When it comes to weight, let’s take a look at what exactly is a biological set point. Simply put, the set point is the range (usually within a 10% fluctuation) our body was genetically programmed to weigh. Much like our height was determined by genetic factors, so is our body weight…mostly. It is also governed by our hormones and environmental factors which all influence how the hypothalamus affects energy output and intake (eating and metabolism). The amount of food we eat, how much body fat we store and the calories we burn are all regulated by our hormones, neurotransmitters and microbiome. Set point theory states our “set point weight” is automatically controlled. Our bodies want to maintain the status-quo, also known as homeostasis. It explains why certain people, no matter what they eat remain rail thin (don’t be a hater!) and others stay obese on a normal diet of 1500-2000 calories per day. Continue readingby
‘Hot town, summer in the city. Back of my neck getting dirty and gritty…..’
That means beach weather, bikinis, bare-feet and lots of unwanted sand following you home. Worst part: finding that sand stuck in your fat rolls. So let’s prevent that from happening, right?! If you want a shredded 6 pack and super defined muscles you’ll have to work very, very hard. Most people are not willing to commit to such an endeavor, so let’s keep our expectations in check. Nevertheless, you can achieve your best body following these 9 simple steps without having to live at the gym nor eat like a monk.by
Diets simply don’t work. Let me rephrase: diets don’t work long-term. Sure, short term crash diets succeed but they are unsustainable. Eventually, you will fall off the wagon, adding a few more pounds in the process. No one agrees on the true failure rates of diets but it is somewhere north of 60% and may be as high as 95% according to several studies. Why are diets so unsuccessful? Could it be good old lack of self-control and discipline? That is certainly one possibility but not the whole picture. There is so much more to the story. Chemistry, physics, biology, physiology and psychology are all vital factors when determining a long term winning food plan. Instead of fad diets and crash diets try “The Don’t Diet”. Continue readingby
Have you been lead to believe the following statements are true?
- If you eat more calories than you burn you will gain weight.
- If you burn more calories than you eat you will lose weight.
- If you eat the same amount of calories that you burn your weight will not change.
In order to lose weight, all you have to do is burn more calories than you take in. Eat less, exercise more and you are bound to lose weight. Not so fast. This simplistic adage is sort of true but leaves out the ‘how’. It is great to know why something works but in order to put it into practice, we need to find out how to do it. If eat less move more advice worked how come we have such a huge obesity problem? For long term weight loss we need other strategies. We’ve all known someone who eats a ton of junk food, doesn’t exercise, yet never seems to gain weight. Conversely, we’ve also known that unfortunate individual who does cardio every day, is perpetually on a diet and can’t seem to lose weight. The rules just don’t seem to apply to certain people.
What is wrong with the “calories in = calories out” model of thinking? Let’s start with the Law of Thermodynamics (AKA the Law Of Conservation of Mass). Your 9th-grade science teacher told you it is an irrefutable fact; energy can neither be created nor destroyed. The law (of which there are 4) is indeed undeniable but not when it comes to the human body. The idea that “a calorie is a calorie” comes from a misunderstanding of the laws. Here is what the 1st law of Thermodynamics states: Continue readingby
Spinning (AKA stationary cycling) has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity thanks to the entrepreneurs behind Soul Cycle and Flywheel. There are even underwater spin classes! These classes are fun, energy packed and tough as nails but they may not lead to long term weight loss. They may even be harmful to your health. Say what?! [caveat: any exercise is better than no exercise. If spin class is the only thing that’ll get you off your butt and in the gym, far be it from me to discourage you]. That being said, a 3-4 time per week spin class may be an unfortunate misuse of your precious and limited fitness schedule. Learn to work smarter not harder at the gym and you can economize your time for the fastest results. Continue readingby
In the early 1970’s the USDA began its smear campaign on saturated fat. It was effective enough to convince my stubborn Eastern European mother to switch her family from butter to trans fat-laden margarine. Bad choice mom. We now know trans-fats are genuinely evil. Are other saturated fats really so bad? The science is continually evolving but it turns out saturated fats are not all created equal (particularly man made trans fats). Coconut oil is unlike any other saturated fat, might just be healthy for you and may even contribute to weight loss.
Pure virgin coconut oil contains 92% saturated fat — the highest amount of saturated fat of any fat (butter is only 63% saturated). Based on conventional thinking, coconut oil is surely food’s version of Satan reincarnate, right? Not so fast. Many smarter people than me are now claiming this previously demonized fruit oil to be a “super-food”. Say what? Virgin coconut oil, which is not chemically processed, is primarily made up of MCT (medium chain triglycerides). MCT’s are unlike their sinistral cousins the longer chained fatty-acids (found in most vegetable oils) because they are easily digested, quickly converted to energy and are not stored as fat.
“MCT increase fat oxidation and energy expenditure as well as reduce food intake and beneficially alter body composition.” –International Journal of Food Sciences & Nutrition
Coconut oil is also the largest provider of lauric acid. The only other natural place this miracle ingredient can be found in abundance is in human breast milk. It confers huge amounts of antibacterial and antiviral benefits. Most people who regularly ingest coconut oil and/or breast milk claim to experience less sickness. This is thought to be due to the high amounts of lauric acid.
Coconut Oil Benefits:
- Research shows it decreases abdominal fat
- It increases your good cholesterol – HDL
- It is a great substitute for butter particularly in baking (Vegans and Kosher Jews love it!)
- It can help our bodies build resistance to both viruses, bacteria and it also helps fight off yeast, fungus, and candida.
- Improves blood sugar and insulin control.
- Helps strengthen mineral absorption, which is important for healthy teeth and bones.
- Raises metabolic rate.
- All fats decrease your hunger but MCTs do so by lowering your ghrelin output (homrone that makes you hungry).
- Helps increase endurance levels during high-intensity workouts.
Coconut Water Is Not So Great:
Remember the time when local supermarkets not only didn’t carry coconut water but never heard of it? This was only a few years ago. The coconut water business is booming and may reach 1 billion dollars in U.S. sales in the next year or two. Despite its improving popularity coconut water is still not better than water. It is yet another obsolete sports drink filled with extra sugars and calories the body does not need. Most people would do well to steer clear of this in vogue beverage. Unsweetened coffee, tea, water, seltzer and the occasional glass of wine should make up the bulk of your daily beverage choices.
On the other hand, I recommend you switch your long chain triglyceride fats like canola, corn, and soybean oil for the healthier (MCT) coconut oil. It can be used in high heat cooking and adds an amazing flavor to roasted sweet potatoes and muffins among other things. I also like to add 1 tablespoon to my morning coffee for an increased boost in energy and health.
- Make sure you purchase “virgin” coconut oil. Most of the other stuff is refined using a chemical distillation process dependent on lye or other harsh solvents, or they’re made from the rancid oil byproducts leftover from creating dessicated coconut flakes.
- As far as I know, there is no universal difference between “extra virgin” and “virgin” coconut oil. Either one is a good choice if its organic.
- Try adding 1 to 2 tablespoons to your daily diet and see how you feel. If you are anything like me you will feel less hungry, bloated and tired. It has been a wonderful addition to my diet.
1. BMC Gastroenterology: Coconut oil Protects against Fatty Livers
2. NYtimes: Coconut Oil Once a Villain, Charms Health Food
3. Lipids: Coconut Oil Intake and Ab Fat
4. Pharmacological: Virgin Coconut Oil and Visceral Fat
|Intermittent fasting is easy…starvation not so much.|
Until recently I recommended my clients eat 5 to 6 small daily snacks/meals spaced evenly throughout the day to stoke their metabolism. Most nutritionists and dieticians still cling to this maxim although the science on its effectiveness is quite sketchy. It works for some people, many others, not so much. Grazing your way through the day on small meals consistently elevates your blood sugar which potentially promotes a better environment for fat storage. In turn, this guarantees your body will never have to utilize much fat for energy since there’s a constant supply of sugar in the bloodstream (thanks to that meal you ate 3 hours ago and are about to repeat). Moreover, eating too often disrupts the leptin/ghrelin balance (hormones that control hunger) and may lead to leptin resistance where it becomes hard to feel sated. It’s like having a hungry monster in your stomach that can’t get enough food.
Over the last 2 decades, I noticed something interesting: most of my slim clients skipped breakfast and did not snack, but they stayed skinny. Evidently, they were practicing a form of intermittent fasting (IF). We all do it a little bit, unless you are waking up in the middle of the night to eat. It is quite simply a period of fasting followed by a period of eating. Most IF programs recommend you fast for at least 14 hours or more a few times a week. It has been shown to increase fat burning metabolism, protect the brain from disease and lower homeostatic blood glucose levels in nonhuman animals. There have been many animal studies (most using lab rats and monkeys), depicting the benefits of strategic fasting. Sadly the scientific community has not completed any long-term human controlled experiments studying the effects of intermittent fasting. The animal research is well done but we are not exactly rats or monkeys. However, the data we have is promising and copious amounts of anecdotal evidence report good success with strategic fasting diets.
Here are some more benefits seen in ‘other than human’ animal models:
- Reduced blood lipids
- Reduced blood pressure
- Reduced markers of inflammation
- Reduced oxidative stress
- Increase fat burning
- Increased growth hormone release later in the fast
- Increased metabolic rate
- Improved appetite control
- Improved blood sugar control (by lowering blood glucose and increasing insulin sensitivity)
While examining human evolutionary history, one might conclude that for most of our time on earth we’ve involuntarily participated in various forms of fasting diets, otherwise known as periodic starvation. Our population unwillingly subsisted on the feast or famine meal plan. And no early man ate cereal for breakfast…they simply skipped brunch altogether because the fridge was empty. Our great grandparents and their great grandparents did not have access to food 24/7 (many people on this planet still don’t). In fact, if they had a craving for something, they had to get off their butts (actually, they probably weren’t sitting) hunt, kill then cook it from scratch!
The ability to “fast” for days on end lies within in us all. If you are reading this, you are the very lucky genetic end product of ancestors who were wily enough to survive during times of starvation. Throughout periods of low food, it was survival of the fittest and fattest. In fact, modern man continues to practice a type of IF every day. It is common for most people to go half the day or more without food. If you eat dinner at 8PM and breakfast at 8AM, you just fasted for 12 hours. The human body is built to function efficiently without food.
Interestingly people and animals who fast for a full day usually make up the calories the next day or later in the week yet still reap the health benefits of a calorie restricted diet including the weight loss part! But why? It seems that practicing IF increases: human growth hormone output (which burns fat and increases lean muscle), catecholamines which raise your metabolic rate while decreasing insulin levels and allow stored fat to be burned for fuel. Furthermore, the constant eating most of us engage in may lead to metabolic exhaustion. By practicing IF your body will eat up all your sugar stores within 6-8 hours and you will preferentially burn stored fat until you dine again. Yeah!
The method I find the least painful and still efficacious is the 16 hour fast (mostly done while sleeping) and 6 to 8 hour feeding period done 2 to 7 times per week. Here is an example of how it works:
Eat your last meal of the day at 7PM and then skip breakfast in the morning and dine on your first meal at 11AM. Yes, I said skip breakfast, the most important meal of the day…more on that later. Eat regularly for the next 6 or 8 hours and at the end of this feeding time (sounds like something we do with zoo animals) fast until breakfast the next morning. It is really not that hard. Try this 2-3 day the first week and then gauge how you feel. Tweak accordingly.
Intermittent Fasting Rules:
- Don’t eat for period of 14 to 20 hours
- Drink lots of water
- For this to work (for a better body composition) you must exercise regularly
- Drink non-sweetened tea or coffee (no milk or just a splash during fasting hours)
- Do not drink juice! It is full of sugar and will interrupt your fast
- Limit your eating window to 4-10 hours
- Do not drink alcohol during fast
- Eat healthy foods during your feeding periods (lots of veggies, protein, and good fats)- not whatever you want – but bigger meals than normal.
If your mother raised you right she told you “breakfast is the most important meal of the day”. Sorry mom, the research on this is quite skimpy (although school aged children should eat breakfast due to the strong correlation between it and higher cognitive abilities). Does eating breakfast prevent weight gain and decrease hunger? I don’t know about you, but many times breakfast makes me hungry for more food. Eat begets eat. Breakfast, specifically a carbohydrate laden one, will spike your insulin (this is why your doc wants you to fast prior to blood tests) and shuts down all fat burning. Going without breakfast seems to stoke the fat burning process.
In any event, try to develop a habit of going at least 12 hours without eating on a regular basis. This will give your metabolic processes a rest and teach you how to deal with a little hunger. Being hungry for a few hours won’t kill you and might even feel good. Embrace the feeling and 2x per week or preferably every day, depending on your goals, go big and strive for a 16-18 hour fast. Obviously, there are many people not suited for IF due to diseases like diabetes, anorexia and/or daily medications needed to be taken with food. Before starting a program like this talk to your doctor or dietician about your options. Experiment with what works best for you and your schedule and always remember to drink lots of water.
1. Journal of Nutritional BioChem: Beneficial Effects of Intermittent Fasting
2. Dr. M. Eades Nutritional Science
3. NY Times: Big Breakfast Bigger Daily Calorie Count
4. Free Book: Intermittent Fasting: Dr. John Berardi
5. An Objective Look-at-Intermittent-Fasting
6. Verboeket-van de Venne WP, Westerterp KR. Influence of the feeding frequency on nutrient utilization in man: consequences for energy metabolism. Eur J Clin Nutr. 1991 Mar;45(3):161-9.
7. Taylor MA, Garrow JS. Compared with nibbling, neither gorging nor a morning fast affect short-term energy balance in obese patients in a chamber calorimeter. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2001 Apr;25(4):519-28.
Here is a thought experiment: Imagine spending less time working out and getting more fit. How would that make you feel? Of course this would be great, right? Unless, you’re one of those rare humans who enjoy spending hours toiling away in the gym reading gossip magazines as you go through your daily calisthenics. I, on the other hand, want more bang for my buck wasting no time in the gym. In two well done scientific studies published in the 2013 February issue of The Journal of Physiology, the researchers describe their recent discoveries “that three sessions of sprint interval training (SIT), taking just 90 min per week, are as effective as five sessions of traditional endurance exercise, taking five hours per week, in increasing whole body insulin sensitivity via two independent mechanisms”. Sprint interval training has also been shown to produce superior cardiovascular and weight loss effects when compared to long steady state cardio training (SST). The really amazing thing is SIT provokes these advantages in less half the time. Additionally, sprinting, not jogging, has shown to decrease belly fat faster and utilizes glucose more efficiently preventing it from being stored as fat. Continue readingby
This is embarrassing: I don’t like fish. Wish I did, but I don’t, so I take fish oil pills daily (so does food writer Micheal Pollen author of Omnivore’s Dilemma). The first thing you should know is fish oil will not turn into fat and be deposited around your love handles or butt. Instead, you will preferentially use the healthy fish oil fat to build a protective outside layer on your cells. Ok, this is not completely true, your body will use any fat to do this job, including the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad trans fat, but the healthy omega-3 fat in fish oil is better. Substituting fish oils for other fats will improve your insulin sensitivity, decrease your cortisol levels, protect against heart disease, improve brain function and act as a powerful anti-inflammatory agent. It also allows for better fat metabolism. I know this may sound crazy and counter intuitive but it’s true: eating fish oil fat will promote fat loss!
Fish oils allow for better insulin management thereby preventing fat storage. Too many Americans (estimated at 34%) have become insulin resistant, meaning they are no longer able to flush sugar out of their blood and are more likely to gain belly fat, diabetes, and heart disease. This is because we eat too much sugar, too many bad fats and don’t move enough, sheesh! Eating omega-3 fat blunts insulin resistance and helps your cells regulate sugar and keep extra weight off. Research has also found fish oils enhance the production of leptin which is a hormone that decreases hunger and increases metabolism. A study done in the Journal of The International Society of Sports Nutrition concluded supplementation with fish oils significantly increased lean muscle mass and decreased fat especially around the waist over a 6 week period. The overwhelming positive hormonal response one’s body has in relation to fish oils will certainly boost weight loss efforts among other things. Why aren’t you eating fish on a regular basis or at least supplementing?
Before you go out and buy fish oil capsules it may be a good idea to check with Consumer Lab.com to determine the safety and efficacy of certain brands. If you are worried about getting “fish burps” you can get supplements with a enteric coating; take them with meals; and/or keep them in the freezer.
Are fish oils healthier than vegetable oils? Yes.
- For the American/Western diet, here’s why: Vegetable oils contain Omega-6 fats which are eaten in much higher amounts than omega-3 (Approximately 16 to 1 ratio in the western diet). These fats compete for important enzymes and prevent your body from properly using omega-3 resulting is a loss of their anti-inflammatory benefits. Many of the longest living people in the world have a 2 to 1 or 1 to 1 ratio of omega-3 to Omega-6.
- Omega-6 can be beneficial if eaten in balance with omega-3 but we just eat too much of them. Common sources of omega-6 fat include safflower, corn, canola, and soybean oils; wheat, poultry and cereals.
- Chronic excess omega-6 intake in relation to omega-3 has been strongly associated with higher levels of cancer, arthritis and inflammation.
Other Good Sources of Omega-3 Fat:
- Chickens that are fed diets high in omega-3 will produce eggs with a very good fat ratio.
- Cows that are grass-fed and finished will also provide great amounts of Omega-3’s in their meat, butter, milk and yogurt.
- Vegans and vegetarians can eat flax seeds, hemp, walnuts, tofu, winter squash and chia seeds which provide omega-3 (mostly ALA’s which are very inefficient) and may be a suitable substitution but the evidence is murky.
More Peer-Reviewed Based Benefits of Fish Oils:
- Just under 1 gram of EPA/DHA in a post heart attack population is clinically proven to reduce death, non-fatal heart attack and non-fatal stroke by about 15%
- In a meta-analysis of 19 observational studies fish consumption was associated with a 14% lower risk of coronary heart disease.
- Fish oils dramatically lower our triglyceride levels (~30% reduction in hypertriglyceridemia populations), an often overlooked established risk factor for heart disease.
- Meta-analysis of 15 randomized controlled trials fish oils in major depression found significant benefit when the fish oil EPA was given in daily.
1. Importance of Ratio of Omega3/6
2. Fish Oil and Leptin
3. Fish Oils and Muscle Mass
4. Cancer and Omega3/6
5. Flax seeds (ALA) Meta-analysis
6. Journal Of Clinical Nutrition: Weight loss and Dietary Fish
7. Diabetes Journal: Omega-3 Diabetes and Weight loss
8. Dietary supplementation with n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and vitamin E after myocardial infarction: results of the GISSI-Prevenzione trial. Gruppo Italiano per lo Studio della Sopravvivenza nell’Infarto miocardico. Lancet, 1999. 354(9177): p. 447-55.
9. Grundy, S.M., N-3 fatty acids: priority for post-myocardial infarction clinical trials. Circulation, 2003. 107(14): p. 1834-6.
10. Whelton, S.P., et al., Meta-analysis of observational studies on fish intake and coronary heart disease. Am J Cardiol, 2004. 93(9): p. 1119-23.
11. Kris-Etherton, P.M., W.S. Harris, and L.J. Appel, Fish consumption, fish oil, omega-3 fatty acids, and cardiovascular disease. Circulation, 2002. 106(21): p. 2747-57.
Fact: Cold weather forces your body to burn more fat than hot weather.
Some evolutionary biologists have posited a correlation between our widespread climate controlled atmospheres and obesity. Many of us spend the majority of our days indoors and are rarely overwhelmed by outside temperatures. This is especially so in frigid locales. Year round warmth is a modern luxury. When was the last time you shivered? Being cold is no fun. Arctic like weather burns lots of calories and fat from our bodies. It may seem counter intuitive but it is true, we burn a lot more calories in the cold than in the heat. The majority of our daily metabolic rate is used up by our body attempting to maintain 98.6 degrees (this is called thermoregulation). Sweating is your body’s natural air conditioner. Conversely, shivering is our own little internal heater. Stoking your internal thermostat will force your body to shift its fat storage capabilities into heat generation. Please don’t misunderstand me, I am not recommending your start freezing yourself. There is a term called “non-shivering thermogenesis” you experience in times of mild cold. It is here you will reap benefits and minimize risks (frostbite, hypothermia, ice burn etc). There are many little frosty tweaks you can make to burn some extra fat so by summertime you are ready for the beach.
How come people who reside in warm weather climates seem more fit than their northern counterparts? There are many reasons for this phenomenon (look at Bergmann’s rule). I think it is fair to say: in Miami and LA people wear less clothing all year round. Since there is basically only one season there, people are outdoors all the time and want to look good when they’re exposing more skin. In the colder winter cities, we tend to bundle up and layer, hence less self-conscious about our unseen bodies. Many gain a few extra to keep them warm for the winter and when springs rolls around diligently jump back on the diets and hard training routines. It doesn’t have to be this way. Research suggests going outside and being a little cold may be the best time to potentate your fat burning abilities. Don’t hide your body all winter. You can still make your mom happy and put on a jacket (so you don’t catch a cold), just not such a heavy one.
There seem to be many benefits to cold thermogensis (non-shivering):
- Lowering body fat
- Lowering blood sugar
- Cutting food cravings
- Improving adrenal function
- Improving deep sleep quality
- Increasing pain tolerance
- Reducing inflammation
We have 2 types of fat cells: white fat adipocyes which store calories and hang out around your waist, hips and butt; and brown adipose tissue (BAT) which are blessed with the superpower of burning up the white fat cells. Ironically, the fatter a person is the less brown fat they have, or the thinner they are the more they have.
Brown Adipose Tissue: primary role is to burn large amounts of chemical energy to produce heat in the body; it also plays a role in regulating body weight and insulin when one overeats (people who have large amounts of BAT have an easier time staying slim and diabetes free). It is primarily found in the upper chest and posterior neck and shoulder region.
Adult humans don’t have a ton of brown adipocytes (newborns are flush with BAT). Some research has shown that through regular bouts of exposure to cold temperature it is possible to increase the effectiveness and number of these cells. Another way to increase BAT population is to get adequate amounts of rest (7-9 hrs per night). Fat burning fat cells are also propagated by the release of melatonin – the sleep hormone. It is no coincidence hibernating animals like bears have a ton of BAT. Be like a bear and get your sleep. Many people have resorted to taking 5 minute cold showers or wearing ice pads to increase their fat burning potential. Although this may work, it is way too extreme for most of us (let Tim Ferriss – “The 4 Hour” hero freeze his ass off). Take control of your natural fat burning potential with these tips:
Cold Weather Fat Burning Tips:
1- Keep your bedroom cool. Studies suggest humans sleep better in a 65 degrees room that is very dark and quiet — which will also raise your human growth hormone output contributing to fat loss and lean muscle building. Turn off all electronics at least an hour before bed (artificial light interrupts melatonin production) and get to bed as early as you can. This will increase your BAT and help your burn more fat, not to mention eat less, reduce stress and improve your overall health.
2- Get outside during the winter! Go sledding, snow shoeing, hiking, skiing and running. Embrace the cold, it’ll raise your metabolic rate and perhaps produce some more fat burning cells. It takes a lot of energy for your body to maintain its temperature, especially when it has to heat up. Most people blame the holidays for the extra pounds they put on when in actuality they walk less (pedometer studies in the Journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise showed people walk a lot less in the winter months than during the summer) and eat more treats.
3- At the end of your shower see if you can stand 30 seconds to a minute of cold water. Not only will this refresh (or maybe shock) you, it will help your body produce a little more BAT and increase your body’s production of heat.
4- Drink ice water throughout the day. In order for your body to heat up a glass of ice water you’ll burn 8-10 calories…not much but researchers from “The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism” believe you can burn up 95 calories a day drinking cold water.
5- Turn your home furnace down a few degrees. This encourages your body to enter thermogenesis (body making more heat) and longer exposure to the cold will lead to the conversion of white fat into brown fat which in turn, leads to more calories burned. Make Al Gore happy by lowering your carbon footprint.
6- Exercise in cold weather. Both exercise and exposure to cold increase your thermogenesis and brown fat cell activation and conversion. It is a win, win situation. Put a T-shirt on and go for a run in the snow. Understanding how brown fat tissue works in humans is far from complete, in the meantime the evidence we have thus far is compelling. Research suggest that people who work outdoors and/or live in cold climates have higher brown fat activity than average. The next time you go out into the cold wear a little bit less and turn your body into a heat producing calorie burning, fat eating machine!
7- Go for a swim in cool water (not freezing water; you don’t want to get hypothermia!). Water temps around 60-70 degrees is more than sufficient to increase your metabolic rate.
Non-shivering cold thermogenesis won’t get you ripped but it can serve as one more tool in your weight loss toolbox. Stay cool.
Do you warm up prior to exercise? Be honest. Walking out of the locker room and onto the gym floor does not count. Do you spend 5 to 15 minutes slowly revving your body up? If I had to guess, I’d say most people don’t bother to warm up. Showing up to the gym is half the battle. The other half requires some strategic planning if you want to get the most out of your training sessions. There are a lot of benefits to warming up but perhaps the least known is its ability to prepare your body for fat burning.
Picture this: You get out of bed, eat breakfast and go the gym. You forgo a warm-up and jump right into a set of squats. Your body says, “Holy cow, what the heck are you doing?!”. In this alarm state, your brain chooses to go with the most readily available energy source, sugar. The more gradually you bring up your body temperature and heart rate the greater amounts of fat will be used as fuel. Asking the body to perform at a high rate without properly warming up will increase the likelihood you’ll get most of your energy from sugars.
When you quickly enter the anaerobic zone (high intensity where the body produces energy without oxygen) your fast twitch muscle fibers preferentially drink up all the sugar. I can assure you it isn’t sugar stored around your waistline and butt! The body keeps sugar readily available for emergency use like this and fight or flight responses. On the other hand, your fat stores are a little less easy to utilize. The fat that is not immediately utilized is put away under lock and key for long term storage…an evolutionary vestige of forestalling starvation. It takes about 5 to 15 minutes for your body to mobilize its stored fat. This is where the warm up comes in. If you slowly ease into the training session your body will sense a non-emergency status and start converting fat into free fatty acids that can be used as fuel. By the time you begin your workout in earnest, your body will be a fat burning machine.
Slowly preparing your body for a workout will not only help prevent injury but get you to burn more fat. Isn’t it worth the extra 5 to 15 minutes to put your body into an optimum fat burning state?
2. Maffetone, Phil. In Fitness and Health. HalWalter, 2009.
Remember the “Grapefruit Diet”? It has been around since the 1930’s. The skinny little starlets of yesteryear touted it’s magic properties. It first became known as the “Hollywood Diet”. If it worked for celebrities it must be good! Here is the basic diet: eat a lot of grapefruits, hardly any carbohydrates and lilliputian amounts of food. It is a low carb, very low calorie sure way to lose weight fast…and then gain it all right back. But why the grapefruit? For one thing, it has been shown in peer reviewed studies to cause weight loss.
Some Grapefruit Facts:
1- It has a glycemic load of 6 (that is very low…meaning it hardly moves your insulin levels up).
2- Strange ability to potentate or decrease potency on a whole host of drugs.
3- It weirdly contains large quantities of spermidine (also in human sperm) which make human immune cells live longer.
4- A grapefruit contains about 75-100 calories and also a ton of vitamin A and C.
5- Red grapefruits are chock full of lycopene (shown to slow skin aging).
6- They have about 3.5 g. of the fiber pectin which has been shown to lower cholesterol.
7- Improves the bodies’ insulin resistance.
8- May speed up your metabolism and help you lose weight!
Scientists have seen in study after study that people who incorporated 1 grapefruit per day in their diet lose more weight than control groups. Moreover, in animal studies the grapefruit scent has been shown to reduce appetite significantly. A recent human study using 91 obese people (divided into 4 groups) linked grapefruits and weight loss. Group one ate 1/2 a grapefruit before each meal (3 times a day). The second group drank 8oz. of grapefruit juice before each meal and the third group drank 7oz of apple juice with added grapefruit capsules. The fourth group had no grapefruits (only apple juice). After 12 weeks, those participants who ate grapefruits lost on average 3.6lbs and some up to 10lbs (with no other changes in their diet or exercise habits). Meanwhile, those who drank the grapefruit juice or took the capsules lost 3.3lbs. By comparison the grapefruit-free group lost only 1/2lb. It is not uncommon to say that scientists are again dumbfounded to the true nature of the human body The specific mechanism by which grapefruits cause weight loss is a mystery.
Always keep in mind that grapefruits may have an adverse effect on medication. So make sure you read your labels before chowing down on the yummy fruit. And if you want to be extra cool you can even get a specialized grapefruit spoon.
1- T Eisenberg et al, Nature Cell Biology, 2009, DOI; 10.1038/ncb1975.
2- S Gorinstein, A Caspi, I Libman, et al. Red Grapefruit Positively Influences Serum Triglyceride Level in Patients Suffering from Coronary Atherosclerosis: Studies in Vitro and in Humans. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 2006; 54(5):1887-1892. PMID:16506849.
3-K Fujioka, F Greenway, J Sheard, Y Ying. The Effects of Grapefruit on Weight and Insulin Resistance: Relationship to the Metabolic Syndrome. Journal of Medicinal Food. 2006; 9 (1): 49-54.