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5 Keys to Losing Fat While Improving Health and Longevity

Any diet or pattern of eating that relies on calorie restriction to a point where real hunger is an ongoing challenge isn't good for longevity.

The reason is simple - calorie restriction leads to loss of fat and muscle. Losing fat is generally good for longevity. Loss of skeletal muscle - called sarcopenia - is very bad for short and long term health. The amount of skeletal muscle mass we carry is a strong predictive marker for longevity.

In fact, it's most likely better for long term health to carry a bit of extra fat plus a good amount of skeletal muscle rather than to have very little fat and muscle.

So let's be clear in knowing that we don't want to lose weight. Rather, we want to lose fat while maintaining as much lean muscle mass as we can without injuring ourselves.

I'll explore this topic in more detail next week, but for today, I'll leave you with five principles that I have found to be helpful to many:

1. Eat less frequent meals.

Rather than give your body calories through meals, snacks, and beverages multiple times a day, strive to fuel up less frequently. If you currently eat or drink calories 10 times daily, begin by working your way down to 3. If you are at 3 per day but carry more fat tissue than you feel healthy with, aim to cut down to 2 fuelling sessions daily.

Please note that I'm not suggesting that you deprive yourself of calories needed to feel physically capable and mentally clear over the course of the day. The idea is to give your body longer breaks from having to process foods and drinks that have caloric value. You can drink all the cold, hot, and sparkling water that you'd like in between meals. Ditto for herbal teas and even black coffee if they don't cause discomfort, though it's generally best not to have more than 1-2 cups of coffee daily.

2. Eat less sugar and foods made with white flour.

Sugar and white flour are excellent for energy, but if you take in more than you need during any given window, they end up making your fat cells larger, and also prevent your cells from burning fat for fuel.

3. Chew your foods well, until liquid if possible.

Chewing well allows your body to get more nutrients out of what you ingest, and also promotes a mindset that is naturally protective against overeating. It also doesn't hurt to eat with gratitude.

4. Be physically active.

If at all possible, do something daily to improve or maintain your muscular strength, be it a brisk walk, push-ups, pull-ups, body weight squats, anything that requires that you challenge large muscle groups - think legs, chest, and back. If you only have time to work on one body region, focus on your legs. Doing just one set of as many body weight squats as you can daily should help you lose fat and be metabolically healthier. Better yet, try some of the squat variations in the brief leg and balance workout below.

5. Get sufficient restful sleep.

Do whatever is needed to give your body a chance to get quality rest daily. An eye mask, ear plugs, a cooler temperature, a separate bed just for yourself, a CPAP machine if needed, even melatonin - all of these are worth trying if you aren't waking up feeling refreshed. Restful sleep improves fat oxidation in all of our cells - put another way, when we are well rested, we burn more fat throughout the day.

Please check back next week for a continuation of this discussion, which will include more specific suggestions on food timing and food choices.


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