Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Lessons from Ottawa - Nutrition For Fat Loss

I just spend the last couple days helping out at a hockey skills camp in Ottawa, Canada. Now that I'm back, I'd like to share some observations with you.

The key thing that I noted from this years camp is that the athlete with the lowest body fat is rarely the athlete with the best conditioning. In fact, if you were to rank the athletes I was working with last weekend, the leanest most shredded athlete wouldn't have even been in the top three for conditioning.

It is true that you can have incredible conditioning, whether it is aerobic or anaerobic, and not be "shredded".

Now, I’m not saying that body composition isn't important in sports. If you take the really well conditioned athlete and melt twenty pounds of fat off him or her, they become an even better athlete. They will still be highly conditioned, only now they will have less weight that they have to move around with them.

That's were nutrition comes into play. Nutrition is the key to losing body fat, especially for highly trained athletes.

If you are already training for two or three hours a day on almost every day of the week, adding in some more exercise with the hopes of losing weight may just not be possible and will definitely not be effective.

While most people understand the importance of keeping a workout log, I think that keeping a nutrition log is far more important for an anyone who is trying to lose some fat.

Just like with a workout log, a nutrition log allows you to look back on the last week, month or year and really examine what worked for you and what didn't work for you. It allows you to quickly identify why you had stalls in progress or dips in performance.

Bottom line: If you are trying to lose weight but are not keeping a nutrition log, you are making the process a hundred times harder then it needs to be. Keep a log and you will be able to lose fat without compromising any of your conditioning or performance.


Fasting Diet, Circuit Training

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Saturday, August 19, 2006

Crabs in a Bucket - Weight Training Over 50

After a busy couple of days of travel, I decided it was time to head back up north to get some more work done on some of my projects with grrlathlete.

When I'm up north, people often drop in for a visit, and last night was no exception. I had a couple of old friends drop in on me for dinner.

As usual, it only took a little bit of time before the conversation turned to nutrition and working out. One of my friends was in his late 50's. He has always been in great shape. He maintains a great workout program and always pays attention to what he eats. Yet, on this particular visit, he seemed a little discouraged with his progress.

After a little bit of prying I found out why.

He had been out having dinner with several of his friends who were all medical doctors and they were "on him" about working out. Turns out these three highly educated individuals were trying to convince my friend that it was physically impossible to put on muscle once you pass fifty years of age.

They told him that it had something to do with his hormone levels and lack of testosterone.

No wonder he was discouraged!

Thankfully, in no way is any of this true. There is lots of research that has been conducted on subjects over 50 years of age showing the benefit of weight training.

A group of researchers at the University of Saschetchewan in Canada has been studying the effects of creatine supplementation and weight lifting in the elderly with great results.

Dr. Ira Jacobs, one of my early mentors, has been quoted as saying that at least 80% the muscle loss associated with aging can be attributed to lack of activity.

When it comes to muscle - Use it or lose it. That’s the bottom line.

There is no truth to the saying that you can’t build muscle over a certain age. People in their 70's can build muscle with weight training. So why would a group of medical doctors try to convince my friend that he was wasting his time working out, when research clearly shows there is benefit?

The answer is "crabs in a bucket".

If you aren't familiar with the "crabs in a bucket" analogy, it’s pretty simple. Crabbers never have to worry about crabs escaping when they are caught and thrown into a bucket. This is because if one crab starts climbing the walls of the bucket, the other crabs will pull the escaping crab back down.

The crabs see it like this - if we are going to be dinner, then you are going to be dinner too.

After a little more prying my friend informed me that his three medical doctor friends did not workout, were overweight (one of them was very overweight) and mostly ate fast food.

Like I said, crabs in a bucket. When you are trying to live a healthy lifestyle, you are always going to go up against crabs. They do not like it when you say "no" to dessert, pass on "just one more drink", or go work out. The reason they don't like it is because it makes them painfully aware that you are in control of an area in your life that they have no control over in there own.

Ignore the crabs and remember- no matter your age, if you want to look and feel better than the average person, then you can’t eat and work-out like an average person. You have to go one-step farther.


Fasting Diet, Circuit Training

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Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The "secret" to Preventing Muscle Loss While Dieting

I review a lot of fat loss programs. It's part of my job at www.grrlathlete.com. From the most underground e-books, to the latest best seller on Amazon, I’ve read through stacks of them.

Let me tell you, most of the time, once I’ve finished reading of these works of garbage, I feel like I need to take a shower.

They are just that sleazy.

Sure, they’re some of the greatest examples of marketing this side of beer commercials, but the actual information in them is a combination of basic good nutritional practices (you should eat more fruits and vegetables) and make-believe (never eat carbohydrates past 6:45 pm).

Most of the time the marketing story starts like this… “My special ‘melt the lard’ program guarantees you will lose fat fast without losing any muscle”.

The part I have a trouble with is the “without losing any muscle”. It seems losing muscle is something everyone is deathly afraid of doing. Most of the bodybuilders, athletes and fitness models I’ve talked with are convinced that they lose muscle when they are dieting.

Here’s the truth about losing muscle mass while dieting. I don’t believe it. Not at all.

I have taken over one hundred body fat measurements on amateur body builders and fitness models, none of them lost any more than 1 or 2 pounds of lean mass while dieting for a competition!

They drop anywhere from 20 to 50 pounds of fat, but lose almost no muscle! My measurements were taken with a BodPod, and validated with both skin fold calipers and limb circumference measurements, so I’m sure they were accurate.

All of these athletes were on different types of low calorie diets and loads of different supplements or no supplements at all; however, none of them were losing muscle.

This is for one reason and one reason only.

People who are weight training while dieting (within reason) will not lose muscle mass. I believe this is for one main reason. By lifting weights, you are telling your body you need that muscle. Your body recognizes that need, and thinks “Whoa. Looks like I’m dieting again. I need to burn something for some extra energy but if I get rid of some of this muscle, it’ll make this whole lifting weights thing even harder. I better keep this muscle and burn something else, maybe this fat over here…”

Straight up, the number one way to ensure you don’t lose any muscle while you are dieting is by lifting weights. Protein may play a role on in this (almost all of the people I was tracking were eating a high protein diet), but other than that, no fancy diet program works better than weight training for preventing you from losing muscle while you are dieting.


Fasting Diet, Circuit Training

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