There are all kinds of diets, diet books, and magazine articles that will tell you that “Diet X” is the fastest way to lose weight. Unfortunately, most of them are hype, with very little science to back them up.
The key to losing weight fast is to work with your body’s natural mechanisms to motivate it to burn stored fat. The way to do that isn’t rocket science, but it is science.
Vitamin C is one of the most significant and most flexible nutrients used by the human body. It’s the foundation for all new cell-building and cell growth, is essential to the immune system, and is also a key player in weight loss. If you really want to lose weight fast and lose it in a healthy way, vitamin C can make all the difference.
Vitamin C helps in the weight loss process in two very significant ways: it helps regulate the hormone that tells your body to store fat and it’s part of an important amino acid that burns the stored fat you already have.
Vitamin C and Cortisol
To understand the first mechanism of weight loss using vitamin C, you first need to understand what the hormone cortisol is and how it works. There’s been an awful lot of press lately on cortisol, but some of the information is misleading, wrong, or just a little confusing.
Cortisol is one of the stress hormones. Each stress hormone (adrenalin is another) has specific tasks in the presence of stress. When the brain perceives stress, which can be anything from a paper cut to a job loss, it stimulates the release of these stress hormones to do their various jobs. All of those jobs are meant to protect the body from both the physical and the mental impact of whatever might be causing the stress in the first place.
Cortisol’s specific job is to store body fat, specifically belly fat. Our bodies are designed to associate stress with a possible lack of food. In the old days, stress might mean that you were either on the run from a predator, an enemy tribe, or a natural disaster. This might mean that you wouldn’t have the time or ability to find, prepare, and eat food. Today, the presence of stress is more likely to mean that you’ll just lose your appetite, but the result is the same: no food.
So your brain sends out a supply of cortisol and that cortisol takes glucose and converts it to fat, rather than allowing it to go through the process of being converted to glycogen, which is what your food becomes so that it can be burned as energy.
The role that vitamin C plays in this mechanism is that it is an incredibly powerful antioxidant that reduces the impact of stress on the body. With enough vitamin C on board, your brain perceives less stress and therefore sends out less cortisol. This prevents new belly fat from being stored, which brings us to the second way that vitamin C aids weight loss.
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Vitamin C and L-Carnitine
There are two keys to fast weight loss: don’t store new fat and get rid of the fat you already have. L-carnitine is part of that second step.
Once less cortisol is being released into your bloodstream, your body is perfectly willing to get rid of the fat you already have stored up for the next ice age or attack by wooly mammoth. But it has a mechanism for that too, and you’re going to need plenty of vitamin C for it.
Once the brain gives the okay to get rid of stored fat, it needs to turn that fat back into glycogen so it can be burned as energy. Your body has no other way to get the fat to exit your body. You can’t just digest it again and get rid of it through your intestines. You have to burn it off, in the form of glycogen (energy).
Your liver is where the stored fat can be changed back into glycogen, but first the stored fat has to get from your abs to your liver. This is where L-carnitine comes in. L-carnitine is a neat little amino acid that actually transports fat cells to the liver. You can look at it as public transportation for fat cells and the only bus stop is the liver. In fact, a recent study from Arizona State University showed that L-carnitine can boost fat loss by as much as 30%.
But, you need lots of vitamin C to make L-carnitine. This is where making sure you get enough of the nutrient really comes into play again. Vitamin C is a soluble vitamin; we don’t store much of it. However, we use a lot. Remember, vitamin C is essential to all cell growth and cell repair and your body also needs it for your immune system. Those are bigger priorities, as far as the body is concerned, than losing weight. So, it’ll take what it needs for those priorities and then whatever vitamin C is leftover can be used to make L-carnitine so that you can look awesome in a bathing suit.
How to Use Vitamin C to Lose Weight
So now that you know why you need vitamin C to lose weight, how do you make sure you’re getting enough?
The best way to get almost every nutrient is through whole foods. Supplements are good, but whole foods provide other nutrients as well, and very often a more readily utilized form of those nutrients.
Your first step is to eat a diet loaded with great vitamin C-rich foods. Some of the best are spinach, kale, strawberries, pomegranates, grapefruit, and oranges…essentially any type of fruit or vegetable. Do your best to eat at least one vitamin C-rich food at every meal and snack.
If you’re really in a hurry to lose weight, or if you have a hard time eating enough of these C-filled foods, then by all means supplement. How much vitamin C you need to burn fat is completely individual, so there is no set dosage to give you. However, if you take too much, you may end up with a case of diarrhea, but no harm will be done.
Try starting out with two 500mg tablets (chewables are great) twice a day. If you don’t have any problems with diarrhea, you can go up to three doses per day, but that should be all you need.
It’s not unusual (or unhealthy, as long as you’re eating enough calories and plenty of healthy food) for women to lose as much as 6-8 pounds per week this way. Give your body a few days to get things in gear, but when it does, you’ll be amazed at how quickly stored fat starts disappearing!