As a nutrition and fitness expert, I’ve helped many, many clients and readers reduce inflammation, support a strong immune system, boost gut health, and be the best fat burner.
Most folks focus on what they can do to burn more fat. However, you also need to know the common pitfalls that can make you store excess body fat in the first place!
Below, I've pinpointed these nine culprits that can make you a better fat storer. If you want to be the best fat burner, you'll want to identify which of these are hijacking your success.
Before you read on, I want to offer you 15 decadent dessert recipes… without the guilt! Get your FREE Sweet Treats Recipe Guide here.
1) Poor Sleep. Nothing stalls fat loss like lack of sleep! Subpar 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
Studies also show that sleep loss triggers a rise in insulin levels, causing you to pack on fat instead of burning it. 5
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 on your health and happiness, 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.
Managing stress can help you shrink your waist. It can also save your life! “What do you do about stress?” readers and friends sometimes ask. Listen to this podcast for my top stress management strategies.
3) Too much fructose. If you've read my New York Times bestseller Sugar Impact Diet, 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 you consume too much fructose (and “too much” isn't that much), that excess fructose is converted into fat!
It should come as no surprise that research has linked a high-fructose diet with increased 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 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!
The best way to break an overnight fast is with a fast, filling protein smoothie. Learn how to make the perfect smoothie here.
Then, you'll want to eat every four to six hours. Building a balanced plate is the key to creating steady, sustained energy so you can go four to six hours between meals without snack attacks. Check out this blog to learn 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 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
Be sure to stop eating at least three 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.
To be the best fat burner, I want you to close the kitchen after dinner. That way, you've effortlessly created a 12–14 hour fasting window… and you'll be sleeping for at least seven of those hours! Intermittent fasting is one way to reach your fat loss goals faster. Read this blog to learn more about why timing is everything for fat loss and overall health.
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 omelets, tofu, and low-fat yogurt are the way to go. But the truth is those supposedly healthy foods may actually be stalling your progress!
Food intolerances are 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 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!
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.
If you suspect that sneaky sugars are slipping in your plan, you'll want to identify and eliminate those sources. My Sugar Impact Diet can help you gradually eliminate sugar (no cold turkey!) and make you a better fat burner. (Learn whether you're a sugar burner or fat burner here.)
Whether you're Paleo, vegan, keto (or none of the above), breaking your fast with a smoothie has never been easier! Be the best fat burner, boost immune health, reduce inflammation… all with a delicious protein smoothie. I've got over 50 recipes in this Smoothie Guide. Claim yours FREE here.
The views in this blog by JJ Virgin should never be used as a substitute for professional medical advice. Please work with a healthcare practitioner concerning any medical problem or concern. The information here is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease or condition. Statements contained here have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.