No Joke: The Sun Could Help You Burn More Fat

No, I haven’t lost my marbles.The sun really could help you burn off more body fat. And this is not even one of those too good to be true stories. Neither, of course, is it a case of going to the beach and having those warm rays magically melt the fat off your body. It’s rather a matter of getting some much needed help from the newest celebrity of the vitamin world: Vitamin D.

If you’re struggling to burn off unwanted body fat, it could be that you simply need to get out more. According to experts, we have a a Vitamin D deficiency epidemic on our hands, and since the primary source of vitamin D for humans is – or at least should be – the sun, we can put two and two together and surmise that we simply aren’t “getting out” enough. This should hardly come as a shock considering what most people’s lifestyles are looking like in 2010, but I’m not going to get into a long rant about that here.

However, the consequences of this are certainly very serious: Vitamin D deficiency isn’t just going to put you at risk of rickets – it’s now implicated in a host of serious illnesses such as diabetes, autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis, various types of cancer, depression, heart disease, hypertension, fibromyalgia and more. People are getting seriously ill and perhaps even dying because they aren’t getting enough of this vital hormone (which is what Vitamin D really is).

In a 2008 study conducted at Universidad Complutense in Madrid, researchers looked at the influence of vitamin D on fat loss in overweight women. The women were divided into two groups, one eating a high vegetable diet, and the other a high cereal diet. Those with high blood levels of Vitamin D lost up to three times more weight than those with lower levels.  That should certainly tell us something. While Vitamin D levels did not make a significant difference in the veggie eaters, it did do so in the high grain group¹. This could be interpreted as having something to do with insulin sensitivity, considering all the research suggesting a link between Vitamin D deficiencies and insulin resistance / diabetes.

I have only have my Vitamin D levels checked once, as part of a larger medical examination I had to undergo a few years ago, and they were low. Since that I’ve been more concious of getting enough sun in the summer and taking a supplement during the long winters that we have here. Should you do the same? I couldn’t say. But if you suspect that you might be at risk of Vitamin D deficiency, discuss it with a qualified medical practitioner and then take the necessary steps from there. Knowing what we now know, it could improve your health in unexpected ways – and it might even help you reach your fat loss goals!

References:

1. [...]vitamin D status on the loss of body fat / hypocaloric diet [...]

Seven Easy Ways to Lose More Fat by Simply Reducing Your Appetite

Perhaps the biggest obstacle many of us face when we want to lose fat is that we’re simply too hungry – we can’t  stop ourselves from eating all the time, and as a result those wiggly parts take a lot longer to burn off.

Wouldn’t it be good to tame that hunger monster a little, and eat less simply because you feel like it? Here are some keys to doing just that:

  1. Eat eggs for breakfast. Research shows that people who eat eggs for breakfast automatically tend to consume fewer calories over the next day or so. This is something I personally know very well from experience; a couple of eggs for breakfast can keep me satiated for a remarkably long time, which makes it easier to not only eat a smaller, later lunch, but it also helps me avoid a that calorie laden mid morning snack. One study also found that dieters on a calorie deficient diet who chose eggs over bagels for breakfast lost 16% more bodyfat and enjoyed a 34% greater reduction in waist circumference.¹ So eat your eggs!
  2. Eat more protein. Protein is more satisfying than carbohydrates and fat, and will keep you satiated longer. Foods that are rich in protein and relatively poor in fat and carbs include low fat fish (like tuna), poultry, lean meats and of course high quality whey protein powder and other protein supplements.
  3. Eat yoghurt with Olibra. Developed in Sweden, Olibra is a fat emulsion product derived from oat and palm oil that seems to function as a potent appetite suppressor. In one study, conducted at Maastricht University in The Netherlands, people who ate a yoghurt with Olibra experienced reduced hunger and consumed less food over the next few hours than those who had the placebo.²
  4. Begin dinner by eating a low calorie soup. A person eating a soup will be likely to consume fewer calories than their friend across the table having a solid meal. The reason for this, of course, is that the caloric density of soup is so low – after all, a soup’s main constituent is water. Kick off your dinner with some soup, and you will likely only want to eat a small portion of the solid foods you would otherwise have had a full plate of. The result: fewer calories consumed overall. Eating soup throughout the day instead of solid meals has also proven itself very effective for people wanting to lose weight.
  5. Keep food out of your mind as much as humanly possible. Ever had your appetite increase as a result of simply hearing someone talking about food? Or seeing an ad on TV? You don’t have to be Einstein to realize that if you spend all day thinking about food, talking about food and looking at food, you’re going to be eating a lot of food. Get busy and immersed in something else, and you might even forget to eat for a while. Making an effort to keep food off your mind can be a simple way to reduce appetite and eat less.
  6. Make sure you get enough sleep. If you find that you tend to eat more than you really need to, lack of sleep could be the culprit. Not sleeping enough can increase your appetite, and researchers have also found a correlation between lack of sleep and obesity.3 Getting too little sleep may also have other serious health consequences, and keep you from reaching your fitness goals. So don’t mess around with that stuff. Get to bed on time, sleep in total darkness, and only get up when you feel you’ve slept enough.
  7. Stop eating before you’re full (don’t worry, you’ll still feel full). The biochemicals that actually make us feel full are somewhat slow starters, and that can lead us to continue eating well after we’ve actually had enough to make us full. The trick is therefore to stop eating before you feel satiated, leave the table, forget about food and go somewhere else. It shouldn’t take longer than fifteen minutes or so before your remaining appetite is gone.

If you’re struggling to lose fat because you of that constant struggle with your own appetite, try some of these hacks and see how they work for you.

References:

PubMed.Gov: Egg breakfast enhances weight loss

PubMed.Gov: Short-term effects of a novel fat emulsion on appetite and food intake.

PubMed.Gov: The association between sleep duration and obesity in older adults.

EAS Betagen

Making its debut in the mid nineties, EAS’ Betagen is a supplement that has been around for quite a while, and it’s still going strong. Let’s take a closer look at this product to see if it’s still worth using today:

I first tried Betagen in 1998, not that long after it had burst onto the bodybuilding scene, propelled by Bill Phillips’ ground breaking Body for Life spectacle. Body for Life contributed in a big way to the incredible success of Phillips’ company Experimental and Applied Sciences, but EAS had already been breaking new ground for years with their nutritional supplements – even before Bill Phillips purchased the company in 1994. Ever heard of a certain supplement called creatine? We have EAS and its then leading biochemist Anthony Almada to thank for that, and Bill Phillips was the guy who made creatine the household name it remains in bodybuilding and fitness circles.

EAS’ Betagen is a supplement that combines creatine with the ever popular glutamine, as well as HMB (β-Hydroxy β-methylbutyric acid), a compound which had only just begun making waves among bodybuilders, fitness enthusiasts and competitive athletes when I decided it was worth trying out in ’98. Studies had shown that HMB could be a potent suppressor of muscle breakdown in hard training athletes, and back then I was boxing competitively and training twice a day, six days a week, so that sounded like good news to me. I had already used both glutamine and creatine for a while, so my switch to Betagen was pretty much just adding in the HMB along with the smaller quantities of other nutrients that Betagen also contains, like taurine.

In all honesty, that summer I had amazing results from my training. Taking a supplement while training hardly constitutes scientific research, so I don’t know if it was the Betagen that did it, but I have since used these three main nutrients together – HMB, creatine and Glutamine – off and on over more than a decade, and it’s been my experience that this stack does indeed work. I haven’t always relied on Betagen for this stack of nutrients and can’t argue for its effectiveness over just “brewing your own” so to speak by buying the creatine, HMB and Glutamine separately, but my impression is that this is a high quality supplement that has benefitted me a lot – more than most supplements have. So will I use it again? Certainly. I’m also a sucker for good taste, and the taste of Betagen is really, really good. To me, it tastes better than a lot of popular soft drinks.

A serving of Betagen gives you two grams of creatine, two grams of glutamine and one gram of HMB. EAS recommends three servings a day. I can’t see any reason to take additional quantities of any of these nutrients in addition to taking Betagen, except if you’re wanting to load up on creatine – something you really shouldn’t be doing with this product. If you’re doing a creatine loading phase and are aiming for twenty grams per day, just take fourteen grams in addition to the Betagen and you’re good. Don’t take more than three servings of Betagen per day.

A serving of Betagen also gives you the following:

Vitamin B6 (as Pyridoxine Hydrochloride) 500mcg
Riboflavin 425mcg
Folic Acid 100mcg
Vitamin B12 (as Cyanocobalamin) 1.5mcg
Vitamin C (as Ascorbic Acid) 500mg
Niacin (as Niacinamide) 5mg
Pantothenic Acid (as D-Calcium Pantothenate) 2.5mg
Creatine Monohydrate 2g
L-Glutamine 2g
Taurine 500mg
Vitamin E (as D-Alpha Tocopheryl Acetate) 200IU
Calcium (as Calcium HMB) 140mg
Calcium HMB (B-Hydroxy B-Methylbutyrate Monohydrate) 1g
Thiamin (as Thiamin Chloride) 380mcg

The product also contains maltodextrin, natural and artificial Flavors, citric acid, sucralose and coloring.

I think Betagen can still be a very, very useful supplement today for all kinds of hard training athletes. You could possibly save a little money by buying creatine, glutamine and HMB separately and mixing them in your own kitchen laboratory, but is the stack going to be quite as effective without the additional nutrients that Betagen has? I honestly don’t know. What I do know is that Betagen is both super convenient and great tasting, and something I really urge you to try if you haven’t already.