What are some ways to reduce fat without gaining muscles?

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I am going to assume that you are carrying a good amount of EXCESS Body Fat.

Note that owing to the nature of the question, some of the basics are also discussed briefly.

So, this discussion is overall, slightly lengthy…

What is FAT?

Fat is one of our body’s Important Energy Sources. While it is NOT the first energy source that our body “prefers”, nevertheless, FAT plays many important roles, as an Energy Store, as an Energy Source, as well as in Other Regulatory Functions.

Fat is not just a BLOB of “dirt”, that is best gotten rid off completely and therefore, should not be looked at in that negative manner.

As mentioned, Fat being an Important Energy Store, acts like a Battery that stores Power and provides it as/when required.

Fat also acts to Insulate the body against Temperature Extremes such as in Cold weather, and also acts to Insulate our body and organs against sudden extreme movements, such as when we have a fall, or bump into something and such.

Yet another VERY IMPORTANT function of Fat is that it is an Endocrine Organ…meaning, it produces various hormones used to regulate some of our Important Body Functions.

So, we all need Fat.

It is when we carry too much of it, then, it becomes derogatory to our health.

How much Fat is good?

It has been shown that around 14%-16% of Body Fat helps with Longevity. So people with some body fat, live longer. This has been shown to be true, EVEN for Diabetics and people with Heart Disease.

People with much less Body Fat, say in the single digit percentages, tend NOT to live as long.

Therefore, to have some body fat is good.

Having Body Fat, which is much higher (30% or more), is definitely not healthy.

What causes us to Accumulate EXCESS Body Fat?

While Genetics play a significant role regarding how easy/difficult it is for us to put on EXCESS Body Fat, Unhealthy Eating, Leading a Sedentary Lifestyle and Stress are the main culprits, that are in our control.

Insulin

When we eat food, it gets digested and absorbed and enters our Blood and is termed Blood Sugar. This Sugar then needs to be taken out of the Blood and put in our Cells (for the most part) and is used for energy requirements, by our body.

To take this Sugar out of our blood and to put it into our Cells, we need the hormone Insulin, (which is produced by Beta Cells in our Pancreas). Think of this as the Key that Opens the Door/Window to our Cells, so Sugar from the Blood gets into our Cells and is stored there.

However, if we continue to eat in excess, (keep munching on Chips while Sipping Coke all the time, for instance), this causes more and more and more and more Insulin to get produced. This in turn causes our Cells to increasingly Lessen their Response to Insulin (they don’t open their Doors/Windows to let Sugar enter…even in the presence of Insulin). This is termed as Insulin Resistance and as discussed, it keeps getting worse, as we continue eating in an Unhealthy manner.

Therefore, Insulin Resistance causes a lot of Sugar to remain in our Blood, and sensing this our Beta Cells then, produce more Insulin, which further worsens the situation with Insulin Resistance.

Insulin, can also be thought of as a FAT STORAGE HORMONE. So, the more Insulin gets produced, more will be the tendency to STORE Excess Calories as FAT.

Leptin

Leptin is another Hormone, which actually gets produced by…..FAT. This Hormone plays yet another crucial role in our body. For one thing, it tells our brain to…Stop Eating….when we are full.

As a side-discussion, imagine what will happen, if our body is deprived of Leptin and/or its function entirely. We will NEVER be able to stop eating. Yes, this is true. Just reiterating the Important/Necessary Role being played by Fat, here.

However, even under normal circumstances, it does take some time for Leptin to reach our brain. So, if you eat very quickly, you will tend to overeat. On the other hand, if you chew your food well and eat slowly, then, you will feel full and stop eating, with smaller quantities of food.

Similar to Insulin Resistance, our body also develops Leptin Resistance, due to Unhealthy Eating.

So, what happens is…our Body Fat is now producing Leptin at the right time, and signalling our brain that we’ve had enough to eat. However, it is not reaching our brain, which is then, not aware, that we have eaten enough, and therefore, does not take the actions necessary to bring us a feeling of satiety (fullness) and then, to cause us to stop eating.

This leads us to eat much more than necessary…leading to Excess Calories getting stored as Body Fat.

Also, just as Insulin can be thought of as FAT STORAGE HORMONE, Leptin (when it is working effectively) can be thought of as a FAT BURNING HORMONE.

What can we do to reduce EXCESS Body Fat

Given the above discussions,

THROUGH NUTRITION INTERVENTION

Eating Healthy:

What to Eat:

1) Let’s ensure that we eat Foods that Don’t Digest Quickly and cause Blood Sugar Spikes and Insulin Spikes. Therefore, Avoid/Lessen, intake of Simple Carbohydrates such as White Rice, White Bread, Flour etc.

2) Increase intake of Complex Carbohydrates that do NOT digest Quickly. Complex Carbohydrates, also makes us feel full, for longer.

3) Include a Good Amount of Protein with Every Meal.

4) Keep up with your Daily Fiber Requirements

5) Absolutely Avoid Soft Drinks (Sugary Drinks) of any kind.

6) Avoid Fast Foods

7) Do NOT Skip Breakfast

8) Remember, Dietary Fat (Except Trans Fat), by itself, will not make you FAT or make your Cholesterol Numbers go bad.

When to Eat:

1) Do NOT Skip Breakfast (Yes, Reiterating this point again)

2) Give a Gap of 4-5 hours between meals (NO SNACKING WHATSOEVER, BETWEEN MEALS)

3) Eat Dinner early (by 6pm-7pm…that is, 4-5 hours before you go to sleep)

4) NO SNACKING ON ANYTHING (NO APPLE, OR MILK, OR PEANUTS OR ANYTHING), after Dinner.

5) Leave a Gap of 12-14 hours between Dinner and Breakfast the NEXT DAY. NO SNACKING ON ANYTHING, IN BETWEEN (Yes, Reiterating this point)

12-14 hours is when you burn fat, the MAXIMUM. Any kind of snacking in-between, will cause a reset and you will NOT burn as much fat, (nowhere as much as, if there is a 12-14 hour gap between Dinner and Breakfast the next morning).

Other Guidelines:

1) Use Portion Control (Amount of Food you Eat)

2) NEVER skip meals or eat so little, that your body will get into Starvation Mode…this will be counter productive to your goals (your body will then go into survival mode and will reduce Metabolism…the Opposite of what you want).

3) Note that Nutritional Intervention is FAR MORE IMPORTANT than Exercise Intervention, to reduce EXCESS BODY Fat.

4) You CANNOT OUT-EXERCISE A BAD DIET.

THROUGH REDUCED STRESS

It is impossible to totally avoid stress. However, how we deal with Stress is within our control. Learn to deal with stress effectively…don’t let it take over. AVOID CHRONIC STRESS. This is NOT GOOD.

THROUGH INCREASED METABOLISM

Getting active, increases your Metabolism. So, your body now tends to BURN Calories rather than STORING them as FAT.

Generally speaking, do stay active.

Walk to the Shop at the Corner of the Road or even a bit beyond.

Climb the stairs, if it isn’t too many floors to your office, rather than take the elevator. Take a couple of minutes (at-least) of a break from your chair/cubicle, once every hour, hour and a half.

Help out with chores at your home. Take up simple Carpentry/Plumbing jobs at your home. And, Gardening, takes a GREAT deal of effort and can get quite interesting too.

Exercise Intervention:

Regular Exercise, keeps you Fit and Healthy… Ramps up your Metabolism too.

All Exercises are good (any activity is WAY BETTER than NO ACTIVITY)…some are better and more effective than the others, to help you with achieving your goals.

Long Slow Cardio is perhaps, the LEAST EFFECTIVE way to lose your EXCESS Body Fat.

High Intensity Interval Training is perhaps a VERY GOOD EFFECTIVE way to Reduce Excess Body Fat. Definitely jacks up your metabolism and increases your EPOC (Excess Post Exercise Oxygen Consumption) elevated, for up-to 48 hours after training.

Lifting Weights is an EXCELLENT way to gain Strength. However, make sure to follow a good Training Program, that has you doing the right Exercises, in the right Manner.

Now, you will NOT begin to look like a Body Builder, just by Lifting Weights. It takes a LOT of Effort and proper Nutrition for men to get the bodybuilder look. It is FAR MORE difficult for women (due to much lower levels of Testosterone) to get the Body Builder look. So, you don’t have to worry much about that.

If you are on a bit of a Calorie Deficit (you Spend Calories more than you Consume), and lift weights, you could still get Stronger, without bulking.

About Muscles:

Muscles are very important for your health and living.

Older people who are very frail, are very susceptible to falling, getting injured and even dying, due to loss of Muscle Mass. Muscle keeps your body strong, and also helps regulate a lot of body functions. For instance, as discussed earlier, greater Muscle Mass helps with normalizing Blood Sugar levels, by providing for storage of Sugar/Glucose.

And again, gaining Muscles does NOT really mean, becoming/looking like a Body builder.

All humans start to lose Muscle Mass from age 30 years and onward. From ages 50 to 60 years and beyond, this process (of losing muscle mass) accelerates. So, following a good training program, that has you lifting weights, is a tremendous way to get stronger and to develop/maintain much needed Muscle Mass, especially, as you grow older.