Fat Loss: How Endurance Athletes Can Stay Trim and Triumph Over Fat

Ben Greenfield at the Nevis TriathalonBy Ben Greenfield – Sports Science and Exercise Physiology Expert. Fitness Trainer, Coach and Ironman Triathlete

Call it what you will. Yo-Yo Dieting, Battle of the Bulge, The Holiday Pounds…it’s that annoying tendency of our bodies to regain so easily weight that we tried so hard to lose. So why does this occur?

Basically, there are several mechanisms that your body relies on to keep your weight-o-meter at one constant level. While these survival mechanisms may have helped our ancestors rely on stored fat in times of cold, famine and trekking, it really doesn’t help us at all in our technology-assisted lifestyles, where food is prevalent and moving about is not very necessary. These fat-preserving mechanisms include the following:

1.    Studies have shown that “ex-fat” people have a higher tendency to crave high-fat and high-sugar foods. Since fat serves as a thermoregulator and a shock absorber, our natural instinct is to try and keep a bit on, so the appetite naturally screams at you to gain that adipose tissue back once it’s gotten used to having it there. As I mentioned, we don’t actually need the fat, but the natural desire is present.

2.    Once the body has lost fat, your brain is under the impression that food is scarce and starvation is a threat. To conserve your resources, the body naturally decreases your metabolism so that you burn fewer calories during the day. As your metabolic rate decreases, it becomes tougher to burn calories, and more exercise becomes necessary.

3.    An enzyme called lipoprotein lipase actually increases in individuals who have lost weight. This enzyme promotes storage of adipose tissue, especially in the abdominal regions. This means that if you consume any extra calories, they are that much more likely to be stored as fat rather than burned as energy.

4.    Your body naturally burns a mixture of carbohydrates and fats. While this mixture varies from person to person, an individual who has lost weight tends to not burn as many fatty acids as part of the mixture. Again, this is just a natural mechanism to retain storage fat, but it can be quite inconvenient when you’re trying to keep the pounds at bay.

Combine these mechanisms with the fact that your body never actually gets rid of fat cells once they’re there. The cells simply decrease in size, waiting for a chance to gobble up any extra calories you might throw their way so that they can grow back into well-fed fat cells. It really is true— individuals who used to be fat actually face a constant uphill battle once they’ve lost weight!

So how do you avoid the bulging stomach, along with the risk of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, arthritis and high cholesterol that accompany an expanding waistline.

First, stick to the diet that got you lean, which should include addressing nutritional deficiencies through the use of superfoods, vitamins, micronutrients and minerals like magnesium, as contained in Natural Vitality’s variety of products including Natural Calm®. According to Carolyn Dean, MD, ND: “Magnesium and the B-complex vitamins are excellent examples of energy nutrients, because they activate enzymes that control digestion, absorption and the utilization of proteins, fats and carbohydrates. Magnesium helps the body efficiently digest, absorb and utilize proteins, fats and carbohydrates.”

Secondly, constantly keep your metabolism guessing by frequently changing activities.

How do you keep your body guessing? From week to week, change up your exercise routine, try new sports, alter your intensity, don’t work out at the same time of day and consistently attempt to throw a metabolic curveball at your body. Sure, it wants to be fat— but you can always stay one step ahead!

Ben Greenfield, M.A. Sports Science and Exercise Physiology—Mr. Greenfield was voted the 2008 Personal Trainer of the Year by the National Strength and Conditioning Association and is the author of “Shape21—The Complete 21 Day Lean Body Manual” along with several other books including “Top 12 Resistance Training Routines for Triathletes,” “Run With No Pain,” and “100 Ways to Boost Your Metabolism.” If you found these tips helpful, then be sure to sign up for the free newsletter from www.bengreenfieldfitness.com, where you’ll get even more free videos, audios and articles to boost your fitness success.