Sunday, February 05, 2006

#2 in the Plan For Success series

Introduction

The Weight Loss Industry
Fat Is Beautiful?

While you people may find this difficult to believe, once upon a time, fat was not abhorred the way it is today. In fact, to be plump (not obese, of course) was viewed as a status symbol. Carrying around a bit of excess body fat distinguished the nobility from the peasantry and therefore became a sign of attractiveness, of beauty. Nevertheless, let us be honest. Back then, stripped down to the most basic of levels, being fat meant that you could afford to eat! To illustrate this, here are a couple of interesting ideas that came about just before the turn of the century:

• In the 1880's photographers were instructed that models "with hollowed cheeks or visible collar-bones" should not be photographed because the camera would accentuate these "defects."
• In addition, in 1882, Americans discouraged exercise, as they believed that it "would burn excessive amounts of fat.” But in the late 1800's and early 1900's when industrialization took over and food became easily available, even the lower and middle classes could afford to become plump. Well, this certainly aggravated the upper class, as they could no longer be distinguished by their rounded physiques. In an effort to differentiate themselves from the lower and middle classes, they decided to adopt a new ideal, and slim was now in.

The irony of it all is that because of this new ideal, healthy food was in demand, and much the same as it is today, eating well became expensive. Therefore, what happens is that the lower and middle classes can hardly afford to be thin, while in the 1800's they could hardly afford to be fat. So with this new standard in beauty and refinement set, the weight-loss industry began and people began to worry about losing weight (at first) and (more recently) about losing fat. With that said, the objective of this chapter is to:

1. Give you a brief interesting history of the weight loss industry.
2. Present a review of the effectiveness of different weight/fat loss strategies.
3. Dispel popular current myths concerning nutrition and exercise.
4. Discuss some important and misunderstood facts.

A Checkered Past
As is the case with any dramatic shift in public opinion, new problems arise which require new solutions. About the turn of the century, the new problem was how to lose weight. Therefore, the weight loss industry exploded in offering solutions. However, in the absence of detailed scientific data on the nature of energy balance, food composition, and the cellular mechanisms of energy exchange, the best the industry could do was search for agents that promoted weight loss, regardless of how they worked. Here are a few frightening examples of this mentality in action.

• When I say the words, "heroin chic," you think of the waif supermodels that believe heroin is the best diet drug available. Well, back in the dawn of the diet age, they had their own version of heroin chic that we'll affectionately call "consumption chic.” You see, at the time, several popular European poets and writers (Keates, Shelly, Chekov, and Bronte) had tuberculosis, which made them sickly and thin. People therefore associated this look with refinement and intelligence. As a result, the wealthy, taking the lead of other celebrities of the day, began starving themselves to appear sickly and refined. Therein the very low calorie diet (VLCD) was born.

• When I was growing up, a popular statement in my house was " I can't afford you eating like this; whadda' ya' have, a hollow leg or a tapeworm or something?” Now I didn't know what a tapeworm was (a worm made out of masking tape?), but I associated it with being able to eat a lot of food while staying thin, so the tapeworm was okay with me. But going back to the turn of the century, a popular question of the day might have been "Where can I get some chocolate covered tapeworms?” Yep, tapeworms (parasites that live in the intestinal tract) were actually used as a way to lose weight!

• During this same time period, even Kellogg of cereal fame entered the diet market by offering their "Safe Fat Reducer.” This product was loaded with thyroid hormone. And not the kind that comes nicely sterile and synthesized by a pharmaceutical laboratory. No, they added the pulverized thyroid glands of dead animals to their product.

• Other common ingredients that were used in the tonics introduced during the infancy of the diet industry were laxatives (cause diarrhea), purgatives (cause vomiting), strychnine (cause nervousness, restlessness, tremors), and arsenic (cause death — Do you weigh less when you are dead?).

• Getting even further away from the scientific method, some "diet experts" had a theory that men and women should not use lotions or cosmetics. In their opinion, these agents were absorbed into the skin, transported to fat cells, and stored as body fat. This was not good news for Oil of Olay.

• A final interesting diet drug note concerns our old friend DNP. For those of you who do not know, DNP (dinitrophenol) gained popularity in the 1990's as a particularly effective fat-loss drug among bodybuilders. However, DNP was nothing new; in fact, it was the very first drug ever prescribed for weight loss. By 1935, over 100,000 Americans had taken DNP to lose weight. So where can you get some? Not so fast. The problem is, DNP was actually found to be an effective agent for promoting weight loss in munitions plants during WWI. What happened was that fat munitions workers who had been exposed to DNP (which is used commercially in explosives, as a herbicide, and an insecticide) were losing a huge amount of weight. What they didn't know at the time though, was that the physiological actions of DNP cause the body to uncouple oxidative phosphorlylation from ATP production. In essence, normally, people metabolize food to produce energy (ATP). Well, DNP causes the body to metabolize food but instead of producing energy (ATP), heat is generated; so much heat that the organs can actually cook in the body. So, if you do not mind liquefied organs, DNP will help melt away body fat, literally. Moreover, this was a popular diet treatment!

The Focus on Food
Although low carb diets (i.e. ketogenic diets and the Atkins Diet) have been in vogue for the last few years, let me shed a little light on where the concept of the low carb diet came from. Interestingly, the first low carb diet was promoted several years before we even had strong evidence that carbohydrates, fats, and proteins were present in our foodstuffs. As legend has it, William Banting, a very overweight casket maker (of all things) was worried that his casket would be too expensive to fit his large, gelatinous physique. So he theorized that eating less starch (potatoes, bread, and pasta) would help him lose weight. And right he was as he dropped down a few "casket sizes.” He became slim and svelte and in 1878 he published his "Letter on Corpulence," extolling the virtues of the no bread, no potatoes, and no pasta diet.

So the first low-carb diet came from a casket maker. Just a few years later, information began trickling out of the scientific community regarding the composition of food. In the 1890’s, Wilber Atwater is credited for observing the different macronutrient components of food. In the early 1900's, Russell Chittenden went a step further to determine the calorie content of food. With these data, the concept of energy balance and the practice of calorie counting was born.
Half a century later, in the 1950's, the research world began to publish extensively on different diet strategies including ketogenic diets, high protein diets, very low calorie diets, and protein sparing modified fasts (a.k.a. fat fasts).

As a result of these dietary strategies, rather than promoting long-term weight loss, the concept of yo-yo dieting began. So take note. While writers are often "introducing new diet plans," there is very little that is "new.” As mentioned, the "Fat Fast" diet was popular in the 1950's, ketogenic diets were used at the same time with limited success, and even the Atkins diet was first introduced in 1966. So do not fall victim to the notion that these diets are really revolutionary ways to lose fat. As you are about to see, they failed miserably back then, and even now, they are not the best way to change your physique.

Research
The problem with the dangerous early approaches to weight loss, as well as the later diet approaches (including ketogenic diets, very low calorie diets, fat fast type diets, etc), is that they all worked to one degree or another. However the effects of these treatments lasted only as long as the treatments were followed. In addition, since the focus was on weight loss (not fat loss), the composition of the loss (lean vs. fat) was usually ignored. Once the drugs were removed or normal dieting resumed, subjects actually gained more fat than they had lost!

Then comes research to the rescue. When more accurate methods of body composition testing were developed, body composition was used to determine the proportions of the loss. These new techniques demonstrated that most of the aforementioned low calorie diets decreased metabolic rate, chronically depleted muscle glycogen (and therefore performance), and decreased lean body mass.

Conclusion
Looking back through this chapter, it appears that we have come a long way in our quest to lose fat. However, while researchers are doing quite a bit to promote healthy weight loss, let us not lose sight of where the diet industry is today. Are our current diet drugs completely safe and effective? That’s debatable, especially with the FDA’s 2004 ban on ephedra. How about our commercial weight loss clinics? Certainly not! You know, although we can laugh at the ridiculousness of the diet industry of 100 years ago, these stories, in my opinion, serve as a warning for us. I often wonder what people in the year 2100 will say about us.

The Weight Loss Lie
Americans Are living a $40 billion dollar lie!
Did you know that the American public spends an average of $40 Billion dollars per year on a certain item that is doomed to failure from the beginning and not one congressman or senator is calling for an investigation to look into it. What is this item? A new stealth bomber? Six thousand dollar toilet for a missile frigate? No, not even close. How about welfare or farm subsidies? You're not even warm. The answer is much simpler than you might think: Weight Loss.

In the year 2003, Americans spent more than $40 BILLION on diets and weight loss products! According to the Nutrition Business Journal, the supplement industry reached an all time high of $16.1 billion in sales in the year 2002. With billions at stake, these greedy fat-cat supplement and weight loss companies will tell you anything to get you to buy their crappy products. They'll even lie right to your face! And the fact that the industry is so loosely regulated allows them to get away with murder!

It is widely estimated that we spend approximately $40 billion per year on weight loss programs, products, and potions. You know what? They don’t work! It is not even that they don’t work, They can’t work!
The typical weight loss program that you pick up at the checkout isle of your local grocery store or a commercial weight loss center goes against human physiology and the way our bodies are designed to work. They are in a sense physiologically incorrect.

What am I talking about? Let me explain, the typical weight loss program is based on a steady caloric reduction which enables the body to lose weight. Sounds good so far right? The problem is that no one ever said what we were actually losing. Fat? Not entirely. When you decrease your caloric intake to or below your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), daily caloric requirement needed to maintain lean mass while only conducting involuntary activity (heart beating, lungs breathing, etc.), your body has to get by on less energy yet still do the same amount of work. It becomes even more counter productive when "voluntary activity"(daily activities and exercise) is added yet caloric intake is still at BMR. When forced into this situation the body simply begins to "lighten the load.” This means the body perceives that it is about to go into a state of caloric (energy) deprivation which prompts the body to begin to rid itself of whatever material that most consumes calories. This material just so happens to be our lean muscle.

So what is weight loss then? Well it’s actually a combination of lean muscle and fat loss, not just fat loss as most people believe. Still doesn’t sound that bad? Let’s take this a step further then. When you begin to reduce your lean muscle mass, you are also damaging your metabolic rate (i.e., metabolism). Our body’s ability to burn up or a use calories for energy is directly dependent upon the amount of lean mass we have. What most people do not realize is that our lean mass is actually our calorie burning machinery. Calories, specifically fat, are burned in our muscle: Lower it and you lower your ability to burn calories and therefore fat! What we have done at this point is we have lowered the amount of calories we can now consume/burn on a daily basis. This means if we consume any excess calories above our daily BMR needs, we are very likely going to store the surplus as fat. When this happens it then becomes necessary to live off of 1,000 calories or less for the rest of our lives if we wish to keep our weight down due to the muscle loss. Just ask Oprah about her "Opti-fast Diet" experience. She would tell you that’s exactly what happened.

It has been calculated that up until the 1940-50's the average American woman took in 3,000 to 5,000 calories per day. Today the average American woman takes in less than 1,500 calories per day and is on some type of weight loss program. Last year, one out of every three people in the United States was considered obese. In the 1970's one out of every four people was. As we become a society more and more dependent upon appetite suppressants and commercial weight loss centers, we have also become largely a more unhealthy society due to incorrect dieting practices. Only when a person has embarked on a program that includes:
1)identifying the proper amount of daily food intake,
2)the proper amount of aerobic exercise, and
3)the proper amount of anaerobic exercise needed,
will they be able to truly alter their body’s health and appearance as well as maintain that health and appearance. Until then, do your best to avoid those good marketing/bad science weight loss programs in your checkout isle and on the late night infomercials.

Gimmicks and Gadgets
The science and art of eating for fat loss and/or muscle gain have become big business. Unfortunately, this big business, in the eternal quest to be paid, has taken the focus off excellent eating and excellent exercise regimens.

Instead, with infomercials, marketing and advertising, and strategic alliances with the media (magazines, TV, etc), the diet and exercise industry has confused most people to the point that all they can do now is call up 1-800 numbers or jump on a secure server with their credit card ready. Some of these infomercials not only ignore the role of diet and exercise, they try to convince you those things aren't necessary when you buy their fat melting vibrating belts and magic pills.

Why has this transpired? Well, the answer is simple. And for three easy payments of $19.95, I'll tell you. No, no, just kidding. How about a quote instead? "Throughout history, the difference between scientists and physicians on the one hand, and quacks and promoters on the other, has been that the scientists and physicians have attempted to show both what they knew and what they didn't know while the promoters saw the questions as simple and obvious, and always had all the answers."

Therefore, it doesn't seem such a mystery why people buy into the gimmickry. Telling the people what they want to hear wins them over. The problem is that while radical diets, gadgets, and pills may work in the short run, they often compromise an individual's health and well-being more than the extra fat does if they're overweight. This makes the cost to benefit ratio ridiculously low. The other problem is that these strategies don't typically work in the end. So if you're trying radical new methods, it's a safe bet to assume that after the "treatment" is over, you'll likely go back to normal, or worse.

Now personally, I love being lean, but I also enjoy my good health. And my focus remains on using the basics of good, natural food selection and an active lifestyle that includes regular, preplanned physical activity. Anyone who knows me knows that I'm not a big fan of prepackaged meals, gadgets or magic potions. As revolutionary as it sounds, I believe you can get lean by manipulating your diet and exercise alone.

More specifically, here are some of the more common lies which you are lead to believe are true facts by big business competing for your nutritional buck:

Fat Loss Lie #1:

You need supplements to lose fat.
Exercise, nutrition and the proper mental attitude (positive self-image, motivation, and discipline) are the only things you need to lose fat permanently. Supplements are not a requirement. Some basic supplements are helpful for “nutritional insurance,” and some supplements can help speed up the fat loss process a little, but not nearly as much as the advertising leads you to believe.

Even supplements that have been proven effective are only responsible for a small fraction of the results you achieve. At least 97% of your results will come from good training and good nutrition.

If most of your results come from nutrition and training, then why would you chase after that last 3% “edge” if you haven’t even maximized the first 97%? Isn’t that approach completely backwards?
FOCUS ON YOUR NUTRITION AND TRAINING PROGRAMS FIRST!

Respected exercise physiologist Dr. Tim Ziegenfuss of Kent State said, “Supplements should be the icing on the cake.” That’s a good way of looking at it. If anyone tries to convince you that supplements are essential and that you can’t reach your goals without them, beware; they are probably just trying to sell you something.

Fat Loss Lie #2:
The only way to get really lean is to "starve" yourself.
Most commercial diet programs are Very Low Calorie Diets. Many border on starvation: 1200 calories, 1000 calories, even 800 calories or less!
Ironically, the more you slash your calories, the more your metabolism slows down. In fact, very low calorie diets can actually make you fatter! It’s physiologically impossible to achieve permanent fat loss by starving yourself. When you eat less, your body burns less. When you eat more, your body burns more. It’s the ultimate paradox.

Very low calorie diets not only slow your metabolism so you burn fewer calories; they also cause muscle loss. Eventually, they shut down your metabolism completely. When this happens, the weight loss stops and any increase in calories that follows will cause immediate fat gain. This “rebound effect” is inevitable, because no one can stay on low calories forever.

Carefully scrutinize the calorie recommendations of any nutritional program before you start it. You'll probably discover that 95% of them have you slash your calories to “starvation” levels. Any nutritional program that’s extremely low in calories will cause weight loss in the beginning – but it will never work for long.
You see, the human body is very “smart” - it always strives to maintain a magnificent state of equilibrium: Metabolism, body temperature, blood sugar, hormone levels, acid-alkaline balance and every other system in the body, are all regulated within a narrow range that your body finds safe and comfortable.

When you subject yourself to drastic measures in an attempt to create sudden changes such as rapid weight loss, your metabolism adjusts itself to maintain equilibrium in energy balance, much the same way as a thermostat maintains the temperature of your home within a desirable range. As soon as you’re in danger of starving, your body will quickly adjust your metabolic rate downward like a thermostat, so you burn fewer calories. This is often referred to as “the starvation response.”
The only way to lose fat and keep it off permanently is to reduce your calories slightly and increase your activity greatly. It’s always better to burn the fat than try to starve the fat.

Fat Loss Lie #3:
You can believe everything you read in the magazines.
Most magazine publishers own supplement companies and use their magazines as the primary means for promoting their products. Certain well-known magazines have been doing this for decades. One day, it dawned on the rest of them that more money could be made selling supplements than selling advertising or subscriptions. Before long, every publisher joined the cause and started supplement companies.

You see, magazines have mega-credibility. After all, they can’t print a lie right there on paper, can they? If it’s in print, it must be true, right? They’d get in some kind of trouble with an “alphabet agency” otherwise, wouldn’t they? Maybe. Maybe not.

Editorials are more believable than advertising (that’s why they try to make ads look so much like articles these days). Most people will believe almost anything if it’s printed in a "reputable" medium such as a nationally circulated magazine. That's why magazines are the perfect vehicles for promoting supplements.

Did you ever notice how many magazine articles are about the latest, greatest "breakthroughs" in supplements? These "articles" aren't really articles at all; they’re nothing more than advertisements in disguise! (With an 800 number for easy ordering at the end… how convenient!)

Even if a magazine doesn't have a vested interest in a supplement line, you still can't count on them to reveal the whole truth to you because they don't want to offend the deep-pocketed companies that are spending big money to advertise.

A full-page ad in a high circulation national magazine can cost tens of thousands of dollars. With this kind of money at stake, do you think any magazine will print an article saying “supplements don't work” and on the next page, run an ad for the same supplements they are criticizing? Not likely is it?
It’s in the magazine’s best interest to promote supplements like crazy, regardless of whether they work or not, because the more supplements that are sold, the more the supplement companies will advertise. The more they advertise, the more supplements they sell, and on and on the cycle goes.

This is the same reason you often get better investing advice from the smaller, lesser-known financial newsletters than you do from the major financial magazines and newspapers; because the major publishers don't want to write editorials that will upset the advertisers.

Don't believe everything you read. Question everything. Use your head. Use common sense and your own good judgment. Beware of hidden motives. Just because it's right there in black and white doesn't mean it's the truth. If it sounds too good to be true…it probably is.

Fat Loss Lie #4:
Meal replacement products, powders and diet shakes help you "burn" fat.
Supplement companies would like you to believe that meal replacement products (MRP's), powdered mixes and shakes have some sort of "magical" fat-reducing or muscle-building properties. The truth is that they’re nothing more than "powdered food" (or “liquid food”). The primary benefit of these products is convenience.

It's a challenge to eat frequently and to get enough high quality protein from whole foods, so quality MRP's are great when you're in a hurry and you don't have time to eat food, but they’re not better than food, no matter what any supplement "guru" says.

Owners of supplement companies will say that MRP's are the greatest thing since electricity. That shouldn't come as any surprise; sales of these products run in the tens of millions of dollars each year.

With the one possible exception of post-workout nutrition during mass-building programs, eating real food is better than drinking shakes. The human gastrointestinal system has evolved to efficiently digest whole food, not powders or pills. The process of digesting solid food every three hours actually increases your metabolic rate. This is known as the "thermic effect of food.” Powders fail to take advantage of this metabolic boost. Whenever you have a choice, and whenever time permits, you should always choose whole foods over powders and drinks.

Fat Loss Lie #5:
Thermogenic "fat burners" that contain ephedrine and caffeine are highly effective for permanent fat loss.
Xenadrine, Hydroxycut, Metabolife, Thermadrol, Diet Fuel, Stacker and Ripped Fuel. Ever heard of any of these? If not, you must have been living in a cave somewhere for the past ten years because "thermogenic" fat burning pills made with the herbal stimulant ephedra have become the hottest weight loss craze in the history of the industry.

Hundreds of millions of dollars are spent on these products every year and there's no end in sight to this fat burning pill feeding-frenzy. Even though Ephedra was banned for over the counter sale because of FDA pressure, ephedra-free stimulant products took their place in short order, even if they’re weaker versions of the original products. The strength of the brand names seems to be carrying them forward.

However, are these thermogenic products all they're made out to be? Let me set the record straight.
Open up any fitness magazine these days and you'll see multi-page advertisements boasting of “amazing,” “clinically proven,” “university-tested” results, with dramatic photos of physiques allegedly transformed overnight by using these products. One headline says "Proven to increase fat loss 1700%.” Another says "Burn up to 613% more fat!” Still another says, "34 times more fat lost than control group." Frankly, the hype surrounding these products borders on being ridiculous.
Where did these numbers come from? 1700% or 613% or 34 times greater THAN WHAT? Obviously, some “apples” are being compared to “oranges.”

It's easy for supplement companies to cleverly take statistics out of context - just one of many sneaky tricks they have up their advertising sleeves. (Did you know there’s an infamous book called “How to Lie With Statistics,” written on this very topic? If you don’t believe me, go to Amazon.com and see for yourself.)

If any supplement really did burn 1700% more body fat, there wouldn't be any overweight people left! But there are: There are more overweight people today than ever before in history!

Don't believe the hype! It’s not that these products don’t work at all – the problem is more in the deceptive marketing and advertising than the products themselves. The claims are simply outrageous.

Thermogenic fat burners do work, but they don't work miracles and they’re not a substitute for proper nutrition and training. Use caution if you use thermogenic products at all and never use them if you are sensitive to stimulants and/or have a history of heart disease, high blood pressure, thyroid disorders or any other medical problems.

There are no magic pills. Why is it that people just don't seem to get this? It's human nature, I suppose. We all want instant gratification, so it's awfully easy to be swayed by the glossy four-page magazine spreads with those mind blowing (doctored?) before and after photos.

If you want to lose body fat, get your nutrition and training program in order FIRST.

Fat Loss Lie #6:
Losing fat can be accomplished without hard work.
If someone is eating poorly and not exercising, then they can often begin losing fat very quickly and easily, relative to their previous disappointing results. All they have to do is improve their nutrition and exercise habits and a quantum leap can often be made.

With that distinction made, let me state unequivocally that permanent fat loss is never really “easy.” There is always effort and discipline involved, as there is with any worthwhile achievement. Endlessly searching for an easier way, a magic bullet, miracle cure, a Holy Grail, is a misguided quest.
Losing fat is very simple, but for most people it is not easy.

There's a big difference between simple and easy:
"Simple" means there is nothing complicated about the process - it's like algebra; just plug in the numbers where the X's and Y's are, and the formula always produces the correct result.
"Easy" implies that something can be done with little or no effort. Anyone who tells you they've discovered an “easy” way to lose fat is lying.

Getting a lean body requires two things:
1) You must be willing to work hard
2) You must be patient
The problem with many people is that they shy away from anything that appears to be hard work. They’re always looking for short cuts. As soon as they see something that promises results "quickly," "easily," "effortlessly," "while they sleep," "without exercise," and so on, they whip out their wallets and take the bait, hook, line and sinker. Shortcuts always fail! Take a shortcut and you're going to get lost, fall into a deep hole, or smack into a brick wall!

Everything worth having in life has a price attached to it - EVERYTHING! (Study Emerson’s essay on Compensation). If you want a lean and muscular body, you must be willing to pay the price for a lean and muscular body. STOP looking for easy ways. Just pay the price and it’s yours – and it’s yours for life, because you didn’t depend on the crutch of a short-term gimmick.

Make no mistake; people with great bodies, especially athletes and fitness models, have worked very hard for a very long time to get where they are. It's an absolutely unbreakable law of the universe that you can't get something for nothing. Your results will come in direct proportion to the amount of effort you put in. You can only reap what you sow.

Fat Loss Lie #7:
Some people will never be able to lose weight and they should just give up and accept their genetics for what they are.
It's true; your heredity will, to a certain degree, dictate your athletic ability and the ease and speed with which you can lose fat. However, it's a lie to say that some people can't lose weight because they've inherited a "slow metabolism."

Let's be honest; not everyone is going to become an Olympic Gold medallist, a Mr. Universe or a Miss Fitness America. However, you should never just "accept your genetics" and give up. Everybody can lose fat. It just takes a little longer for some than for others.

Some people have inherited a metabolism and body type that tends to favor fat storage. This body type is called an "endomorph.” Endomorphs may have a slower metabolism, they’re often carbohydrate sensitive, they gain fat quickly when they eat poorly, they gain fat quickly if they don't exercise, and they may hold onto stored fat, even with clean, low fat eating habits.

Weight loss is easier for some than for others and that doesn't seem fair. But that's the way life is. This simply means you're going to have to adjust your diet and training to fit your body type and metabolism. You may have to work harder than other people. You may have to be more persistent than other people. You might need a stricter diet than other people. You might need to train more intensely than other people. You might have less margin for error (fewer, or no, cheat days).
The question is: Are you willing to do what it takes for you? It's amazing what a human being can achieve when they have a clear goal and they’re willing to do whatever it takes to achieve that goal. “Argue for your limitations and sure enough, they’re yours.” - Richard Bach, Author of “Illusions.”

Fat loss lie #8:
Zero carbohydrate or very low carbohydrate diets are the best way to lose body fat permanently.
No diet issue has created more confusion and controversy than the low carbohydrate vs. high carbohydrate debate. Contrary to what certain diet "guru's" tell you, carbohydrates are not fattening.
It’s a flat out LIE to say; "carbohydrates are fattening.” What's fattening is eating more calories than your body can use at one time.

However, it's true that some people lose weight more quickly on a low carbohydrate diet (that's not the same thing as saying carbohydrates are fattening.)

Despite these facts, very low carb diets are not the ultimate answer to permanent weight loss. At worst they are unhealthy. At best they’re a temporary tool that should be used only for short periods to achieve specific fat loss goals (preparing for competition, for example).

Even for carb-sensitive, insulin-resistant, hypoglycemic people who respond well to less carbs and more protein/fat, there are still many drawbacks:

1) Very low carb diets are difficult to stick to. If you remove most of your carbohydrates from your diet for a long period of time, you’re setting yourself up for a relapse. The more you cut back the carbs, the bigger the rebound will be when you put carbs back in. That's why 95% of people gain back all the weight they lose on a very low carb diet.

2) Very low carb diets are often unbalanced and missing many nutrients. Few people would debate the fact that the optimal diet for long term maintenance is one that has some semblance of balance between protein, carbs and fats and includes a wide variety of foods. Not an overemphasis on one food or food group.

3) Very low carb diets may be unhealthy. Many low carb diets allow large amounts of saturated and processed fats. (No toast or pancakes are allowed, but bacon, sausage, butter and whole eggs for breakfast are just fine). In the absence of carbohydrates, you can eat fat with protein and you’ll still lose weight (fat doesn’t necessarily make you fat).
However, it's probably not wise to eat large amounts of saturated fat and it’s never wise to eat processed fats or trans fats (margarine etc.). Most people would be best to opt for a diet that is low in fat (below 30% of total calories) and moderate in carbs and protein. (Fat is, comparatively, calorie rich and potentially detrimental to your health in larger quantities.)

4) Very low carb diets cause your energy levels to plummet. Not only will you feel tired and irritable without carbs, but your training will also suffer: Low carbs = low energy. Low energy = poor workouts. Poor workouts = poor results.

5) The weight loss on a very low carb diet can be deceiving. You will definitely lose weight if you don't eat carbs, but much of the initial weight loss will be muscle and water. Suppose you lose 5 lbs in one week on a low carb diet: That sounds impressive, but if one pound is fat, two pounds are water and two pounds are muscle, what did you accomplish? Your goal should never be weight loss. Your goal should be fat loss. Most people will lose fat simply by adding a regular exercise routine to their schedule and by "cleaning up" their diets. By "cleaning up,” I mean that you’ve mastered the seven habits (discussed later).

Low carb diets can accelerate fat loss. However, if you choose the low carb approach to dieting, the best method for most people is to decrease your carbohydrates moderately and add in some of the “good fats.” Cutting out carbs completely is not necessary, it's probably not healthy, it's hard to stick to, and it's no fun! It's usually not wise to go to extremes in anything and that’s as true for nutrition as anything else in life: moderation is the key.

Fat Loss Lie #9:
If you eat the right foods, you can lose fat permanently without exercise.
A full-page ad in a recent issue of the National Enquirer featured this headline:
"Lose Up To 2 Pounds Daily... Without Exercise."
Yeah right! And you'll make a million dollars a day too...without working! That's a whopper of a lie if I've ever heard one. Trying to lose fat without exercise is like trying to sit on a chair without four legs. If one leg is missing, your chair is going to fall over.

An effective fat burning program must have at least these four crucial components:
1. Aerobic exercise
2. Weight training
3. A nutrient dense diet of natural foods with a mild calorie deficit
4. Goal setting, motivation and a positive self image

Except for those genetically gifted, fast-metabolism types (that we all love to hate), it‘s extremely difficult (if not impossible) for most people to lose fat permanently without exercise. It’s always better to burn the fat than it is to try to starve the fat (refer back to Fat Loss Lie #2 for the reasons why).

To lose fat, there must be a calorie deficit. Such are the laws of thermo-dynamics and energy balance. However, there’s more than one way to create a calorie deficit. One way is to decrease your calorie intake (eat less). The other is to increase the amount of calories you burn though exercise.

Of the two ways to create a calorie deficit, burning the calories is the superior method. This is because large, prolonged calorie deficits cause muscle loss and trigger the “starvation response.” Ironically, most people do the opposite: They slash their calories to starvation levels and exercise too little or not at all.

Paradoxical as it seems, the most effective approach to fat loss is to eat more (keep the calorie reduction small) and let the exercise burn the fat. You don’t have to starve yourself – you just have to choose the right foods and make exercise a part of your lifestyle.

Why would anyone resort to starvation diets when they can burn fat more efficiently through exercise? Perhaps they believe that eating more food and working out at the same time will “cancel each other out. Maybe they shy away from the hard work involved in exercise. Aerobic exercise –combined with weight training - is the only method of fat loss that allows you to create a calorie deficit and burn fat without slowing down the metabolism.
Here are the reasons why exercise - not dieting - is the superior method of losing body fat:
1. Exercise – aerobic and weight training - raises your metabolic rate. Dieting decreases your metabolic rate.
2. Exercise creates a caloric deficit without triggering the starvation response.
3. Exercise is good for your health. Dieting is harmful to your health.
4. Exercise, especially weight training, signals your body to keep your muscle and not burn it for energy. Dieting without exercise can result in up to 50% of the weight loss to come from lean body mass.
5. Exercise increases fat-burning enzymes and hormones. Dieting decreases fat burning hormones and increases fat storing hormones.
6. Exercise increases the cells sensitivity to insulin so that carbohydrates are burned for energy and stored as glycogen (muscle energy) rather then being stored as fat.

If anyone ever tries to sell you a program for losing weight and it doesn’t include exercise (it’s just a “diet”), hold on to your wallet and run for cover. Even if you could get lean without exercise, you should be working out for your health anyway, not just for cosmetic reasons.
"In the long run, you hit only what you aim at, so aim high." - Henry David Thoreau

Fat Loss Lie #10:
“If all else fails, then steroids, growth hormone, weight loss drugs or surgery will help me lose this stubborn fat for good and regain my youthful look.”
To many people who are frustrated with little or no results, despite their best intentions, physique-enhancing drugs or hormones appear to be a panacea or “miracle cure.”
Steroids have been around for a long time. So have obesity drugs. Lately, there’s been a huge push – especially on the Internet - for the use of Human Growth Hormone or Testosterone under the harmless sounding auspices of “anti-aging medicine” and “Hormone replacement therapy.” This sales pitch is being made mostly to the baby boomers, who desperately want to regain their youthful looks and vitality.

Dramatic short-term results in body composition can be achieved from use of weight loss drugs, steroids, thermogenics, thyroid drugs, growth hormone and other chemicals.
However, appearances can be deceiving. The road of drug use can be a wild ride in the beginning, but in the end, it doesn’t lead you anywhere – it’s a dead end street.
Regardless of whether we’re talking about illegal steroids and performance enhancers, prescription obesity drugs, hormone replacement therapy, or even over the counter “fat burning” drugs like ephedrine, these are all really one in the same:
1) Billion dollar money makers, and
2) Feeble short-term attempts at treating effects, not causes.

Let’s take weight loss drugs, for example:
What would happen if the pharmaceutical companies finally came out with a “safe and effective” obesity drug and brought it to the marketplace on a massive scale? Here’s exactly what would happen:
The obesity problem would continue, and the pharmaceutical companies would get richer!

Think about it: Did Xenical cure obesity? How about Phentermine? Meridia? Adipex? Bontril? Didrex? Tenuate? What about Ephedrine? Did that solve the obesity problem? How about gastric bypasses? 60,000 were performed last year. Did that solve the obesity problem? In a few extreme cases where someone’s health is at stake, and when time is of the essence, the benefits of drugs clearly outweigh the risks. However, even in these cases, you have to concede that it’s a short-term treatment.

Here’s the problem with thinking that any drugs will be a long-term solution:
We live in an orderly universe where everything happens for a reason (by “law”). For every effect, there is a cause. There are no accidents. A lean body never happens by accident. An overweight body never happens by accident. A lean body and an overweight body are effects. Both of these effects have causes. If you’re overweight, you can create lasting changes 100% of the time if you find the cause of the overweight condition and remove it.

The cause of body fat in most cases is inactivity, poor nutrition and often a negative self-image. Taking drugs is only treating the effect (the fat). Even if the fat (the effect) is temporarily removed, it will always come back if the cause is still there. You can’t merely take pills or drugs that only treat symptoms/effects and expect a permanent change. The idea that some people were born to be fat is ridiculous and terribly dis-empowering. Equally disastrous is the belief that any pill will ever be a long-term solution to the obesity epidemic.

Depending on your genetics, you may never look like Mr. or Miss Olympia, but you always have the power to improve your body and your health above and beyond where you are today. How? By accepting 100% total responsibility for your situation and then taking positive action every day to improve it. You simply have to change your lifestyle!

Try to fight the law or shirk hard work by looking for short cuts if you want, but in the end, you’ll always lose. Try to ignore the law if you want, but ignorance of the law does not excuse you from its operation.

Lifelong health, fitness and a perfect body weight do not come out of a bottle or needle and NEVER will - no matter what new concoction they cook up in the lab. Those who think otherwise may gain temporary relief from health woes or enjoy some short-term benefits, but unless they change their lifestyles, they’ll have some hard lessons to learn in the end. Taking ANY kind of drugs to lose weight is never more than a desperate, fear-driven, short-term solution to a problem with deeply rooted and often unseen causes. Here’s what it all boils down to: The rewards you take out will always come in direct proportion to the work you put in.

"Whatever it is you seek in the form of rewards, you must first earn. All attempts to sidestep this law will end in failure, frustration and, if maintained long enough, ultimate demoralization. All over the world there are millions of people who are being hurt, confused, frightened, and whose lives are turned upside down because they don’t understand the principle law on which everything in the universe operates – the law of cause and effect." -Earl Nightingale
“The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary.” - Vince Lombardi.

Myth vs. Fact
This is where I call you lazy, tell you to stop making excuses, quit sitting on your butt, and do something about it.

Myth 1 –
I don’t have enough energy to exercise:
First, if you are suffering from a lack of energy, then go see your doctor. Lack of energy can be a medical condition, nutrient problem, lack of sleep, stress, or just being out of shape. Before you begin any nutrition or exercise program, it is best to consult with your physician first. After eliminating a medical reason for the lack of energy, it’s time to wake up and smell the coffee.

Exercising will give you more energy. Natural energy that will last all day long. Therefore, this is not a good excuse or legitimate reason to keep you from getting into shape.

But, how do I get going? First, start walking 5 minutes per day. A normal healthy adult can walk inside or outside for 5 minutes even if they suffer from an extreme lack of energy. The next day walk 6 minutes. Then 7 minutes the next day. Go to 10 minutes per walk, then 12, 15, 20, 25, 30 minutes. At 30 minutes of walking per day you are speeding up your metabolism, increasing your energy, and you can begin to burn fat. You are on your way!

Myth 2 –

I don’t have the time to exercise:
OK, I’ll be blunt here. If you can’t find the time to spend 45 minutes to an hour, 3 to 5 days per week exercising then you deserve to have love handles or saddle bags. That’s it! A former President of the United States exercised on a regular basis. I am sure he was one of the busiest people on the planet. Now, I understand people with children have less spare time, and some people have two or three jobs. However, we are not talking about using your free time to exercise. We are talking about your body, your health, your life, and your well being.

Therefore, you should make it a priority. Finding an hour a day, a few days a week is possible for everyone. Get up anhour earlier. If you are exercising regularly, you will sleep better. Hence you will need less sleep per night to recuperate from daily activities. Second, exercising relieves stress. The busier you are, the more stress you endure, and the more benefit you will get from a good workout. Finally, busy people will perform better if they relieve their stress by exercising on a regular basis. Get organized, and get motivated. You deserve it.

Myth 3-Spot Reduction:
We hear a lot of talk about "six-pack abs" and "trimming those problem areas.” A product that is supposed to help you lose fat and tone up a specific part of your body accompanies most of these messages. This notion of "spot reduction" is probably the biggest myth going in fitness. No one can "spot reduce.” You can't pick a particular area of body fat and lose that fat. Your genes determine where your body fat is stored. However, you can change your body shape and tone muscles by following a diet that slightly restricts calories and engaging in aerobic and anaerobic exercise.

Begin your program slowly. Don't over do it in the beginning or you may be injured and discouraged. Seek expert help from a certified personal trainer on proper form when first learning to lift weights.

Myth 4-Muscle to Fat?!:
This is a common misconception and I routinely come across this question on online forums. It usually goes something like: “My friend, who works in the medical field, claims that if I stop training, my hard earned muscle will turn to fat. Is there any truth to this?”

Here is the answer, once and for all. Muscle turning to fat is a long time myth that continues to endure. Muscle and fat are distinctly different tissues. Muscle tissue is approximately 70 percent water. Conversely fat is over 70 percent fat with less than 25 percent water. A pound of muscle contains under 700 calories whereas a pound of fat will yield 3500 calories. In addition a pound of muscle is approximately 18 percent smaller by volume than a pound of fat.

Just as wood cannot turn to iron, muscle cannot turn to fat. Dr. James A. Peterson, Dr. Cedric X. Bryant and Susan L. Peterson use a great analogy to explain away this persuasive myth in their book, Strength Training For Women (1995-Human Kinetics). The explanation goes like this: "If you don't use a muscle, it will literally waste (atrophy) away.

When someone has a cast removed from a leg that had been broken, the unused leg muscles look smaller than they were before the injury. If muscle turned to fat, you would see a "fat ball" when the cast was removed, not atrophied leg muscles. “

I believe this myth has its roots in the “creeping obesity.” Wherein a person who stops exercising but continues to consume the same amount of food (calories) begins to gain fat due to the unbalanced energy intake/energy expenditure principle. Lack of physical activity causes muscles to get soft, and if food intake is not decreased, added body weight is almost always fat. Once-active people, who continue to eat as they always have after settling into sedentary lifestyles, tend to suffer from "creeping obesity."

I sincerely hope that you will never have to stop your strength training program. If for some reason you do have to stop don't worry about your muscles turning to fat. It is not going to happen so long as you continue to keep your energy balance in check.

Fact 1-
When we talk about losing "weight," we're really talking about losing "fat.” We do not want to lose muscle, or at least as little as possible. Realizing that everyone is conditioned to step on the scale constantly, be my guest. You're addicted and so am I. But you must interpret that offensive little dial correctly. Although it will be used when you learn to determine approximately how much you should be eating per day, all it really tells you is your weight in pounds. It does not define what that weight is composed of. Not all of it is fat. The only part of our weight most people want to lose is excess fat, so we are only going to talk about losing fat or being over fat, etc. Fat, fat, fat -- not weight, weight, weight!

Fact 2-
There are actually three kinds of body fat, all of which serve a special purpose. The first is brown fat. Babies have a lot of this. It's brown because it contains blood. As we age, we lose a great deal of this, but we still have some. You'd die if you didn't.

The second type of fat is intramuscular which is just as it says, inside the muscles. It looks just like the marbling in meat. You can have lots of this and still appear very slim and muscular. People tend to acquire more of this as they age. It is for this reason that body fat calculations add an age factor.

Having too much of this is not healthy and keeping it under control can be helped with proper diet and exercise, specifically resistance training.

The third kind of fat is subcutaneous. Located between the skin and muscles, it's what disappoints when you look in the mirror or hear the results of a body fat test. Even though we don't like it, this is the fat that protects our internal organs and body systems. It acts like a protective cushion. Like intramuscular fat, too much causes health problems because our organ systems have to work too hard to support it, but if you don't have enough you won't have a life (literally).

I have provided the following information in the hope that it will cause those women who constantly worry about their lower body fat to cut themselves some slack.
That doesn't mean I'm giving you permission to resemble a T-Rex, but Mother Nature has built the female body differently (no kidding?!) than men, and unless you use a lot of androgenic/anabolic drugs, once you reach puberty you will never have the peanut butt and thin thighs of most men. Don’t despair because men have their own fat storage problems. We call them love handles and they are ghastly difficult to get rid of; just as difficult, in fact, as the fat on a woman's upper thighs.

Mother Nature is insanely clever. She knew that in order for a female to carry a fetus to term, these fat stores were/are necessary. She long ago programmed the male brain to look upon this as extremely desirable. Men don't always verbalize it politely, but they perceive an apple ass and round thighs as sexually inviting.

That's why when you ask one of us if we think your butt is fat, we appear totally clueless. We’re not putting you on, ladies, we really don’t understand. My best advice is don't ask! If you don't believe me, the next time you're some place where you can observe men watching women, take notice of which ones we look at. Okay, okay, we look at them all I know I, know. But seriously…

Each fat cell in your body has two kinds of receptors, technically known as Alpha-2 Adrenoceptors. Once activated, one kind makes the cell shrink and the other causes it to get bigger and even prevents it from shrinking. The balance between the two determines how fat an individual is. These receptors are not present in even numbers in fat cells throughout the body, which explains why some fat deposits are extremely hard to lose.

Fact 3-
When you go on a low calorie diet, your insulin level drops and your fat cells shrink. But just when you think you've got a handle on it, Mother Nature comes along and increases the responsiveness of each and every alpha-2 receptor because she thinks you're starving. She approaches it from a prehistoric point of view; i.e. there is no more food on the immediate horizon. So to keep Mother Nature from becoming nervous and cannibalizing your muscle tissue in the bargain, which decreases your metabolism, never try to lose more than about a pound of scale weight per week when on a fat loss diet, and a half-pound per week is even better.

In most women (and men who tend to have female body type fat distribution), the problem fat is in the glutes and upper thighs. In most men (and some women), these receptors are located equally throughout the subcutaneous fat that covers the entire body, although there are slightly more in the abdomen and lower back. When people decrease caloric intake they simply shrink these fat cells (you never lose them unless you have them surgically vacuumed, commonly known as “lipo-suction.”). In our 'I want it now' society, some people resort to liposuction. It has been found that liposuction makes the body restore the amount of fat it has lost - some of it around your organs.

Excessive internal body fat raises your risk of disease. In nature, liposuction does not exist, and it has been found that when fat is removed by liposuction, the body also redistributes this fat around the hips and at the side of the trunk - a.k.a. love handles.

Women naturally have more fat, which is regulated by estrogen. If women are given additional amounts of this hormone, many will experience a swelling of their fat cells just where they don't want it to occur. This is why some women on birth control pills gain fat. After menopause, if additional estrogen is not taken, they will slowly lose fat in their glutes because reducing estrogen levels reduces the number of alpha-2 receptors in fat cells.

Androgens, including testosterone, can (although not always) contribute to fat accumulation as men age. What really happens here is that the aging male converts more and more of his endogenous or naturally produced testosterone, to estrogens, including estradiol. Estrogen in men is necessary in small amounts to maintain brain function and bone density, but when they have more than what Mother Nature thinks they need, the effects on the male body are negative. The most noticeable side effects are love handles that are impossible to lose, the appearance of breasts, which is simply the swelling of fat cells in the pectoral area, and possibly the loss of hair.

So you can clearly see why controlling hormones, through eating habits, is important and beneficial.

Time for a Reality Check (It’s your Eating Habits!)

If you're not losing fat, it's probably your eating habits that's holding you back. Everywhere I look I see the same two questions posed to every nutritional Q&A article and posted on every message board I come across:

"My name is Jonathan. My goal is to lose about 10 to 15 pounds of fat and really get my abs going for summer. Currently, I do weight training three or four days a week depending on my schedule at school. I am thinking about adding in 20 minutes of cardio before or after each workout. I will probably do cardio on my off days, too, in the morning on an empty stomach. My questions are: Should I use German Body Comp instead of regular cardio? What type of fat burner should I use?"

"I'm 34 and all my life I've been fat. I have yet to crack 255 pounds. I have tried training programs and everything from Atkins to South Beach. Nothing seems to work. Supplements help some, but not much. What do you think? What is the best approach to losing my body fat? Thanks.” Steve.

Every week I basically see these same two letters. Different people always write them, but they say about the same thing. Everyone wants to know how to either lose fat or gain muscle. Of course, most want to do it at the same time. My response to these letters is usually the same: "It's your eating habits, stupid!” Well, I’m a little nicer than that, but you get the idea. If this grand epiphany has yet to hit you like a bolt of lightening out of the clear blue sky, then allow me to toss out the first bolt:

If you are not satisfied with your body or your progress, it’s probably not your workout, your supplements, or your genetics that’s the problem. It's your eating habits. Accept that fact. Live with it. Tattoo it on your forehead.

If there are any real nutritional truths out there, this is one of them. What you shove down your cake-hole is the key to getting the body you want.

Diet is the missing ingredient if you are not making progress toward your goal, be it fat loss or muscle gain. If your diet is shitty, don't think you can make up for it by just training harder or taking more supplements. Everybody say it together now: It's your eating habits, stupid!

Strap on your seatbelts and engage your airbags. It’s time to sacrifice a few sacred cows and have ourselves a big 'ol Texas style BBQ.

Reality Check #1:
No diet is easy and completely painless. All require an element of sacrifice and change. You have to drop that "I want to look like a completely different person, but don’t want to do anything differently" attitude. You are living a pipe dream if you think that. There is no magic pill! If you are on a low-carb diet, you will eventually start craving carbs. Likewise, if you are on a low-fat diet, you will soon begin gazing stalker-like at slabs of bacon and red meats. Each dieting strategy has its drawbacks. People with great physiques make sacrifices. They suffer a little for it. If you want a great bod, you are going to have to suffer a bit, too. Don’t worry, though. The rewards outweigh the punishments in the end.

Reality Check #2:
You probably will not be able to lose a lot of fat and gain a lot of muscle at the same time. It’s just not in the cards for most of us. So, stop eating like a bird, training like a girl, and expecting to get huge and muscular! It’s not gonna happen guys. You’ll likely gain some fat on a good muscle-gaining diet.

That’s okay! You can carefully diet it off later. I've known way too many 145-pound guys who immediately go on a strict cutting diet the moment their precious abs begin to fade under a little fat. With that attitude, they’ll never break 150, period. The same goes for guys who immediately stop trying to get lean once they lose a little strength or perceived lean-body mass.

The secret here is to pick one goal at a time and pursue it. Decide whether you want to lose fat or gain muscle first, then pick the diet that best fits that goal.

Reality Check #3:
There are a few people out there who can get away with a poor eating habits. (Yes, I hate them, too.) Do not assume that you can eat crap, train sporadically, and live an unhealthy lifestyle and do the same. These lucky bastards may have one in a million genetics, may use buckets of steroids and other drugs, or both. Total beginners can usually make fast progress on almost any diet, as well. Newbies who go from sitting on the couch eating Pringles to sitting on the weight bench eating protein always make fast progress in the beginning. The longer you live the “healthy” lifestyle the harder it becomes to progress. Ironic? You bet. A fact? Unfortunately, yes.

Reality Check #4:
Stop it with the low-carb diets while trying tone and shape muscle! The two just don’t tango. Yes, excess carbs, especially the simple variety, can be bad if you eat them all day long. However, if your main goal is to tone and shape muscle, you need carbs, both complex and yes, even a few simple ones after a good workout. In short, a good toning or fat burning-diet should not be limited in any macronutrient. In the same vein, a low carb diet is not the way to go for competitive athletes, especially during the season.

Reality Check #5:
Calories do count. Back in the day, the low-fat fanatics wanted you to think that you could eat anything you wanted (and as much of it as you wanted) as long as it was low fat. They were wrong. Today, some of the low carb gurus want you to think the same thing about their favorite macronutrient, the lowly carbohydrate. The truth is that while a low carb/higher fat diet is very filling and will reduce hunger pangs in most people; you still get fat if you eat too much.

Reality Check #6:
If your goal is fat loss, then the closer you get to your desired weight, the harder it will become. A person who needs to lose 50 pounds will have an easier time than a person who only wants to lose five. So don’t freak out and do something crazy when your fat loss slows down a little. That slowdown is normal. If you are already pretty lean and trying to achieve that perfect six-pack, then losing about a pound per week is great. Those with a lot of fat to lose can safely drop two to four pounds per week depending on their starting weight. Also, remember that if you choose a low carb diet, you will drop some water weight in the first week or so. When you come off a low carb diet, you will quickly add some of that water weight back. This is normal, so don’t panic.

Diet and Exercise

Your eating and exercise habits determine whether you lose (or gain) body fat. They determine how many calories you take in and how many you use up. To lose body fat, you need to control the number of calories you eat and increase the amount of calories you burn through exercise.

Research shows overwhelmingly that combining the proper diet with exercise is much more effective for losing body fat than dieting alone. Even the most nutritious low calorie diet without exercise will cause some of your losses to be from muscle.

A pound of muscle has only 600 calories - or about 1/6 the calories in a pound of fat - and, therefore, can be lost much quicker than fat. Since a pound of fat has 3,500 calories, you should expect to lose no more than ½ to 1 percent body fat per month or 1-2 pounds of fat per week. If you lose any more than that, you’re losing muscle too. You simply can’t rush fat loss. You don’t gain fat overnight, and you don’t lose it that way either; but the losses you do get will be permanent. And with the accompanying changes that exercise will make to your body, the results can be remarkable.

Remember to consult your doctor before starting a reduced-calorie diet and exercise program, especially if you have a history of health problems, haven’t had a physical checkup recently, or are pregnant or lactating.

Making a commitment
You have taken the important first step on the path to physical fitness by seeking information. The next step is to decide that you are going to be physically fit or at the very least be healthy. This book is designed to help you reach that decision and your goal.

The decision to carry out a physical fitness and nutrition program cannot be taken lightly. Exercise must become one of those things that you do without question, like bathing and brushing your teeth. Unless you are convinced of the benefits of fitness and the risks of unfitness, you will not succeed. Patience is essential. Don't try to do too much too soon and don't quit before you have a chance to experience the rewards of improved health and fitness. You can't regain in a few days or weeks what you have lost in years of sedentary living, but you can get it back if you persevere. The prize is worth the price.

In the following pages you will find the basic information you need to begin and maintain a personal fitness and nutritional program. These guidelines are intended for the average healthy adult. It helps you decide what your goals should be and how often, how long and how hard you must exercise to achieve them. It also includes information that will make your workouts easier, safer and more satisfying. The rest is up to you.

Checking your health
If you're under 35 and in good health, you probably don't need to see a doctor before beginning an exercise program. If you are over 35 and have been inactive for several years, you should consult your physician, who may or may not recommend a graded exercise test. Other conditions that indicate a need for medical clearance are: High blood pressure. Heart trouble. Family history of early stroke or heart attack deaths. Frequent dizzy spells. Extreme breathlessness after mild exertion. Arthritis or other bone problems. Severe muscular, ligament or tendon problems. Other known or suspected disease. Vigorous exercise involves minimal health risks for persons in good health or those following a doctor's advice. Far greater risks are present by habitual inactivity and obesity.

Controlling your weight
The key to weight control is keeping energy intake (food) and energy output (physical activity) in balance. When you consume only as many calories as your body needs, your weight will usually remain constant. If you take in more calories than your body needs, you will put on excess fat. If you expend more energy than you take in you will burn excess fat. It’s a little more complicated than just that, but that’s the basic principal.

Exercise plays an important role in weight control by increasing energy output, calling on stored calories for extra fuel. Recent studies show that not only does exercise increase metabolism during a workout, but it causes your metabolism to stay increased for a period of time after exercising, possibly up to four hours, allowing you to burn more calories.

How much exercise is needed to make a difference in your weight (read fat) depends on the amount and type of activity and on the amount and type of food you eat. Anaerobic exercise tends to burn body fat. A medium-sized adult would have to walk more than 30 miles to burn up 3,500 calories, the equivalent of one pound of fat. Although that may seem like a lot, you don't have to walk the 30 miles all at once. Walking a mile a day for 30 days will achieve the same result, providing you don't increase your food intake to negate the effects of walking. If you consume 100 calories a day more than your body needs, you will gain approximately 10 pounds in year. You could take that weight off, or keep it off, by doing 30 minutes of moderate exercise daily. The combination of exercise and diet offers the most flexible and effective approach to weight control.

Since muscle tissue weighs more than fat tissue, and exercise develops muscle to a certain degree, your bathroom scale won't necessarily tell you whether or not you are "fat.” Well muscled individuals, with relatively little body fat, invariably are "overweight" according to standard weight charts. If you are doing a regular program of strength training, your muscles will increase in weight, and possibly your overall weight will increase. Body composition is a better indicator of your condition than body weight.

Check back soon for the next installment in the Plan For Success Series.

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At 8:08 AM, Blogger John Tiniakos said...

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