What’s The Best Exercise For Weight Loss?

As a personal trainer, it’s common for people to ask me, “What’s the best exercise for weight loss?”. Most people don’t get too specific about what they mean by weight loss – the body is made up of different tissues, including skin, fat, muscle and bone – but usually they mean fat loss – we don’t get too many people who want bone or muscle loss.
Best Exercise For Weight Loss
The honest answer to the question, “What is the best exercise for weight loss?” is simple – there is no ONE best exercise and exercise alone isn’t enough, you also need to reduce the amount of food being consumed in order to reduce the amount of body fat you’re carrying around.

Why Exercise is Vital for Fat Loss Success

People who are physically trained, meaning they work out three to five times a week doing both cardiovascular (or aerobic) training as well as resistance training (using weights, machines and body weight) are better able to use and break down fat than people who are unfit and who do not train regularly. The muscle cells of regular exercisers are more efficient at using the energy from body fat to fuel their activities. This tells us that in order to get your body to a point where it easily uses its fat stores, you have to work out regularly and consistently – not for a couple of days or weeks in a year, but every week. There is no such thing as a “quick fix” when it comes to increasing physical fitness and creating a body that can burn fat efficiently.

The Role of Resistance Exercise in Fat Loss

Resistance training helps to preserve muscle mass. Muscle is the most metabolically active tissue of the body – it’s the “workhorse” tissue and uses most energy, so it makes sense that you would want to preserve as much of it as possible. Resistance training also results in calorie burning during exercise as well as afterwards when the muscle tissue repairs itself (known as “after burn”).

Cardio to Torch Body Fat

Cardiovascular training will really burn calories while you exercise. Changing the type of cardiovascular exercise you do will help you avoid overuse injuries. Examples are: jogging, cycling, elliptical training, rowing, swimming and so on.

Stretching Makes It All Possible

Flexibility training (stretching) doesn’t have much of an effect on your ability to burn calories, but it’s important because it supports both cardiovascular and resistance exercise – when the muscles are overly tight you will not be able to perform other exercises properly.

If you are honestly interested in improving your muscle mass and reducing excess body fat, you will need to commit to regular and effective exercise as well as improve your diet. How do you ensure your exercise is effective? You get help from a qualified and experienced trainer who cares enough to do a full fitness analysis that includes posture, strength, cardio capability, and flexibility as well as a complete body composition analysis.

Email Rudi if you are interested in getting your fat-loss questions answered with a free, obligation-free fitness consultation.

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Super Powered Raw Oatmeal – Healthy Fast Food Breakfast

Here’s the back story of how I came up with my Super Powered Raw Oatmeal recently.

While on a quest to go sugar-free and wheat-free I faced the problem of what to eat for a fast breakfast that didn’t include bread of any kind. I wanted something healthy, organic, and preferably uncooked. I also wanted a healthy balance of protein, fiber, carbs and fats. The other very important factor; it had to be fast food. Fast food in terms of taking very little time to prepare, because we usually have about ten minutes to eat in the mornings.

I found what I was looking for:

Super Powered Raw Oatmeal

This recipe makes 8 servings so you only have to put it together once, then store it in the refrigerator for use at breakfast time throughout the week.

Ingredients

2 cups organic steel cut oats

2 cups organic light coconut milk

1 tablespoon organic chia seeds

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon ground ginger

Toppings:

1/8 cup dried cranberries

1 scoop whey powder, or other protein powder depending on your preferences (I use Standard Process Whey protein Complete). You could substitute this for 1/2 cup of almond, hemp, rice or other milk

1/8 cup raw almonds

Method

Make the super powered raw oatmeal the night before you need it. Put all of the ingredients (not including the toppings) in a glass container and mix well. You want to make sure the spices are well distributed. Put a lid on the container (the snap-lock containers work really well for this) and pop it in the fridge.

In the morning, use a butter knife and divide the super powered raw oatmeal into 8 equal servings and then spoon out your serving. Add the toppings (you can get inventive here, these are just my suggestions) and enjoy your healthy fast food breakfast.

Total Calories

With protein powder it is about 230 calories. With almond milk instead of protein powder it is about 220 calories. Not only healthy, but low in calories as well.

Cutting Up For Bodybuilding

Inside Natural Bodybuilding Part 4

This is part 4 in a series of 5 interviews with bodybuilder Tomas de la Milera.   He is a 51 year old bodybuilder with a classic physique like Frank Zane.  Peek into his world as he prepares for competition and he shares what it takes to be a natural bodybuilder.

Dieting for competition

Tracey: Run me through a typical muscle-building day, food-wise!  You’re getting ready for a competition now, so you’re building, you’re trying to strip down some fat.  So right now, what’s your typical food like? Starting in the morning, how do you eat?

Tomas: This is what I do in the morning, because from my understandings and from what I’ve read, and then also what I’ve benefited from (because you can read something and it might just not work for you).

In the morning when I get up, I immediately hit some carbohydrates because my body has been through a fast (when we get to breakfast, what it actually means is “break” the “fast”), so I’ll have, let’s just say for right now, I’ll start off with a banana.

I can’t get rid of coffee!  I’m Cuban, so I was raised on coffee and now I have to be a little bit more careful with the cream because I love the cream.  But less and less tablespoons, I’ll do about 4 tablespoons of hazelnut cream.  I’ll have 8oz of blackberries or strawberries and then I’ll have three eggs with it.  And what I do is have my fruit first, then I wait about 20-30 minutes and I’ll have my protein. Reason being, just to get the sugar pumping in my body, fill it up and then moving into the protein.

Then in the afternoon (I’m basically a three-meal a day guy, I don’t need 5-6 meals even though I’ve done that),  I’ll have a 3oz steak with 2 carrots and half an onion, and I’ll have a tablespoon of avocado oil and medium-chain triglyceride oil, which is a supplement.  Then I’ll have, maybe, half a tablespoon of saturated fat, actually saturated fat and consume that.

That really holds me for a good, long time! I’m looking at about 3 ½ to 4 hours in-between meals.  Then pretty much, especially when it comes to getting ready for a show, you really start being very specific about the foods and your foods become very monotonous.

I basically follow pretty much the same routine.  At dinner I’ll have a 3oz steak, I’ll have 2 carrots and I’ll have a half an onion.  Because that way  you don’t have to be constantly thinking about it.  You could add, if you have the time, or you get to the point where it’s just like, “Ok, I’m just going to eat this and move on,” especially when it comes to shredding days before a show.

Cutting up

Tracey: Ok good!  So this is another question about food.  When you’re cutting up, do you keep eating the same stuff?  How do you eat when you’re cutting?

Tomas: No, what starts happening is, as I start cutting up, I get really into the calorie intake.  I get to a point where it becomes a visual thing.  And what I do is (and of course this comes with experience. It’s taken me over 4 years just to get to this level and I’m not even at the level yet of really understanding), when it comes to diet, I’ll start using the mirror and I’ll start looking at myself and I’ll start manipulating.

It gets to a point that I start saying, “Well, let me drop my carbs a little bit here,” and then I’ll start playing that for a couple of days and if it’s working, I’ll keep that.  Then maybe I’ll have to cut a little more of the saturated fats or maybe increase the saturated fats and decrease the monounsaturated fats.

So the best thing to actually do during that whole period is to actually write the stuff down and that way you have it for future reference.

What’s very interesting is that our bodies change yearly! So what works for me one year, might not work for me the next.  But it gets to a point where it’s to calories, and you start leaning out.  It gets to the point that you might have to manipulate and see where it goes by removing a little bit of this, a little bit of that and see where you actually end up.

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Obesity Gets Even More Controversial

August 1, 2013 by  
Filed under Articles, Weight Loss Articles

Obesity – Officially a Disease According to the AMA

The American Medical Association officially labelled obesity a disease in June 2013 and guess who jumped on the bandwagon for even more reimbursement for its treatment?

Was it nutritionists? How about fitness professionals? No. It was the same-old, same-old… bariatric surgeons and Big Pharma. Popping pills and stapling stomachs don’t have a very high success rate for long-term weight loss compared with helping people change their eating habits and get active but that doesn’t seem to matter when there is so much money to be made with a “quick fix”.

Obesity Gets Even More Controversial

What Are the Real Solutions for Long-term Weight Loss?

According to data from the National Weight Control Registry (Registry members have lost an average of 66 pounds and kept it off for 5.5 years):

  • 98% of Registry participants reported they modified their food intake in some way to lose weight
  • 94% increased their physical activity
  • Most keep their weight off by continuing to maintain a low calorie, low fat diet and doing high levels of activity (90% of participants exercise on average about 1 hour per day)

Note that successful long-term losers work on their nutrition and their exercise. They don’t pop pills.

Is It OK to Be Fat if You’re Fit?

Recent research presented at the American College of Sports Medicine Annual Meeting showed that being fit is actually more important in terms of combatting the harmful effects of obesity (Type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and so on) than losing weight. In other words, being fat and fit is healthier than just being thin.

Let’s Get Exercise Prescribed!

We would like to see more doctors prescribing exercise as medicine for obese patients instead of having them take medication or undergo dangerous bariatric surgery. We realize Big Pharma has unlimited funds to lobby for more attention and reimbursement for obesity drugs and surgery but wouldn’t it be great if doctors learned more about exercise and diet in medical school? Wouldn’t it be great if they could get as decently reimbursed for counseling their patients in exercise and nutrition as they do for prescribing medication?

Diagnosing Obesity is Faulty

What’s more, diagnosing obesity is most frequently done using body mass index (BMI) which is simply someone’s body weight divided by the square of their height. It doesn’t discriminate on composition so increased muscle mass will increase a person’s BMI in exactly the same way as increased fat mass. Using BMI as a measure of obesity labels more than a third of Americans and 56% of NFL football players as having a chronic disease. I have seen a healthy athlete with low body fat but lots of muscle mass check in as “overweight”. It’s insane.

The Bottom Line…

A significant shift in focus off of obesity and onto physical activity is definitely needed. Regular physical activity, no matter the size or shape of the individual, delivers massive health benefits that should no longer be ignored.

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Fat Loss Fun Facts

June 17, 2013 by  
Filed under Articles, Weight Loss Articles

Let’s cut to the chase on the subject of fat loss. There’s so much nonsense written about it, so much time spent worrying about it.

Here is a short summary of fat loss facts. Snappy, to the point and hopefully there are a few facts you can use easily right away…

Alex holding 5 pounds of fake fat

FAT LOSS FACT NUMBER ONE:

The more muscle you have, the higher your resting energy expenditure (in other words, you’ll burn more calories without actually doing anything than someone with less muscle).

FAT LOSS FACT NUMBER TWO:

It takes energy to process and digest the food you eat. This is known as the thermic effect of food. Protein comes in highest in terms of its thermic effect, followed by carbohydrate and then fat. In simple terms, you burn more calories digesting protein than either carbs or fat.

FAT LOSS FACT NUMBER THREE (here’s where it gets fun):

On average the human body stores 130,000 kcal of fat, primarily in the form of triglycerides.

FAT LOSS FACT NUMBER FOUR:

A lean adult may have around 35 billion fat cells, while an extremely obese person may have 140 billion – that’s 4 times as many fat cells!

FAT LOSS FACT NUMBER FIVE (this is interesting):

The fat cells of obese people store two to three times more triglycerides than the fat cells of lean folk.

NUMBER SIX (this explains a lot):

Carbohydrate is stored in the form of glycogen, which is bound to water in the liver and muscle. This is why when you eat a lot of carbs, you weigh more (water retention) and also why, when you cut carbs out of your diet, you lose weight fast (water weight).

FAT LOSS FACT NUMBER SEVEN (why we do what we do as personal trainers)

Reducing calories only (energy input) without also increasing activity (energy output) will result in loss of muscle mass. Why is this bad? Because it has a direct effect of slowing the metabolism and the body starts to use fewer and fewer calories making it harder and harder to burn fat.

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Fat Rights?

April 10, 2013 by  
Filed under Articles, Weight Loss Articles

As fitness trainers we come across many reasons why people are interested in personal training. Probably the biggest one is weight loss or, more specifically, fat loss, so it was with interest that I learned about the Fat Rights movement recently.

Fat activism began in the 1960′s in the USA with the launch of the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance (NAAFA ) to fight against fat discrimination. It’s a controversial issue, especially as greater numbers than ever are joining the ranks of the overweight and obese while at the same time, the health risks are more broadly understood and disseminated.

Obesity isn’t something people are born with like the color of their skin or the length of their legs. It’s something that can be changed. Some argue that for this reason, “fat activism” is unnecessary. Why protect the rights of people who are actively creating a state of potential ill health for themselves?

It’s true that obesity is considered a risk factor for cardiac disease and type 2 diabetes. It’s also true, however, that obese and overweight people can successfully engage in physical activity with the end goal of improving their overall health and in this they share the same benefits as anybody else. In fact, being sedentary is a far greater enemy to health and well-being than simply being fat.

We are reminded constantly via the media how bad it is to be fat. Celebrities are demonized when they put on a few pounds, children are sent to weight loss camp when they get too heavy, low calorie (and nutritionally poor) foods and drinks are pushed at us from every supermarket shelf, women obsess about getting “bikini-ready” in time for summer, savvy marketers turned “weight loss gurus” make millions with the next quick fix for fat. Is it possible we’ve lost the plot?

The sane and simple solution for anyone, fat or skinny, is to start on the road to better health by increasing physical activity. With more emphasis on feeling better and getting healthier rather than trying to look like a bikini model or a Men’s Health cover boy, sticking with your exercise commitment is very doable.

Working with a professional fitness trainer increases the likelihood of success by ensuring you are doing the right activities at the right level of intensity (NOT the way it’s done on shows like the Biggest Loser) and progressing at the right time to the next level. The issue of accountability comes into play as well and for this, a competent trainer can be a godsend.

It’s amazing how much a human body can change with the right prescription of exercise and a few tweaks in the diet. We see this on a routine basis.

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Avoid Overeating – 4 Simple Tips

December 18, 2012 by  
Filed under Articles, General Articles, Weight Loss Articles

It’s no secret that we have an obesity epidemic going on in the Western World. From Australia to America, waistlines are growing. So is the cost of health care. We know that staying active is your Number One best defense against the onset of heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, depression and the like but what you eat plays an enormous role in how you feel, look and in maintaining good health.

Here’s a scary fact (and one that corresponds with the growing number of fat people) – since the 1970′s portion sizes in America have increased by an average of two to five times (Young 2006)! The average daily energy intake of a U.S. citizen has increased from 1,803 calories in 1977-78 to 2,374 calories in 2003-2006 (Duffy et al. 2001). That’s a rise of nearly 32%.

Part of the problem is that we are in the habit of viewing large portions as ideal, and not only in fast food restaurants.

Here are a few strategies to help you strip down your portion sizes and simultaneously reduce your daily calorie intake without having to resort to crazy crash diets or depriving yourself in any way.

Less Is More

Try changing out your plates, bowls and glasses for smaller ones. You could even go so far as using a salad plate for your main course. A 2012 Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior study found that when participants were given a large-sized bowl, they served themselves 77% more pasta than when they were given a smaller bowl (Van Kleef, Shimizu & Wansink 2012).

Check out The Portion Plate website for great visuals on proper serving sizes for grains,meats, vegetables and fruits.

Fiber Is a Dieter’s Best Friend

A study in the journal Appetite found that volunteers felt fuller after consuming high-fiber bread than they did when they ate the same number of calories from low-fiber white bread (Keogh et al. 2011). Fiber-rich foods slow down digestion and help control blood sugar making it less likely you’ll feel like overeating during or after a meal. Try for lots of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and whole grains. Go raw whenever you can.

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

A Cornell university study found that people eat fewer calories when they leave extra food off the table. They found that when study subjects had to serve themselves from dishes on the kitchen counter or on the stove they ate an average of 20% fewer calories (Payne et al. 2010). A good idea would be to put a portion of food onto plates then put the extra food away so once you’ve eaten what’s on your plate you don’t add more “just because it’s there”.

Eat Your Greens!

Serving yourself a large portion of leafy greens before you eat your main course can help fill you up so you’re less likely to want to overeat your main course. Having the dressing served on the side is a good idea, this way you can control how much goes on your leafy greens (a little goes a long way). This tip is my own and comes from testing on myself and a few of my clients who swear by it.

For an amazingly delicious and easy-to-make kale salad salad, click here. It’ll fulfill the fiber-rich tip and you can’t get greener than kale.

These tips might come in very handy during the Holidays when there is more food being “pushed” than at any other time of the year. My advice is to enjoy your food by eating the food you deserve – real, whole and good – you’ll feel better and your waist will thank you come January 1st.

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Weight Loss – Bad Idea!

Most people can count more than ten other people they know who “want to lose weight”. Losing weight is a very general concept and when people say they want to lose weight, what exactly do they mean?

How To Lose 10 Pounds In One Day!

My husband, Rudi, wrote a humorous article a while ago, something like, “How to Lose Ten Pounds in One Day” in which he told his readers they could chop off a couple of limbs and achieve the effect quite nicely. Obviously that’s not what people mean when they say they want to lose weight.

Usually losing weight means shrinking fat cells. People want to reduce the amount of body fat they are carrying around. This makes sense as it’s the fat under the skin (subcutaneous fat) that makes people look overweight, flabby, soft, swollen and dimpled. The fat around the organs and in the blood is important to reduce as well as this can affect the body’s ability to operate properly, clog up arteries and slow down the heart (trying to keep things light here but high levels of visceral fat is plain dangerous).

The Weight Loss/Fat Loss Confusion

Unfortunately a lot of people have losing weight confused with reducing fat. They go on very low calorie diets for short periods of time and lose anything up to twenty pounds in thirty days. There is usually no evaluation of exactly what they’re losing; no fat tests or blood tests are done. Fat is reduced, certainly, but so is muscle tissue and this is key to why, once the diet is over, the weight piles back on and people complain they are heavier (and fatter) than before.

“Weight Loss” Is BIG Business

The weight loss industry is big business. Millions are spent on it every year and yet people are statistically fatter than ever before. It doesn’t take a genius to know something is seriously wrong – could it be the general confusion most people have about what it means to lose weight?

Best Strategy – Forget Your Weight

Here’s a good attitude: forget about your weight! Get a fat test done with a competent health and fitness specialist, personal trainer or with your doctor.

Find out how much fat you’re carrying about with you then work out how you’re going to reduce this. Realize it’s NOT going to happen in a month (most likely it took you much longer than a month to build it up, right?). You will have to reduce what you eat, you will have to exercise (and that doesn’t mean just going for a walk, it means doing weights, doing some aerobic activity and stretching).

We’ve helped many people reduce their body fat (and their size). It does take effort and it’s hard to get started but, when people follow 100% what we direct them to do, they get results (and usually feel fantastic into the bargain). There is a science to all of this and it can be done but focusing on losing weight is 100% the wrong way to go – see a true health and fitness professional and take control.

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Cellulite Sucks!

Cellulite, the dreaded dimpling or “orange peel” appearance of skin on the thighs,  buttocks and even sometimes abdomen of otherwise healthy women. Nobody  wants it, it’s an ugly reminder that there’s fat right there, just itching to escape.  Some women spend thousands of dollars trying to remove it, many women just  give up and cover up. Whatever way you look at it, it’s a problem and one that we  decided to face head-on in an effort to help the approximately 85% of women who  have it.

To understand cellulite, you first need to understand the anatomy of skin. The top  layer of skin is called the epidermis. Right under this is the dermis (also known as the corium) which is filled with hair follicles, sweat glands, blood vessels, nerve receptors and connective tissue. The next layer down is the first of two layers of subcutaneous (under the skin) fat. It is here that we find fat cell chambers arranged vertically in females and when this fat protrudes into the dermis (think of a muffin rising out of its tray to create a bump as it bakes) and we have what is known as cellulite.

Men have a completely different structure in that first layer of fat which allows for more internal expansion of their fat so it’s rare to see men with cellulite. Added to this, men have thicker epidermis and dermis layers in the thighs and buttocks than women.

There are many treatments for cellulite – liposuction, injectables, massage, thermotherapy (heat therapy), topical ointments, lasers and shock wave therapy are a few. These can cost upwards of a few thousand dollars depending on which treatment is chosen. The results? Less than promising for the most part and for the more invasive treatments like liposuction and injectables there are the possible side effects of swelling, infection and irregular contours to look forward to.

Of all of the treatments, lasers prove to be the most promising. The side effects are minimal (small blisters) although long term effects are unknown at this time.

What You Can Do To Minimize Cellulite:
1. Firstly, understanding what cellulite is – a unique and distinctive layer of subcutaneous fat common to females (not some weird disease that only a few people suffer from).

2. Do not waste your money on cellulite “treatments” (seaweed wraps, liposuction, ointments, massage etc) because they have been shown to be largely ineffective, no matter how much they cost.

3. Improving your diet and exercise will improve cellulite appearance. Reducing body fat will cause the fat cells to pull away from the dermis and lessen the “orange-peel” effect of bumpy fat (AKA cellulite).

4. Start doing resistance training (weight training of some kind). Cellulite is layered on top of muscle and if that muscle is soft and untoned it will contribute to the uneven look of the skin above it.

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The Right Way To Eat Anything!

April 19, 2012 by  
Filed under Articles, Weight Loss Articles

Is there a right way to eat anything? It seems like there are so many choices in ways to eat, what to eat, how many times a day you should eat, what combinations of nutrients you should eat that it can get downright confusing. A lot of people are trying to lose weight. What is the right way to eat to lose weight?

First, let’s define the word “calorie”. Everyone’s heard of them but you’d be surprised at how many people don’t really know what a calorie is. A calorie is a unit of energy (specifically the energy needed to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water through 1 degree celsius).

  • Our bodies burn energy to stay alive, to breathe, to move, and so on. Obviously the more you move, the more energy you burn and that energy is measured by an amount of calories.
  • We eat food and food has energy (an amount of calories depending on what the food is).
  • The very simple formula for losing weight is this: Calories consumed have to be less than calories burned. If you do the opposite (eat more calories than you burn) you put on weight.

This is not a new idea, it’s been around for a long time and it turns out, it works. It doesn’t even particularly matter what you eat – check out the professor who lost 27 pounds on the “Twinkie Diet”. The point he made wasn’t that it was healthy necessarily, but that he was able to lose weight by eating fewer calories than he used throughout the day.

The trick to long term weight loss is PERSISTENCE. If you take a look at the National Weight Control Registry data where registry members have lost an average of 66 pounds and kept it off for 5.5.years, most members report continuing to maintain a low calorie, low fat diet and doing high levels of activity.

So you have to find a way of eating that you can maintain for a long time, maybe even a lifetime, not just a month or a few weeks. And you do have to make changes in how you eat, what you eat and very definitely, how much physical activity you do.

Here are a few tricks you can use:

1. Use a smaller plate when you eat a meal

2. Put vegetables (greens, salad vegetables – but not starchy vegetables like potatoes) on half of your  plate. Use the other half of your plate for equal amounts of grains and starchy vegetables on one side, and protein on the other side

3. Eat the vegetables first – all of them. Then the protein and lastly the heavy carb-loaded grains or potatoes.

By the time you get to the end of your meal you’ll be satisfied (eating the vegetables first ensures you start feeling full by the time you get to the end of your meal). Most likely you’ll have to eat slower because it’s harder to eat vegetables, especially raw ones, than to scoff down an all-in-one meal like a burger. It takes time for your body to recognize it’s full and this way of eating helps it do just that.

So what’s the RIGHT way to eat anything? On a plate in the way described above and for an extended period of time.

Tracey Thatcher

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