Friday, September 30, 2011

Following a Cardio Plan for Weight Loss

1 of 7 in Series: The Essentials of Healthy Cardio Weight Loss

If your goal is permanent fat loss, you need to burn enough calories to make a significant impact. Here's why: In order to lose a pound in one week, you need to create a 3,500-calorie deficit; in other words, you need to burn off 3,500 more calories than you eat. A 30-minute power walk on flat ground burns about 120 calories. So, to burn off 1 pound of fat by walking, you'd have to hoof it for more than 2 hours a day.

Don't worry — no one should suggest that you exercise two hours every day! The best way to lose fat is to create a calorie deficit by burning calories through exercise and cutting calories you eat. (For information about keeping track of calories, see Counting Calories for Weight Loss.) For example, over the course of a week, you may cut 250 calories per day by switching from mayo to mustard on your sandwich at lunch and snacking on light yogurt instead of Fruit-on-the-Bottom. Meanwhile, you could burn an extra 250 calories a day by taking a one-hour walk or a half-hour jog.

Cardio exercise is only one part of a weight-loss plan. You also need to revamp your eating habits and embark on a weight-training program. Also, keep in mind that losing weight is not as easy as it sounds on TV diet commercials. It takes a lot more commitment than just drinking that delicious shake for breakfast. And it takes time. Don't try to lose more than 1/2 pound to 1 pound each week, and don't eat fewer than 1,200 calories per day (preferably more). On a super-low-calorie diet, you deprive your body of essential nutrients, and you have a tougher time keeping the weight off because your metabolism slows down. Realize, too, that genetics plays a large role in weight loss. It's easier for some people to lose weight than it is for others.

Here are some general cardio guidelines for weight loss. We suggest that you consult a registered dietitian and certified fitness trainer to come up with a plan best suited to your specific goals and schedule.

How often you need to do cardio for weight loss

Here's the cold, hard truth: You probably need to do five or six workouts a week.

How long your workouts should last for weight loss

Here's another dose of reality: You should aim for at least 45 minutes of exercise, a mix of cardio and strength training, six days per week. Again, you don't need to do all this sweating at once, but for the pounds to come off, the calories you burn need to add up.

How hard you need to push for weight loss

To make a serious dent in your fat-loss program, work out in your target zone most of the time. But keep in mind: If you're pretty darned "deconditioned," as the politically correct like to say, even exercising at 50 percent of your maximum heart rate can help build up your fitness level.

You may have heard that exercising at a slow pace is more effective for weight loss than working out more intensely. In fact, many cardio machines have "fat burning" programs that keep you at a slow pace. But this is misleading. As it turns out, the concept of a fat-burning zone is no more real than the Twilight Zone.

During low-intensity aerobic exercise, your body does use fat as its primary fuel source. As you get closer to your breaking point, your body starts using a smaller percentage of fat and a larger percentage of carbohydrates, another fuel source. However, picking up the pace allows you to burn more total calories, as well as more fat calories.

Here's how: If you go in-line skating for 30 minutes at a leisurely roll, you might burn about 100 calories — about 80 percent of them from fat (so that's 80 fat calories). But if you spend the same amount of time skating with a vengeance over a hilly course, you might burn 300 calories — 30 percent of them from fat (that's 90 fat calories). So at the fast pace, you burn more than double the calories and 10 more fat calories.

Of course, going faster and harder is not always better. If you're just starting out, you probably can't sustain a faster pace long enough to make it worth your while. If you go slower, you may be able to exercise a lot longer, so you'll end up burning more calories and fat that way.

Which activities burn the most calories

"Maximize your workout and burn over 1,000 calories per hour!" That's a claim you may see in advertisements for treadmills, stair-climbers, and other cardio machines. And it's true. You can burn 1,000 calories per hour doing those activities — if you crank up the machine to the highest level and if you happen to have bionic legs. If you're a beginner, you'll last about 30 seconds at that pace, at which point you will have burned 8.3 calories, and the paramedics will be scooping you off the floor and hauling your wilted body away on a stretcher.

There's a better approach to calorie burning: Choose an activity that you can sustain for a good while — say, at least 10 or 15 minutes. Sure, running burns more calories than walking, but if running wipes you out after a half mile or bothers your knees, you're better off walking.
Table 1 gives calorie estimates for a number of popular aerobic activities. The number of calories you actually burn depends on the intensity of your workout, your weight, your muscle mass, and your metabolism. (Calculate how your metabolism works in How to Measure Your Metabolic Rate.) In general, a beginner is capable of burning 4 or 5 calories per minute of exercise, while a very fit person can burn 10 to 12 calories per minute.

The table includes a few stop-and-go sports such as tennis and basketball. Activities like these are not aerobic in the truest sense, but they can still give you a great workout and contribute to good health and weight loss. The numbers in this chart apply to a 150-pound person. (If you weigh less, you'll burn a little less; if you weigh more, you'll burn a little more.)
Table 1: Calories Burned during Popular Activities
Activity 15 min. 30 min. 45 min. 60 min.
Aerobic dance 171 342 513 684
Basketball 141 282 432 564
Bicycling at 12 mph 142 283 425 566
Bicycling at 15 mph 177 354 531 708
Bicycling at 18 mph 213 425 638 850
Boxing 165 330 495 660
Circuit weight training 189 378 576 756
Cross-country skiing 146 291 437 583
Downhill skiing 105 210 315 420
Golf (carrying clubs) 87 174 261 348
In-line skating 150 300 450 600
Jumping rope, 60-80 skips/min. 143 286 429 572
Karate, tae kwon do 180 360 540 720
Kayaking 75 150 225 300
Racquetball 114 228 342 456
Rowing machine 104 208 310 415
Running 10-minute miles 183 365 548 731
Running 8-minute miles 223 446 670 893
Ski machine 141 282 423 564
Slide 152 304 456 608
Swimming freestyle, 35 yds/min. 124 248 371 497
Swimming freestyle, 50 yds/min. 131 261 392 523
Tennis, singles 116 232 348 464
Tennis, doubles 43 85 128 170
VersaClimber, 100 ft./min. 188 375 563 750
Walking, 20-minute miles, flat 60 120 180 240
Walking, 20-minute miles, hills 81 162 243 324
Walking, 15-minute miles, flat 73 146 219 292
Walking, 15-minute miles, hills 102 206 279 412
Water aerobics 70 140 210 280

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Work Your Abs in Just 15 Minutes

Tone and strengthen your abdominal muscles with 8 quick exercises.

Warm-up: Cat-Camel
After the warm-up, do each exercise once; work your way up to two sets. Finish with the cooldown.

Start on all fours with hands directly beneath shoulders and knees below hips (top illustration). Exhale and contract your abdominal muscles, rounding your spine up to the ceiling (bottom illustration). Tuck in your chin slightly and hold for 10 to 15 seconds. Next, exhale and arch your lower back and draw your chest and head upward; hold for 10 to 15 seconds. Return to the starting position and repeat the full move five to eight times.

Move 1: Bird-Dog
To work your six-pack area and back, remain on all fours and tighten your abdominal muscles, keeping your spine and neck in a neutral position; you should be looking at the floor (top illustration). Slowly extend your left leg behind you while reaching your right arm forward (bottom illustration). Keep your hips and shoulders square and make sure your lower back doesn’t arch. Hold for five seconds. Slowly return to the starting position and do the move on the opposite side. Complete 5 to 10 repetitions on each side.

Move 2: Stability-Ball Crunch
Strengthen your abs and obliques by sitting on a large ball with your feet flat on the floor (top illustration). Walk your feet forward, letting your entire back rest on the ball and keeping your thighs parallel to the floor. Cross your arms over your chest and slightly tuck in your chin (bottom illustration). Contract your abs and exhale as you raise your torso about 45 degrees. Pause, then lower, inhaling as you go. If you feel unstable, move your feet farther apart. Repeat 8 to 12 times.

Move 3: Front Plank
Lie on your stomach with arms bent, palms and forearms on the ground, fingers pointed forward, legs extended, and toes tucked under (top illustration). Work your back and abs by contracting your core muscles and slowly lifting your entire torso off the floor, keeping palms, forearms, and toes on the ground (bottom illustration). Avoid arching your lower back, hiking your hips upward, or shrugging your shoulders (in other words, cheating). Hold for 10 to 30 seconds, gradually building up to one minute.

Move 4: Bicycle
Lie on your back with fingertips behind ears, legs in the air, and knees pulled toward chest (top illustration). Target your sides and entire ab area by contracting as you lift your shoulder blades off the ground. Straighten your right leg at a 45-degree angle and rotate your upper body to the left, bringing the right elbow toward the left knee (bottom illustration). Switch sides by straightening your left leg, bending your right leg, and bringing the left elbow to the right knee. Alternate sides in a pedaling motion. Complete 8 to 12 full reps.

Move 5: Side Plank
Turn onto your right side with your legs extended and your feet and hips resting on the ground and stacked on top of each other (top illustration). Place your right elbow directly under your shoulder to prop up your torso, and align your head with your spine. Gently contract your core and lift your hips and knees off the floor; this strengthens your sides and deep ab muscles (bottom illustration). Hold for 10 to 30 seconds, gradually working up to a minute, and return to the starting position. Roll onto the other side and repeat.

Move 6: Reverse Crunch
To strengthen the entire ab area, lie on your back and extend your arms out to the side, or keep your hands behind your head if that’s more comfortable (top illustration). Raise your knees and feet so they create a 90-degree angle. Contract your abdominals and exhale as you lift your hips off the floor with control; your knees will move toward your head (bottom illustration). Try to keep your knees at a right angle. Inhale and slowly lower. Repeat 8 to 12 times.

Cooldown: Cobra
Lie on your stomach with your hands underneath your shoulders and your fingers pointing forward (top illustration). Keep your neck long. Gently exhale and lift your chest and torso upward to stretch your abdominals (bottom illustration). Press your hips into the ground. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds, breathing evenly, then slowly lower back to the floor.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Great Ways to Stick to your Workout

Dress the part
You know how when you get new shirt or dress, you're in a better mood to go out on a Saturday night? Well, the same can apply to working out. Putting on the same sweats and sports bra day after day can get old fast and become just another reason not to motivate. So once a month, treat yourself to a new piece of fitness fashion. Before you know it, you'll be in such great shape, you'll find yourself in the dressing room trying on those itty bitty Spandex shorts you swore you'd never be caught dead in. Because damn, you look good in them.

Buddy up
You've no doubt heard it before: Having a friend to work out makes you more apt to stick to your fitness plan. So do it. And for extra motivation, make a pact: Each one of you sets up an "I'm lazy" jar. Then, whenever someone bails, she has to put $5 in her jar. When her jar gets up to $20 (four missed workouts), she has to buy you a gift with the dough. And vice versa.

Keep your iPod fresh
There's nothing worse than going through an hour-long workout in silence. Except maybe suffering through bad music that the gym blasts over their speakers. Or the same old music that you've had on rotation on your iPod for weeks. So create a high-energy playlist of stuff you like on your iPod--and remember to change it up every week to stay motivated

Steer clear of the scale
Fitness experts will tell you not to weigh yourself regularly--when you build muscle, your poundage may go up before it goes down, which can be frustrating and motivation killing. If you know that, then you probably already tossed your own scale out the window. Yet there it is, the mother of all scales, mocking you in the locker room at the gym. This one, you can't get rid of. So just treat it like a cheesecake: If you must indulge, do it only once in a great while. Like, once every eight weeks.

Shake things up
Most gyms offer group classes in everything from yoga, to spinning, to hip-hop to African dance. Tell yourself you'll try one new thing every week, to break up your normal routine. Yeah, you may end up hating belly dancing, but by the time you're at home saying, "I hated that belly dancing class," you'll have 60 minutes of cardio under your belt.

Make it cost you
Even if you already have a routine and know which machines to use and how, pay for a personal trainer. Since most of them charge you if you cancel last minute, you’ll be less inclined to recline on the sofa watching Wife Swap instead of hitting the gym like you’d planned. Sure, times are tough for most of us financially. But that means you should be cutting back on unnecessary costs—and your health doesn’t fit the bill.

Rise to the occasion
Literally. Get up an hour earlier three days a week and work out first thing in the morning, before work. If you plan to go after work, it's a lot easier to tell yourself you had an especially exhausting day and throw in the towel.

Have a "lazy day" backup plan
Invest in the basics for a quick at-home workout: an exercise mat and two 5-pound free weights. That way, when you really don't feel like making the trip to the gym, you'll have the resources to spend 30 minutes flexing your muscles at home. Even if you do fewer crunches, lunges, and bicep curls at home, it's better than skipping out on your workout altogether.

Bribe yourself
It's always easier to get through something you don't want to do when you have something to look forward to after. On weekends, plan something fun post-workout. Tell yourself you'll stop for a pedicure on the way home from the gym, or plan a girls' night out for that evening. That way, the gym will be just a stop on the way to something else you're actually looking forward to.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Why Eating a Low-Fat Diet Doesn’t Lead to Weight Loss

Posted By Mark Hyman, MD On June 16, 2010 @ 2:29 pm In Articles,UltraWellness Library
[1]DESPITE THE COMMON observation that obesity runs in families, genetic research shows that the habits you inherit from your family are more important than the genes you inherit. Obesity genes account for only five percent of all weight problems. Then, we have to wonder, what causes the other 95 percent of weight problems?
We are seeing an epidemic of obesity in America today. It is the single most important public health issue facing us. If genes do not account for obesity, perhaps it is our high-fat diet that is to blame. That has been the common belief in our society since nutritional low fat guidelines were pushed upon us in the 1970′s. It seems logical that eating fat makes you fat. Fat contains nine calories per gram, so it would seem that eating more fat (and more calories) would make you gain weight. But that’s not what the science reveals.
After you eat a high-carbohydrate meal, your insulin spikes and your blood sugar plummets — making you very hungry. That is why you crave more carbs, more sugar and eat more the whole day.
Pioneering research by Harvard Medical School’s David Ludwig reveals the reason that low-fat diets do not work — and identifies the true cause of obesity for most Americans. Dr. Ludwig’s research explains the real reasons 70 percent of Americans are overweight. In the 1980′s not one state had an obesity rate over 20 percent. In 2010, ONLY one state has an obesity rate UNDER 20 percent. This is not a genetic problem.

What the Research Tells Us about Dietary Fat
In a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (i [2]) Dr. Ludwig correctly points out that careful review of all the studies on dietary fat and body fat — such as those done by Dr. Walter Willett of the Harvard School of Public Health — have shown that dietary fat is not a major determinant of body fat.

Let me repeat that.

Dietary fat is not a major determinant of body fat.
The Women’s Health Initiative, which is the largest clinical trial of diet and body weight, found that 50,000 women on low-fat diets had no significant weight loss. Yet another study looked at people who followed four different diets for 12 months — and found no dramatic differences between those who followed low-fat, low-carb and very- low-carb diets.
The question then is, why aren’t we seeing any significant effects or differences from these various diets? The main reason, Dr. Ludwig suggests, is that we are looking for answers in the wrong place.

The future of treating obesity and weight is in personalizing our approach. This is the approach I wrote about in my book UltraMetabolism. It’s called nutrigenomics. It is the science of how we can use food to influence our genes and personalize our approach to health, and it is the science my practice is based on. Let me share how I diagnose and treat obesity.

A Better Way to Diagnose and Treat Obesity
Over the last 15 years, I have tested almost every one of my patients using a test that most doctors never use. In fact, it is even harder to find in the research, except in this pioneering work by Dr. Ludwig.

This test is cheap, easy to do and it is probably the most important test for determining your overall health, the causes for obesity, and your risk of diabetes, heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s and premature aging. Yet it is a test your healthcare provider probably does not perform, does not know how to interpret and often thinks is useless.

Thankfully, Dr. Ludwig’s research brings this critical method of diagnosing the cause of obesity and disease to the forefront. You see, in two recent studies, he found that the main factor that determines changes in body weight and waist circumference (also known as belly fat) is how your body responds to any type of sugar, carbohydrate or glucose load.

The most important test to determine this doesn’t measure your blood sugar or cholesterol. It tests your insulin level. You have to check it after drinking a sugary beverage that contains 75 grams of glucose. This test has shown me more about my patients than any other test. It helps me personalize and customize a nutritional approach for them.

And its usefulness is now being borne out in this research by Dr. Ludwig and his colleagues. In one study, for example, Dr. Ludwig and his colleagues followed 276 people for six years.(ii [3]) They performed a glucose tolerance test at the beginning of the study and looked at insulin concentrations 30 minutes after the people consumed a sugary drink. This gave the researchers a rough estimate of whether they were high or low insulin secretors.

During the course of the study, they looked at the people’s body weight and waist circumference or belly fat. They found that those who were the highest insulin secretors had the biggest change in weight and belly fat compared to the low insulin secretors. And people who were high insulin secretors and ate low-fat diets did even worse.

This makes perfect sense — because insulin does two things:
1. It stimulates hunger.
2. It is a fat storage hormone, which makes you store belly fat.

After you eat a high-carbohydrate meal, your insulin spikes and your blood sugar plummets — making you very hungry. That is why you crave more carbs, more sugar and eat more the whole day.

Dr. Ludwig also found that the patients who ate a low glycemic load diet — which lowers blood sugar and keeps insulin levels low — had much higher levels of HDL “good” cholesterol and much lower levels of triglycerides. It appears that the best way to address your cholesterol is not necessarily to eat a low-fat diet, but to eat a low glycemic load diet, which keeps your blood sugar even.
I highly recommend reviewing Dr. Ludwig’s research on PubMed [4], the National Library of Medicine’s database, to learn more about his exciting and pioneering work. I also encourage you to read his book, Ending the Food Fight [5]. It is the first and only roadmap for dealing with our exploding childhood obesity epidemic.

Finally, I encourage you to ask your physician to do a glucose tolerance test and measure your insulin and blood sugar at 30 minutes, one hour, and two hours to get the best picture of your insulin profile.
If you are a high insulin secretor and your insulin goes over 30 at a half hour, one hour, or two hours, you produce too much insulin and need to be sure you are staying on a low glycemic load, whole-foods, unprocessed diet, which I describe in UltraMetabolism. This is essential if you want to lose weight and achieve lifelong vibrant health.

The bottom line is simple this …
If you want to fit into your jeans, you have to fit into your genes.
Now I’d like to hear from you…
What seems to trigger weight gain for you?
How have different diets worked for you?
Have you ever had you insulin and blood sugar tested?
Please let me know your thoughts by leaving a comment.
To your good health,
Mark Hyman, M.D.

(i) Ebbeling C.B., Leidig M.M., Feldman H.A., Lovesky M.M., and D.S. Ludwig. (2007). Effects of a low-glycemic load vs low-fat diet in obese young adults: A randomized trial. JAMA. 297(19):2092-102
(ii) Chaput J.P., Tremblay A., Rimm E.B., Bouchard C., and D.S. Ludwig. (2008). A novel interaction between dietary composition and insulin secretion: Effects on weight gain in the Quebec Family Study. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 87(2):303-9

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