Cheat meals: Good idea or bad idea?


A lot of people wonder how often it’s okay to “cheat” a little on their normal diet–whether it’s okay to have a bite of not-so-good food or a meal of it every now and then.


One thing that is valuable is understanding whether your personality type (as it relates to emotional eating or junk food eating) is whether you are an ABSTAINER or MODERATOR.

So for example, one common piece of advice might be “Be balanced in your approach to changing your junk food eating habits. Don’t have ice cream and potato chips every night, but maybe once in a while, because if you try to restrict too extremely, you’ll fall off the wagon and binge.”

This kind of advice works really well for the “Moderator” personalities. But believe it or not, some “Abstainer” personalities actually find it easier to just abstain from the substance entirely. I have worked with dozens of abstainer personality types who find this “balanced” approach totally counterproductive, as it throws their dietary habits off for days (or sometimes up to 2 weeks) after the “cheat.” (And there is evidence to support the notion that cheat meals can be counterproductive.)

If moderators try to abstain, they feel compelled to revolt and triggered to binge. If abstainers try to moderate their eating behaviors, they will often consume lots of psychological energy rationalizing to themselves about why they should indulge.

To put this more simply:

MODERATOR: does best with occasional indulges or “cheat days” and panics at the thought of having to “never” eat something again.

ABSTAINER: Has trouble STOPPING once they’ve started, and tend not to be tempted by things once they’ve decided that they’re off-limits.

Both approaches can work for some people, but it’s important to figure out the best strategy for YOU as a unique individual.

Know your personality! Your individual personality tendencies–whether you’re more of a moderator or abstainer–DO influence what strategies will work best for you.

So cheat days are a good idea for some personalities, and a terribly counterproductive approach for others.

Is the air you’re breathing making you fat and tired?

Did you know that the oxygen content of earth’s atmosphere is actually changing?
According to professor Ervin Lazlo, the drop in atmospheric oxygen has potentially serious consequences:
“Evidence from prehistoric times indicates that the oxygen content of pristine nature was above the 21% of total volume that it is today. It has decreased in recent times due mainly to the burning of coal in the middle of the last century. Currently the oxygen content of the Earth’s atmosphere dips to 19% over impacted areas, and it is down to 12 to 17% over the major cities. At these levels it is difficult for people to get sufficient oxygen to maintain bodily health: it takes a proper intake of oxygen to keep body cells and organs, and the entire immune system, functioning at full efficiency. At the levels we have reached today cancers and other degenerative diseases are likely to develop. And at 6 to 7% life can no longer be sustained.”
This is a factor in health and sickness that is almost never mentioned, and yet there is simply no doubt that it’s a major factor in health and body composition and energy levels.
There is even some evidence that changes in the oxygen and CO2 content of the atmosphere may affect your body’s ability to regulate bodyweight and may be a contributing factor to obesity. See here:
Unfortunately, this is a factor that affects the entire planet, and isn’t really subject to us changing it.
Or is it? …
Where is this issue likely to be most problematic?
Three places: In big cities, at higher altitude, and INDOORS.
So, if you live in any of these places, here’s what you need to do:
1) Consider changing your environment to whatever extent is possible.
*** If you live in a big city, is it possible for you to move to a smaller city or more rural area? If so, consider it!
*** If you live at high altitude, consider moving to lower altitude.
*** If you live in a big city that is both at altitude and very polluted, then you should really consider moving. (Oxygen content in high altitude cities that are polluted is extremely low).
Of course, many people are unable or unwilling to move since this is a pretty big decision.
But consider this… According to Janice Nolen of the American Lung Association, “Six out of 10 Americans right now as we speak live in areas where the air can be dirty enough to send people to the emergency room, dirty enough to shape how kids’ lungs develop and even dirty enough to kill.”
Moving to a less populated and less polluted area is the most important thing. From there, if you can, look for a place with abundant nature around you.
Here is a list of the cities in the U.S. with some of the best air quality, and cities with the worst air quality:…/report-lists-worst-best-cities-a…/…
If you cannot or are unwilling to move to a location with better air, then…
2) Go forest bathing frequently. Make an effort to do forest bathing at least 3 times a week. What is forest bathing? Walking through a forested area (or any area with lots of trees and plant life). The evidence on the benefits of forest bathing is overwhelming, and it’s one of the most profoundly healthy things you can do–it benefits everything from your mood to your immune system to your energy level to your overall wellbeing and quality of life. It is a powerful tool in the toolbelt of anyone looking for better health, better energy levels, and a better body.
See here for a summary of the research on this important subject:
3) Put plants all over your house and office space! Indoor environments are especially poor in oxygen–even more so than the already oxygen depleted atmosphere.
So… CHANGE THAT SITUATION IN YOUR IMMEDIATE MICROENVIRONMENT by introducing lots of plants around you.
We are coupled with plants–we inspire oxygen and expire carbon dioxide. They do the opposite–they take in our carbon dioxide and release oxygen for us to breathe.
So if you spend lots of time in a house and office without plants around you, you are doing a great disservice to your body, to your mood, and to your energy levels.
If you want a list of the best plants for indoor environments for improving air quality, this one by NASA is the one to go with:…/
So get on it, my friends. You now have some awesome new tools in your tool belt for improving your health, body, and energy levels. Put this knowledge into practice! smile emoticon

Obesity and not wanting to move

After my post yesterday, I had a couple people comment that they are overweight and that being heavier simply makes it much harder, more painful (on joints and such) and more of a struggle (breathing heavy, sweating, etc) to move your body.
Thus, the idea is that it actually makes logical sense and is not unreasonable that heavier people would make efforts to move their bodies less to avoid that pain/struggle.
First, let me say that these observations are UNDOUBTEDLY CORRECT.
It is absolutely 100% true that if you’re heavier, it’s harder and more painful to move your body.
It is by the way, also true that obesity results in neurological changes that cause fatigue and make one less likely to want to move their bodies.
It is also known that obese people generally are less inclined to move their bodies from a genetic perspective as well. (NEAT–spontaneous physical activity–is strongly influenced by genetics).
So it’s important to recognize that there are actually very real physiological mechanisms going on that make overweight people less inclined to move their bodies, and more inclined to look for ways to avoid movement.
The human body is a dynamic living adaptive substance. It is constantly adapting to it’s environment.
*** If you go to altitude, the body ADAPTS by increasing red blood cell count to carry more oxygen.
*** If you lift heavy objects, the body ADAPTS by growing muscle to get stronger and lift heavy objects with greater ease.
*** If you run or swim or cycle long distances, the body ADAPTS by increasing the heart’s ability to pump blood and increasing capillaries and mitochondria in muscle to have greater endurance.
The body is ALWAYS adapting to the environmental stimuli you subject it to.
Likewise, if you are a weight lifter and you’ve built a lot of muscle, and then you STOP lifting weights for several months, you RAPIDLY LOSE THAT ADAPTATION (strength and muscle).
Similarly, if you are a runner or cyclist and you get those adaptations mentioned above, and then you STOP running or cycling, YOU RAPIDLY LOSE ALL OF THOSE ADAPTATIONS.
Personal story: I myself love to rock climb. Yet, I am absolutely NOT built like a rock climber! I am 200 pounds. There aren’t any elite rock climbers who weigh anywhere close to that much. The elite male rock climbers usually weigh somewhere between 125-160 pounds. They are the same height as me and generally 50 pounds lighter.
Why do I bring this up?
There is a reason that no elite rock climbers are anywhere close to as heavy as I am. Because being heavy while rock climbing is a HUGE DISADVANTAGE–it means more weight to drag up a cliff, and more pressure, stress, and PAIN on the finger joints.
Like obese people being in pain when they do physical movement, I also struggle with intense physical pain while rock climbing on routes that have very small holds that put all the pressure on the first joint of the fingers.
I am extremely strong and athletic, but just because of my size, there are guys who are skinny as rails who have no muscle on their bodies who can do things while rock climbing on that kind of route that I just CANNOT DO because they put my finger joints/tendons in too much pain and would cause me to tear my tendons.
So I have a choice: I can say that since it puts me in pain to do those routes with tiny holds, I am just not going to do any of it, or maybe stop rock climbing all together.
OR …
I can understand that my body is constantly ADAPTING to its environment, and by continuing to expose my body to that stimulus, I will eventually get my finger joints/tendons strong enough to handle the stress of carrying my bodyweight on tiny holds.
Here’s the point: If you’re overweight, you are in the exact same situation.
Yes, your body naturally wants to move less as you get heavier, and yes, it becomes more painful and more of a struggle to do it.
BUT… If you listen to those signals from your body and stop moving so much, your body will LOSE whatever little adaptations for moving you have and IT WILL BECOME EVEN HARDER AND MORE PAINFUL TO MOVE.
Where does that lead? It leads to rapidly declining metabolic health, loss of vitality/energy, crappy mood, poor quality of life, and lots of diseases.
The more you choose not to move, the harder it becomes to move. Everyday you look for opportunities not to move, IT WILL ONLY GET WORSE.
It is a vicious cycle. The less you move, the more fatigued you feel, the more pain and struggle you feel when you do try to move, and THE LESS YOU WANT TO MOVE, ad infinitum.
Yes, it is harder for you. But that’s all the more reason that you have to start doing it NOW.
The longer you wait, the harder it will get to reverse your way out of that vicious cycle.
Remember that your body is ALWAYS ADAPTING–both to activity and inactivity. The more you do it, the easier it becomes to do it. The less you do it, the harder it becomes to do it.
So start now. It is never too late. Start wherever you’re at, with baby steps and build from there.
Now is the time to turn the vicious downward cycle into a positive upward cycle.
The more you look for opportunities to move, the fitter your heart/lungs/joints/tendons/muscles become for movement, the leaner you become, the more energetic you become and THE MORE YOU WANT TO MOVE EVEN MORE.

Cravings — Should You Fight Them or Listen To Them?

There’s a lot of confusion out there over craving. And this confusion is causing a lot of problems. People trying to adopt all sorts of restrictive habits and setting themselves up for falling off the wagon and bingeing. Or perhaps trying to listen to their body’s signals and that approach resulting nothing except a fatter body and even worse health.

You can find all sorts of conflicting information over cravings online, with some people writing articles about “10 ways to kill your cravings” and others writing articles about how you should listen to by “giving your body what it needs.”

So what’s the deal–are cravings something to be “killed” or “listened to”?


You have two general lines of thinking about cravings:

The “Fight Your Cravings” Fitness Gurus and the “Listen to Your Cravings” Intuitive Eating Gurus

1. THE ‘FIGHT YOUR CRAVINGS’ GROUP: This group thinks cravings are bad and the way to go is abstinence — that we all just need to force ourselves to stop eating these foods through sheer willpower. Do “sugar detoxes”, force ourselves to “eat low-fat” or cut out the junk with forced who food “cleanses” and “30-day challenges.”

Personal trainer blowing whistle in health club

This guy wants you to CRUSH your cravings through willpower! This group likes to believe that cravings are some intelligent sign from their body telling them what their body “needs” and that by following their cravings, they are “eating intuitively” or “listening to their body.”


2. THE ‘LISTEN TO YOUR CRAVINGS’ GROUP: This group likes to believe that cravings are some intelligent sign from their body telling them what their body “needs” and that by following their cravings, they are “eating intuitively” or “listening to their body.”

But intuitive eating advocates say that you should listen to your body and give it what it needs.


So which advice should you follow?


Why I Don’t Agree With Either of These Groups

Simple: They’re both wrong.

First of all, let’s get this out of the way: Yes, cravings are sometimes intelligent. For example:

  • A craving for water is intelligent if you’re genuinely dehydrated, but if you’re one of those people who drinks a gallon of water a day and you constantly find yourself needing a sip of water every few minutes, that is NOT an intelligent craving that you should listen to.
  • If a person has been systematically depriving their body of protein for years, a craving for some fish or a steak may actually be an intelligent sign of your body needing that substance. But if you eat animal flesh daily and you still constantly find yourself craving a steak every day, that’s probably NOT an intelligent craving from your body.
  • Similarly, if you’re eating a very low-carb diet, a carb craving for something sugary is likely an intelligent signal from your body.
    But a CONSTANT craving for sugary stuff is likely NOT an intelligent signal from your body. Cravings tons of carbs because you just went for a 20-mile bike ride or did a weight training workout is different than a sedentary person craving candy and soda throughout the day.

If you’re genuinely dehydrated, a craving for water is absolutely an intelligent signal from your body. But if you’re that person who’s always carrying around a jug of water wherever you go and drinking a gallon a day and are always craving it, that’s likely a dysfunctional craving that you have trained your body into–NOT a signal from your body that it requires two gallons of water per day.

Outside of the context of extreme restriction of one nutrient/food group, cravings are generally NOT intelligent.

The kind of cravings that most people deal with–cravings for processed junk food rich in sugar and fat–are almost NEVER indicative of your body genuinely needing those foods.

But… that doesn’t mean the answer is that they are bad and the solution is simply to fight them off!

Let me break this down for you… Cravings are typically the result of one of 4 things:

  1. HIGH REWARD FOOD. Cravings induced by neurological changes that result from regularly consuming highly rewardingprocessed food. The very act of consuming such foods regularly actually promotes neurological shifts in the brain (specifically, a raising of the reward threshold–the amount of a substance it takes to feel a certain amount of pleasure–in the pleasure center of the brain) that increase the desire for highly rewarding foods. In other words, the more of these foods you consume and more frequently you do so, the more you will tend to want more of them. (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (This is exacerbated by the fact that you will feel LESS pleasure from eating more normal whole foods, which will start to taste bland to you).
  2. BOREDOM/TENSION/ANXIETY. Some people use food as a way of compulsively trying to soothe themselves emotionally. (7)(8) This is often referred to as “emotional eating.” Robert Thayer has written extensively about the science underlying this in his book Calm Energy: How People Regulate Mood with Food and Exercise. The problem with using foodPensive woman to manage our foods is that it is an exceptionally poor way of doing so. It’s the equivalent of having a headache and then smashing your foot with a hammer as a way to distract yourself from the pain of the headache–it will worktemporarily to take your mind of your headache, but at the expense of causing yourself even more harm. Using food to manage mood is like that. It will work temporarily to fill you up when you’re empty (both literally and emotionally), but the effect is short-lived and fleeting. Ultimately this is a dysfunctional way of trying to soothe ourselves that doesn’t really get at the underlying issue, and because it causes you to eat when your body is not physiologically in need of food, it causes us lots of problems if we use this strategy regularly (i.e. fat gain and diabetes, poor energylevels, etc.).
  3. SITTING. Sitting down for most of the day (like working a desk job) actually disrupts the appetite center of the brain and causes you to eat more overall food and to CRAVE junk food. This is very counterintuitive because we would think that the more we sit down and are not physically active, the less food our body would crave. Yet, for most people the opposite is true–the more you sit, the MORE food you eat and the more you crave junk. Indeed studies have verified that sitting both increases hunger hormones (relative to standing or moving more), and decreases fullness after eating. (9) (10)
    This one is HUGE. Numerous lines of research now show that sleep deprivation and disrupted circadian rhythm (from poor light exposure patterns) profoundly changes the brain’s appetite regulation center, and this has been proven to result in craving (and eating!) highly rewarding processed junk food.  A study titled “The impact of sleep deprCircadian Rhythm- important things to do to lose weightivation on food desire in the human brain” made headway in figuring out the specific mechanism by which circadian rhythm affects food intake. They first note that much “Epidemiological evidence supports a link between sleep loss and obesity” but lament that prior to this study, the mechanism by which this link could be explained was unclear. Yet, their study certainly clarified the link:  “Sleep deprivation significantly decreases activity in appetitive evaluation regions within the human frontal cortex and insular cortex during food desirability choices, combined with a converse amplification of activity within the amygdala. Moreover, this bi-directional change in the profile of brain activity is further associated with a significant increase in the desire for weight-gain promoting high-calorie foods following sleep deprivation, the extent of which is predicted by the subjective severity of sleep loss across participants. These findings provide an explanatory brain mechanism by which insufficient sleep may lead to the development/maintenance of obesity through diminished activity in higher-order cortical evaluation regions, combined with excess subcortical limbic responsivity, resulting in the selection of foods most capable of triggering weight-gain.” (11) A study titled “Sleep restriction increases the neuronal response to unhealthy food in normal-weight individuals” corroborated these findings, and found that disrupted circadian rhythm promotes physiological changes in the brain that drive us to eat more unhealthy, highly rewarding junk foods. (12)

These 3 factors: Consumption of highly rewarding junk food itself, sitting, and disrupted circadian rhythm/sleep deprivation are the major cause of junk food cravings.

So if excessive sitting, boredom, or disrupted circadian rhythm/sleep deprivation, should you FIGHT your cravings, or LISTEN to them?


The answer to this craving problem is not to fight against these cravings or listen to them!

If your cravings are induced by neurological changes that have resulted simply from the consumption of high fat and sugar junk food, the solution is not to try to fight against these cravings by cutting out sugar or carbs or fat or whatever food group (which will likely result in some temporary benefit, but will ultimately cause you to fail and binge in the long run, and leave you even more hopeless than when you began). The solution is also NOT to just keep eating more of these foods believing that they are some intelligent signal from your body about what it needs (which will only make you fat). The solution is that you should slowly and systematically work on lowering the reward value of your diet. (See HERE and HERE for more on that subject). This will start to undo the neurological changes in the pleasure center of your brain that raised your reward threshold. In short, it will RE-SENSITIVE the pleasure center of your brain to be able to derive pleasure from regular, non junk foods.

If your cravings are the result of boredom/negative emotions/anxiety, you don’t need to start fighting your cravings or listening to them (which is only going to a very transient effect of improving your mood at the expense of the long term effect of fat gain), you need to address the underlying issue of poor mood/emotional regulation and/or being bored with how you spend your days. You may want to look into learning strategies to better manage your mood/emotional states, and look into books that can help you learn how to fill your days with passion and vitality.  Some books I would recommend are:

The Emotional Eater’s Repair Manual: A Practical Mind-Body-Spirit Guide for Putting an End to Overeating and Dieting

The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal

Calm Energy: How People Regulate Mood with Food and Exercise

If your cravings are the result of working a desk job and sitting too much,  then rather than fighting the cravings (or worse, LISTENING to them!), you need to address the underlying issue of SITTING that is disrupting your brain’s ability to regulate appetite properly. To do that, go watch the video (or read the article) I did HERE that will show you the different options of how you can fix this issue.

If your cravings are the result of sleep deprivation/disrupted circadian rhythm, then the solution isn’t to fight against your cravings or perceive them as intelligent signals from your body about what it needs–the solution is that you need to fix the underlying problem of your circadian rhythm, sleep, and light exposure habits.

Ultimately, you don’t need to “crush” or “kill” your cravings. Nor do you need to follow some protocol of trying to always “listen to your cravings” as though they are intelligent signals from your body guiding it towards what it needs to be healthy.

What you do need to do is understand WHY you have those cravings in the first place, and then address the underlying issue. Ultimately this is about working with your biology instead of trying to fight against it. (Or trying to work with it by listening to the wrong signals–i.e. eating junk food as a response to excessive sitting or disrupted circadian rhythm).

Follow the above advice and you can forget about this whole dilemma of “fight against your vravings” vs. “listen to your cravings.” Address the problems at their source and prepare to see your energy levels and body composition reach new heights.


 If you want to take your health and body to the next level, I offer a FREE test that allows you to determine EXACTLY what specific factors are sabotaging back your fat loss efforts, which you can access HERE.

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(9) Kirsten Granados, Brooke R. Stephens, et al. Appetite regulation in response to sitting and energy imbalance. Appl. Physiol. Nutr. Metab.




Secrets of Getting Rid of Cellulite

Want to know why you have cellulite and the keys to correcting it?

There’s a ton of misinformation and scams on the internet around what cellulite is and how to fix it, so first of all, let’s get clear on what cellulite actually is…

Cellulite is the result of a messed up structural grid that holds the skin and the underlying fat layer in place.

Keep that in mind, because there’s a ton of people out there who want to convince you that cellulite is some sort of transient allergic reaction that you can get rid of once you stop eating gluten or dairy or whatever the dietary villain du jour is.

It isn’t–it is a very real problem with the structural integrity of the skin and fat cells.

Cellulite has several issues going on:

  • abnormal structure of connective tissue collagen and elastin (they lack structural integrity)
  • alterations and enlargement of the fat layer
  • changes in blood circulation to the area

What causes cellulite?

There are numerous factors that can contribute to cellulite, but the basic general thing that’s causing it is: 1) Genetic and hormonal factors that determine one’s overall propensity to get cellulite (for example, it’s FAR more common in women than men, mostly due to hormonal differences between the sexes), 2) Diet, obesity, medication, and other lifestyle factors then act on one’s genetic/hormonal susceptibility.

Since we can’t control our genetics, let’s focus on the hormonal and lifestyle components of cellulite. The major lifestyle-related factors that cause cellulite are:

  • Estrogen dominance (high estrogen, low progesterone) – many things can contribute to this, such as birth control pills, menopause, pregnancy, PMS, environmental estrogens from pesticide exposure and from BPA from plastics and canned foods. Estrogen (specifically E2) increases fat accumulation in butt, hips, and thighs–the areas most typically affected by cellulite. And it hinders the ability of the connective tissue cells to do their job properly.
  • hypothyroidism – thyroid hormone produces important compounds to maintain structural integrity of connective tissue in the skin. It also keeps metabolism high and prevents rapid fat gain, which another cause of cellulite (see below).
  • insulin resistance / diabetes – Can cause accumulation of glycosaminoglycans in the cells which draws water into the cell and damages the connective tissue integrity.
  • fat gain – the more fat you have and the faster it accumulates, the more it tends to damage the structural integrity of the connective tissue and the more likely it is that bumps and cellulite will appear.
  • stress – Stress, exogenous stress hormones (like corticosteroids) will basically cause similar effects as low thyroid levels, and prevent adequate repair of skin connective tissue.
  • sitting – sitting and lack of movement is a major cause of insulin resistance and impedes blood circulation to the tissues most prone to cellulite development
  • Micronutrient deficiencies – Zinc, copper, selenium, and vitamin A are all critically important micronutrients for the prevention of cellulite
  • smoking and drinking – Both of these can impair blood vessel health and circulation to the tissues. And poor circulation predisposes to cellulite formation.

What can you do to fix it?

There are several physical treatments that have shown promise in treating cellulite:

  • Iontophoresis: Applies a current on the skin which affects circulation and cellular metabolism.
  • Acoustic wave therapy / ultrasound: Uses high frequency vibration to increase circulation and to increase permeability of the skin to topical treatments.
  • Thermotherapy: Heat! Good old fashioned heat will increase circulation to the area, helping to repair the tissues. But don’t go too hot! Overheating the tissues may actually be counterproductive.
  • Massage therapy and lymphatic drainage: Questionable efficacy, but possibly can help via increased circulation.
  • Laser therapy: Low-level laser therapy may work by both liberating fat from fat cells (increasing localized fat burning) and by increasing circulation.

There are also several nutrients that have shown promise:

  • Methylxanthines (theobromine, theophylline, aminophylline, caffeine) applied topically may help increase circulation and fat release from the area.
  • Horse chestnut, gotu kola, and rutin may have beneficial effects on blood vessel health and circulation when ingested orally.
  • Silica (found in most fruits and veggies, but especially celery, carrots, and potato) helps improve connective tissue quality and protect it from damage.
  • Gelatin is the same stuff as connective tissue, and there is some research that ingesting it can improve connective tissue quality.
  • Vitamin A (retinyl palmitate) may be the most powerful of all. A study by Fink et al. used a program of low level laser therapy combined with topical vitamin A found over 50% reduction in cellulite in just 3 months on the protocol! We’re not talking about minor subtle improvement…we’re talking massive visible effects!

So if you have cellulite, don’t resign yourself to having it forever! It can be minimized and reversed (and at the very least, you can certainly prevent any worsening of it).

I developed a special cellulite- and fat-reducing protocol that uses several of these methods in my Metabolism Supercharge program. If you’re struggling with cellulite (and perhaps other issues like being overweight and having poor energy), I strongly encourage you to get on that program.

Cellulite can be treated effectively! If you combine the right topical treatments with the foundation of correcting hormonal issues like low thyroid and low progesterone using nutrition and lifestyle strategies, and you have a potent mix of stuff to get serious results to reduce/eliminate your cellulite.




  • Di Salvo RM. Controlling the appearance of cellulite: surveying the cellulite reduction effectiveness of xanthines, silanes, CoA, 1-carnitine and herbal extracts. Cosm Toil 1995; 110: 50–59.
  • Fink JS, Mermelstein H, Thomas A, Trow R. Use of intense pulsed light and a retinyl-based cream as a potential treatment for cellulite: a pilot study. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2006 Sep;5(3):254-62.
  • Hausen BM. Centella asiatica (indian pennywort), an effective therapeutic but a weak Sensitizer. Contact Dermatitis. 1993; 29(4): 175–179.
  • Kligman AM, Pagnoni A, Stoudemayer T. Topical retinol improves cellulite. Journal of Dermatological Treatment. 1999; 10: 119–25
  • Lotti T, Ghersetich I, Grappone C, Dini G. Proteoglycans in so-called cellulite. Int J Dermatol. 1990 May;29(4):272-4.
  • Rosenbaum M, Prieto V, Hellmer J, Boschmann M, Krueger J, Leibel RL, Ship AG. An exploratory investigation of the morphology and biochemistry of cellulite. Plast Reconstr Surg. 1998 Jun;101(7):1934-9.
  • Turati F, Pelucchi C, Marzatico F, Ferraroni M, Decarli A, Gallus S, La Vecchia C, Galeone C. Efficacy of cosmetic products in cellulite reduction: systematic review and meta-analysis. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2013 Jun 14.

What’s The Best Type of Exercise for Fat Loss?


There’s a lot of conflicting advice out there when it comes to exercise and fat loss.

You have the people who promote the idea that doing cardio and getting into your “fat bWhite Square Button with Fat Burning Iconurning zone” is the best approach.

Others who say that high-intensity intervals (HIIT) is the most effective approach.

Others who say that weight training (resistance exercise) is the best.

(And you even have people out there like Gary Taubes who think exercise is just a big waste of time that doesn’t work at all, because they think that it will just make you hungrier, and you will eat more calories and cancel out the calories you burned off. He is entitled to his opinion, but dozens of studies prove him wrong, showing that exercise is indeed a major key to losing fat and keeping it off for life. Not to mention, countless proven health benefits. But let’s get back to the point.) …


So who’s right? What’s the best type of exercise for fat loss–cardio, intervals, or weights?

STUDY #1 – Cardio vs. Weights vs. Weights + Cardio vs. Gentle Movement

First, let’s talk about a new study from Benito et al., where researchers had 96 obese people complete a supervised 22 week protocol of various kinds of exercise, in conjunction with a calorie restricted diet.

They were divided into 4 groups:

1) Weight training
2) Cardio
3) Weight training + Cardio
4) Light movement throughout the day (taking the stairs instead of the elevator, including brisk walking throughout the day, gentle movement/NEAT.)

(Note: The diet was the same for all groups–only the type of activity differed).

Study #1 Results:

ALL subjects lost about 9-10kg of body mass and decreased bodyfat mass by about 5kg.

The scientists were NOT able to detect a significant inter-group-difference between the four study groups.


STUDY #2 – Cardio vs. Weights

Next, let’s talk about a study from Bryner et al., published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition. This study put subjects on an 800 calorie diet and then divided participants into two groups. One group went on a cardio program where they did one hour of cardio exercise (walking, biking, or stair climbing) four times per week. And the weight training group were askPersonal trainer blowing whistle in health clubed to train with weights in a fairly demanding workout routine three times per week.

The researchers then looked at changes in body weight, body FAT, and metabolic rate after 12 weeks.

Study #2 Results:

The cardio group lost more overall bodyweight than the weight training group–the cardio group lost 37 pounds, while the weight training group lost only 32 pounds.

However, when you look at the change in body FAT (not just bodyweight), the results become much more interesting…

The cardio group did indeed lose 5 more pounds than the weight training group, BUT 10 of those pounds came from MUSCLE, not FAT.

The weight training group lost 32 pounds, and all 32 of those pounds were from FAT. They lost 0 pounds of muscle.

So in reality, while the cardio group lost more scale WEIGHT, the weight training group lost 5 pounds more body FAT.

In addition, the cardio group’s metabolic rates declined, while the weight training group’s metabolic rates were not only preserved but actually increased slightly! That is a key factor when it comes to keeping the weight off, since we know that loss of muscle mass and decreased metabolic rate predispose to weight regain.

So here, the clear advantage goes to the weight training group when it comes to fat loss. 

And this effect is likely to be further amplified over longer periods of time, since those who lose more muscle mass are more likely to regain the weight.

(Note: Why did this study’s results differ from the first study? The answer is likely pretty simple: The weight training regimen was more intense, so it created a greater stimulus to retain muscle mass.)


Study 3 and 4 – Cardio vs. Intervals (and their effects on food intake)

So far, we have looked at a couple studies in people who have had their diet controlled–meaning they’ve all been forced to eat the same diet with exactly the SAME amount of calories during the experiment. Let’s now look at the real-world research comparing cardio vs. intervals (HIIT) and see what kind of effects they have on fat loss when people are free to eat whatever food they want. (That’s pretty important, because it’s the situation pretty much all of us are in).

The first was a Harvard study that looked at 64 people training for a marathon (4 days a week) and simply tracked how much weight and fat people lost as they were running upwards of 30, 40, and 50 miles per week.

The second study compared food intake over the course of 12 weeks in two different groups–one that was doing moderate-intensity aerobic exercise (cardio) and the other doing HIIT.

Study 3 and 4 Results:

The Harvard study with marathon runners study found that even when training for a running a marathon, many people don’t lose any fat whatsoever.


This happens a lot with cardio-only exercise regimens.

78% of the 64 participants did not lose any weight at all.

And 7 people actually gained weight. Let me remind you, that’s after training four times a week for three months!

According to the lead researcher: “Marathon training has little or no effect on most people’s weight, scientists say. Many long-distance runners find that even when they are running more than 50 miles in a week their waistlines barely get smaller, with some actually gaining weight.”

What causes this effect? Most research indicates that it’s a combination of a few things:

  • The effects on appetite regulation (endurance exercise doesn’t seem to suppress appetite and actually seems to increase it, in a large portion of people)
  • People overestimating the amount of calories they’re burning and/or rewarding themselves with food for doing the exercise. In other words, people get hungrier after going for a run, and they overestimate how many calories they burned off and end up overeating.

Ultimately, for many people, it’s a recipe for dozens of hours of exercise and months of hard work to ultimately not notice much of an effect.

What about intervals and high-intensity interval training (HIIT)?

You’ve probably heard many people write about high intensity interval training (HIIT) and fat loss, and that the benefits of HIIT for fat loss come from the “after burn” effect where the body burns extra calories for several hours after the workout is over.

More and more research is pointing to the notion that this is inaccurate. While it is true that the afterburn effect is about 3x larger in HIIT compared to cardio (and is potentially a small factor in fat loss), the bulk of the research indicates that it’s not the afterburn effect that’s important in creating the fat loss superiority of interval training–it’s actually that high intensity interval training tends to suppress appetite and causes a decrease in overall calorie intake.

And that’s exactly what Sim et al. (2015) found in their study looking at the effects of cardio vs. intervals on appetite and food intake–a very significant and large reduction in appetite in those on the HIIT program.

Why is this important?

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There’s a reason that sprinters are so lean.

Because if you’re doing a form of exercise (e.g. cardio) that doesn’t suppress appetite very much, you might spend months doing hours of cardio and have little to no results to show for it, because you’re compensating for all the calories you are burning with increased food intake.

HIIT seems to be much less prone to this food intake compensation, which is why it creates better fat loss results.

Study 5 – The Highest Level of Evidence

Here is the granddaddy of scientific evidence on this subject–the systematic literature review and meta-analysis. What is that? It’s not really a study, it’s basically a compilation of all the other relevant studies on this topic. Because of that, this is considered to be the highest level of scientific evidence.

This 2015 meta-analysis by Clark et al. compiled the data from 66 studies on the topic, crunched the data, and found some fascinating results…

Study 5 Results

What did they find? First, they found something critically important to understand: that fat loss did NOT correlate very well with the extent to which a treatment is effective in establishing a calorie deficit. In other words, just adopting an approach which creates a calorie deficit is NOT enough to generate lasting fat loss. To generate lasting fat loss, they suggest that we think less in terms of CALORIES and more in terms of the metabolic DEMAND being placed on the body.

Here are their words…

“While popular ideas suggest the necessity for acute energetic imbalance, there appears to be no relationship between any treatments effectiveness for inducing acute changes in energetic balance with the effectiveness for induced responses to body composition or biomarkers of health from said treatment program. All of which reinforces the idea of a more complex network of factors that influence overall body composition and health issues for the adult who is overfat, and further stresses the idea to focus treatment on generating a metabolic stress to induce chronic (hormonal) changes as opposed to the focus on the calorie ratios of intake to expenditure.

This explains why simple forced calorie restriction and fasting approaches to fat loss have such abysmal success rates. Just starving your body of calories does not work very well in the long term. In fact, it works pretty terribly. What does work is putting metabolic stress on the body.

Most importantly, what they ultimately found is that the most effective type of exercise for fat loss is resistance exercise!

Second to that, they found that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) or high-intensity steady state exercise (high-intensity cardio, above 70% of your max heart rate) can also be effective.



Okay, so by now, you’re probably thinking “Enough with the science, Ari! Just tell me the bottom line of what type of exercise to do for fat loss!”

Let me summarize all of this in 7 key points:

1. Nutrition is critical for fat loss.

This is what allows fat loss to happen, and without a solid nutrition program that drives fat loss, virtually all exercise programs will be minimally effective. (If you don’t yet understand how to optimize your diet to drive fat loss, go grab my program The Forever Fat Loss Formula).

2. NEAT is the foundation for good metabolic health and body composition.

The foundation for physical activity for fat loss is to increase gentle movement/NEAT–and DECREASE sitting time, and stationary time–as much as possible each day. (Note: If you don’t know what NEAT is, then watch this video from 33:00 to 44:00). ONLY once you have this foundation should you then even worry about whether you’re doing cardio vs. weights vs. intervals vs. whatever else. Why? Because without ample NEAT each day, you’re mostly just spinning your wheels, since sitting time will CANCEL OUT most of the metabolic benefits from your workouts. (See here if you want to read more on that research.)

Also note that many people don’t get results with high-intensity exercise because they are NEAT-compensators. In other words, they compensate for the workout they did by sitting around more after the workout is over. If you want to achieve fat loss, you need the solid foundation of NEAT.

3. If you’re extremely overweight and entirely sedentary, it likely doesn’t matter very much what type of exercise you start doing–anything will work.

Pretty much all types of exercise will result in large benefits. And there won’t be large differences between exercise types in terms of fat loss. The fitter you get, the leaner you get, and the healthier you become, the more that exercise type begins to matter more for changing your body.

4. Fat loss is NOT just as simple as “calories in, calories out.” You need to put a metabolic demand on your body.

There is a reason that the research favors the more metabolically-demanding forms of exercise as being the most effective. And there is a reason that forced calorie restriction diets and fasting approaches have absymal long-term success rates for fat loss. The reason is that body fat regulation is a complex process that involves a whole network of hormones and brain regions.

Simply trying to starve your body of calories will absolutely cause short-term fat loss, but it isn’t going to get you very far in the long run.

As the meta-analysis explained above, losing fat is NOT just as simple as restricting your calorie intake. 

We need to reconceptualize fat loss AWAY from “starve your body of calories” to “create the metabolic demand on your body so that it wants to change.” A calorie not eaten is not the same as a calorie burned, because depending on how that calorie is burned, it will stimulate different adaptations and hormonal responses in the body that will impact health and body composition differently.

The research indicates that the effectiveness of the approach is determined less by how much it starves the body of calories, and more about how much it creates a need for the body to change. And this is why we know that:

  • Approaches that involve exercise are more effective than diet-only weight loss approaches
  • Metabolically demanding exercise like weight training or HIIT are typically more effective than low intensity exercise.

Stop thinking so much about everything as a simple matter of “burning more calories” and “eating fewer calories” and start thinking about how you can introduce some metabolically demanding exercise into your life. If you do, you will get better fat loss results. And that’s especially true if you follow the advice in the next few points…

5. The most effective type of exercise for fat loss is resistance exercise.  (And more specifically, a progressive and periodized resistance exercise program.)

This is because it will lead to the best preservation of muscle mass and the “weight” that the body will burn off will come from fat instead of muscle. In addition, it also will lead to the best preservation of metabolic rate. That’s important because loss of muscle mass and lower metabolic rate predisposes to weight regain! One of the biggest weight loss mistakes that people make is going on a diet while NOT doing any form of resistance exercise. Yes, you’ll lose lots of weight on the scale, but lots of it is coming from MUSCLE, which is going to make you much more likely to regain the fat. Weight training is critical during all periods that you’re trying to lose fat. Not only is it going to help you lose more fat, but this is a key factor in bulletproofing your body against weight regain.

(If you’re brand new to resistance exercise and looking to get started, I recommend starting with a bodyweight-focused resistance exercise program. Natalie Jill’s Stronger program is the best one I have found. If you’re already doing an exercise program and you’re moderately fit, then go grab the Supershred program that I co-designed with Natalie Jill).

6. The next most effective type of exercise for fat loss is high-intensity interval training or high-intensity steady state exercise.

If you don’t like resistance exercise, you have options. Most importantly in your decision making process of what type of exercise routine to do, choose a kind of activity that YOU LOVE TO DO FOR IT’S OWN SAKE and that you’ll stick with for the rest of your life. If you don’t follow this advice, then nothing else matters, because even if you do some exercise routine for 60 days of 90 days, if you then STOP doing that particular routine because you don’t like it, you will slowly LOSE all of the results you got. So find a type of exercise that you LOVE (or at least like) and can continue to do for life. Ideally, that would be resistance exercise or high-intensity interval/cardio exercise. But if you love going for gentle walks, bike rides, or dancing, then realize that consistently doing something–even if it’s not optimal–is much better than not doing anything. As with nutrition and every other lifestyle change, the only exercise changes that matter in the long run are those you can sustain for life.

7. How to design the ULTIMATE fat loss exercise regimen.

So let’s say you wanted to put together all of the research into one ultimate fat loss exercise regimen… let me show you what that would look like:

  • Have a foundation of ample gentle movement or NEAT during the day
  • Do resistance exercise (on a progressive and periodized program) at least 3-4 times per week
  • Do high-intensity interval training or high-intensity steady state cardio (above 70% maximum heart rate for 30 minutes or more) at least 2-3 times per week
  • Optional: If you would like, you can also add in lower intensity cardio activities for health benefits or fun

(If you want to cut out the guess work of trying to do this all yourself and get yourself on a professionally-designed exercise program that follows this exact ultimate fat loss blueprint, then go grab the Supershred program that I co-designed with Natalie Jill. It’s a cutting-edge resistance exercise and high-intensity interval training program designed to take your body to the next level.)



Ari Whitten

There you have it! You are now armed with the latest science around the best types of exercise for fat loss.

So if you’ve been following a physical activity regimen that doesn’t match up with this blueprint, it’s time to change that and start dropping the fat. 🙂


1. Benito, Pedro J., et al. “Change in weight and body composition in obese subjects following a hypocaloric diet plus different training programs or physical activity recommendations.” Journal of Applied Physiology (2015): jap-00928.

2. Bryner, R. et al. (1999). Effects of resistance vs. aerobic training combined with an 800 calorie liquid diet on lean body mass and resting metabolic rate. Journal of the American College of Nutrition. 1999 Apr;18(2):115-21.


4. Sim, A. et al. (2015). Effects of High-Intensity Intermittent Exercise Training on Appetite Regulation. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: November 2015 – Volume 47 – Issue 11 – p 2441–2449.

5. Bagley, Liam, et al. (2016).”Sex differences in the effects of 12 weeks sprint interval training on body fat mass and the rates of fatty acid oxidation and VO2max during exercise.” BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine 2.1: e000056.

6. Clark, J. (2015). Diet, exercise or diet with exercise: comparing the effectiveness of treatment options for weight-loss and changes in fitness for adults (18–65 years old) who are overfat, or obese; systematic review and meta-analysis. J Diabetes Metab Disord. 2015; 14: 31.


Below you will find your link to download the free ebook

UNSTUCK: The 6 Potential Factors Sabotaging Your Fat Loss and How to Fix Them!

I’m sure you’re going to be blown away by the information contained here, so enjoy! 🙂

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Sitting ERASES the benefits of your workouts!

Do you go to the gym nearly every day and work out hard? Do you also work at a computer most of the day?

If you answered yes to both of those questions, let me ask you one more important question: Are you NOT seeing any fat loss?

If so, there’s one thing you’re probably not aware of that’s sabotaging all your workouts: SITTING!

Every Hour You Sit Cancels Out Some of The Effects of Your Workouts

A groundbreaking new study from the Mayo Clinic showed that if you go for a morning run for an hour, every hour of sitting you do during the rest of day erases 8% of the benefit of that workout!

If you do an hour of less intense exercise than a fast run, every hour you sit during the rest of the day erases a whopping 16% of the benefit of that hour of exercise.

Let’s make this into a real-world scenario so it really sinks in…

Let’s say you go to the gym 7 days per week for an hour of a spin class, a hot yoga class, a group exercise class, some light weight lifting, or to go on the cardio machines.

The rest of the day, you work a desk job where you sit for 8 hours. Then you sit in your car another hour each day. Let’s say you sit at the breakfast, lunch, and dinner tables for another couple of hours total. Then after dinner, you sit on the couch for another couple of hours.

Many of us are sitting 10-15 hours of the day!

What Does This Really Mean? It means that you’re cancelling out all your hard work in the gym!

Let’s give you the benefit of the doubt and say you you did a super intense CRAZY hour-long workout, and then you sat only 10 hours that day.

10 hours x 8% loss = 80%

You just lost 80% of the benefit of that workout.

Now… let’s do a less generous calculation.

Let’s take someone who does only a moderate intensity hour-long workout (still 7 days per week). And this person works a desk job where they sit for 12 hours of the day.

12 hours x 16% loss = 192% loss

This means that…


What’s The Take-Home Message Here?

Stop focusing on whether you’re doing p90x or Crossfit or the latest “afterburn” interval workout. Instead, start concerning yourself with keeping total daily sitting under 4 hours (under 2 hours if you really want to step things up), and move your body as often as possible throughout the day.

I’m not talking about any sort of strenuous “exercise”–I’m talking about NOT SITTING, and doing slow gentle, totally non-strenuous movement near-constantly throughout the day. (Note that I break down the 6 levels of movement habits associated with each type of body–from obese person to fitness model ripped–in my program Forever Fat Loss Formula.)

This not only will allow you to actually reap the metabolic benefits from the workouts you’re doing (instead of losing all the benefits), but will also have far-reaching impacts on improving your overall health, energy level, vitality, and overall metabolic function.

This is not just an “optional” strategy for health or fat loss–this is an ESSENTIAL requirement for normal healthy cellular and metabolic function.

Start with that. Then–and only then–worry about your workout routine.



Kulinski et al. Association Between Cardiorespiratory Fitness and Accelerometer-Derived Physical Activity and Sedentary Time in the General Population. Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

METABOLISM MYTH: Eating 5-6 small meals “boosts your metabolism”

One of the most popular and pervasive myths about speeding up your metabolism is that eating small meals very frequently will speed up your metabolism compared to eating bigger meals less frequently.
This idea has been around for 20 or 30 years, and many nutritionists today still promote this as an effective way of boosting the metabolism.

While eating very frequently can be helpful in certain cases–for those dealing with adrenal fatigue for example–in general, promoting this as a one-size-fits-all strategy that is “healthier and better for fat loss for everyone” is very misguided.

In fact, the idea that eating six small meals speeds up your metabolism has actually been tested by researchers.

One study published in 2009 in The British Journal of Nutrition, involved groups of overweight men and women who were randomly assigned to very strict low-calorie diets and followed for eight weeks. Each subject consumed the same number of calories per day, but one group took in three meals a day and the other six.

Guess what happened?

Metabolic rate, appetite control, hormonal measurements, and overall weight loss were identical between the two groups.

Numerous other studies have concluded the same thing.

Simply put: There is no solid evidence that six small meals a day instead of three will speed metabolism.

Now, let me take this one step further…

There is now some evidence suggesting that, in many cases, eating small meals very frequently may actually BE HARMFUL to health and body composition in the long run.

The recent study by Koopman, et al. found that High Meal Frequency was strongly linked to Higher Weight Gain and Accumulation of Liver Fat. The researchers concluded that “…snacking, a common feature in the Western diet, independently contributes to hepatic steatosis and obesity”

Other research (like Kahleova, et al. Diabetologia (2014).) done on diabetics has found that contrary to popular advice (that eating frequently will satiate you and speed up your metabolism), eating frequent small meals really does is:

* Leave people hungry even right after meals
* Make their thoughts revolve around food 24/7
* DECREASE (rather than increase) metabolic rate

So perhaps following the typical “eat 5-6 small meals per day” advice isn’t such a great idea.

It is also worth noting, however, that if you have EXTREMELY low frequency of eating and you routinely skip meals and eat only dinner, it is likely you can cause significant metabolic slowdown from this. (Whether this is do to low eating frequency, or simply low calorie intake is debatable).

The take-home point is that it’s critical NOT to INTELLECTUALLY INTERFERE with your body’s natural hunger signals. Eat in accordance with biological need–i.e. with your body actually telling you that it needs more fuel. Do NOT start pouring in food in the absence of hunger. And do NOT start forcibly depriving your body of food when your body is clearly in need of fuel. BOTH of these are counterproductive in the long run.

Now, if you’re so out of touch with your body’s hunger signals (from years of intellectual interference) that you no longer know how to eat when you’re hungry, well, I recommend adopting a basic approach of 3 meals a day (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) as a good basic template, and I suggest eating in between those meals only if you do a workout.

Is Cardio Making You FATTER?


Well, according to the latest research done on a group of overweight and obese women, doing four weekly cardio sessions of 30-60 minutes actually caused them to GAIN BODY FAT!

Think about that for a moment.

You can go from being relatively inactive to all of the sudden adopting an intense fat loss cardio program where you add four 30-60 minute cardio workouts per week onto your normal routine…

* 3 months of workouts.

* 48 workouts between 30-60 minutes long.

* Over 2,000 minutes of total cardio exercise.

* Over 20,000 total calories burned.

And at the end of all that work, you can expect to not only to have failed to lose any body fat, but to actually be FATTER!

You burned 20,000 calories but you didn’t lose any body fat? How is that possible?

If you want to understand why this sometimes happens (and you want to learn what kind of exercise you should be doing for fat loss), I recommend reading my latest article in Natalie Jill’s Energize Mag. It’s 100% FREE, by the way. You can get it HERE. (Note: You need itunes to read it).

If you want to skip all the reading and just jump in to the absolute most effective fat loss workout program out there, then I strongly suggest grabbing the 12-Week Supershred program that I designed with Natalie Jill. You can find that HERE.


Study reference:
“The effect of a 3-month moderate-intensity physical activity program on body composition in overweight and obese African American college females.” Osteoporosis International. 8/11/2014