This is by no means a complete list of effective practices for fat loss but rather five practices that tend to get overlooked when it comes to achieving long term fat loss.

1) Eat a high fiber diet

This is one of the most underrated aspects of fat loss. Dr. Jonny Bowden, one of the worlds leading experts on nutrition, has a section in his book (Living Low Carb: Controlled Carbohydrate Eating for Long Term Weight Loss) on the best supplements for weight loss. Here’s what he said about fiber: “It’s not expensive, it’s not exotic, and it’s not sexy, but it works like a charm. It’s plain, old-fashioned fiber. More than a dozen clinical studies have used dietary fiber supplements for weight loss, most with positive outcomes”. Fiber helps stabilize blood sugar and control insulin, which is one of the biggest factors in fat loss. It also helps to reduce inflammation, too much inflammation is the enemy of fat loss. Fiber has also been shown to reduce the risk of several diseases, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and various forms of cancer among the many other benefits of a high fiber diet.

Most health organizations recommend around 25 grams of fiber a day for women and 38 grams a day for men. National consumption surveys indicate only 5 % of people meet the recommended daily fiber amount! Just meeting the daily recommended fiber amount would greatly help many people in their fat loss goals.

2) Control insulin and blood sugar

This is, in my opinion, the biggest key to fat loss. Regardless of what type of diet or nutrition program, someone is following controlling blood sugar should be a key emphasis. Insulin is the hormone that controls blood sugar. When you eat food, in particular, carbohydrates, your body releases insulin to process it. Eating a lot of sugar or refined/processed carbohydrates, eating too much food in one sitting, and eating processed foods can cause the body to release a lot of insulin and to release it quickly. This can lead to high insulin levels in the body. High insulin levels have been shown in studies to be linked to weight gain and obesity, in particular, abdominal obesity.

Practicing portion control, minimizing sugar and processed foods (aka junk food), eating a diet built around all-natural foods like healthy fats, lean protein and slow-digesting carbohydrates that are high fiber, exercising (strength training in particular), getting adequate sleep and controlling stress levels all will help control blood sugar and insulin function. This will go a long way towards your fat loss goals.

3) Get enough quality and consistent sleep

Sleep is of the more underrated aspects of fat loss but a very important one. Your sleep/awake cycle is known as your circadian rhythm. When you don’t get enough sleep, have uneven sleep

patterns, or don’t get enough quality sleep, this rhythm is disrupted. An irregular circadian rhythm has been linked to inflammation, obesity, depression, elevated cortisol, and several diseases. All of these can negatively affect your ability to lose body fat.

To improve your sleep and in turn, help your fat loss efforts go to bed at regular times, make your bedroom dark, turn off all electronic devices, avoid exercising late at night, don’t drink caffeine later in the day, and try practicing meditation.

4) Manage and control stress

Controlling and managing stress is a big factor in fat loss. How you handle stress and how much stress you have will greatly affect not just fat loss but your overall health. Short term stress isn’t necessarily bad. The body responds to stress, either real or perceived stress, by releasing adrenaline and cortisol. It triggers the fight or flight response in the body. It can help you stay focused, energetic, and more alert. Chronic stress, though, can wreak havoc on the body. It can suppress the immune system, increase the risk of a heart attack and stroke, age the body, and a host of other negative health issues. It can also put the breaks on your fat loss. Cortisol is elevated when the body is stressed, and if it is chronically elevated due to long term stress that causes inflammation, increases appetite and food intake, inhibits sleep and puts the body into a fat-storage zone.

Practicing relaxation techniques like deep breathing, meditation, or yoga, building healthy and positive relationships, and exercising regularly and consistently can help to lower and manage stress. Also, following a healthy nutrition program built around a balance of all-natural food and striving to improve your sleep are very important.

5) Cook and prepare all your meals and food in advance

It is simple if you fail to prepare you to prepare to fail. This requires some work to get your meals ready each day, but fat loss, like any worthwhile goal, involves sacrifice, dedication, and hard work. To save yourself, so you aren’t spending hours a day in the kitchen cooking I recommend to clients to cook the foods that require the most work and preparation like meats, fish, quinoa and rice once or twice a week and put them in separate containers in the refrigerator or freezer. This will enable you to reheat them again easily.

Everything, though, starts with breakfast or the first meal of the day. I always encourage clients to eat within one hour of waking. If you skip breakfast and go long hours before eating your first meal, your blood sugar will crash. This will cause you to make poor food choices as well as overeat. Breakfast, or your first meal depending on when you get up, sets you up for the day. It is not just essential to consume breakfast or your first meal of the day, but it is important to consume the right foods. The traditional American breakfast built around high sugar and refined carbohydrate breakfast cereals and breakfast bars, sugary pastries, and processed meats like bacon and sausage are not good options. A better option is choosing a balance of all-natural foods like lean protein such as organic, brown, cage-free eggs, lean meats, slow-digesting carbohydrates like berries and oats, and healthy fats like raw nuts, seeds, and avocado.

Once you have had a good breakfast or first meal, be sure to have some snacks or small meals packed and prepared for the rest of your day. If you don’t want to have to cook all of your meals or snacks, things like raw nuts and seeds, fruit and vegetables, Greek yogurt, and canned fish like sardines, mackerel, and salmon can be good options. The key, though, is having a plan for your nutrition and not leaving it to chance. This is one of the biggest keys to fat loss.