by Brett Cohen
Fix #1: Fix Your Sleep
Research has shown that people who sleep less than seven
hours a night are up to 75 percent more likely to be obese.
Researchers from the Centers of Disease Control and
Prevention looked at data from the 2010 National Health
Interview Survey on sleep habits of U.S. workers. They
found that 30 percent of people in the study – which
calculates to about 40.6 million workers in the U.S. – get
fewer than six hours of sleep a night. A lack of sleep will
cause an increase in the appetite-stimulating hormone
ghrelin, and a corresponding decrease in leptin, a hormone
that helps you feel full.
But it’s not simply how many hours of sleep you get. It also
depends on when you get them. Many of our hormones are
produced in tune with the cycles of the sun and moon –
our natural circadian rhythms. With the rising of the sun
comes an increase in the the stress activating hormone
(cortisol) which peaks around mid-morning. As the day
progresses, cortisol levels decrease allowing for the release
of melatonin (the growth and repair hormone).
Our bodies are designed to wind down from sunset until
about 10 p.m. when sleep and physical repair should
begin. Your body’s physical repair cycle is from 10 p.m. to
2 a.m. and your body’s psychogenic repair takes place
predominantly from 2 to 6 a.m. So if you’re not going to
sleep until midnight, you’re missing out on two hours of
physical repair. Chronic exposure to light at night tells the
adrenal glands to continue their production of cortisol.
And if you’re constantly releasing cortisol during the day
and into the evening you will keep that dreaded belly
around your waist.
Fix #2: Fix Your Diet
The first rule of dieting is DON’T DIET!
If diets actually worked, then 60 percent of the U.S.
population would not be overweight and obese. If there
was a magic diet that worked for everyone there would not
be thousands of diet books crowding the shelves in the
bookstore. There’d only be ONE. Yes, if you go on a diet
you may lose weight, but I guarantee you will gain it back,
and then some.
You may often hear it’s simply calories in-calories out that
matters, but it’s not that simple. Calorically restrictive
diets don’t work in the long run because they disrupt
important hormones and enzymes and will only set you up
for long-term failure. It’s not simply how much you eat, it’s
what and when you eat it that is important.
Instead of dieting, learn how to eat right for you metabolic
type which is based on your own physiology. This is the
first step in determining the optimal fuel ratio for your
Diet Do’s and Dont’s:
• Do eat protein at every meal (this will help build blood
sugar balance and keep your blood sugar levels stable).
• Don’t skip breakfast (especially important for females).
• Don’t skip meals and let your blood sugar levels crash.
• Finally, avoid processed and commercial foods as much
as possible as they have a negative effect on your health as
well as increasing body fat.
Fix #3: Fix Your Fluids
This is a big one! Approximately 75 percent of Americans
are chronically dehydrated. In 37 percent of Americans,
the thirst mechanism is so week that it is often mistaken
for hunger. Even mild dehydration will slow down one’s
metabolism as much as three percent.
When I ask my clients how much water they drink in a
day, the most common response is, “Not Enough”! Well
what is enough? The rule for how much water you should
drink is very simple. Drink half of your body weight in
ounces per day. For example, a 200-pound man needs 100
ounces per day. That’s approximately three liters per day.
Hydration helps to normalize cortisol levels. Cortisol
regulation is the most important factor for performance
As you’re drinking water your body will be less likely to
hold onto water. Drinking H2O will signal your kidneys to
increase the hormone that tells your body to release water
(making you pee). So keep the water coming in so you
body will flush it out.
Oh, and other fluids (coffee, tea, juices, soda, soups, milk)
DO NOT COUNT!
Fix #4: Fix Your Fitness
Oh yeah, exercise. Let’s not forget that. Exercise is such a
broad term. It means different things to different people.
But the majority of the population needs a lot more of it!
For many, the first type of exercise many people choose for
weight loss is to put on a pair of running shoes and go for a
jog. Seems logical, practical, but this type of exercise is
actually the least efficient method for fat loss. Back to that
later. What you want to pick are activities that do promote
fat loss, long after the exercise is over. And these would be:
1. Metabolic Resistance Training (a.k.a. Strength
Training or Weight Training) Resistance training
increases and maintains lean muscle tissue, which boosts
your metabolism long after the training ends.
Resistance training offers the biggest bang for your buck
towards achieving a lean, fit body. My advice is to forget
about traditional machine-based exercise and body part
training (e.g. Chest & Tri’s/Back & Bi’s).That is so
yesterday! Be sure to find a qualified coach to teach you a
functional movement based approach to total body
2. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) HIIT is
cardio performed at such an intense level that you are
actually performing anaerobically rather than aerobically.
This type of training burns more calories than steady-state
training. HIIT also elevates your metabolism for hours
after you finish because you consume a great deal more
oxygen recovering from the bout of exercise than you
would have if you’d just done a steady-state workout. This
is known as Exercise Post Oxygen Consumption,
(E.P.O.C). It will have you burning up to nine times more
fat while sitting on the couch later that night than if you
had spent an hour on the treadmill watching the news.
3. High-Intensity Cardio Interval Training This is
aerobic cardio, but it’s still intervals. Longer periods of
intensity with longer periods of rest than the previous
model. It increases whole body and skeletal muscle
capacity for fatty acid oxidation during and after the
training is over.
4. Steady State Cardio: I promised I’d come back to it.
Almost always a new exercisers first choice is last on the
list when it comes to burning calories efficiently. This type
of exercise burns calories during the workout, but that’s it.
• It does not build lean body tissue.
• It will not increase your resting metabolic rate (RMR).
• It does not increase E.P.O.C.
Fix #5: Fix Your Fun Time
We’re all over-stressed and over stimulated. Your body
and mind need time to repair and recover from the daily
grind as well as your exercise program, which is just
Chronic stress keeps cortisol levels high all day long which
will increase body fat storage and have a negative effect on
Make sure you add stress-reducing activities or inactivities
into your week such as: stretching, yoga, walking,
meditation, a hot bath, a massage or even a good movie
with a friend.
Brett’s Cohen’s Bottom Line:
If you want permanent, long-lasting fat loss you need to
understand that being lean isn’t just a summer fling. It’s a
permanent relationship with yourself, for yourself.
The only thing thing that works long term is changing the
lifestyle patterns and thinking patterns that put the
pounds on in the first place. That means learning what to
eat and when to eat it based on your own physiology. It
means implementing a lifestyle plan that includes
sufficient amounts of water, movement and rest that will
stimulate your metabolism as well as improve your quality
Remember, the body never lies. If you don’t like what you
see in the mirror, only you have the power to change that.
For more information on how you can live a healthy and
well-balanced lifestyle, visit Integrated Training
System.-Written by Brett Cohen