how to burn belly fat

How to Burn Belly Fat – Over Feeding Experiment

If you are eating less to burn belly fat then you are doing it wrong! The hypothesis that eating too much causes obesity is easily testable. You simply take a group of volunteers, deliberately overfeed them and watch what happens. If the hypothesis is true, the result should be obesity.

Luckily for us, such experiments have already been done. Dr. Ethan Sims performed the most famous of these studies in the late 1960s. He tried to force mice to gain weight. Despite ample food, the mice ate only enough to be full. After that, no inducement could get them to eat. They would not become obese. Force-feeding the mice caused an increase in their metabolism, so once again, no weight was gained. Sims then asked a devastatingly brilliant question: Could he make humans deliberately gain weight? After all, we already thought we knew the answer. Of course overfeeding would lead to obesity.

But does it really? Sims recruited lean college students at the nearby University of Vermont and encouraged them to eat whatever they wanted to gain weight. But despite what both he and the students had expected, the students could not become obese. To his utter amazement, it wasn’t easy to make people gain weight after all.

Making someone Over Eat Isn’t Easy

While this news may sound strange, think about the last time you ate at the all-you-can-eat buffet. Now can you imagine downing another two pork chops? Yeah, not so easy. Furthermore, have you ever tried to feed a baby who is absolutely refusing to eat? They scream bloody murder. It is just about impossible to make them overeat. Convincing people to overeat is not the simple task it first seems.

The Red Tea Detox

Dr. Sims changed course. Perhaps the difficulty here was that the students were increasing their exercise and therefore burning off the weight, which might explain their failure to gain weight. So the next step was to overfeed, but limit physical activity so that it remained constant. For this experiment, he recruited convicts at the Vermont State Prison. Attendants were present at every meal to verify that the calories—4000 per day—were eaten. Physical activity was strictly controlled.

Caloric Intake doesn’t Justify Results

A funny thing happened. The prisoners’ weight initially rose, but then stabilized. Though at first they’d been happy to increase their caloric intake as their weight started to increase, they found it more and more difficult to overeat, and some dropped out of the study.

But some prisoners were persuaded to eat upwards of 10,000 calories per day! Over the next four to six months, the remaining prisoners did eventually gain 20 percent to 25 percent of their original body weight—actually much less than caloric theory predicted. Weight gain varied greatly person to person. Something was contributing to the vast differences in weight gained, but it was not caloric intake or exercise to lose belly fat.

Metabolism is The Key

How to lose belly fat? The key was metabolism. Total energy expenditure in the subjects increased by 50 percent. Starting from an average of 1800 calories per day, total energy expenditure increased to 2700 calories per day. Their bodies tried to burn off the excess calories in order to return to their original weight. Total energy expenditure, comprising mostly basal metabolic rate, is not constant, but varies considerably in response to caloric intake. After the experiment ended, body weight quickly and effortlessly returned to normal. Most of the participants did not retain any of the weight they gained. Overeating did not, in fact, lead to lasting weight gain. In the same way, under eating does not lead to lasting weight loss and to burn belly fat.

The Total Energy Expenditure Experiment

In another study, Dr. Sims compared two groups of patients. He overfed a group of thin patients until they became obese. The second group was made up of very obese patients who dieted until they were only obese—but the same weight as the first group. This resulted in two groups of patients who were equally heavy, but one group had originally been thin and one group originally very obese. What was the difference in total energy expenditure between the two groups? Those originally very obese subjects were burning only half as many calories as the originally thin subjects. The bodies of the originally very obese subjects were trying to return to their original higher weights by reducing metabolism. In contrast, the bodies of the originally thin subjects were trying to return to their original lower weights by increasing metabolism.

The Power Plant Analogy

Let’s return to our power plant analogy. Suppose that we receive 2000 tons of coal daily and burn 2000 tons. Now all of a sudden, we start receiving 4000 tons daily. What should we do? Say we continue to burn 2000 tons daily. The coal will pile up until all available room is used. Our boss yells, “Why are you storing your dirty coal in my office? Your ass is Fired!” Instead, though, we’d do the smart thing: increase coal burning to 4000 tons daily. More power is generated and no coal piles up. The boss says, “You’re doing a great job. We just broke the record for power generation. Raises all around.”

Our body also responds in a similarly smart manner. Increased caloric intake is equal to the increased caloric expenditure. With the increase in total energy expenditure, we have more energy, more body heat and we feel great. After the period of forced overeating, the increased metabolism quickly sheds the excess pounds of fat. The increase in non exercise activity thermogenesis may account for up to 70 percent of the increased energy expenditure.

Body Weight Returns to Normal Baseline

The results described above are by no means isolated findings. Virtually all overeating studies have produced the same result. In a 1992 study, subjects were overfed calories by 50 percent over six weeks. Body weight and fat mass did transiently increase. Average total energy expenditure increased by more than 10 percent in an effort to burn belly fat and the excess calories. After the forced overfeeding period, body weight returned to normal and total energy expenditure decreased back to its baseline.

The paper concluded “that there was evidence that a physiological sensor was sensitive to the fact that body weight had been perturbed and was attempting to reset it.

More recently, Dr. Fredrik Nystrom experimentally overfed subjects double their usual daily calories on a fast-food diet. On average, weight and body mass index increased 9 percent, and body fat increased 18 percent—by itself, no surprise. But what happened to total energy expenditure? Calories expended per day increased by 12 percent. Even when ingesting some of the most fattening foods in the world, the body still responds to the increased caloric load by trying to burn it off with rapid weight loss.

And if excess calories don’t cause weight gain, then reducing calories won’t cause weight loss.

The Fat Set Point

how to burn belly fat

If you are looking for answers for how to burn belly fat then you have landed at the right place. Do you know about the fat set point? If you can set your fat set point at a lower number, you can get rid of belly fat.

Since losing weight reduces total energy expenditure, many obese people assume that they have a slow metabolism, but the opposite has proved to be true. 8 Lean subjects had a mean total energy expenditure of 2404 calories, while the obese had a mean total energy expenditure of 3244 calories, despite spending less time exercising. The obese body was not trying to gain weight. It was trying to lose it by burning off the excess energy. So then, why are the obese… obese?

The fundamental biological principle at work here is homeostasis. There appears to be a “set point” for body weight and fatness, as first proposed in 1984 by Keesey and Corbett. Homeostatic mechanisms defend this body set weight against changes, both up and down. If weight drops below body set weight, compensatory mechanisms activate to raise it. If weight goes above body set weight, compensatory mechanisms activate to lower it and burn belly fat.

The Problem In Obesity is that The Set Point is Too High

Let’s take an example. Suppose our body set weight is 200 pounds (approximately 90 kilograms). By restricting calories on a high fiber diet, we will briefly lose weight—say down to 180 pounds (approximately 81 kilograms). If the body set weight stays at 200 pounds, the body will try to regain the lost weight by stimulating appetite. Ghrelin is increased, and the satiety hormones (amylin, peptide and cholecystitis) are suppressed.

At the same time, the body will decrease its total energy expenditure. Metabolism begins shutting down. Body temperature drops, heart rate drops, blood pressure drops and heart volume decreases, all in a desperate effort to conserve energy. We feel hungry, cold and tired—a scenario familiar to dieters. Check out diet plan to lose belly fat.

How to Burn Belly Fat- Weight Regain

Unfortunately, the result is the regain of weight back to the original body set weight of 200 pounds. This outcome, too, is familiar to dieters. Eating more is not the cause of weight gain but instead the consequence. Eating more does not make us fat. Getting fat makes us eat more. Overeating was not a personal choice. It is a hormonal driven behavior—a natural consequence of increased hunger hormones. The question, then, is what makes us fat in the first place. In other words, why is the body set weight so high?

The body set weight also works in the reverse. If we overeat, we will briefly gain weight—say to 220 pounds (approximately 100 kilograms). If the body set weight stays at 200 pounds, then the body activates mechanisms to lose weight. Appetite decreases. Metabolism increases, trying to burn off the excess calories. This is an easy way to lose weight.

Calories In – Out

Our body is not a simple scale balancing Calories In and Calories Out. Rather, our body is a thermostat. The set point for weight—the body set weight—is vigorously defended against both increase and decrease. Dr. Rudolph Leibel elegantly proved this concept in 1995.

10 Subjects were deliberately overfed or underfed to reach the desired weight gain or loss. First, the group was overfed in order to gain 10 percent of their body weight. Then, their diet was adjusted to return them to their initial weight, and then a further 10 percent or 20 percent weight loss was achieved. Energy expenditure was measured under all of these conditions.

As subjects’ body weight increased by 10 percent, their daily energy expenditure increased by almost 500 calories. Since it was expected; the body responded to the intake of excess calories by trying to burn them off. As weight returned to normal, the total energy expenditure also returned to baseline. As the group lost 10 percent and 20 percent of their weight, their bodies reduced their daily total energy expenditure by approximately 300 calories.

Underfeeding Doesn’t Help

Underfeeding with foods to lose belly fat did not result in the weight loss expected because the total energy expenditure decreased to counter it. Leibel’s study was revolutionary because it forced a paradigm shift in our understanding of obesity. The next question is, how to lose fat?

The Problem With Dieting to Burn Belly Fat

No wonder it is so hard to keep the weight off! Diets work well at the start, but as we lose weight with various fat burning foods, our metabolism slows. Compensatory mechanisms start almost immediately and persist almost indefinitely. We must then reduce our caloric intake further and further simply to maintain the weight loss and burn belly fat. If we don’t, our weight plateaus and then starts to creep back up—just as every dieter already knows. (It’s also hard to gain weight, but we don’t usually concern ourselves with that problem, unless we are sumo wrestlers.) Virtually every dietary study of the last century has documented this finding. Now we know why.

The Thermostat Analogy

Consider our thermostat analogy. Normal room temperature is 70°F (21°C). If the house thermostat were set instead to 32°F (0°C), we’d find it too cold. Using the First Law of Thermodynamics, we decide that the temperature of the house depends upon Heat In versus Heat Out. As fundamental law of physics, it is inviolable. Since we need more Heat In, we buy a portable heater and plug it in. But Heat In is only the proximate cause of the high temperature. The temperature at first goes up in response to the heater. But then, the thermostat, sensing the higher temperature, turns on the air conditioner. The air conditioner and the heater constantly fight against each other until the heater finally breaks. The temperature returns to 32°F.

The mistake here is to focus on the proximate and not the ultimate cause. The ultimate cause of the cold was the low setting of the thermostat. Our failure was that we did not recognize that the house contained a homeostatic mechanism (the thermostat) to return the temperature to 32°F. The smarter solution would have been for us to identify the thermostat’s control and simply set it to a more comfortable 70°F and so avoid the fight between the heater and the air conditioner.


The reason diets are so hard and often unsuccessful is that we are constantly fighting our own body to reduce belly fat. As we lose weight, our body tries to bring it back up. The smarter solution is to identify the body’s homeostatic mechanism and adjust it downwards!

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