by Nashville personal trainer Dan DeFigio
1) STAY OFF THE SCALE.
A scale is a very poor indicator of health or fat levels. Lots of things affect your weight – muscle mass, bone density, water retention, stomach content. You shouldn’t be concerned with how heavy you are, you should be concerned about how fat you are. Use a bodyfat test to ensure that your training and nutrition regimens are stimulating your body to utilize fat and not to lose muscle. Remember, the scale means nothing – if you want to lose fat, then measure your body’s fat content so you know if what you’re doing is working.
2) AVOID INSULIN BURSTS.
When you eat too much too quickly, or any time your blood sugar levels skyrocket (after eating high glycemic carbs, for example), your body releases an insulin burst to control your blood sugar levels. High insulin levels prevent you from utilizing bodyfat for energy. The liver turns excess insulin into triglycerides which are promptly deposited as MORE bodyfat! Some strategies to keeping stable blood sugar/insulin levels:
- Eat small amounts of food every three hours. Three squares a day tend to give you the insulin roller coaster we’re trying to avoid.
- Avoid refined sugars – eat vegetables, fruits, and whole grains for your carbohydrates.
- Try to combine protein, carbs, and fat together each time you eat. Protein and fat slow down the release of sugar into the bloodstream.
- Eat a high fiber diet (Over 30 grams/day). Fiber helps to regulate insulin metabolism.
- Maintain chromium levels (through whole grains and supplements)
- Maintain proper levels of omega-3 fatty acids (which aid in insulin metabolism). Easy sources are cold water fish and flax oil.
3) MAINTAIN OR INCREASE MUSCLE MASS.
The mitochondria in the muscle cells are the furnaces in which bodyfat is burned. If your diet or cardio work is stripping off muscle tissue, you are sabotaging your body’s ability to burn fat. Weight training preserves or increases your muscle mass, making it progressively easier to burn fat. Adequate dietary protein is also vital to maintaining muscle tissue. You must maintain or increase muscle mass to lower body fat percentage.
4) INCREASE YOUR ACTIVITY.
Walk or ride a bike instead of driving. Use stairs instead of elevators. Take the dog for a walk instead of sitting in from of the TV after dinner. Any low level cardiorespiratory activity uses stored bodyfat for energy. The more you move around during the day, the more fat your body uses for fuel.
5) AVOID SATURATED FATS.
In addition to wreaking havoc on your arteries, saturated fats (such as those found in fatty meats, whole dairy, and chocolate) are virtually worthless from a nutrition standpoint. They are almost immediately converted into bodyfat. Saturated fats should make up no more than 10% of your daily calories.
6) DON’T TRY TO LOSE FAT TOO QUICKLY.
The body constantly monitors its fat level with chemical messengers that warn the brain when too much fat is lost. Because of this, you have to shift your fat levels down very slowly to avoid having your body take defensive chemical action. Losing fat too quickly, or reducing your caloric intake too drastically causes your body to slow its metabolism, increase its fat storage, and increase your appetite to protect its fat stores. Slow fat loss is permanent fat loss, and over the course of twelve or eighteen months, you can reset your body’s fat point without arousing a single bodily defense.
7) DON’T “DIET” – COMMERCIAL OR OTHERWISE.
There are many problems arising from dieting, all of which occur because they do not follow any of the principles of nutrition science. Diets are concerned with losing weight instead of the proper approach of reducing bodyfat. They strip off vital muscle, which is the primary body component that burns fat in the first place. Any diet or exercise program that reduces muscle mass is a recipe for failure. Diets attempt to take off weight far too fast, thereby throwing the body into a defensive, fat-preserving condition. Diets stimulate the body to accumulate fat once the diet is stopped. Undereating causes rapid muscle tissue cannibalization, slowed basal metabolic rate, and an increase in the body’s production of an enzyme that collects and stores fat. The net result is higher bodyfat percentage, illness, nutritional deficiency, and a ravenous appetite that quickly returns every ounce of flab, plus a little extra for “insurance”. Be concerned with eating better, not necessarily eating less.
8) SUPPLEMENT PROPERLY.
Most fat loss products are worthless, but there are a couple of helpful supplements available. Chromium is vital to the insulin drive (use the picolinate form). L-Carnitine moves fat into the mitochondria of the muscle cells to be oxidized for energy. Hydroxycitric acid (HCA) helps maximize L-carnitine transport, and acts as a mild appetite suppressant. A multi-vitamin/mineral supplement will ensure adequate levels of nutrients that are required for fat burning, and will prevent your body from increasing your appetite to make up for nutritional deficiencies. Contact us for high-quality nutrition products that are available at a discount.
IMPORTANT: These and all supplements must be taken in the proper form and in correct dosages to be safe and effective. Some of the available forms are worthless, or even toxic! Consult a qualified sports nutritionist before beginning any supplementation.
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