The Foods That Fight Fat

The fact is, no matter how fit you are, you’ll never have abs you can see or rippling muscles unless you eat right. Today, I’ll teach you exactly how.

Ben Greenfield
7-minute read
Episode #332

I used to be that active athlete and fitness enthusiast you’d find diving into hamburger, french fries, and energy drinks— after all, if you’re exercising hard you can stuff anything into your mouth and subsequently burn it off, right? But over the past several years, I’ve realized there’s just a smarter way to do things, and there are three crucial concepts that come to play when choosing the way you’re going to eat. The fact is, no matter how fit you are, you’ll never have abs you can see or rippling muscles unless you eat right.

3 Crucial Food and Fat Loss Concepts

Let’s begin with three crucial food and fat loss concepts.

Crucial Concept 1: Certain types of foods can cause inflammation. The inflammation can cause insulin insensitivity, among a host of other chronic diseases. And one particularly annoying byproduct of this inflammation is fat deposition, chronic fatigue, poor performance, and weight gain.

Crucial Concept 2: Almost every person on the planet has a food allergy, intolerance, or sensitivity. If these are not taken into consideration, the result is a compromised immune system, missed training days, bloating and gas, and once again, resistance to fat loss and a propensity for weight gain.

Crucial Concept 3: Your body can only handle a finite amount of preservatives, genetically modified foods, artificial sweeteners, toxins, and foreign objects before it develops a toxin overload, which sometimes manifests itself as sickness, sometimes as hardened arteries and sometimes as cancer.

Let’s delve a bit deeper into the first of these crucial concepts, and develop a practical solution to tackle it.

You’ll recall that Crucial Concept 1 indicated certain types of foods can cause inflammation. These include foods that cause a “hyperglycemic” response, or a quick release of blood sugar. Included among the most notorious inflammation-producers are muffins, cookies, juices, scones, biscotti, pasta, bread, baked goods…you get the idea.

Any sugar that is refined or processed and is low in fiber falls into the inflammation camp. This is not a science manual, and simply a practical guide to holistic nutrition, but in a nutshell, the inflammatory response is a response of your body’s eicosanoids and cytokines, and production of arachidonic acid, all of which are triggered by high blood sugar and high insulin levels.

The result of constantly high circulating blood sugar levels is a resistance to insulin, one of your body’s most important hormones, and the hormone that is responsible for delivering sugars into the muscles to be stored as energy. As your body becomes less sensitive to (resistant to) insulin, you’re less likely to take up storage sugars for use during exercise and more likely to leave those sugars circulating in the bloodstream, where they’re eventually dumped off into the liver and converted into fats.

The conversion of the sugar into fat can cause high blood triglycerides and high levels of something called “small oxidized cholesterol,” the most dangerous of cholesterols, especially for anyone concerned about cardiovascular health.

Another result of this “hyperglycemia” is something called leptin resistance. Leptin is your primary appetite-regulating hormone, and you become insensitive to your body’s cries to “stop eating” or “feel full.” The result is carbohydrate cravings and weight gain.

Your  immune system becomes activated into a hyperalert status due to the chronic state of inflammation from hyperglycemia and high circulating insulin levels. This means you get sicker much easier when you’re exposed to germs. Do you know Ironman triathletes (ironically considered by many to be an uber-healthy portion of the population) get sick around once a month, miss 4-5 quality days of training that month, and miss up to 60 days of quality training during a year? That is the result of a hyperalert immune system.

Finally, when the extremely high blood sugar levels are “controlled” by an over-production of insulin, there is typically a subsequent sharp drop in blood sugar levels. The result is chronic fatigue and a large slump in energy.

So let’s review:

-Refined sugars that are low in fiber cause hyperglycemia

-Hyperglycemia causes a chronic inflammatory state

-Inflammation cases an unstable appetite, low energy storage levels, frequent episodes of sickness, cardiovascular disease and weight gain

As if that weren’t enough, these foods can result in the creation of tiny electrons that wreak havoc on normal cellular metabolism. These little guys actually are highly inflammatory as well.

So are you worried that your body might be in a chronic inflammatory state? Are you concerned that a traditional carbohydrate intensive might be actually doing you more harm than energy-fulfilling good?


About the Author

Ben Greenfield

Ben Greenfield received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from University of Idaho in sports science and exercise physiology; personal training and strength and conditioning certifications from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA); a sports nutrition certification from the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN), an advanced bicycle fitting certification from Serotta. He has over 11 years’ experience in coaching professional, collegiate, and recreational athletes from all sports, and as helped hundreds of clients achieve weight loss and fitness success.