Train to Win, Eat to Lose

A Health and Fitness Blog

It Sucks Being Fat

“It sucks being fat, you know.”  That was Drew Carey’s response to why he finally made the lifestyle change necessary to shed a whopping 80 pounds in 7 months.

And how did he lose all this weight?  “No carbs. I have cheated a couple times, but basically no carbs, not even a cracker. No bread at all. No pizza, nothing. No corn, no beans, no starches of any kind. Egg whites in the morning or like, Greek yogurt, cut some fruit.”

My one complaint here would be that he is only eating egg whites.  Eat the whole egg.  Fat is good for you and only exerts a negative health effect in the presence carbohydrates: “The deleterious effects of fat have been measured in the presence of high carbohydrate. A high fat diet in the presence of high carbohydrate is different than a high fat diet in the presence of low carbohydrate.” – Richard Feinman, PhD

And despite what you have come to believe saturated fat does not cause heart disease.

While a low carbohydrate diet certainly does not have to be “no carb” (technically a low carbohydrate diet would be under 60 grams of carbohydrates per day) Drew cut out the main culprits: grains and starches.  He even recognized that he needed to minimize his intake of fruit.  In addition, he stopped drinking soda and now only drinks water.

The greatest news of all: “I’m not diabetic anymore. No medication needed.”  To be clear, there is no cure for diabetes. However, we know that slashing carbohydrate intake can essentially reverse Type-2 diabetes and cut the use of medications.

Drew also credits the enormous amount of cardio he is doing as key to his weight loss:  “Lots of cardio. About 45 minutes of cardio, at least 45 minutes of cardio. I’ve been kind of lazy like lately, so I’m not doing it 6 days a week, but I will be for this next month.”  This is where he is veering off course.  As I have stated in a previous post, exercise will not make you thin.  The loss/retention of body fat is hormonal, which is exactly why carbohydrate restriction works so well. Cardio does not help you lose weight. In fact, doing too much cardio (such as 6 days a week) can often hinder the loss of body fat through harmful hormonal changes and muscle wasting.

My advice to Drew?  Stop doing the cardio and make sure you are doing your strength training.  You need this to build muscle and it will increase your insulin sensitivity.  Not to mention a myriad of other health benefits, such as:  an increased metabolic rate, enhanced flexibility, improved blood pressure, increased bone density, and more!

July 30, 2010 Posted by | Fat Loss, Nutrition, Strength Training | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Quality Over Quantity

When I tell people I exercise about 20 minutes a week,  I am often met with looks of skepticism.  As I have said time and time again, less is more.  It’s all about quality NOT quantity.

Here is my workout from last week.  I have been working out 3 times a week and have split up my workouts as follows:

DAY ONE:  Multi-Joint Exercises

DAY TWO:  Spinal Exercises

DAY THREE:  Single- Joint Exercises

I love doing Spinal Exercises on DAY TWO because in addition to strengthening and creating traction for my spine, it gives me some much needed extra rest between my Multi-Joint and Single-Joint workouts.

Here is my workout from last week:

DAY ONE

  1. MedX Pull Down: 554 pounds for 55 seconds
  2. MedX Chest Press: 420 pounds for 1 minute and 1 second
  3. MedX Leg Press: 740 pounds for 54 seconds
  4. Nautilus Overhead Press: 131 pounds for 55 seconds
  5. MedX Seated Dip: 330 pounds for 54 seconds

Total Time Exercising: 4 minutes and 39 seconds

DAY TWO

  1. MedX Abdominal:  116 pounds for 51 seconds
  2. Nautilus Cervical Extension (Neck): 102 pounds for 58 seconds
  3. MedX Torso Rotation:
    1. Left Side: 128 pounds for 52 seconds
    2. Right Side: 128 pounds for 51 seconds
  4. Nautilus Lumbar Extension (Low Back): 185 pounds for 1 minute and 4 seconds

Total Time Exercising: 5 minutes and 30 seconds

DAY THREE

  1. Nautilus Pullover: 220 pounds for 54 seconds
  2. MedX Leg Extension: 448 pounds for 40 seconds
  3. Nautilus 10 Degree Chest Fly:  200 pounds for 1 minute and 11 seconds
  4. Nautilus Rowing Torso: 123 pounds for 51 seconds
  5. MedX Leg Curl:  346 pounds for 50 seconds
  6. MedX Lateral Raise: 160 pounds for 49 seconds
  7. Nautilus Hip Abduction: 205 pounds for 46 seconds
  8. Nautilus Hip Adduction: 143 pounds for 52 seconds
  9. Tricep Extenstion  (using MedX Pull Down):  162 pounds for 50 seconds
  10. Nautilus Bicep Curl: 134.5 pounds for 49 seconds

Total Time Exercising: 8 minutes and 32 seconds

Total Time Exercising For The Week: 18 minutes and 41 seconds

July 12, 2010 Posted by | Strength Training | , | Leave a comment

Cholesterol Is Your Friend

Recently, I have been giving dietary advice to a friend who came to me with questions on how he could lose body fat.  During this time quite a few questions were asked, including: “What can I eat to help safely promote the manufacturing of testosterone?”  I absolutely love this question because the answer brings us back to the topic of America’s most demonized nutrient: Cholesterol!

Cholesterol is a precursor to testosterone (as well as all steroid hormones).  So the answer to my friend’s question is to eat food that has a higher cholesterol content.  This is further reason to NOT AVOID eating food that is high in cholesterol and fat. Yes, that means eat those eggs (yes, the yolk too)!

My friend’s question also got me to dig a little deeper and what I found (thanks to my friend Eugene Thong and his phenomenal blog Eugenization) was this study Surprise – Cholesterol May Actually Pose Benefits, Study Shows (this study came out two years ago so I am admittedly way behind in being aware of it): “At the conclusion of the study, the researchers found that there was a significant association of dietary cholesterol and change in strength. In general, those with higher cholesterol intake also had the highest muscle strength gain.”  This makes perfect sense since testosterone is key to the repair of muscle tissue.

Let me reassure you that eating cholesterol DOES NOT increase blood cholesterol.  In fact, cholesterol is an essential nutrient.  If you want to learn more about cholesterol and all it’s benefits (and in process debunk all the myths you have come to hear about it) I highly recommend you visit the Cholesterol-And-Health website.

February 16, 2010 Posted by | Fat Loss, Nutrition, Strength Training | , , , | Leave a comment

Failure: The Pathway to Success

“Failure”.

This one little word has a such negative connotation attached to it, yet in the world of strength training it’s meaning is quite positive and powerful. In my day to day work as a personal trainer it is not uncommon to hear a client say that they “don’t like to fail”. The idea that they can no longer continue an exercise due to muscular exhaustion is something that discourages them and leaves them feeling quite negative.

In regard to strength training it is important to desensitize yourself from what you have come to generally think of the word “failure” to represent, and think of it as what it actually is…a pathway to success. C.S. Lewis has a great quote: “Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement”. I am pretty sure he didn’t specifically have strength training in mind when he said this, but I think it applies beautifully.

In strength training you must safely and effectively load the muscles through a pain free range of motion to the point of muscular exhaustion, i.e., the inability to move the weight even another inch with safe and proper form (I will leave the topic of the time frame/number of repetitions that this needs to happen in for another discussion). The goal is to always try for one more repetition (again, with safe and proper form) even if you do not think you can. If you complete that repetition you MUST try again, always working for even just one more inch. This is how you send the signal to your body to make those muscle fibers stronger and to start building additional muscle fibers. If you were to approach strength training with idea that success would be to not fail, that you should always be able to continue for extended periods of time, you would never illicit the response you need from your body to achieve all the wonderful benefits of strength training.

So remember, in strength training failure is by no means a sign of weakness. It is in fact a sign of strength, and of more strength to come.

December 15, 2009 Posted by | Strength Training | , , , , | Leave a comment

More Does Not Equal Better

The other day I was training a client who in training with me twice a week (and of course making the appropriate dietary changes) has seen some very nice declines in body fat and increases in lean muscle mass.  While she was working out, she mentioned a friend who trains everyday, and wanted to know if she should be working out more as well.

The first question I asked her was: “Is your friend seeing results?” The answer: “No, and she doesn’t understand why.”

The reason?

Because more does not equal better. Resistance training is a “controlled detriment”.  When you resistance train you are in fact breaking down muscle.  All the benefits of resistance training happen when you are resting between workouts, not during your workouts.  Over-training simply leads to the continued breakdown of lean muscle tissue. In addition, over-training leads to the release of stress hormones such as Cortisol.  We know that Cortisol is responsible for increased abdominal fat.  This is all obviously counter-effective to building lean muscle, reducing body fat, and gaining strength.

We also know (as I stated in a previous post) that the reduction of body fat has nothing to do with exercise.  It is hormonal: eating too many carbohydrates (sugar) leads to sudden increases in the production of insulin which in turn leads to body fat storage. You must change what you eat to see a reduction in body fat.

More does not equal better.  When it comes to exercise and nutrition, you should always choose quality over quantity.

October 27, 2009 Posted by | Fat Loss, Nutrition, Strength Training | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment