Burning fat is about a lot more than simply calories in vs. calories out. There are a couple key steps that must be in place to truly achieve a fat-burning metabolism, where eating simply becomes a means to live, and we need not obsess over every morsel that pass our lips to keep our body in check.

Matching your food with your biochemical blueprint

Every single one of us has a unique biochemical blueprint, which our nutritional strategies need to match in order to truly activate and unlock our fat-burning potential. We want to balance our biochemistry, rather than forcing starvation and struggling with willpower – a struggle which we cannot win; willpower is fragile, and our biology will always end up overpowering us.

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Most of us have certain traits that can be explained both from a chemical point of view and how we require certain dietary types to nourish our set-point best – these set-points are in Ayurveda known as the following 3 core types (most of us, however, are a mix of 2, so we need to understand how to balance our requirements):

Vata: thrives best on grains + oily, somewhat heavy/grounding foods.

Kapha: thrives best on heating foods that are spicy, yet light and vegetable-rich dishes.

Pitta: thrives best on sweet + astringent foods; very sensitive to meal timing.

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When we know our constitution it is easy to match the right herbs and food strategies that will support our health and wellbeing, including supporting effortless weight-loss.

No size fits all, no diet fits all

Most diets force us to follow a one-size-fits-all regime, and as we are all different, we will react differently to the same diet depending on our biochemical make-up. You know you are following a wrong diet strategy, if your mood is suffering and you deal with cravings beyond your control.

Certain eating patterns like a high-protein diet will cause a drop in serotonin – causing you to go crazy in the cookie cabinet. Now this is not about lack of willpower, rather this is a strong indicator that you happen to be of a constitution that is prone to serotonin imbalance, which this type of diet will trigger further.

No one can fight against their biology

We must understand it, so we can nurture it rather than struggle against it. Life is not a struggle; we should aim to go with the flow – and your eating style should support the flow in life, not upset it – thereby opening the door to self-development and spirituality. You cannot develop spiritually, if you are chained to your physical needs and every day a constant struggle with the most basic of needs.

So first step to achieve long-lasting weight-loss and drive up your fat-burning potential, is to discover your unique constitution.

This can be done through working with someone who specialized in nutritional biochemistry and has an integrative approach to health such as Ayurveda. When we can’t burn fat, it is simply a reflection of an inner biochemical imbalance that needs to be corrected; no amount of calorie counting will make up for a biochemical dysfunction set low.

There are, however, a couple herbs that are known to have an overall balancing effect on most constitutions and thereby can encourage fat-burn. Ideally, these herbal remedies should be done together with the right nutritional fundament, but you can also start with the herbal support route to give your body some time to get ready to change the more tricky part, which is always the everyday eating style.

You want to roll with resistance, and be very gentle with yourself while you change – lasting change and big mountains are climbed from taking one small step at a time, not running a marathon overnight. And moderation – the balancing act of letting go of that all-or-nothing mentality is for many of us the only obstacle to finally reaching our dreams.

The moment we let go of control and fear, we begin the journey towards lasting change.

5 Herbs to kickstart fat-burning

1. Ashwagandha

This herb is widely used in Ayurveda to help combat cravings, boost immune system and create overall body balance. When your central nervous system and body is stressed (high cortisol), you will not burn fat properly, because the chemicals involved in stress spikes insulin, and insulin prevents optimal fat-burning from happening, instead encouraging fat storage – especially related to belly fat.

Body + Mind is strongly connected – so apart from just herbs, basically anything that helps to calm an overexcited central nervous system is valuable: yoga, meditation and prayer etc.

2. Ceylon cinnamon

Cinnamon is of key value for encouraging body balance and targeting blood sugar instability which is at the core of any weight-loss program. Just 1 tsp. of cinnamon a day has shown to have medicinal effect in balancing blood sugar, minimizing cravings and a valuable remedy for diabetes type 2!

It is important to scout for Ceylon Cinnamon as Cassia Cinnamon unfortunately has been found to have high levels of toxins related to liver damage – so make sure you get Cinnamon sourced from Ceylon!

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3. Raw cacao

Raw cacao truly is a food of the goods – it is delicious added to any smoothie to get that finger-licking chocolate decadence going that is actually good for you! Raw cacao is one of the highest food sources of antioxidants and also shown to have appetite- suppressant properties. Cacao is great to curb cravings by impacting both serotonin and dopamine; two neurotransmitters involved in food addiction and appetite control.

4. Dandelion

Dandelion is a powerful liver aid and detoxifier – it is super important that we support the liver in breaking down fats and removing toxins stored quickly to speed up weight-loss. Dandelion is also excellent for anyone struggling with indigestion as it encourages the liver to produce bile to properly digest foods.

5. Triphala

This herb is essential in its ability to promote a healthy bowel movement without depleting the body of nutrients as most laxatives do. We need to have at least one bowel movement daily to properly eliminate waste and ensure that we don’t store toxins that indirectly lead to a sluggish metabolism. Triphala combines both blood and liver cleansing actions; it anthroquinones that help to stimulate bile flow and peristalsis.

It is critical to use a non-nutrient depleting herbal route to encourage bowel-movement as most of those of us struggling with weight are actually nutrient deficient. By using non- herbal purgatives, such as common over-the-counter laxatives, we will only experience further weakness and stagnation.

References:

Afr J Tradit Complement Altern Med. 2011; 8(5 Suppl): 208–213. An Overview on Ashwagandha: A Rasayana (Rejuvenator) of Ayurveda. Singh N. et al.

BMC Complement Altern Med. 2013; 13: 275. Medicinal properties of ‘true’ cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum): a systematic review. Ranasinghe P et al.

Nutrients. Oct 2013; 5(10): 4159–4173. Health Benefits of Methylxanthines in Cacao and Chocolate. Franco R et al.

Food Chem Toxicol. 2013 Aug;58:30-6. Taraxacum official (dandelion) leaf extract alleviates high-fat diet-induced nonalcoholic fatty liver. Davaatseren M et al.

Altern Ther Health Med. 2012 Nov-Dec;18(6):38-45. Triphala and its constituents ameliorate visceral adiposity from a high-fat diet in mice with diet-induced obesity. Gurjar S et al.

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