Fat Loss: As Simple As Boiling Water


Listen up, boys and girls… everyone gather ’round the campfire while Uncle Joe shares a li’l story with ya’ll.

Ok, so maybe I’m not exactly that sort of story-teller, but here’s an analogy I often use to ‘splain fat-loss in simple terms…

Imagine you have a pot of water that you’d like to bring to a rolling boil. You’re going to need to add a certain amount of heat energy to do this.

How much? That depends on the starting temperature of the water and how much of it there is.

How long will it take? Again, it depends on the starting temp and volume – PLUS how fast you’re able to put energy into it. A low flame will eventually get you there, but there’s going to be a lot of energy lost in the process. A higher flame requires more energy NOW, but that’s what it takes if you want a quick boil.

Are there any shortcuts? Absolutely. Put a lid on the pot to help retain heat. Increase the flame. Put pre-heated water into the pot – for example, I have a “quick-and-hot” contraption in my kitchen which gives me 190 degree water instantly. I can have a pot of water boiling within minutes.

Fat loss works pretty much the same way. Your body fat is the water. Diet is the heat. Exercise is the lid on the pot. Put ’em all together in the right combination and before you know it, your pot boileth over.

If you’re starting with big pot of ice water, yes, it’s going to take some time and effort to get the water to boil. But once you begin ‘steaming’ (in a physiological sense), you can actually turn the heat down and STILL continue to boil for awhile. When the boiling/simmering gets too low, you turn the heat up again.

(We fitness geeks often refer to a series of hi/low training cycles as periodization.)

Remember how I said diet is the heat and exercise is the lid? Boiling temp is 212F/100C – and that’s as hot as water can get… at atmospheric pressure. But if you put the same amount of water in a pressure-cooker (typically around 15psi), you can get water up to 250F/121C with the same flame underneath.

There’s nothing like the rattle-rattle-hiss of a pressure cooker in the Autumn.

Why do some people respond better to a diet and/or training plan than others? Why do cast iron pots and aluminum pots transfer heat differently? What’s the difference between an electric cook-top and a gas stove? Why does water boil different temperatures at different elevations? Why does distilled water have a different boiling point than tap water? What if we compare water to oil? Why? Why? WHY?

All these little (metaphoric) variables – and many more – can be boiled down (hehe!) to something we call bio-individuality.

But if you think you have a special gene that prevents you from losing fat despite your best efforts, you may want to take a closer look at your “best efforts”. Contrary to popular belief, even closely watched pots will boil – as long as you apply enough sustained heat.

If you think my analogy has any sieve-like holes – or you have something to add – feel free to leave your comments, questions or random insults below.

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5 Comments

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  1. Great analogy – that’s a really interesting way of looking at it. You’re totally right – if your “water” isn’t “boiling” it’s probably time to turn up the heat :)

  2. Great analogy, but not supported in reality. I recently lost 60 lbs. effortlessly, i.e., without going hungry at all, OR doing anything other than minimal exercise: occasionally riding a bicycle for an hour or so at a very moderate pace. How? By eliminating ALL CARBS except rice and corn, and ONLY eating a little of those each day. Many meals consisted of simply meat, green vegetables, and clarified butter. I feel GREAT, and will be on this diet for the rest of my life, and rightly so: I FEEL GREAT!!!

    Let me make this perfectly clear: I no longer eat bananas, potatoes, wheat, or sugar AT ALL. Sugar (and artificial sweeteners) are poison. I very occasionally have a small piece of fruit, but do not keep any fruit in the house. I eat a very high quality vitamin pack twice a day.

    • Congrats on your weight loss, Randolph… sounds like you’ve cracked the code and have seen into the matrix!

      1) how is my analogy “not supported in reality”? your ‘diet’ of virtually eliminating carbs is the heat under the pot. ‘occasionally riding a bicycle’ is the lid.
      2) whenever anybody tells me, “I lost (or gained) X lbs…” I have to ask the follow up question, “…of WHAT?” (you do measure more than just scale weight, I presume?)

  3. Really good analogy, Spicy Joe!

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