Thursday, 30 April 2009

Fat loss and walking

With obesity and disease increasing dramatically, many fitness experts are recommending walking for weight loss and fitness. Some are even going so far as saying that walking is the best way to burn fat and lose weight. I strongly disagree with this and am going to show you why walking is NOT effective at burning off body fat.

Yes, you read that correctly...

Walking is NOT effective at burning body fat and if your goal is fat loss you might be wasting your time. I am not saying that walking is not beneficial, I am saying that if fat loss is the primary goal, there are far better choices that will deliver far better results.

The primary benefits of walking are increased blood flow and circulation, improved recovery, and a strengthened immune system. There are several reasons why walking in not the best choice when it comes to fat loss. Here are just a few:

1. Walking does NOT burn a lot of calories

The lower the intensity of the activity or exercise the smaller the number of calories burned per unit of time. For example, you can burn more calories in 15 minutes of bicycling at a high intensity level than you can in 45 minutes of easy walking.

2. Walking does NOT result in a large increase in metabolism

Another downside to walking is that because it’s generally low intensity it results in only a small increase in metabolism that will only last approximately 1-2 hours after the walk. On the other hand, metabolism increases are larger and last longer (4-24 hrs or more) when you perform high intensity cardio workouts.

3. Walking does NOT deplete muscle glycogen

Low intensity exercise like walking does not deplete muscle glycogen levels and therefore, later that day if you have excess calories they will likely be stored as body fat whereas if you deplete the glycogen the excess calories will primarily be stored in the muscles.

So why then do so many fitness and health experts recommend walking for weight loss? One reason is that people don’t want to hear that they have to work hard so they figure some activity is better than none. Another reason is that the body burns more fat for fuel when exercising at an easy pace, however, the total amount of energy used is so small that you end up burning off little body fat. That’s also why when you choose the “fat burning” program on your treadmill or bike it has you exercise at any easy level. Yes, you’re burning fat, but so little that you’d have to exercise at that easy pace for hours and hours each day.

High intensity cardiovascular/aerobic exercise is much more effective in burning off the excess body fat. In fact, several studies have been done to prove this. In one study they compared one group who did moderate level aerobics for 45 minutes with another group who performed high intensity workouts for 15 minutes. They did before and after fitness testing including body fat analysis and found that the group who performed the high intensity aerobics lost nine times as much body fat!

Want more proof?

Compare the bodies of a walker, marathon runner, and sprinter. If you are not familiar with what a sprinters body looks like, it is very muscular and has little body fat while on the other hand the body of a walker will likely have the opposite, little muscle and more fat. The sprinter does little or no low intensity exercise and does primarily short hard bursts of work while the marathoner overtrains so much they burn off both the body fat and the muscle and that’s why they tend to look almost sickly thin.

So what should you do then if your main objective is to shed those excess pounds of body fat?

Two things:

1. Perform some form of high intensity cardio 2-4 times per week
2. Stabilize blood sugar to minimize the storage of new fat

I know some of you by now are saying “I can’t do high intensity exercise, I have a bad knee” and don’t worry, I have a solution for you. The good news is that high intensity is all relative to you and your current fitness level. For example, fast walking up and down hills may be high intensity for you... it all depends. So don’t think that you have to start running or something like that. Just slowly start to increase the intensity of your cardio workouts while also maybe decreasing the time because you can either work hard or you can work long.

Also, you can make almost any activity or exercise high intensity.... here are a few examples:

· increase your speed
· use an incline or hills
· increase resistance
· perform intervals ( the most effective method)

Obviously, some exercises/activities or better suited than others but the point is if you want to burn more fat and make your workouts as productive as possible you need to increase the intensity.

As with any changes to your fitness program be careful and don’t over do it. Just because high intensity workouts burn more fat, don’t think that you’ll get even better results by doing it everyday - that will quickly lead to over-training and a loss of muscle which will only make it even harder to burn off the fat.

So if your primary goal is fat loss, don’t waste your time walking and instead focus on progressive, high intensity cardio to maximize the effectiveness of your workouts.

How to keep and shape and keep to your diet over the holidays

Learn ten ways that you can keep your physique in top shape over the holidays, yet still endulge in the festivities and treats!

My mom makes the most amazing Christmas cake in the world; it's been a tradition in our family for as long as I can remember.First, she mixes up a light, fluffy, vanilla cake mix, pours it into circular pans and then pops it in the oven. After it's been baked, she stacks the cake layers and slathers whipped cream generously between each layer. She then pours on red and green Jell-O, which gets soaked up inside the cake. Next, whipped cream is smothered all the way around for frosting. And finally, she garnishes it with red and green sprinkles. A few red and green-striped candy canes are stuck in the top as the finishing touch, and off it goes to the refrigerator so it can be served chilled later.

Now let me tell you, as a bodybuilder, I have a lot of discipline. But when that moist, delicious, red and green, Jell-O- filled, whipped-cream covered cake is sitting on the table in front of me on December 25th, it takes every ounce of my willpower to keep from calling it a "very high carb day" and devouring numerous very large slices.

Despite the temptation, I don't "pig out" nor do I deprive myself. Instead, I'm content with eating my single piece, savoring every mouthwatering bite, all the while repeating my mantra, "nothing tastes as good as being ripped feels."

The next day, on December 26th, I'm on the bike or Stairmaster at the crack of dawn, followed by six perfect meals of lean protein and complex carbohydrate - just like every other day of the year. A week later, on December 31st, I usually go out for a nice dinner (very naughty food, I must admit), and then we toast champagne to the New Year at midnight. I'm in bed at a reasonable hour shortly thereafter. Unless it's a scheduled day of rest on New Years day, I'm not groggy and hung over like many of my friends are. I'm in the gym squatting, bench pressing, curling, or "stairmastering" just like I usually am.

And here's the point: You can and should enjoy the holidays. You can enjoy being with family and going out with friends. You can go to holiday parties and have fun. You can enjoy a few "naughty" meals. You can have some cake and a glass or two of champagne. There's no reason why you can't enjoy yourself AND stay healthy, lean and fit through the holidays. All it takes is some planning, some goal-setting and little dose of old-fashioned discipline.

I'd like to share with you 10 ways that you can follow your diet and stay in great shape over the holidays without turning into a miserable Scrooge. If you follow this advice, then you'll be one of the proud few with a New Year's resolution to be the best you've ever been in 2002 - instead of one of the guilt-ridden many who must resolve to reclaim what they lost in 2001.


"Fail to plan and you plan to fail" is a time worn and cliched statement, but it's still some of the best success advice you will ever hear.

Not only do most people fail to plan, they consciously plan to fail over the holidays. Most people expect to "blow" their diet and skip workouts over the holidays. They expect to eat more, to exercise less and to gain weight. As a result, they don't even make the effort. Instead of taking control, they resign themselves to maintenance at best, or back-sliding at worst. This negative expectancy leads to a self-fulfilling prophecy. By the first week of January, they're in the worst shape they've been in for a year and they frantically make New Year's resolutions to shed the excess fat they've gained.

You can avoid this trap by planning to succeed. Set up a positive expectation. Resolve now that you will not tolerate slipping backwards. Keep your standards up and don't settle! Not only can you plan to "stay in shape" over the holidays, you can plan to improve! All you have to do is make the decision and expect success.


You know your schedule is going to get hectic over the holidays. You'll be cooking, shopping, wrapping gifts, sending cards, going to parties, traveling, visiting family, and so on. To stay on your training and nutrition regimen is definitely going to take some sound time management skills. Plan your schedule in advance. Anticipate what's coming up. Write it down. Put it on your calendar. By doing so, you won't be caught unprepared.

Use a schedule book or monthly calendar and "make appointments" for ALL your workouts for the next six weeks in advance. Then, post a copy where you will be forced to look at it every day. This is a powerful exercise that will keep you focused and force you to think about and prepare for each upcoming workout. If you try to "wing it" and squeeze in your workouts and meals whenever you have time left over, you'll find that there never IS any time left over! Somehow your daily activities always seem to "expand" to fill the hours in every day. So schedule your workouts and meal times in your calendar just like you would any other appointment or event. Once you've done that, stick to your schedule religiously.


Don't wait until January 1st to set your goals just because you think it will be harder to achieve them over the holidays. On the contrary, studies on personal achievement have shown that you'll usually reach 80% of the goals you put onto paper. The problem is that few people set any goals at all, and fewer still set them during the holidays.

Why wait? Why not do it now? Set some big goals that you can start working on during the holidays: Set a goal to lose the 25 lbs you've always wanted to lose NOW Set the goal to gain 10 lbs of solid muscle NOW Been contemplating a competition in bodybuilding, fitness or the new ladies figure division?

Pick an early spring show and GO FOR IT - START TRAINING NOW!

Goal setting should not be a once a year affair, it should be a continuous process. You should always have your goals in writing and your list should be regularly updated and rewritten. If you only set goals once a year, you're not going to accomplish much in your life.


A planned "cheat day" helps you to stay on your program better in the long run. If you're too strict all the time, you're setting yourself up for cravings and bingeing. One cheat meal per week will have only a minor effect on your physique. If you've been on a strict, low carb and/or low calorie regimen, a cheat meal might actually be good for you! It will boost your metabolic rate and give your body the signal that you're not starving and that it's ok to keep burning a lot of calories.

Over the holidays, schedule your dinners and parties so they fall on your cheat day. Then, on the other days of the week, be steadfast! Just the fact that you know you have a "cheat day" coming up will relieve the pressure of staying on a strict diet for a long time. Also, when you do have your cheat meal - ENJOY IT! If you're going to eat it and feel guilty, then don't have it at all. If you've stayed with the program all week long, then when "cheat day" rolls around, you deserve it!


So you had about a dozen too many of those Christmas cookies did you? Don't worry; because you have cheat days built into your plan, you shouldn't let guilt immobilize you. Even if you fall completely off the wagon, don't beat yourself up. All you have to do is get right back on your program without missing another beat.

Too many people mess up once and then think their entire diet is ruined. They feel as if everything they've done prior to that day was wasted and there's no sense going on. Or even worse, they rationalize to themselves, "Well, I already cheated, so it doesn't matter now, I might as well keep pigging out." That's nonsense. If you threw in the towel every time you didn't score 100% on your diet, most people would never get through more than a few days on any structured program. Just because you mess up once doesn't mean you should quit! You're only human. Don't let one small slip keep you derailed. Firmly plant your wheels back on the tracks and start rolling again.


If there's one thing that all people who successfully get lean and stay lean have in common, it's consistency. Without it, you never get any momentum going. It's like taking two steps forward, only to take three steps back.

Many people allow the busy Holidays to throw them off their regular eating schedule. They completely veer off their usual five or six small meals per day, or they start eating foods they would normally never eat (because "it's there").

You have to keep your metabolic engine revving all year round. Once you have it going, it's fairly easy to keep it going. But once you lose it, it's very difficult to get it going again because you must overcome inertia all over again. (An object at rest tends to stay at rest!)

On the major holidays, when there's a big dinner scheduled, many people think that skipping their morning and afternoon meals to "save room" for the big one later is a good idea. It's not. This is a sure-fire way to invite a binge that could set your back for days.

Don't lose your consistency or your momentum. Continue with your pattern of eating small, frequent meals all year round. All you have to do is count your holiday dinners as one of your regular meals and keep them small.


You can have your cake and eat it too - you just can't eat the whole thing! One of the most important rules to remember this holiday season is the law of energy balance, which states: To lose body fat, you must consume fewer calories than you burn up each day.

There are two corollaries to the law of energy balance:

1. Too much of ANYTHING will get stored as fat - even healthy food.
2. Small amounts of ANYTHING - even junk food - will probably NOT get stored as fat as long as you don't indulge too frequently.

There's no reason to deprive yourself of things you enjoy. Just make sure you don't overindulge. As long as you enjoy your favorite foods in moderation, and you keep working out, it probably won't end up around your waistline.


Keep your standards high, but don't expect other people's standards to be as high as yours. Remember that most people have already planned in advance to fail at fitness over the holidays. You've decided to stay strong. Don't let their negative influence drag you down.

When you've reached your pre-ordained drink limit, say "when" and switch to water or a non alcoholic, non caloric beverage. When they offer you seconds on dessert, politely say, "no thank you, it was absolutely delicious, but I'm full, I can't eat another bite." And when the wee hours of the morning start to roll around, and your friends are egging you on to keep partying, politely tell them you need your sleep. Tomorrow is a work out day. If they're really your friends, they'll understand.


You know those tables you see at holiday parties that are covered with yards of chips, dips, pretzels, cookies, salami, candies, punch, liquor, and a seemingly endless assortment of other goodies? Well, did you also notice that there is usually a tray full of carrot sticks, cauliflower, celery and other healthy snacks too?

No matter where you are, you always have choices. Sometimes you have to choose between bad and worse. Other times you can choose between good and better. But always make the best choice possible based on whatever your options are. If nothing else, you can choose to eat a small portion of something bad rather than a huge portion, thereby obeying the law of calorie balance.

Chances are good that there's probably something healthy on the menu at every holiday gathering. As you know, lean proteins and fibrous carbs are a great for getting lean, so fill up on the turkey breast, try to get a vegetable in there, and go easy on the desserts.


If you enjoy having a few drinks on special occasions, then go ahead and have a drink or two. But if you're serious about your fitness goals, you must drink infrequently and in moderation. Alcohol almost totally inhibits your body's ability to metabolize body fat. When there's alcohol in your bloodstream, you're not in fat burning mode.

I've never met anyone in my life that was truly serious about fitness or bodybuilding who was a heavy drinker. Alcohol and muscles just don't mix.

The impact goes beyond added body fat; your energy levels and workouts can be ruined for days after a night of heavy drinking. A glass of wine actually has some health benefits. But there's NEVER any never reason or excuse for binge drinking or getting drunk.

So go ahead and toast to the New Year, but know when to say when.


This is a special time of the year; you can and should enjoy it. However, taking a six-week "vacation" from the gym doesn't make any sense - ever. There's no reason to let your training and nutrition program spoil your holidays, but there's also no reason to let your holidays spoil your training and nutrition program either!

Sports Supplements: Cut the CRAP!

For many, many years, I have been in or on the sidelines of the “Vitamin and Supplement” industry. I have literally seen “the Wheel” reinvented, reformulated, repackage more times than I care to remember.

The purpose of this article is to inform the reader which supplements work the best, in what order one obtains benefit from them, and which should be avoided. This is this author’s opinion only, and should be treated as such.

That said, not a day goes by when someone doesn’t come into my store asking for a pill “to grow muscles!” Or better yet, do you have that “new stuff” in the magazines that says you will “gain 20 pounds of muscle”...GUARANTEED! So STOP reading, STOP being prey for advertisers, and START using common sense and making gains!

Lastly, before we get started, let me say that supplements are just that. There is no substitute for sound nutrition. We use the 80/20 rule, 20% works, 80% is a waste of money. There are many supps that do provide enormous benefits, but there is also a ton of crap. Let’s CUT THE CRAP!

What works: The good guys!

Now just because something works, doesn’t mean it is good for you.....we will be getting to that shortly.

Protein: NOT weight gainers, mass builders, MRPs, but good old simple protein. It doesn’t have to be “top of the line” either, just clean and free of sugars and ca-ca. If you want a weight gainer, a mass builder, a post W/O shake...protein is your foundation. You can add back calories, carbs, and fats, but in many of today’s products you can not take them away! An example would be most mass market weight gainers. Some have excellent protein sources, but they follow on the label right after fructose and maltodextrin. You’d be so far ahead of those products to take your protein powder and add, peanut butter, fruit, flax oil, cream or whole milk (individualistic), etc and make your own, w/o all of the SUGARS.

Note: The so-called Nighttime proteins are nothing more than casein. You can achieve the same thing with milk, calcium casseinate...even the addition of fat and fiber to a “fast burning” anabolic protein such as whey, will make it digest slower and become anti-catabolic. The science behind “nighttime” proteins is based upon the amino L-leucine which stays in your system for 7 hours as opposed to 3-4 hours with the other aminos.

Creatine: Once you have been lifting 12 weeks or more...and your connective tissue is up to speed (to avoid injury from rapid strength increases), Creatine is the single most ergonomic aid next to protein. While it occurs naturally in meat and fish, supplementation with creatine allows for phenomenal progress, both in lean body mass and strength. There are no studies, or supported incidents of cancer, fat deposits on the liver or kidney damage. Even the occurrence of calf and hamstring cramping of elite athletes in hot humid weather has been dispelled as “normally occurring, even in those NOT on creatine.” Poor grades of creatine, with chemical by-product residue, will cause the traditional gastro-intestinal upset.

Glutamine: We only suggest glutamine to enhance recovery. If you are excessively sore, tired, and are unable to train several days in a row, glutamine can change your world! On top of the cell volumizing,
anti-inflammatory effects, glutamine can also help repair and soothe “gut problems” and reduce sugar cravings.

Antioxidants or Multi-Vitamins: When we exercise, we create additional “oxidative free-radical damage.” I can’t stress the importance of additional vitamins, especially the antioxidants Vitamins C and E. While we derive many of our vitamins and minerals from our food, hard training athletes invariably benefit from supplementation. It is visible not only in increase recovery ability, but also in the athlete’s capability to push the envelope day after day, without compromising their immune system.

Note: ALA, alpha lipoic acid, enhances antioxidant uptake and increases insulin sensitivity, definitely a supplement to consider.

These are the “essentials”, there are many more, but those are the basics. I could elaborate on Chromium, CLA, Liver tabs, Aminos, etc, at another time. If this article were titled “Keep it Simple”, we would stop here. There is a short list of things that work but are not cost effective (such as ZMA, CoQ10, and HMB). Also there are supps that prevent or reverse certain conditions associated with training (such as Glucosamine Sulfate, MSM, EFAs, arnica and more), but are not within the scope of this brief article. The next class of Supplements are those that work, but at a cost, and we are not talking monetarily. And in the final installment, “Pure Crap: Save your Money!”

Fitness still doesnt come in a pill!

I get approached with questions in the gym a lot. So much that sometimes I feel like an information vending machine. Comes with the territory, I guess. I really don't mind... usually... unless someone taps me on the shoulder while I'm right in the middle of a set, which has been known to happen...

Anyway, a young guy - must have been about 19 or so- came up to me yesterday on the gym floor and just started asking me questions out of the blue. His name was Jose. I had to ask him because he didn't even introduce himself, he just walked up and started firing questions at me.

Jose looked to be in pretty decent shape. Maybe he was ten pounds or so off of being really lean, but anyone on the street would have known that he worked out, even with a casual glance.

I remember his first question very distinctly:

"Hey, I was wondering if I could ask you something... Which pills should I take to help me lose more fat?"

This might seem like a perfectly fair question that anyone with an inquiring mind might ask about health, fitness or losing weight. But to me, the way he phrased it and the fact that it was the very first thing out of his mouth revealed a lot to me about him, about human nature and about the sorry state of the health and fitness industry today.

"What makes you think you need a pill to lose weight?" I asked.

He seemed stunned. His head pulled back and twisted slightly to the right, with a quizzical expression on his face. I suppose he was so used to having some gym "expert" rattle off a whole laundry list of pills and powders to take that it never even occurred to him whether he needed any of them in the first place.

He had NO solid answer to my question:

"I Dunno... I guess just because I thought I needed it. That's what everybody tells you."

I continued, "WHY do you think you need help? Are you unsatisfied with the results you're getting?"

"Ummm, actually I just lost 30 pounds."

Well, I darn near fell over when I heard that!

"Are you serious?" I said, "That's awesome - congratulations. How did you do it? How much cardio are you doing? What's your diet like?"

Jose said that for the past four months or so he had been walking on the (inclined) treadmill for 45 minutes to an hour every day and he was lifting weights three days a week.

He then ran through his daily menu plan with me and it was pretty darn good - all the right stuff - egg whites, oatmeal, chicken breasts, fruit, salads, vegetables, brown rice and so on.

I kept picking his brain, still wondering why he felt he needed a pill even after this much success...

"Let me ask you something else Jose. It sounds like you've been doing great. Have your results stopped? Are you having trouble with the last ten pounds or so?"

Jose confirmed what I suspected: "No, I'm still losing weight - I lost two pounds last week - but I still can't really see my abs yet."

"Let me get this straight," I said, "You're on the treadmill every day, you're up here lifting weights three times a week, you're eating well, you've lost 30 pounds so far, you're still getting results every week and you're DIDN'T take any "miracle pills" to do it, is that right?"


"Jose, you're doing everything right - and you're getting great results. Don't you think that if you keep doing more of what you've been doing that you'll keep getting more of the same results and you'll have your abs looking exactly like you want them to?"

At that moment, fortuitously, Bob, one of the trainers at our club, chimed in... he had been "eavesdropping" from the next bench over... "You look totally different than you did a few months ago. I can totally see it. You might not notice as much because you see yourself every day and don't see the little changes, but I can totally see it. Trust me, you look great man. Tom is right. Forget about pills - you don't need them."

After getting confirmation from a second trainer, it was as if Jose suddenly "believed" me. He started nodding his head, a satisfied grin spread across his face, he thanked us and then walked away.

In the coaching and personal development world, there's a saying, " Give a person a fish and you feed them for a day, teach a person to fish and you feed them for a lifetime." In the weight loss advertising and marketing world, there's also a much-embraced expression: "Just give them the damn fish!" Translated, this means, "Don't teach people how to eat and exercise, just sell them the pill... which is what they *want* anyway, (but not what they *need*")

Every day I thank God that there are trainers like Bob -who "teach people how to fish" and who encourage, motivate and steer their clients in the right direction - and away from quick fixes. It's too bad that we are the minority.

For every trainer who answers the question like we did, there are a dozen others who are more like "supplement salespeople" than "fitness advisors." For many, it's a requirement in their PT jobs at commercial health clubs (literally - they have quotas).

Those so called "fitness professionals" are all too happy to give the member or client the pill without ever a word being spoken about exercise or nutrition.

I'll be the first person to tell you that there are some supplements worth taking to support a good training and nutrition program. I'll tell you that there are supplements that might be beneficial to people with health problems - legitimate "natural remedies," you could say.

I'll even tell you that there have been scientific studies proving that test subjects who took ephedrine/caffeine pills lost more body fat than the control groups who did not.

But in the same breath, I would also tell you not to bother with any "fat burning" pills because they're unnecessary when your training and diet are in place and because they cannot possibly help you to lose weight and keep it off in the long term. (It's just a temporary quick fix at best... a total scam at worst. I'd love to see what the test groups from those studies look like today).

In my opinion, the entire concept of taking a pill to lose weight - regardless of whether it's a prescription pharmaceutical or an over the counter supplement - is misguided and shows ignorance of the basic law of cause and effect.

Taking a pill to treat an effect or symptom (body fat) does not address what created the body fat in the first place (inactivity and poor nutrition). To permanently fix a problem, you must trace the problem back to its cause and treat that.

Whether you agree with this viewpoint or not, one thing is for certain: To even think about using a "weight loss pill" without having your nutrition and exercise houses in order is absurd.

When the very first question from the mouth of a newcomer to fitness is, "WHICH pill should I take?" you know there is a serious problem. There's an even bigger problem when an answer is quickly given to that question rather than inquiring about whether it was the right question to ask in the first place.

The answers you receive can only be as good as the quality of the questions you ask. "Which pill should I take?" is the wrong question.

With a recent judgment ruling in favor of bringing ephedra back on the market, and with cortisol pills still riding their wave of popularity, despite FTC lawsuits, I think this is a perfect time to repeat the same message I have repeated since I first started publishing online in 1999 - and that is...

Fitness doesn't come in a pill - it never did and it never will.