Thursday, August 2, 2007

FAT LOSS - Part 2: The reason & how you can lose fat effectively

As explained last month, Overweight and obesity are worldwide epidemics.
We need to get out of the “losing weight”mentality and focus more on Body Composition..

As you recall, there are two main factors to look at when considering Body Composition: 1) Body Fat (lean body mass) and 2) Body Fat distribution (waist circumference)

The Reason

Being overweight or obese is NOT because of genetics. Nor can you blame your blood sugar (glucose) and insulin going haywire regardless of how you eat or exercise. Carbohydrates don’t make you fat. Don’t blame a slow metabolism – because that IS your fault - it’s an effect not a cause…. And no – it’s not a mental thing.

The latest news is that your friends can make you fat. And what about those large family gatherings? Duh!

If we would stop allowing ourselves to get caught up in the latest fad, waiting for the next scientific discovery, the newest supplement or diet pill to “lose weight” and realize the simple and obvious truth…..

The reason why we are so fat is because we eat improperly and exercise too little!

Of course there is more to it but you must understand the cause before delving into the details.
Permanent fat loss will always require an effort.

We’re fat because we eat a lot – much more than we used to. Most of the increase comes from refined carbohydrates (sugar) and processed foods.

According to the Centre for Disease Control, we ate 1775 pounds of food per year per person in 2000, up from 1497 pounds in 1970. Can we say Super-sized? Oh, and about Super-sized. In 1955 McDonald’s French fries were 2.4 ounces and 210 calories. Today’s Super size Fries are 7 ounces and 610 calories.

Now let’s talk breakfast. Ninety percent of the people who responded to a Web survey cited breakfast as the most important meal of the day, but only 49 percent agreed they eat it seven days a week. **

The average North American consumes an astounding 2-3 pounds of sugar each week. Prior to the turn of this century (1887-1890), the average consumption was only 5 lbs. per person per year! Cardiovascular disease and cancer was virtually unknown in the early 1900's.*

In the last 20 years, sugar consumption increased in the U.S. from 26 pounds to 135 lbs. of sugar per person per year!*

Processed foods contain refined sugar, extra salt, unhealthy fats and chemical Additives. They have fewer nutrients and produce little enzyme activity and contain little or no fibrous material.
All of this just to increase the life of foods….

Get out your pocketbook - approximately 90% of the money spent on food is used to buy processed foods!.

Processed Food Sales now total $3.2 trillion, or about three-fourths of the total world food sales.

The average American eats approximately his/her body weight in food additives each year, or approximately 150 pounds!

Ninety-three percent of Americans eat at least one snack a day. **

Sixty percent of Americans trying to lose weight said they were making an effort "to reduce the number of calories" they consume. Yet only 11 percent guessed accurately the number of calories per day a person their age and weight could eat. **

**Science Daily

The bottom line is that if you've eaten more calories -from any source -than you burn up, you're going to store it as fat.

How you can lose fat effectively

You want to lose weight? Have you seen the latest Ad? There is now advertisment on a new machine that is now in Winnipeg that uses pulsating fradic waves to “work out” the muscle groups. An 18 minute session is completely effortless and is equivalent to 200 sit-ups! Wow.

I did some math. 18 minutes works out to 11 sit ups per minute. Hmmm….Now if I consider that you burn 120 calories during that time frame, it will take you over 8 ½ hours to burn one pound of fat. Rather than spending the money using the machine, why not just do the 5,800 sit ups?

Now Situps and crunches will help to strengthen and tone your abdominals. However, this will not show off your hard work if they are covered by layers of fat. And all the ab work in the world will not get rid of that tire around the middle. You cannot spot reduce fat!

Now if you are overweight, reducing food intake or dieting is an unsuccessful approach to fat loss.

To solve the fat crisis, simply put, “Eat Properly and Exercise more”

Nutrition is the most important factor in fat loss. If you do not watch what you are eating you won’t get the results you want. However, you can’t just focus on watching your calories. You need to exercise. Strength training is the next most important factor. Finally, aerobic exercise should not be ignored. For overall health, you need to fine tune your body and keep it in it’s best shape.

To improve your percent of body fat you need to create the right balance between the calories you consume and the calories you burn. For many it is eating fewer calories. For others it is becoming more active. By combining a right mix of planned exercise with proper nutrition you can maintain or gain lean muscle mass and reduce body fat.

There are no magic pills or special “diet”. Combining smart food choices with increased physical activity is the safest and most effective route to long-term weight management. And it’s never too late to start!

So here are 10 helpful suggestions

10 Tips for Fat Loss

1. Prepare a Plan or Goal
Decide on what you want to accomplish and when. Prepare a plan of attack and be specific. Motivation is only effective when the goal is meaningful and fits the individual. Without a good reason for wanting to improve your health and lose fat and/or gain lean muscle mass, you are fighting a losing battle. Start with your goal and everything else will flow from here.

2. Look Long Term.
Realize that this is a lifestyle change. Remember that there are no magic pills or fad diet that will result in permanent wellness and quality of life. The best results come from a long-term, always changing, plan involving improvements in eating and physical activity habits.

3. Start with Baby Steps

Change is one of the hardest things for us to do. For this reason, any change in your eating habits or exercise routine should be gradual and systematic. By taking things slowly and progressing forward these changes are much easier to become part of your daily routine – just like brushing your teeth or having that morning cup of coffee.

4. Keep a Journal or a Training Diary
This helps you focus on your goals. Having a written plan gives you a sense of direction that makes you feel certain, confident and motivated. A journal is a score card that tracks how well you are doing. You can see right way if the time you're investing is delivering results. Keeping a training diary sends unmistakable instructions to your subconscious mind. Rather than just going through the motions you get a good idea of your progress – what you are doing and how well.

5. Cardio /Aerobic Exercise
The cardiovascular or cardiorespiratory system is the aerobic system of the circulatory (heart) & respiratory (lungs) system. The main objective of Cardiovascular or Aerobic exercise is to increase the maximum oxygen the body can process in a given time.

When considering the guidelines for cardiovascular fitness, consider the following components of fitness know as the F.I.T.T. principles (Frequency, Intensity, Time and Type). Frequency is especially important when it comes to fat loss. The more you exercise, the more calories you will burn. Intensity is another important factor. The recommended range is 60-90% of your maximum heart rate. Do not forget the importance of rest and recovery Give yourself at least 1 or 2 days off each week.

6. Resistance / Strength Training
Resistance training with weights is one of the most important elements in an effective fat loss program. Cardio by itself is not enough. Strength training increases your lean muscle mass. This in turn increases your metabolism. Not only does your body burn more calories, but in a recent study from the prestigious Journal of Applied Physiology showed strength training also doubled post-exercise fat burning!

Intensity of effort is the key training variable for optimizing training results. Balance your resistance training to include traditional lifting (isolated movement exercises) and functional (closed chain and balance training) activities.

As I tell my clients – Scales belong on a fish. Do not focus on weight. As you weight train you will gain more muscle and muscle weighs more than fat. Instead, take note of how your clothes fit, look in the mirror, or perform a skin-fold test.

7. Healthy Food Choices
Healthy weight management is based on sound nutrition principles. Eat to Live and not Live to Eat.

Health Canada recommends a calorie intake ratio of ;
45-65% Carbohydrates, 10-35 % Protein, & 20-35% Fat.

The main principles of the Canada Food Guide outline a pattern of healthy food choices. They include; (1) eat a variety of foods (2) eat grains, vegetables and fruits (3) eat lean meat and low fat (4) participate in regular physical activity and (5) focus on healthy eating by limiting caffeine, alcohol, salt and sugar. Remember that balance, variety, and moderation is the key.

Your Goal is to get the most nutritional value out of every calorie. To achieve this goal, you need to follow 8 fundamental rules.

1) Eat fewer calories than you burn
2) Properly balance your macronutrient ratios (Carbs, Proteins & Fat)
3) Eat 5 or 6 meals per day (properly timed)
4) Eat natural no processed foods.
5) Eat the right carbohydrates and avoid refined sugars
6) Eat lean protein (fish, chicken lean meat) with every meal
7) Choose and eat the right fats
8) Drink Plenty of Water.

Diets do not work. It is important that you do not look at your fat loss in terms of a diet but rather concentrate on gradually changing your eating habits so that they become part of your new, healthier lifestyle. Fuel your body for success!

8. Stay Active
It comes down to: “Use it or Lose It”
Consider your body is rusting out from lack of use.
One of the best benefits of exercise is that a physically active person burns more calories at rest than does someone who leads a sedentary lifestyle. This means that even while sleeping you can burn more calories if you lead a physically active lifestyle.

9. Read and Reevaluate your Goals regularly
Goal setting is an ongoing process. It is important to update your goals and record your progress or lack thereof so that appropriate changes can be made to maintain improvements. By reviewing and reevaluating progress, your goals become engrained into your mind. Daily reflection turns dreams into reality.

10. Reward yourself
Even though you may look in the mirror with satisfaction on your progress, take time to reward your successes – and don’t beat yourself up over drawbacks. Consider a reward as a “recharging” of your batteries. Mentally and physically you will feel better.


Your aim is to preserve and enhance your lean body mass and to minimize the amount of fat on your body. It is virtually impossible to lose fat without a sound nutritional program combined with cardiovascular and weight training. Improved health, a permanent reduction in body fat and an increase in lean muscle mass takes substantial time, effort, and commitment.

Just remember, people don’t get “fat” overnight. The same can be said about getting rid of it.
HARD WORK PAYS OFF! And yes, you can change your body composition. The best results come from a long-term strategy involving a permanent change in both eating and activity habits. There are no magic pills, no short-cuts, no special diets, machines or routines that will result in your ultimate goal. The human body was meant to move – bring it back to it’s natural state.

Strive for an overall plan to increase your health, fitness, well-being and quality of life.
Understand that successful people never say “I don’t have the time”. This is not a valid reason but rather an excuse by lazy or nonmotivated people. If your health is important to you, you will make time.

For those interested, I do have a Nutritional and Health Guidelines report in pdf format. If you would like a copy please send me an email.

As a personal trainer I can help you become the person you want to be - fit, healthy and active, with lots of energy and a great zest for life.