How To Lose Weight

A weight loss message from Coach Tonda...

So we ate too much at Christmas; are we surprised?  Nah!  That’s what Christmas is all about!  But now we are dealing with the fallout – groggy from too much sugary goodness, tummy a little rounder than it was in November, you know the drill.

I see lots of ads for cleansing and weight loss products; the usual culprits in January when everyone panics and seeks the quick fix to pursue their New Year’s resolutions.  Let’s talk about that – all of it!  Maybe we can find a way through the clamour and find some common sense!  We will address three approaches over these next three articles, so stay with me!

Weight loss products.  Well, understand there is a difference between fat loss (stuff we want to lose) and weight loss (maybe we don’t entirely want to lose all of it).  Are you a slave to your scale?  May I suggest that you stop it?  Here’s why: a scale only weighs the total weight of your mass but it doesn’t indicate what percentage is bone, lean muscle, organs, or fat.  When weight is lost rapidly, for example: more than about 2 pounds per week, chances are good that you are losing more than fat.  This happens especially when accompanied by a ‘low calorie’ diet that doesn’t support your basal metabolic rate (how many calories your body burns to live) plus the calories you burn with activity.

Yes, yes, weight loss products.  We find all kinds of ways to try to break that 2 pound a week barrier, and weight loss products promise all kinds of miraculous ways to do that.  It’s hype – there is no magic bullet.  What did I say?  There is no magic bullet!  Think of it this way; if there were a pill that made us lose weight without any effort at all, would anyone on the planet be overweight?  Hmmmm.  That being said, there are some supplements that can help, along with healthier eating and exercise practices.  Let’s take a look at what works, what doesn’t, and why.

First: Studies have shown that catechins, particularly EGCG, extracted from green tea (decaffeinated, preferably) can encourage increased activity by mitochondria (the little ‘furnaces’ that turn our food into energy measured in kilocalories).  While our muscles are rich in these little powerhouses, some of the fat in our bodies has some of them too.  In particular, the ‘brown’ fat – the fat on our bodies that protects our organs – can assist with raising our metabolism to increase burning of excess fat stores.  Brown fat gets its colour from having a higher blood flow than white or yellow fat because it needs to feed the mitochondria.  Newborns and hibernating animals have more of this fat because it will generate more heat (kilocalories) as a result.

When an individual is obese, sometimes the mitochondria in the brown fat become dormant, so the EGCG catechins can ‘wake them up’ and get them into the process. During exercise, activating more mitochondria can increase the efficiency of your body to utilize fat for fuel and you will see results more quickly.  Still not instantaneous and only marginally successful without dietary and exercise habits that are in line with that goal.  The recommended amount taken daily in divided doses is 600mg, which can be taken as 200mg three times daily, or 300mg twice daily.

Next is Hydroxy-citric acid (HCA) an extract of Garcinia Cambogia a citrus fruit that grows in southeast Asia, and is used as a condiment or food additive in that region.  We heard lots about this one on well-known TV shows, which gave it a kind of  ‘hype’ popularity, but there is good research that shows it does have helpful properties to assist with fat loss goals.  One of the main mechanisms of how it works is that it inhibits the conversion of carbohydrates to fat.  As I’ve explained many times, our bodies don’t really want to convert carbs to fat, but if we don’t deplete our carb storage tanks in our muscles, there is nowhere else for it to go.  So again, activity is the key to emptying those tanks. HCA can assist in refilling them with your dietary carbs, particularly the starchy carbs, so they won’t convert to stored fat.

Now, that being said, you must ensure that the amount of carbs you are taking in is not greater than what you need to refill those tanks, so it doesn’t give you free rein to eat nothing but starch.  They are necessary to fuel your workouts, however, so you don’t want to cut them out completely, just find the amount that is appropriate for your activity levels.  So yes, you can eat starchy carbs, in fact I encourage you to do so, particularly if you are physically active.
Recommended intake for HCA is anywhere from 750 – 1500 mg daily, preferably in divided doses (for better absorption).  Intake at these levels have been found to be safe, and while toxicity doesn’t occur at anywhere near this level, taking more than the recommended amount isn’t necessarily dangerous, but it’s not necessarily useful either.

Last, a simple mineral that sadly is rather lacking in our soil and therefore also lacking in the foods grown in most areas of North America.  Chromium is a trace mineral that has a direct impact on insulin function and sensitivity so is directly involved in normal glucose metabolism.  It has been used for at least decades to increase insulin tolerance in type II diabetics (non-insulin dependent) and hypoglycemics. 

In several controlled studies, chromium has been found to assist in reducing fat and in increasing muscle, particularly in elderly subjects, compared to a placebo.  Because insulin does play a distinct role in fat loss and muscle gain, chromium will help to regulate and even enhance these processes.  Again, eating well and exercising is key, but chromium is proven and safe to use to achieve your goals. 

While there is no official Recommended Daily Allowance for chromium, a suggestion for intake for adults is minimum 200mcg daily, and for assistance with fat loss, up to 600mcg daily.  Supplements are found in forms such as Chromium GTF, Chromium picolinate, Chromium hvp chelate.  Any of these are fine, although picolinate is much more expensive and no more effective.  It’s just important to know that the form of chromium we take as a supplement is called ‘tri-valent chromium’ because other forms of chromium, like the one that chrome-plates a muscle car’s bumper, are quite toxic.

To get all of these together in a supplement is ideal, as they enhance each others’ properties – like a ‘2 + 2 = 5’ effect.  There may be several on the market that do, but the one I know for sure has all three in the recommended amounts is a product called Body Burn by Adeeva Nutritionals.  It is available at some chiropractor offices and health food stores or can be purchased online at  I like this one in particular because there are zero stimulants, so it doesn’t kill the appetite or stress the adrenal glands, both of which could be a detriment to fat loss.

Speaking of stimulants – here are some of them, and why they are put in ‘weight loss’ products: caffeine, guarana, ma huang (where the extract ephedra comes from), green coffee bean (a source of caffeine), ephedrine (either synthetic or as a derivative of ma huang).  It is known that adrenaline produced by the body in the adrenal glands at the onset of exercise helps to open the fat cells allowing them to dump their contents and making it available to burn for fuel.  The thought behind using stimulants is that if adrenaline encourages using fat for fuel, producing more adrenaline should make you burn more fat.  Well, it is a thermogenic aid, but it comes with some issues when the stimulation is forced.

Our bodies adapt to exercise that lasts longer than 3 – 5 minutes by adding fat as a fuel because it has more than twice the energy potential, and the stores are generally greater in our bodies than stored carbohydrate.  We naturally use adrenaline to promote this process as mentioned above, so, sure supplementing it definitely helps to burn fat IF you are not a regular caffeine imbiber.  If you drink more than 2 or 3 cups of caffeinated beverages daily, you will have built up a resistance and stimulants will not be as effective for burning fat, although you will still get enhanced adrenal stimulation.  This can interfere with sleep and eating patterns and cause storage of fat in an ‘apron’ on the front of the torso, especially if stress is a big part of your life.

Also, our bodies are designed to drop our adrenaline production post-exercise to less than what it was previous to so that we will rest and recover.  If our adrenals are artificially stimulated, this reduction doesn’t occur, so can jeopardize our recovery process, thereby lessening the benefit of exercise overall.  Not saying you won’t gain any benefit, just that recovery is an important part of the whole story.

There are many supplements out there that tout their magic bullet properties, but save your money, or at least use what works and doesn’t jeopardize your health or goals!  It’s really more about returning to or at least moving toward more sensible food choices and developing that healthy movement habit. 

Next, we will look at cleansing and the benefits and misunderstandings involved!

Tonda McGillis BASc. (Nutrition), OHP/NCP

For 30 years Coach Tonda has been active in the industries of natural health, nutritional supplements and fitness.  First certified as a group fitness instructor and personal trainer in British Columbia in the 1980’s she then developed an interest in and pursued education in natural health and human sciences, eventually achieving a Bachelor’s Degree in Holistic Nutrition.  She is an Orthomolecular Health Practitioner (OHP) and Nutritional Consulting Practitioner (NCP) and is completing a Master’s Degree in Holistic Nutrition. Tonda works side by side Andrea Thatcher and leads programs for Andrea and canfitpro.

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