As a nutrition and fitness expert, I’ve worked with hundreds of thousands of clients to help them achieve lasting weight loss and optimal health. And while most folks focus on what they can do to burn more fat, it’s also crucial to know the common pitfalls that can cause you to store excess body fat in the first place!
Since the culprits behind fat storage can easily sneak into your daily life, here’s a closer look at the worst offenders…
1) Poor Sleep. Nothing expands your waistline like lack of sleep! That’s because going without sleep knocks your stress- and appetite-regulating hormones out of whack, making you feel hungrier and more likely to succumb to emotional eating.1-4
Not only that, studies show that sleep loss triggers a rise in insulin levels, causing you to pack on fat instead of burn it away.5
The lesson? If you want to crush cravings and blast fat, you need to get 7-9 hours of quality sleep every night. (That’s exactly why I take Sleep Candy every single night…)
2) Chronic Stress. The fast pace and demands of today’s hectic lifestyle can take a toll, leading to elevated stress hormones that signal your body to hang on to fat, especially around your belly.6
And that’s bad news for more than one reason. Carrying extra abdominal fat has been linked to an increased risk for multiple health issues, including cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.
So reducing your stress can not only help you shrink your waist, it can also save your life! (You can download a free guide to help you address your stress at the end of this blog.)
3) Too much fructose. If you've read my New York Times bestseller Sugar Impact Diet, then you know not all sugar is created equal.
Whereas most sugars trigger a rise in blood sugar and insulin levels, fructose heads directly to the liver. And when too much fructose is consumed, that excess is converted into fat!
It should come as no surprise that research has linked a high-fructose diet with increasing levels of body fat.7 The take-home message is clear: the less fructose, you eat, the less fat you store! It’s important to choose your sugars wisely and the Sugar Impact Diet can help you with that.
4) Endurance exercise. Shocking, but true: steady-state cardio can actually make you store fat, not burn it!
Research has shown that prolonged endurance exercise can raise levels of the stress hormone cortisol, sending the message to your body to break down muscle for energy and hold on to fat.8
But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t work out! The key is to choose the right type of exercise. When you swap long cardio cardio sessions for burst training workouts, you’ll be well on your way to revving up your metabolism and blasting away fat.
5) Snacking. Every time you eat, you raise your insulin levels. And when insulin levels are elevated, your fat-burning doors remain locked.
To reach into your fat stores and burn what you’ve already got, you need to take a food break between meals. That’s why it’s critical to do breakfast, lunch, and dinner the right way!
Building a balanced plate is the key to creating steady, sustained energy so you can go 4-6 hours between meals without snack attacks. Check out this blog for a quick lesson in how to create the perfect plate.
6) Alcohol. Here’s a sobering fact: drinking alcohol will sideline fat burning. That’s because your body puts everything else on hold to metabolize alcohol first.
And the consequences of overconsumption can be devastating – research has shown that alcohol intake is one of the leading causes of high cholesterol and triglyceride levels.9 As if that wasn’t enough, alcohol can also stimulate your appetite, making it harder to resist the plate of loaded nachos your friends are scarfing down!
So if you choose to imbibe, be sure to control the amount you drink. While a daily glass of wine can offer health benefits, you’ll gain nothing but fat by overdoing it.
7) Late-night eating. Want to know the first thing you should do after dinner? Close the kitchen!
Research shows that eating late at night can increase your weight and impair fat metabolism, putting you at a greater risk of obesity and the health issues that go along with it.10-11
So be sure to stop eating at least 3 hours before bed to avoid storing fat while you sleep. And if you start to notice hunger pangs, you might actually be thirsty – one study found that drinking a glass of water before bed curbed hunger for everyone who tried it.
8) Highly reactive foods. In The Virgin Diet, I tell folks that your fat is not your fault! For years, we’ve been taught that typical diet foods like egg white omelettes, tofu, and non-fat yogurt are the way to go. But the truth is those supposedly healthy foods may actually be stalling your progress!
That’s because food intolerance is so often the hidden cause of extra pounds. A negative reaction to certain foods like dairy or gluten can wreak havoc on your health by triggering inflammation and causing a host of nasty symptoms like stubborn weight gain.
Luckily, there’s a simple solution: follow the The Virgin Diet to find out which foods are making you miserable and you’ll be well on your way to transforming your weight and your health! You can try it for free HERE.
9) High-sugar impact foods and drinks. It’s no secret that sweet foods and beverages will make you fat, but avoiding sugar isn’t as simple as skipping candy and cookies.
Sneaky sugars are hiding in places you’d never suspect, and many “healthy” choices can be just as bad.
Some sources of sugar may surprise you – while a can of soda is an obvious sugar bomb, many fruit juices are just as sweet. Check out this blog for help choosing healthier options: Everything You Need to Know About Healthy Sweeteners.
It’s time to say goodbye to stubborn body fat! Avoid these harmful habits and you’ll be well on your way to upgrading your fat metabolism for good.