Fat Loss: A Metabolic Perspective


We spend billions of dollars each year on the health consequences of metabolic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer.

We know that these diseases are related to nutrition and are largely preventable, but what is the optimal diet and why are the current recommendations perpetuating the problem?

Americans are eating what we’ve been told to eat – less fat, more grains and starches – yet we’ve been getting fatter and fatter.


Is the problem simply an energy imbalance as conventional wisdom would have us believe, whereby obesity is caused by the consumption of more calories than are expended?

I think not.

An alternative hypothesis (the one I buy into) is that obesity is due to an imbalance in macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins and fats) and deficiency in nutrient-rich foods, leading to people being over-fat and under-nourished.  To put it simply, eating processed foods (and that includes gluten-free and other so-called “healthy” food products) triggers adverse metabolic effects of hormones and enzymes.

How can you successfully take a metabolic approach to fat loss and health?

  1. Metabolic diet
  2. Metabolic exercise


Metabolically speaking, a diet that is optimum for fat loss and healthiest for the long-run is one that provides a balanced proportion of macronutrients along with vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients in abundance. Some of the key hormone players include:

  1. Insulin
  2. Cortisol
  3. Leptin
  4. Ghrelin

In general, a “paleo” type diet that emphasizes local, seasonal, organic meats, seafood, eggs and vegetables, with some fruits and nuts is a recipe for success.


Food sensitivities unique to an individual can also hamper fat loss.  I have guided people in eliminating  foods to which they are sensitive. Some have lost a significant amount of weight in a short period of time.

For those who do better with specific meal plans, rather than concepts, I refer you to my wife, Stephanie, who has been in practice as an RD for eight years, going to clients’ homes for nutritional counseling and kitchen makeovers: .

Stephanie uses our kitchen as a “nutrition lab”, developing new recipes and ways to prepare foods that taste great and our optimum for metabolism.


Cut out the steady-state cardio, here’s why:



  1. Numerous studies make a compelling case that too much cardio can impair the production of the thyroid hormone T3 and its effectiveness on regulating metabolism, particularly when accompanied by caloric restriction, a common practice.
  2. Too much steady-state cardio (i.e. running or exercising on a machine at a steady state) results in less fat burning as your body becomes more efficient at using fat as fuel.
  3. Too much steady-state cardio also triggers the loss of muscle due to heightened and sustained cortisol levels, which up-regulate myostatin, a potent destroyer of muscle tissue.
  4. As muscle mass declines from too much cardio, so does bone density.
  5. There is a tendency for people who focus on this form of exercise to over-eat and/or have a reward mentality for the “hard work” they have done.

Intensity, Intensity, Intensity:



  1. Interval training involving  short bursts of high intensity exercises results in sustained fat burning and muscle growth (look at a sprinter or boxer vs  a marathoner)
  2. Weight lifting  (if done properly – i.e. following the OPT format) can lead to increased lean body mass, stronger bones, better balance  and enhanced fat burning capacity.

As with nutrition, if you need more one-on-one training, I can recommend a personal trainer to get you going.

For more information on individual program design, please contact our office at (425) 999-4484

We now have online scheduling:


About the Author

Dr. Geoff LecovinNaturopathic Physician/Chiropractor/Acupuncturist/Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist/Corrective Exercise Specialist/Performance Enhancement Specialist/Certified Sports Nutritionist/View all posts by Dr. Geoff Lecovin