The holidays approach.
And with them come large meals.
Even if you aren’t the kind of person who tends to “get fat” from consuming lots of calories, it’s pretty shocking from an overall health perspective what happens when you eat a big meal at a holiday like Thanksgiving or Christmas.
We’re talking about issues that go way above and beyond indigestion, flatulence and the need to loosen your increasingly tight belt.
When you have large portion sizes, huge meals, and especially meals high in fat combined with carbohydrates and salt, there are some pretty disturbing health issues that follow shortly after eating or even the next morning – and recently scientists have found that there’s up to a 17% increase in your risk of dying from a heart attack after eating a hefty meal.
Why is this?
When you overeat, even for a single meal, the following disturbing things happen inside your body:
-Increased blood insulin levels, which decreases fat mobilization and ability to burn fatty acids as a fuel.
-Increased storage of fat and carbohydrate and conversion of sugars into fats, even with a big meal as low as 750 calories (the average American consumes about 4,500 calories during a Thanksgiving meal).
-Increased sympathetic autonomic nervous system activity from a release of norepinephrine and epinephrine, which can significantly increase blood pressure.
-Increased percentage of energy coming from carbohydrate oxidation with a decreased percentage of energy coming from fat oxidation.
-Significant reduction in endothelial (blood vessel) function for up to 4 hours (even in healthy, low cholesterol subjects) due to big accumulation of circulating triglycerides.
-Changes in the blood that allow it to clot more easily, combined with increased workload and blood flow to the stomach and intestines, thus raising the risk of heart attack.
-Clusters of solid food material that can get stuck in the narrow duct that connects your gallbladder to your intestine, causing potential for gallstones.
-And the list goes on and on…including increased inflammation from overstuffed fat cells, reduction in sensitivity to appetite control hormones, and large vacuoles of triglyceride based fat building up in the liver (fatty liver).
But if you’re anything like me, you’re a freaking human being and you like to enjoy life, so you’re probably going to have at least one meal during the holidays in which you consume some significant amounts food, often accompanied by higher amounts of carbohydrate or alcohol than you may normally consume.
So what are some things you can you do to maximize fat loss, control appetite and limit the damage from excessive eating?
First of all, as I mention in my free Thanksgiving Fitness Survival Guide, multiple studies have shown that a pre-meal exercise session, a post-meal exercise session, or both can significantly increase fat oxidation and metabolic rate. In addition to that Thanksgiving Fitness Survival Guide, here are some other ideas for simple holiday fitness strategies that you can use.
The general range of exercise time used in most studies is 20-40 minutes, although Tim Ferriss discusses successful blood sugar control in his 4 Hour Body Book with as few as 40 “air squats” in the bathroom stall. It’s more effective if you do this session as a “glycogen depleting” session, meaning that you’re using up your body’s storage carbohydrates. So this means that pre-meal exercise session should ideally be performed fasted.
2. Eat The Right Thing Before
When you eat meal a few hours before a big meal you can get what’s known as a “second meal effect”, which means that your response to the big meal can be improved by whatever you ate before. More specifically, if you eat a meal that is low in fat and with high percentage of low-glycemic index carbohydrates, “resistant starch” (like beans, mostly unripe bananas or sourdough bread), and dietary fiber, you have decreased glucose and insulin responses as well as reduced blood triglycerides after your next meal.
In practical terms, this could mean doing something as simple as a few hours prior to your big meal doing a fasted exercise bout and then afterwards having a big salad full of kale, spinach and arugula, with some resistant starch like kidney or black beans on top. Or you could just eat a green-ish banana. To me, both these options sounds somewhat disgusting, and I’ll stick to my standby method “fasting + cold thermogenesis”.
3. Use The Right Supplements
Two very recent “fat burning supplement” studies came to my attention.
One looked into something called “alpinia officinarum“, a plant in the ginger family, and found that it contains a dietary flavenol called galangin, which may prevent obesity by suppressing the kind of genes that would contribute to you becoming overweight or obese. But there’s no evidence that alpinia officinarum does anything for you if you time it in conjunction with a big meal.
Another study looked at the reduction of lipid accumulation in white adipose tissues by a seed extract called “Cassia tora”. This study found that after fattening rats for 2 weeks with a high-fat diet, a Cassia seed ethanol extract completed stopped the high-fat diet-induced weight gain. But because this study is so new, I have yet to find a decent source of the huge amounts of Cassia seed extract they were feeding these fat rats.
But there’s another supplement (actually a medication) that can also mitigate much of the high insulin damage and inflammation from a high-calorie meal. It’s called “Metformin”, and it’s the drug of choice in treating insulin-resistant type 2 diabetes (as you can see here, Metformin also happens to be a growing favorite among author Robb Wolf and the Paleo community).
However, there’s even a few problems with Metformin:
1. You need a prescription for it.
2. Blood sugar control can actually become more difficult when combining Metformin and exercise, causing basically a blood sugar “roller coaster ride”.
3. Effective doses of Metformin can cause diarrhea, upset stomach, nausea and moderate to severe gastrointestinal upset.
Fortunately, there are some fat burning supplements you can use that are readily available without a prescription, and don’t cause the side effects of something like Metformin (one of which called “Kion Lean” that may actually be even more effective than Metformin regulating blood glucose levels, without the deleterious effects on blood sugar control when combined with exercise).
The 3 Best Fat Burning Supplements
The following 3 supplements are items that you can literally use 30-60 minutes prior to a very large meal, by just popping 1-2 capsules. While any of them by themselves will have a good effect at mitigating much of the damage of overeating, all three together will make for a very good “damage control” fat burning stack.
-healthy liver function
-blood sugar regulation
-lower body fat levels
-anti-aging factors associated with longevity
How Kion Lean Works
There are just a handful of true “longevity hotspots” in the world. One is Bama County, located in western China on the slopes of the Himalayas. Circa 2000, this location boasted at least 79 men and women over 100 years old and still very active out of a population of less than 230,000. Their ratio of 3.52 centenarians per 10,000 people is the highest found anywhere in the world. Bama County has a secret…Japan’s residents have the longest average lifespan of any other country in the world.
Amongst Japan’s many islands, the people of Okinawa are the longest-lived. Okinawa has a secret…in both Bama County and Okinawa medical researchers have found that key foods play a significant role in the longevity of the inhabitants.
In Bama County much credit is given to the daily consumption of a plant they call shilianhua, or “rock lotus”. In Okinawa, a role similar to that of rock lotus is filled by wild bitter melon. Not the bitter melon found in vegetable markets, but a smaller and far more bitter version that grows wild. So what do rock lotus and wild bitter melon have in common that promote fat burning, liver health and anti-aging?
The answer involves caloric restriction and insulin. Only two mechanisms have been shown to be successful in promoting longevity in higher organisms. The first mechanism lowers the levels of insulin and insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1). The second mechanism restricts calories, which usually has, as one result, a lowering of circulating insulin levels. Rock lotus influences both of these mechanisms. According to a Jutendo Medical University of Japan clinical trial, rock lotus improves liver function and fatty liver. This action resembles that of compounds known to reduce insulin levels as an aspect of improved blood glucose control. Less insulin means less fat storage.
Wild bitter melon is similarly health promoting. For example, it has been found that extracts of the wild bitter melon activate cellular machinery to regulate energy production (technically AMPK-activated protein kinase) and the way that fats are handled by the liver. Activation of this metabolic pathway is important to aging. It is sometimes referred to as “exercise in a bottle” because activation of AMPK is an aspect of the benefits derived from exercise. The effect of an extract from the wild genotype of bitter melon called Glycostat® has proved to be more powerful than others on the market and much more consistent in producing positive results.
Interestingly, neurosurgeon and cold thermogenesis expert Jack Kruse, who I’ve had on a previous podcast, recommends combining bitter melon extract with cold thermogenesis to enhance the formation of metabolically active Brown Adipose Tissue.
In short, rock lotus and Glycostat® work better in combination. Both promote better blood sugar control with less insulin. Both promote healthy blood pressure. Both support healthy liver function. And both mimic changes in cellular energy metabolism typical of caloric restriction.
Even if you can’t live in a longevity hotspot such as Bama County or Okinawa, Kion Lean can bring the longevity hotspot to you, along with potent fat burning benefits! To get full benefits of the Kion Lean fat burning and blood sugar control effects, simply take 1-2 capsules prior to any of your primary meals of the day.
ThermoFactor fat loss supplement is a formula that successfully addresses major issues associated with weight gain. Its ingredients provide powerful thermogenic support and help control the appetite and blood sugar balance. Especially good for controlling carbohydrate cravings and increasing insulin sensitivity.
To hear about why ThermoFactor actually works, simply click here (will link to an article about why low-fat diets make you fat, and an interview with the formulator of ThermoFactor).
The ingredients of ThermoFactor are:
Citrus aurantium Extract (Advantra Z) – Advantra Z is extracted from the dried immature fruit of the bitter orange. More effective than ephedrine upon thermogenesis, it increases metabolic rate without the side effects. It helps suppress appetite and increase the release of fatty acids from storage. Athletes benefit from the ability to exercise longer without exhaustion or lean tissue loss.
Green Tea Extract (Camellia sinensis) – Green tea works synergistically with Advantra Z to increase thermogenesis. It is recognized as an overall health tonic containing powerful antioxidants.
L-Tyrosine – The amino acid L-tyrosine increases the appetite suppressing abilities of Advantra Z. It is a precursor to a number of neurotransmitters and hormones. L-tyrosine is a minor stimulant for the release of growth hormone (GH) and thus important for metabolism (including thermogenesis).
Chromium – Insulin plays a major role in fat storage. Chromium is a trace mineral that potentiates the effects of insulin, causing less insulin to be needed. Blood sugar levels are thus stabilized, and less fat is stored. Perhaps 90% of all Americans are deficient in chromium. It helps decrease LDL, cholesterol and triglycerides, while raising the levels of desirable HDL.
Vanadyl Sulfate – Vanadyl sulfate mimics many of the activities of insulin. It is biologically active even in the absence of insulin. It possesses anti-catabolic properties: reducing the breakdown of muscle protein for energy. It also prevents the storage of excess carbohydrates as fat.
Manganese – Manganese is another mineral that plays an important role in carbohydrate metabolism. It is a cofactor with many of the enzymes that affect sugar metabolism.
3. Lean Factor
LeanFactor is a combination muscle-building, fat loss formula with a blend of ingredients important for metabolic boosting, thyroid function and the addition of lean muscle tissue. It’s best for adding lean muscle and burning fat quickly, especially for individuals with a low metabolism.
To hear about why LeanFactor actually works, simply click here (will link to an article about why low-fat diets make you fat, and an interview with the Lean Factor formulator).
Lean Factor’s ingredients are:
Guggulsterones – Guggul is another name for the plant Commiphora wightii. Clinical research has shown that it can significantly reduce cholesterol and triglycerides while increasing beneficial HDL. Indian research indicates that guggul improves the actions of the thyroid and its hormones.
Forskolin – Forskolin is the active component of Coleus forskohlii. It works to activate adenylate cyclase which in turn increases the amount of cAMP operating in cells. This increases the ability of cells to respond to signals from thyroid and adrenal hormones. Perhaps the best-researched aspects of Forskolin involve its ability to encourage lypolysis. It also inhibits the synthesis of fat in adipocytes (fat cells). The end result is its ability to increase the ratio of lean to fat tissues in the body.
Potassium – Thermogenesis is strongly related to the transport of potassium ions across the cell membrane. A depressed sodium potassium pump will lead to a depressed basal metabolic rate. LeanFactor includes a particularly beneficial source of this mineral, potassium aspartate, which increases energy levels.
So let’s say you wake up on the morning of a big holiday meal or celebration during which you know you’re probably going to be eating lots of calories. What does an “ideal” damage control scenario look like?
1. Start the day with a fasted exercise session, preferably with cold exposure or cold immersion either before or after (or during if you’re going for a swim). Also, go for an easy walk or light cardio session immediately after the big meal.
2. If you’re going to eat a few hours before the big meal, eat primarily fiber and resistant starches. And if you need help choosing the right foods during the meal, check out my free Thanksgiving Fitness Survival Guide.
And that’s it! Do you have questions, comments or feedback about these strategies to maximize fat loss, control appetite and limit the damage from overeating? Just leave your thoughts below.