dramatically over the past few decades. When it comes to food, your brain is constantly juggling your internal energy status (do you have sufficient calories?) and environmental triggers to determine the most appropriate digestive/metabolic (physiological) and eating (behavioral) responses.
More: 4 Environmental Factors That Affect Your Waistline
Unsurprisingly, satiety does not correspond to the calorie count of a food. It's mainly affected by the quality of the food, specifically by the presence (or lack) of certain macronutrients. Protein, fiber, carbohydrates, and fat (in that order) have the greatest satiating effect. Thus, a high-protein, high-fiber meal like salmon with lentils will keep you full longer than a high-carb, high-fat meal like pasta with cream sauce. Food companies know these facts all too well, and they specifically engineer their foods to be higher in carbohydrates, fat, sugar, and salt and lower in fiber and protein so that your brain has no choice but to crave more of them. Furthermore, the more palatable a food is, the more you have to eat to achieve satiety.
Put these triggers together, and it's no surprise that losing fat is an ongoing battle. But the silver lining is that making changes in order to avoid these bandits could lead to powerful results.
Adapted from The All-Day Fat-Burning Diet
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