Lose Weight For Summer: Top Five Supplementation Tips For Optimal Body Composition
Lose excess body fat fast by supplementing with nutrients that will help your body be a fat burning machine. Best body composition results will come if you strength train, are active on a regular basis, and round out smart eating with key supplementation.
Although the supplements covered in this article will help anyone and everyone with body composition, you really need to focus fat loss around a training program and intelligent eating as well. It's very difficult to out-train a poor diet, and it’s impossible to out-supplement a poor diet.
There is no magic pill that will melt fat from your body without causing serious damage to health, but you can have better fat loss results by supplementing with these key nutrients.
The Run Down on Supplementation for Fat Loss
The point of supplementation is to help you avoid deficiencies that may arise from even the best, well planned diet. Supplementation to support fat loss is based on the desire to assist the body in the following physiological mechanisms:
1) Help the body use the fat stores you have for fuel
2) Increase insulin sensitivity and glucose health
3) Elevate protein synthesis
4) Support optimal hormone levels for fat loss
Tip #1: Get Enough Omega-3 Fats
The omega-3 fats are supplied in fish and to a smaller degree in pasture-raised meat. It's possible to get all the omega-3 fat you need from diet, but many people find a high quality fish oil supplement helps round out their omega-3 intake.
Omega-3 fats are so important because all the cells in the body are made up of a double layer of fats, and the fat that makes up those layers dictates how well your metabolism will work. If the cell layers contain omega-3 fats, they will be more permeable and sensitive to insulin. This allows the cell receptors to bind more easily, which improves energy use and fat burning.
If your cells are made up of unhealthy fat, they will not bind with insulin easily, which leads to fat gain and elevated cortisol—the stress hormone.
Studies show that supplementing with omega-3s can significantly increase lean muscle mass, while decreasing body fat at the same time. Omega-3 fish oil has also been found to improve the body’s testosterone-to-cortisol ratio by lowering cortisol. It also turns on the fat burning genes, while turning off the lipogenic or fat storing genes.
For example, one of the reasons people lose muscle mass and have poorer brain function as they age is that the gene signaling pathways that tell the body to start protein synthesis or make connections in the brain no longer “turn on” unless certain nutrients are present. Two of the most important nutrients are omega-3 fats and high-quality protein.
Research studies into omega-3 intake are few but there is evidence that even a small dose of 1.8 grams of fish oil a day for three months can increase fat burning by 22 percent. Other studies have shown 2 to 4 kg drops in body fat from taking 3 grams a day of fish oil for three months, which although not huge, would certainly be more dramatic if paired with exercise and a careful diet.
Tip #2: Get Plenty of Probiotic Bacteria
Probiotic bacteria aid digestion and support gastrointestinal health for better digestion. A healthy gut will help you lose fat, have more energy and feel better.
Probiotics are the tiny bacteria that naturally occur in the gut, but they can be easily overwhelmed by unhealthy bacteria like E. coli, chemical pollution such as heavy metals, oxidative stress, or high cortisol.
It’s very difficult to lose fat if you don’t have a healthy gut for two interrelated reasons. First, more than half of the neurotransmitters that send messages from the brain to cells and hormone receptors throughout the body are made in the gastrointestinal lining.
If you have unhealthy bacteria in the gut, it will negatively influence the production of neurotransmitters, leading to poor cognitive function, low mood, and low motivation. Lack of motivation and poor energy will leave you with a lack of drive to exercise and eat well. Low mood and depression can also frustrate your fat loss goals.
The second reason gut health is essential is that it will improve digestion and help you feel better. You will feel more energetic because your neurotransmitters will be firing at optimal levels, and your metabolism will be supported so that nutrients get absorbed and used by the body in an effective manner.
By increasing the amount of good microflora in your gut, you will significantly increase levels of the compound glutathione, which is the number one internal antioxidant in the body. When you have more glutathione you will be healthier, leaner, and much more resistant to chronic disease.
Tip #3: Optimize Protein Intake
A healthy protein intake is essential if you want to lose body fat because protein is satisfying, reducing hunger, and it is preferentially used by the body to build muscle and tissue instead of being stored as fat.
Research shows that eating a large dose of high-quality protein multiple times throughout the day is associated with lower body fat percentage. For example, a recent study found that people who reached a high-quality protein “threshold” that was defined as at least 10 grams of essential amino acids (EAAs) more often during the day, had less visceral belly fat and less total fat.
High-quality protein is necessary because you get more bang for your calorie buck by eating this kind of protein since it contains more EAAs per gram of protein. Greater EAA and protein intake helps maximally stimulate protein synthesis, raise metabolic rate, and make the cells more sensitive to insulin.
For the fastest, healthiest fat loss, it’s best to approach protein intake from a number of angles. First, you should eat high-quality animal protein at meals because this is satiating and will provide nutrients like carnitine, creatine, and carnosine that support body composition and performance. Second, supplement with a protein such as whey protein after working out. Whey protein is a superior supplemental protein that can help you boost protein intake and recover faster from hard training.
Tip #4 Get Enough of the Big Three: Zinc, Magnesium, Vitamin D
Get enough zinc, magnesium, and vitamin D—these nutrients are extremely important for fat loss and metabolism. If you are low in any one of these three, your fat loss attempts may be blunted.
Adequate vitamin D in the body will increase fat burning directly, but it also suppresses the production of enzymes that cause the body to store fat. There’s evidence that higher vitamin D suppresses hunger and increases insulin sensitivity, leading people to eat less.
Magnesium also makes the cell receptors more sensitive to insulin, and this mineral has been shown to be inversely linked to body fat—higher magnesium means you’ll be leaner. But the real benefit of raising your magnesium levels is on physical performance, sleep, and cardiovascular health.
Magnesium calms the nervous system and helps regulate heart function, which is why raising magnesium will help you sleep better. Research shows that raising daily magnesium intake to 500 mg can lead to less anxiety in subjects who suffer from insomnia, thereby allowing them to sleep better. An added benefit of less anxiety and better rest is less of the stress hormone cortisol, which hinders fat loss when elevated.
Zinc also plays a primary role in insulin health by improving the production of enzymes that protect the cells, and it helps detoxify inflammatory biomarkers that get in the way of metabolic function. Low zinc can cause numerous other health problems including poor brain function, cancer, and heart disease.
To ensure you get enough of the Big Three, it’s best to supplement with each nutrient separately for the following reasons:
• Most people need to take up to 2,000 IUs of vitamin D a day during the winter to ensure their levels are above 30 ng/ml, which is a minimal healthy level. Some people will benefit more from a higher dose taken twice weekly. For best results, get your level tested and supplement accordingly.
• It’s best to take a blend of different magnesium forms such as magnesium bound with fumarate, glycinate, taurate, and ororate. These forms are better metabolized and more effective in the body than cheaper forms such as magnesium oxide.
• Depending on how low your zinc level is, you may be able to rely on food or a multi-vitamin for it, but those with very low levels should supplement with zinc for a few weeks, and then get their levels tested because this is a nutrient that can build up to toxic levels.
Tip #5: Support Detoxification with B Vitamins and Methylated Folate
Support detoxification and fat burning by ensuring you have adequate B vitamins. Although there are a bunch of fat-burning nutrients that can be helpful—carnitine, taurine, alpha lipoic acid, green tea, coffee, fenugreek—none of those will be as beneficial if you don’t get enough B vitamins.
B vitamins are necessary to help the body eliminate environmental toxins and excess hormones such as estrogen. People who eat a high protein-diet increase their demand for B vitamins, which takes away from the pool needed for elimination and may inhibit fat loss.
Vitamin B6 is necessary for proper protein metabolism, the use of muscle glycogen for energy (critical for athletes), and the metabolism of hormones such as cortisol.
Additionally, a majority of the population is genetically predisposed to be unable to process folic acid or B9 effectively. If you have this genetic variation, you will need a methylated form of folic acid that can bypass the problem. Low B9 can lead to poor detoxification and high levels of homocysteine, which put you at risk for cardiovascular disease.
B6, B12, and B9 also promote the removal of estrogen down a pathway that is less likely to cause cancer. Effective removal of estrogen will help with fat loss because higher estrogen levels correlate with higher body fat. Plus, the enzyme aromatase, which turns testosterone to estrogen in the body, is higher if you have more body fat.
Once you have the B vitamins covered, research shows that other nutrients such as green tea, magnesium, and alpha lipoic acid are that much more effective for fat loss because the building blocks for elimination are in place. Start with a B complex that includes a methylated B9 for best results.