Sunday, January 11, 2015

Getting the Biggest Return for Your Efforts to Lose Weight

This is that time of the year you are bombarded with all the new and improved weight loss gimmicks such as, "Just take this pill, or wear this belt, or do this exercise and you are guaranteed to lose x amount of weight in a week."  Well, if you don't it, I'm telling you now, there are no magic pills, or mystical secrets to weight loss.  Regardless of what you hear, to lose weight you have to expend more calories than you consume.

Your body needs energy (measured in calories) to survive and you get that energy from the food you eat.  How much energy you need on a daily basis is primarily a function of the following factors:

Your resting metabolic rate (RMR) is the number of calories your body expends during quiet rest.  Your RMR makes up 60 to 80 percent of your total daily caloric requirements.  Your physical activity level constitutes between 20 to 30 percent of your daily energy needs.  And, the thermic effect of the foods you eat makes up only a small piece of your daily calorie expenditure.

You can see from the above your RMR is the largest component of your daily caloric needs. Your RMR is comprised mainly of the energy requirements of your organs, and the energy requirements of your skeletal muscle.  The energy requirements of your organs make-up 60 to 70 percent of your RMR,  while your skeletal muscle comprises 20 to 30 percent.  The daily energy requirements of your organs remain fairly constant thus, your skeletal muscle is the piece of you RMR that you can change.  By increasing your muscle mass you consequently increase your RMR which means you increase your daily energy expenditure.

As I mentioned above losing weight involves burning more calories than you consume, so building muscle gets you the biggest return for your efforts to lose weight especially in the long-term.  "How do I build muscle you ask?"  The answer is by lifting weights also known as strength training.  Strength training helps in your effort to lose weight by building muscle which increases your RMR and also by increasing your physical activity level (the 2 largest parts of your daily caloric needs).

In my next post I will talk about the additional benefits of strength training and what a good strength program consists of.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Make Strength Training the Foundation of Your Fitness Program

It's the first of the year and I already see my gym flooded with people eager to get healthy and fit for the New Year.  Most of the new comers spend most of their time on the cardio equipment, then they spend a few minutes lifting weights, and then they go home.

While cardio is a very important component of your fitness program, it shouldn't be where you spend the majority of your time in the gym.  I recommend you build your fitness program around strength training, also known as weight lifting and here's why:

Strength Training builds and helps to maintain your muscle mass.  Muscle tissue is always active and thus burns calories even when you are at rest.  Thus, by building and maintaining your muscle mass you  increase your resting metabolism, which means you burn more calories even while you are sleeping.

Muscle is key to long-term weight loss and body fat reduction.  As a personal trainer I often hear statements like this "ever since I tuned 40 I can't seem to lose weight and I've developed these areas of fat that I can't get rid of either."  Muscle loss is the primary reason for this scenario.  Beginning as early as your 30s you start to naturally lose muscle mass, and this process accelerates with age if you don't do anything to stop or slow it down.  As I previously mentioned, muscle is that active part of your body that burns calories even when you are resting.  Thus, as you lose your muscle mass your metabolism decreases, and consequently your calorie burning capacity also decreases.  Additionally, body fat is the fuel of choice for your muscles while you are at rest, and also for low intensity activities such as casual walking, cleaning house, and yard work.

Strength training increases your bone strength and makes your joints stronger.  Regular strength training has been proven to decrease the risk of developing osteoporosis, and also to make the activities of daily life easier to perform.

Strength training helps reduce blood sugar, and thus, reduces the risk for developing Type 2 diabetes.  Strength training plays a particular role to in reducing blood sugar and improving insulin sensitivity because when you lift weights the main fuel used is that stored as muscle glucose. Building extra muscle also provides a larger storage area for glucose, so the combination of these two factors -- increased muscle and regular emptying of these muscle stores -- improves the body's glucose processing, a factor crucial in preventing and managing type 2 diabetes.

Hopefully you can see why I think strength training should be the foundation of your fitness program.  If you are new to weight lifting, I suggest you find a nationally certified fitness professional to help you develop a strength training program, and to teach you the proper form and lifting techniques.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Don't Get Swept Away by Deceptivce Weight Loss Claims

This is that time of the year you get hit by a sea of advertisements for weight loss programs and products. The weight loss industry is big business with annual revenues of over $20 billion, with lots of players trying to get a hold of your cash.  You'll hear about products and services ranging from prepackaged meals to things you can sprinkle on you food to help you loss weight.  Here are some things you should know to make sure you don't get swept away by deceptive programs and products promising dramatic results in only days.

Diets don't work for long-term weight loss.  At any one time there are over 100 million people in the U.S. on a diet.  Most people lose 5 to 10 percent of their starting weight within the first 6 months on a diet, however over 90 percent of them regain their weight within 1 to 5 years.

The reason why so many people fail on a diet is because they don't make the necessary lifestyle changes to lose the weight and keep it off.  Making healthy lifestyle choices that you can stick to for the long-term is key to losing weight and keeping it off.  Any diet that places severe restrictions on what you can and cannot eat is going to fail because it is nearly impossible to adhere to for very long.

There are no magic pills or dust that's going to make you lose weight, or at least not in a healthy way.  I'm a personal trainer with over 20 years of experience in the health and fitness industry and I have never seen a single pill or product that will miraculously cause you to lose weight in a healthy manner.  Weight loss has always and will always be a result of taking in less calories than you expend.

Put little belief in the celebrity hype.  Most of the major weight loss products and services have celebrities who endorse them who are paid $500,000 to $3 million to do so.  So think twice the next time you hear some celebrity talk about how they lost weight on some fantastic product or service.

Always remember that healthy eating and  regular exercise is the best combination for losing weight and keeping it off.  Not only will you look better, you will also feel better.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Are You Getting the Maximum Results From Your Strength Training Program?

I've worked in the health and fitness industry for over 21 years now as a personal trainer.  During which I have exalted strength training also called weight lifting, and resistance training as the best way to combat the effects of aging.  Scientific research has now proven that strength training is indeed the most beneficial way to maintain your muscle mass, and strength as you age.

Now, I'm beginning to see more people in their 40s and over get off the bikes, and treadmills and start to lift weights.  However, most of them are not using the kind of resistance to reap the most benefit from their weight lifting efforts.  I see them using very little resistance for countless repetitions of each exercise they perform.  To reap the most benefit from your strength training routine you have to use enough resistance to stimulate muscle repair and growth.

A proper strength training routine produces microscopic tears in your muscles and your body responds by repairing your muscles, increasing muscle size, and consequently increasing muscle strength.  Using a resistance that you can easily do for more than 10 repetitions does not cause the microscopic tears in your muscles, nor an increase in muscle size and strength.

Scientific research has proven that working out with a resistance between 60 to 100 percent of the maximum weight you can lift for 1 repetition with proper form is the most beneficial in producing gains in muscle strength.  In layman's terms, use a resistance for each exercise with which it is difficult to complete 8 to 10 repetitions with proper form if you want to get the best results from your strength training program.

If you want to start strength training I suggest you find a nationally certified health and fitness professional to design a program for you and to show you the proper lifting techniques.  It is well worth the time and money to know you are getting the maximum benefit from your exercise program.

Friday, December 12, 2014

If You Build Muscle, You Will Burn Fat

English: Fitness Model posing with dumbell. Ph...
English: Fitness Model posing with dumbell. Photo by Glenn Francis of (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Remember the line from the movie Field of Dreams, "If you build it they will come".  Well, here's a line to remember if you want to lose body fat, "If you build muscle, you will burn fat".

A significant gain in weight and body fat results from an energy imbalance over a prolonged period of time, which means that energy intake exceeds energy expenditure.  In other words, weight gain and body fat accumulation results from a prolonged period of eating more calories than you burn.  Thus, you didn't go to bed one night fit and trim and wake-up the next morning fat and over-weight.

Consequently, you can change your energy balance by either altering the amount of calories you consume or increasing your energy expenditure.  Your total daily energy expenditure is the sum total of the following: your resting energy expenditure + the thermogenic effect of the foods you consume + the energy expenditure related to your daily activity.  Consequently, if your total daily caloric intake exceeds your total daily energy expenditure, you gain weight in the form of body fat.

Under most circumstances the largest component of your total daily energy requirement is your resting energy expenditure (also referred to as REE).  Your REE is composed of the metabolic requirements of your organs, and muscle mass.  The energy requirements of your organs remain fairly constant under most circumstances therefore, the energy expenditure related to muscle metabolism is the only part of your REE that varies considerably.

Muscle is the active component of your body that burns the most calories at rest.  It is estimated that a pound of muscle burns approximately 6 calories daily at rest. So, for each pound of muscle you gain you also increase your energy expenditure by 6 calories each day.  While that may sound like a small number, it makes a big difference over time.  For example, let's say you gain 5 pounds of lean muscle in the course of a year.  That equates to an additional 30 calories in your daily energy expenditure.   Over the course of a year that equates to nearly a 11,000 calorie increase in your REE.

The synthesis and breakdown of muscle protein is principally responsible for the energy expenditures of resting muscle.  The energy to provide for this process of muscle protein turnover is derived mainly from the oxidation of fat.  Yes, body fat is the preferred fuel of resting muscle, and it is also the preferred fuel for your muscles during low to moderate intensity activities.

Now, let's look at the above example of a 5 pound muscle gain in a different light.  It takes a 3500 calorie deficient to lose 1 pound of body fat.  So, the 11,000 calorie increase in your REE due to a 5 pound gain in muscle equates to a 3 pound loss of body fat over the course of a year.  Now, do you see why it's important to build and maintain your muscle mass if you want to get lean? Thus, I remind you again, "Build the muscle and you will burn the fat".

Saturday, December 6, 2014

A Beginners Guide to Strength Training Over 50

My newest ebook, A Beginners Guide to Strength Training Over 50.  Strength training is one of the most important things you can do if you want to remain healthy and fit over the age of 50.  In this guide I show you a beginners strength training routine I do with my clients over 50.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Muscle Plays a Major Role in Your Health

I've been in the health and fitness industry for over 21 years now and I've always emphasized the importance of building and maintaining healthy muscle, especially as you age. I've always known that muscle plays a major role in your overall health and fitness and current research has now proven this as so.

The importance of muscle mass, strength, and metabolic function in the performance of exercise, as well as the activities of daily living has never been questioned. However, the role your muscles play in whole-body protein metabolism is less recognized.

Your muscle plays a central role in your whole-body protein metabolism by serving as the principle reservoir for amino acids to maintain protein synthesis (growth & regeneration) in vital tissues and organs in the absence of consuming enough protein in your diet.  In other words, if you don't get enough protein in your diet, your body breaks down your muscle mass in order to make the necessary amino acids you need to survive.

Additionally, new research points to a key role that muscle metabolism plays in the prevention of many pathologic conditions and chronic diseases.  Loss of muscle has been associated with weakness, fatigue, insulin resistance, fractures, and frailty. Thus, many of the degenerative conditions that are associated with aging are caused by poor muscle health.

Thus, building and maintaining your muscle mass is one of the most important things you can do for your overall health.  In my next series of post I will show you the most effective ways to accomplish this.