Burning Fat vs Reducing Body Fat

Now that I’ve started studying for my state-licensed exam (“Fitnessinstruktorin mit eidg. Fachausweis”), I’m starting to realize how many unscientific half-truths we use without thinking about it.

For instance, a lot of customers work out to “burn fat”. However, few people actually mean they want to improve the efficiency of lipolysis. This would be the goal of, say, a long distance runner who needs a (slow but steady) energy source of almost unlimited availabity. Most people, however, simply want to reduce their body fat.

ebereit2As can be seen on the chart, the higher the energy expenditure, the less it has to do with “burning fat”. Fat is a fairly slow source of energy and, in percentage (not absolute numbers!), the less you do, the more your body relies on fat. Sleeping, for example, can be done mostly by burning fat. But, by morning, you might have burned the calories of about one glass of milk.

To reduce body fat, you want to expend high calorie levels. The chart shows that high energy expenditure means relying on fast energy sources that are only available for limited periods at a time.

To return to running: try sprinting for 1-2 minutes followed by easy jogging or walking for 1-2 minutes. Including warm up and cool down, around 20-30 minutes in total. This will allow you to burn lots of calories for a short period of time during your sprint. Also, it will allow you to replenish your quick and quickly depleted high energy sources during your jog or walk.

Low Carb Dessert Idea: Stracciatella Curd

ImageIf you like to keep your carbohydrate intake to a minimum (carbohydrates being a non-essential macronutrient) but you still enjoy fast, easy desserts, try this sometime! You’ll only need:

– 100g of 100% cocoa dark chocolate (e.g. Sélection 100% Cacao Madagaskar at Migros)

– 2 tubs (500g) of curd cheese

– 5-6 sachets of low carb sweetener (e.g. Splenda)

1) Break the chocolate into little pieces and melt it (you can either melt it on the top of a double boiler or nuke it in the microwave on the lowest possible setting).

2) Add 2 sachets of sweetener to the molten chocolate and mix well.

3) Stirring the curd constantly, slowly pour the chocolate into the curd.

4) Sweeten to taste.

Fitness Myth #5: The Dynamic Work Obligation

Anyone looking to gain muscle mass fast, be it for the purpose of raising their basal metabolic rate or creating a more muscular physique, should know about Max Contraction training. Max Contraction training requires only one “repetition” or, rather, contraction per exercise but it is quite possibly the most taxing weight lifting regime you will ever try. In each exercise, the muscle is brought to a fully contracted position and then held there for a maximum of 120 seconds. The workout is therefore virtually motionless and yet your muscles are noticeably hard at work. Here’s how it works:

Continue reading “Fitness Myth #5: The Dynamic Work Obligation”

Fitness Myth #4: The Selective Weight Loss Desideratum

Almost every day our members at the gym ask me things like: How do I lose weight on my [insert body part here]? Well, you don’t. You change your diet and exercise regimen so that your energy output is higher than your intake and then, sadly, your genetic makeup is going to decide how you slim down. Your whole body will be slimming down, of course, just some places more or faster than others depending on your body.
What this means is, if you have a large middle, torturing yourself with hundreds of sit-ups is not going to make your tummy flat. Similarly, if you have a large bottom, torturing yourself with hundreds of squats is not going to make your rear any smaller.
But now for the good news: Muscle tissue is never flabby, even if the muscle is not very developed. Fat tissue is flabby. Reduce the fat (everywhere!), reduce the wobble. No 100 sit-ups or squats required!

Fitness Myth #3: Sets and Reps

Have you ever gone to the gym and had to wait several minutes for some big dude to finally complete his fifth set and get off that machine you need? Annoying, right? And a waste of his and your time to boot.
How muscle growth works:
Your muscles contain two different types of muscle fibers. One type for longer work at a lower resistance level (slow-twitch) and one for shorter work at a higher resistance level (fast-twitch). To bulk up, you need to target the second type.
Targeting the fast-twitch fibers is accomplished by using high resistance and few repetitions because these are the fibers that can do some serious work but they get tired fast. Anything over 120 seconds time under tension means the weight was too low because you cannot work the fast-twitch fibers for this long.
So: Up the resistance to the point where you can do no more than a maximum of twelve slow repetitions and then get off the machine and give somebody else a chance. There is no benefit to doing more than one set like this. Exhaust your muscles properly the first time and the triggered growth hormones will do the rest.

Cut the Crap

When you buy packaged food at the store, it always comes with at least one strip of cardboard showing you what the food should look like cooked and what’s in it. An oven-bake pizza, for instance, comes with a strip of cardboard for the name, the picture, the nutrients listing, etc. and a strip of cardboard backing the pizza so it isn’t floppy when you take it from the shelf. The pizza itself is simply wrapped in saran wrap. Frankly, that is the only justified bit of soon-to-be garbage. It keeps the germs off your food. But what about all the cardboard? Sure, in theory, cardboard is recyclable. However, a lot of it will not be. This made me think: we all have access to the internet in this country. Why not sell pizzas (and other foods) packaged in the bare minimum and provide food information online? This idea is not new, either. Several companies in the food industry maintain websites with detailed information on their products. One of them is mcdonaldsmenu.info.

Fitness Myth #2: The Healthy Foods Misconception

Were you ever enjoying achocolate bar or some fries until someone remarked: “I don’t eat junk food, it makes you fat.”? Well, the good news is: they’re wrong.

Let’s take a look at what junk food really does:

Foods like candies, cakes, potato chips, onion rings, etc. are usually full of fuel our body needs but unfortunately this fuel consists mostly of so-called empty calories. This means that while these foods supply you with lots of energy, they do not supply you with any of the other things your body needs, such as protein, vitamins, and minerals. Also, they often contain unhealthy levels of simple sugars, saturated fats, salt, etc.

Why healthy foods aren’t always slim foods:
Even if you live exclusively on foods that are high in nutrients, this alone will not prevent weight gain. The problem is that many foods, while full of important nutrients, are also high-calorie. Most nuts, for example, have a higher calorie density than chocolate.

In short, a little junk food every now and then will not destroy your figure (or your health). The important thing to remember is that if your caloric intake is higher than your output, your body will store the excess in fat (even if that excess came from fresh avocados and whole wheat bread). So go ahead, have a cupcake and lose the guilt!

Fitness Myth #1: The Superkondi Phenomenon

As a professional trainer and group exercises instructor, I’ve decided to write a series of short myth busters concerning fitness, nutrition, etc. Today’s topic:
Superkondi (and similar group ex classes)
Superkondi is an hour of semi-synchronized, flailing arms and legs, bobbing heads, a shrill voice shouting commands, the sound of desperate panting and an overpowering stench of sweat. Overall, not a very pleasant affair. So why is regular attendance so high? Continue reading “Fitness Myth #1: The Superkondi Phenomenon”