Fat burning foods – what are they really? Actually, the whole notion is silly. Foods do not burn fat. Metabolic redirection makes more sense.
Fat Burning Foods – No Such Thing
The common phrase that I hear is that your body is like a furnace. If that is the case, then how do you get a furnace to selectively burn just one of the fuels that are stored in it? It would be like storing oil, wood, and coal in a furnace, then adding some kind of magical ‘food’ that makes it burn just one of them. Silly, isn’t it?
It might make more sense if the ‘furnace’ had a liver, some muscles and bones, a pancreas, digestive and circulatory systems, a few hundred hormones, a brain, etc., etc. Oh, and maybe a few trillion tiny compartments (cells). And whatever else that could be built and controlled by about 30,000 genes.
My point is that we are WAY more complicated than the simplistic comparison with a furnace. The way we metabolize foods is biological, not fire-ological. (Okay, I made up that word … you can use it if you wish.)
The Key: Metabolic Redirection
This is also a phrase that I made up, although it underlies everything that happens to our bodies every day. Metabolic redirection depends on what, when, and how much we eat, on dozens of lifestyle factors, and on age. Regarding weight loss, or more accurately, fat loss, the goal is to redirect metabolism to break down stored fat, to store less fat, and to build lean body mass (muscle).
Foods can help you do that. Indeed, your ‘eating style’ (i.e., what, when, how much) may be responsible for as much as 80 percent of anything that you do for managing your metabolism. In fact, what you eat and when you eat are vastly more important than how much you eat (see How Many Calories Should I Eat Is Misguided).
The extent to which foods can help you redirect your metabolism depends on a long list of factors, the main one of which is…
This is an extensive topic, which I address in more detail in my Belly Fat Book (no charge). This includes more than 150 steroid hormones, the two most famous being estrogen and testosterone, as well as a whole slew of neurohormones and protein hormones (e.g., insulin, leptin, growth hormone).
If all you did was to pay attention to how to maintain hormone balance – specifically, to correct hormone imbalance – by eating right, then you would be on the right track. I’m going to assume that you have or will be reading about that in my book.
For now I’m just going to give you one pointer about achieving hormone balance. It is this:
Men and women: You are more than likely estrogen dominant.
Two ways to address this issue are: 1) reduce excess stored fat, since fat cells are little estrogen factories; and, 2) reduce the xenoestrogens that you are exposed to every day.
Xenoestrogens are foreign substances that act as estrogens in your body. They are not steroids. They can be as simple as bisphenol-A (BPA), phthalates, or plasticizing agents that leak into plastic containers (water bottles, foods and beverages in cans that are lined with plastic [almost all are!]), and many other common sources. Here is a short list of other sources:
- Petrochemically-derived pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides
- Car exhaust
- Solvents and adhesives such as those found in nail polish and polish remover, paint and paint remover, and glues
- Emulsifiers and waxes in soaps and cosmetics
- Chemicals used for dry cleaning
- Fabric softeners, air fresheners, and petrochemically-based perfumes
- Noxious odors coming from glues, fiberboard, new carpeting, and new paint
- Nearly all plastics
- Industrial waste such as PCBs and dioxins (VERY dangerous toxins!)
- Meat from livestock fed estrogenic drugs to fatten them up
- Synthetic estrogens and progestins that have been flushed down the toilet and have reached our drinking water and food chain (these are even being found in wild-caught fish!)
It may seem like a tall order to avoid all of these sources. Just do whatever you can.
Regarding the misguided concept of fat burning foods, the idea is really to make your foods work better for the metabolic redirection that you seek. Reducing your xenoestrogen exposure will go a long ways toward managing your estrogen dominance and redirecting your metabolism. Eating right will have a much more beneficial impact on your body fat composition when you do so.
Clarifying fat burning foods,