10 conclusions on weight loss
These are my conclusions based on the research that I've done over the past two years (both reading and my own experimentation) concerning weight loss and general fitness.
* Max heart rate is [220 - your age]. Example: 220-34=186 beats per minute (bpm).
1. Moderate exercise is great for maintaining your current weight but does little for a person trying to lose weight unless he or she does it in excess (at least 6-8 hours a week). Most test groups who have been on low calorie diets alone have done just about as well as test groups combining low calorie diets with moderate aerobic exercise. (moderate zone is about 40-60% of your max heart rate)
2. High intensity training for a short duration (like, say a half an hour instead of an hour) burns more overall calories than moderate training even though less of a percentage of the calories burnt are from fat rather than sugars. You end up burning just as much fat due to the increased amount of calories. Still, regardless of intensity, for the first 3 minutes of training you are burning mainly lactic acids and for the next 12 minutes you are burning mainly sugar. You'd have to warm up for 15 minutes before doing this half an hour of intensity to make it count as much as the hour of moderate exercise. (Medium/high zone is about 65-75% of your max heart rate)
In other words, it doesn't equal out. If you did high intensity for 45 minutes it would equal out. Still, at a continuous high intensity you release cortisone which is counter productive for fat loss. Also, you burn away a lot of your muscle as well as fat when you overtrain near the anaerobic level. Less muscle means you burn less fat throughout the day and throughout your training.
3. Building muscle makes your metabolism burn fat at a higher rate. In other words, lifting weights helps you become more efficient at burning fat. You should only work each body part once or twice a week with weight training because your muscles need recovery time. If you have a fast metabolism as it is then once a week is better to avoid catabolism (eating your muscle gains). You can split up your upper body and legs into two separate days and weight train twice a week. You can do arms one day, core one day and legs another day. Whatever. It depends on your strategy and goals.
4. Interval training (High Intensity Interval Training or HIIT) seems to give you the best of both worlds. "Bookending" your high intensity training avoids the build up of cortisone by putting only two short and very high intensity bursts (80-85% max heart rate) near the beginning and end of your routine and using variations of moderate to medium/high intensity levels throughout the routine. These variations seem to keep your body guessing and the result is that you don't adjust to a certain intensity. This makes your cardio more productive and you burn more fat.
5. Circuit training is not an intensity level. Rather it is just a few exercises you do in a row with a short rest between laps. You can do circuit training (like any other exercise) at high intensity, moderate or you can use intervals. It's different from plain rowing or plain riding a bike or whatever because you don't give your body a chance to adjust to a certain exercise. Circuit training jumps from exercise to exercise and interval training alters the intensity throughout your routine. Combining both types of variation in your routine is going to burn the most fat.
5. Diet is the most important thing in weight loss. You have to burn more fat calories (not just any calories) than you are taking in through your diet. Once you have lost the weight you can maintain your body weight with moderate exercise but losing it requires a lot of hard work and discipline. Don't eat junk food or drink soda or beer. Only eat when you are hungry. Make your snacks healthy stuff like fruit or yogurt.
6. Cardio should be done around two to three times a week for 40 minutes to an hour. Weight training should also be done around one or two times a week for 30 minutes to an hour. Cardio benefits go beyond weight loss. Cardio strengthens your heart and lungs. It improves your overall health. You should not overtrain or undertrain. Overtraining will result in deterioration of muscle and stress on your body. Undertraining will reduce your benefits to the point that it's not worth the time. Pay attention to your body and take a day off when you need to take a day off. Keep yourself anchored with at least one day that you try to never miss (and make up for it when you do miss it) throughout the week.
7. Some protein supplements and diet drugs may be safe but I don't know. Make sure you do detailed research on any supplement or medication you are thinking about taking before you take it.
8. You have to sleep. Sleep is important for overall health. A person actually burns more calories sleeping than they do when they are awake.
9. Remember that you are working out for your health. It isn't just for vanity or recreation. Your health is one of the most important aspects of your quality of life. Forget about how you look on the beach. Just do it so you can live a longer and more enjoyable life. Be realistic and reasonable. Have fun. Don't hurt yourself. Make sure it is improving your life and not adding a burden. Don't stress out over it. You aren't required to look like someone in a magazine. Just be yourself and be good at it. Do your best.
10. Don't give up. You aren't going to see results in the first week or two. You've got to keep at it. Chart your progress long-term. Don't give up if you slide backwards here and there. Just remember that you'd have slid back even further if you weren't trying. Keep at it. The habit you are building is more important than the results you get on any given day.
Moderate exercise helps a little but diet is the main thing. High intensity isn't more effective than moderate intensity. Interval training and mixing exercises (or circuit training) both seem to make your routine more efficient. The main thing for weight loss is diet though. Cardio should be done for overall health and maintanance. It's hard to lose weight but give it time and it will happen if you are consistant with your diet and exercise.
Last edited by 9chambers; 11/03/2005 4:52pm at .
Make this into an article.
Maybe add something on why spot reduction is a myth and impossible without liposuction.
Yea, it's hard to believe they still market stuff for "spot reduction" on television. I mean, ... it's been proven to be a false notion for such a long time. No matter what exercise you do, you burn fat all over your body. You don't have to do a different exercise for each area and doing only exercises for a "problem area" doesn't make a difference. Just do general exercises that move you around a lot and eat right. Toning, however, ... you can focus on and tone different muscles. All that really means is specific muscles can be made to grow and become more firm through weight training. It has no effect on fat loss in a specific area.
* I put some stuff together on diet too.
Diet: (meal size and frequency)
The best diet information I've read over the past few years has led me to conclude that frequency of meals and the quantity of food are the two most important aspects of diet. Eating 5-6 small meals a day (instead of 2-3 large meals) is recommended. Losing weight all comes down to the amount that you eat in one sitting.
In other words, if you eat more than you can burn in a couple of hours then your body is going to either store it as fat excrete it. Anyway, if you eat something small every two hours or so then you are fine. Just don't eat big meals that stuff you. Spread out your intake so that your body has time to process what you are eating instead of storing it as fat. You could actually end up eating more than you do now and weighing less by following this simple rule of thought.
Rule: Don't eat any meal so big that you can't burn it off in a couple of hours. Eat something small every couple of hours instead.
It's not bad to be hungry or to eat. It's just bad to dump a bucket of food in there all at once. A bucket of food spread out over the course of a day is a better idea. Now, what you eat for these 5-6 small meals or "snacks" should be healthy. Potato chips are loaded with fat so eat Mariani apple chips or an apple instead. I keep a thing of yogurt in the fridge for snacks. Whenever I feel hungry I go eat a few spoons of that, some cheese or some thin lean sliced corned beef which I'll just eat without bread. That takes care of keeping enough protein in there. I also try to have some fruit around. I also take vitamins to make up for anything I'm missing but I like vegetables so I don't miss too many vitamins. I also eat some cereal here and there. It's made from wheat and honey. I guess oats are better for you but I like wheat for some reason. Whatever. No problem.
One last thing. People say you shouldn't eat before you go to bed but they are wrong. You burn more calories asleep than you do when you are awake. I always eat something small before I go to bed to keep my body from going into a starved state. When your body goes a long time without any food (day or night) it starts eating muscle tissue and storing fat for later. That's why it is best to just eat something small and healthy every two hours or so. It's the size of the meal, not the frequency, that gets you. Unless you frequently eat chips and soda. Then it will get you because that stuff is loaded with calories.
* People get upset when I say it's okay to have a small snack before bed so here are some guys who do this for a living saying it's okay to eat before bed:
Anyway, I didn't say to eat a big meal. Just a small snack consisting mainly of protein. Like I said, nothing you can't burn off in a couple of hours. You aren't going to be eating for a good 8 hours while you sleep so something small can help you. Anyway, you can find an "expert" to say whatever you want these days. The best thing to do is try it out for yourself. I eat before bed and I always weigh less in the morning than I did in the evening or before bed so that's my evidence that it doesn't hurt me to eat before bed. I can't sleep if I'm really hungry anyway. It may not work for you. Whatever. Try it out. Some people might have bad dreams if they eat before bed.
What I'm saying is to replace your 3 big meals with 6 small snack size meals. Spread your intake out over more of the day instead of loading up all at once. Also, make it healthy food instead of chips and soda. In fact, get water instead of soda whenever you go out to eat.
* If you want a real expert's opinion on diet and exercise, you might try Tom Venuto's e-book. His stuff is the most well researched stuff I have seen anywhere. Here is a link: http://www.burnthefat.com/?hop=cfinn
* Also, the book Eat More, Weigh Less by Dr. Dean Ornish comes highly recommended.
Anyway, I'm making a lot of progress and I'm happy about it. A lot of people on Bullshido helped me find this information over the past few years so I'm not trying to act like I came up with all of it myself. This is just what I think I've learned from reading and trying stuff out on myself.
Last edited by 9chambers; 11/04/2005 8:06pm at .
So that whole "Stress causes cortisol to be released and you get fat" commercial for that whatever pill is bullshit?
Originally Posted by 9chambers
Oh, and thanks for posting all this dude, good work. You should make it into an article too once you get it all together..
From what I've read on cortisol, in men it contributes to a pot belly. I've read a couple of fitness guys saying pretty much what the commercial says. I don't know if I'd take a drug to correct it though. All the money you spend on it could cause more stress. :P
Fat gets reduced around your body at a uniform rate. No drug or specific exercise can focus on burning just the fat around the gut. The drug they are selling on TV claims to reduce the production of cortisol or something like that. That wouldn't do anything to get rid of a gut that is already there. If anything, it would maybe keep it from getting bigger strictly due to high cortisol levels... it would still get bigger due to eating a lot though.
* Some links on cortisol's contribution to the gut:
There is an association with lifestyle, worry, cortisol levels, and abdominal girth. Those who were found to have the highest levels of chronic stress had the highest levels of cortisol and VAT [255-257]. This is supported by evidence that a number of medications, including prednisone, may cause an excess of cortisol and insulin resistance. Taken orally, cortisol raises blood pressure, and it has been shown to impair brachial artery blood flow in response to an acetylcholine challenge, i.e., an indicator of endothelial dysfunction [88,255,257-262]. Even brief episodes of mental stress, such as those encountered in daily life, may cause transient endothelial dysfunction even in young, healthy individuals ([263,264]. In turn, subsequent cytokine release may increase anxiety and have negative effects on emotional and memory functions . Psychological stress has also been demonstrated to acutely reduce clearance of triglycerides , which could contribute to CNS leptin resistance . ...
The potbelly has been the subject of countless scientific studies. In Boston, researchers identified an enzyme that causes fat to accumulate in the abdomen. In England, scientists are hunting for a "beer-gut gene." And Swedish researchers found that stress causes the body to produce cortisol, a hormone that encourages the storage of fat in the gut.
Unfortunately, having a few drinks to relieve your stress doesn't help: Alcohol also causes the body to produce cortisol.
Too much stress can contribute to a potbelly. Stress increases levels of cortisol, a hormone that seems to direct fat to our middle, says Jacob Seidell, PhD, of the National Institute of Public Health in Bilthoven, Netherlands.
Last edited by 9chambers; 11/04/2005 8:30pm at .
I counted 11.
EDIT: Now that I finished reading...
Good stuff. I hate the mainstream ideas about weight and losing it. It's BS. Maybe mention in the weight lifting part that you might gain weight, but you're losing fat, which is your goal.
Last edited by Poop Loops; 11/04/2005 9:13pm at .
Try not to rely solely on online articles though. You need to see the results yourself from a medical journal. www.pubmed.com has many of them. I've used the journals to create my own supplement stack which is working very well for preserving muscle while I lose weight.
A couple other things to add...
Weight lifting or other high intensive activities such as sprinting can increase your metabolism for 48 hours. When you're doing cardio, it only increases for the next 30 minutes after you are done. This is due to the need for recovery. When your muscles are in recovery mode they need a lot of food. Weight lifting is not required for losing fat, but the more muscle you build, the more calories you can consume while losing weight because the muscles require more food to maintain. I went from 185 to 160 twice over 2 years with little weight lifting and basically looked exactly the same, just with slightly less body fat. This third time I'm now lifting hard and at 173 I have as little fat as I did at 160 the last time and a lot more muscle.
Eating 5-6 meals a day can really help someone control their calorie intake by reducing meal sizes and sticking to an actual plan. Sticking to a plan is the most critical thing of all. It does increase your metabolism but again, not nearly as significant as weight lifting. Plus it's important to know that even when you're eating 5-6 meals a day you can and will go hungry. Mental toughness also plays such a key role. I've gone as long as 7 hours without eating. It's not good due to catabolism but your body will accept whatever food you give it in a 24 hour time frame. The supplements that I take reduce the body's feed on muscles during this time. Plus the building of mental toughness is what's important.
About the myths of spot reduction. Everyone loses weight differently. You lose fat everywhere at the same time but some places faster than others. I personally lose weight first in the belly (I hardly do any ab work) but my facial fat is the last to go. At 10% I still have a double chin.
I agree with you about eating before bed. Having a small snack before bed can actually improve your weight loss by slowing catabolism. I like to have a glass of milk or two. It contains a bit of casein protein that is slowly absorbed over 7 hours. Especially when I do not eat for the last 4-5 hours in a day in an effort to reduce total calories and build mental toughness, going a total of 12-13 hours of not eating would be a bad idea.
About catabolism. Do not work out on an empty stomach, especially in the morning. You may burn some fat but when your body is starving and you are trying to get energy from it, it's going to want to preserve fat in order to survive so you will burn a lot of muscle this way. I've heard the opposite so many times but it's absurd. The body will always do what's in your best interest to survive.
One last one. Fat doesn't turn into muscle so you can't "tone" your body the way that they imply. You can have a well defined/TONED six pack under all of that fat. It takes losing the fat for them to show. It's very difficult to build muscle but very easy to lose it. If you're doing a super high rep very low weight "toning" workout all you are doing is building muscle very slowly while doing what's basically cardio to lose the fat. If tone is what you want, you'll get there much faster by lifting heavier weights and doing actual cardio. It's hard to bulk up even when you're trying hard (especially for women) but even if you do, stop lifting and up the cardio and you will get that "tone" in half the amount of time.
I'm really becoming convinced that modifying diet is the most important factor. (#5)
I have lost 22 pounds since May 05 and have not really done any structured exercise since early June.
I just switched back to a Pritikin style diet and cut out the junk... I drink more water now and take fiber supplements.
Building back some muscle will probably put more 'weight' on me but will be healthier than bodyfat.