About three years ago, I decided to reach an ambitious financial goal, that would put me in the top 5% of my peers. I engaged in a deep dive of personal finance, which led me to reject the conventional wisdom about career, savings, and investing. I developed new principles, achieved financial success, and moved my retirement date forward by several decades.

Two months ago, I became aware that though I was only slightly overweight, as I got older, my weight was having a detrimental effect on my health in many ways. I decided to engage in a similar process to lose weight.

I already knew that the conventional wisdom of a low-fat diet and more exercise was wrong, but as I dived into the topic of weight loss, what I learned transformed my approach. I’m still learning more every day, but here is the gist of what I found:

The most common explanations for why 70% of Americans are overweight are wrong. Obesity is not caused by eating too much or exercising too little, but by a hormonal imbalance in the body. The human body has a “set body weight” which it maintains through hormonal feedback systems. Inactivity and overeating is the result of obesity, not the cause. This is why diets which focus on eating less and moving more almost always fail — as has been proven by numerous studies. Unfortunately, the lure of hundreds of billions in agricultural subsidies has maintained a false theory of obesity despite 50 years of negative evidence.

The ultimate biological cause of obesity is a hormonal imbalance caused by insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is caused by persistently high levels of sugar in the blood. High sugar levels come from frequent carbohydrate-heavy meals. Cheap and plentiful processed carbohydrates from corn and wheat are the result of agricultural subsidies, which were passed to support the false hypothesis that obesity is caused by excess fat consumption.

Insulin resistance is the cause of fat accumulation. Insulin is a hormone which enables all cells to use and store sugar in the blood. Insulin is essential for the body, but persistently high levels of insulin cause resistance and fat accumulation. Fat storage is thus hormonally mediated. Attempts to lose or gain weight by calorie regulation below the set weight inevitably fail long term because the body compensates in myriad ways:

The body will respond to decreasing fat stores by increasing appetite, reducing satiety, lowering the metabolic rate, decreasing body temperature, and many other ways.
Long term weight control can only be achieved by understanding and addressing the causal factors – the hormones that regulate weight – especially insulin and leptin. This is why people who address weight by regulating calories suffer from a life-long rollercoaster or weight loss and regain. Lack of activity and larger meals is the outcome of obesity, not its cause.

More fundamentally, obesity is caused by dysfunctional emotion-handling skills. Carbohydrates are a highly effective and pleasurable endorphin activator. Like alcohol, tobacco, or heroin, carbs help addicts with chronic stress, anxiety, and depression — which are all common in the developed world. Carbohydrate addicts treat emotional instability with food in the same way as any other substance abuser.

Humans have evolved satiety mechanisms in response to fat and protein consumption (leptin is released to signal satiety). But like alcohol or cocaine, humans have no evolved satiety mechanism for carbs, which causes chronic overeating.

Understanding that carbohydrate consumption is an addictive relationship is essential to effective weight loss. Telling an alcoholic to consume less alcohol does not work because any amount of alcohol reinforces the addition. For the same reason, eliminating all processed carbohydrates from the diet is necessary for an effective dietary change.

Adopted sibling studies show that obesity is 70% genetically determined. I suspect that the specific trait is an inherited lack of emotion-management skills, which combined by super-availability of cheap carbohydrates is responsible for the modern obesity epidemic which affects 70% of Americans. Treatment of obesity requires addressing the need for emotional self-regulation and insulin resistance. Weight and fat loss will follow naturally as a result.

Exercise is effective for weight loss not because it burns fat or builds muscle (these effects are trivial and counteracted by the body in non-athletes), but because the endorphins produced during exercise reduce the emotional dependency on carbohydrates in food.

It is impossible to become fat from eating food — real food. Real food contains fats and proteins that trigger the body’s automatic satiety mechanisms. Obesity develops due to artificial food in the form of refined carbohydrate products. You can’t lose weight by eating MORE of anything. You must reduce the harmful effects of addictive carbohydrates.

The solution to obesity is to correct the hormonal imbalance by reducing insulin resistance. Insulin resistance can be reduced by creating periods of low blood sugar, specifically by eating a low carb diet, extending the periods between meals, such as by avoiding snacking and intermittent fasting.

Lowering insulin resistance will signal the body to automatically reduce fat stores, by increasing activity levels and correcting satiety levels. More activity and smaller meals are the *result* of fat loss, not the cause.

Finally, it is necessary to address the underlying emotional needs which cause carbohydrates addiction. Healthier substitutes such as walks, coffee, meditation, exercise, or just more sleep can reduce the dependency to derive endorphins from frequent carbohydrate consumption.

As I’ve discovered these ideas over the last month, I achieved dramatic success with my own health. I now have a healthy BMI for the first time in years and am rapidly moving towards my goal of 10% body fat without calorie restrictions or exercise. By switching to a low carb, high-fat diet and adding periods of intermittent fasting (a restricted daily eating window) I achieved a steady loss of 2.7 pounds per week.

Furthermore, I found that daily walks, coffee, and a concerted effort to get more sleep reduced my need to constantly snack to find emotional balance.

So, here is my one trick to lose belly fat overnight:

Extend your nighttime fasting period:
Don’t eat anything after eight pm or before noon. Have a glass of water with sea salt (to replenish electrolytes) before bed. Your body will use up the remaining sugar in the blood and enter fat-burning mode overnight, and you will pee out the ketones in the morning. Weigh yourself every morning to motivate yourself and track progress.