Sunday, June 29, 2008

Workout Calorie Burning for Fat Loss

Here's another calorie burning workout myth I exposed in my old column in Men's Fitness magazine:

Myth: I need to burn 300 calories each workout to lose fat.

Truth:
Possibly one of the worst inventions for fat loss was the calorie-counting monitor on treadmills, elliptical machines, and stairmasters.

Because of these, millions of men and women now obsess about the number of calories burned per session. You've probably even been one of those people, watching it creep up ever so slowly during a slow-cardio session. All the while knowing that you can wipe out a 30-minute, 300-calorie treadmill session with one fell swoop of the Krispy Kreme hand.

Too many people are brainwashed into thinking that if they don't burn 300-500 calories per session, then they won't lose fat. After all, that is what you've been told time and time again in those fluffy fitness/fashion magazines.

The problems with this approach to fat loss are numerous. First off, it's difficult to say if the calorie counters are even accurate. A story on CBS news showed that cardio machines overestimate calorie burning by up to 20%.

Next, depending on slow cardio for advanced fat loss is relatively useless and at the very least, inefficient. It takes a long time for you to burn a lot of calories and one study showed that men who only used cardio training for weight loss ended up with a reduced resting metabolism.

You are basically undoing the calorie burning by depending only on cardio. On the other hand, guys in the same study that used strength training didn't suffer a reduced metabolic rate.

So what is the solution to burning fat in a faster, more efficient method? The answer is to use strength and interval training to burn fewer calories in less exercise time, but with a more intense form of exercise.

Your body will burn more calories after exercise (when you use intervals) than it does after you do slow cardio and your metabolism will stay high. Some experts refer to this as the afterburn effect. How do you do intervals? Well, you could sprint for 30 seconds and rest for 90 seconds and repeat that for 6 sets - using the bike preferably or treadmill if you are experienced with it.

Within that short time frame the intervals will cause your muscles to go crazy with activity (I call it a metabolic turbulence). This crazy metabolism boost causes lots of calorie burning after exercise to get your body back to normal. The result is you would end up burning more fat and more calories in the post-exercise period as your body tries to get things under control.

Now there is one time where you'd want to count calories, but that is when you are counting up and determining how many calories you eat per day. Again, you can wipe out an entire workout's work in less than a minute simply by eating garbage. Without some structure and discipline to your nutrition, there is nothing that even my programs can do to help you lose fat.

So exercise nutrition control and interval training. These are the two anti-calorie counting methods that will help you lose fat and get lean.

Click here to learn more about the 5 Myths of Fat Loss...

Helping you cut through the fat loss clutter to get more results in less time,

Craig Ballantyne, CSCS, MS
Click Here for the Truth About Fat Loss

Research Proven Fat Loss Supplements?

The shocking truth about the best supplements for fat loss is, "they don't really work". I'm not convinced any supplement speeds fat loss or boosts your metabolism, or otherwise magically leads to more fat burning.

I have not been impressed by supplement research or by talking to people who have used supplements. Supplements are generally worthless for boosting metabolism and burning body fat.

I strongly believe all fat burning pills are useless, unless you need some caffeine to stay awake. Why is it that I've never met a person who has had success with a fat burning pill? Everyone I've ever talked to has yet to see results from these so-called "fat burners".

It doesn't matter if it contains Green Tea (recently shown to be ineffective for weight loss), CLA (full of conflicting research about its effectiveness), or any other glorified caffeine pill, your diet pill is probably not helping you with weight loss.

What about detox supplements?

Also, not going to result in long term weight loss. You need a simple 5-step nutrition plan, like my 5 simple rules for fat loss, and a fast fat burning workout program you can do in the comfort of your own home.

But what about the generally recommended supplements, like protein, creatine, and post-workout shakes?

They aren't all they are said to be either...

Personally, I don't expect to have another protein drink or protein bar ever again. Like most people, I can easily eat all the protein I need from whole, natural foods.

However, if you find it impossible to get all your daily protein intake from meat, beans, and nuts, you might benefit from a protein shake when trying to lose weight and burn fat. So a protein powder is an optional supplement.

On the other hand, I find post-workout drinks from supplement stores to be a waste of money. After all, these drinks are just protein and carbohydrate, which you can get from real food.

Creatine can help a muscle-gaining workout plan. But you just need the plain creatine powder - not any of these new fancy creatines (that are unproven!).

While I'm against supplements for fat loss, supplements can be of real value for health purposes.
I use a fish oil supplement, a Greens Plus product, and a multi-vitamin/mineral. And the last two are probably redundant given my diet, since I could make a strong claim for "most broccoli eaten by a human being on a daily basis".

The bottom line: Most muscle building, detox supplements, diet pills, and fat burning supplements are not worth the money. Real food is the key to getting the body, and health, you desire. However, if you have a hard time eating a variety of fish or getting all your fruits and vegetables, you might benefit from health supplements.

Instead, save your money and learn how to eat for fat loss using whole natural foods, combined with a quick, home fitness workouts for fat loss.

Helping you cut through the fat loss clutter to get more results in less time,

Craig Ballantyne, CSCS, MS
Click Here for the Truth About Fat Loss

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Truth About Failed Diets

People fail at losing weight not because of genetics or circumstances, but because of Saturday and Sunday.

You know it as well as I do, the weekends kill your progress. You go from lean machine to couch potato. And a very well fed couch potato at that.

After all, Monday to Friday you are a fat burning robot.

You work out first thing in the morning, eat breakfast, have a high-protein salad for lunch, a healthy afternoon snack, and then a sensible dinner. It all adds up to a pound of fat loss per week.

Or so it should, if it were not for the 2 fat loss killers, Saturday and Sunday.

Researchers from the Washington University School of Medicine recruited 48 men and women and put them on a year long weight loss program.

(Reference: Obesity (Silver Spring). 2008 Jun 12. [Epub ahead of print]Related Articles Influence of Weekend Lifestyle Patterns on Body Weight. Racette SB, Weiss EP, Schechtman KB, Steger-May K, Villareal DT, Obert KA, Holloszy JO.)

At the start of the program, subjects were already gaining weight on weekends while losing weight during the week.

Why?

Researchers say that subjects reported eating more on Saturdays, and exercising less on Sundays.

During the study, half of the subjects were put on a calorie-restricted diet while the other half was put on an exercise program.

Both groups lost weight during the week, but weekends stopped both groups of subjects from losing weight.

That’s because both groups ended up eating more calories on the weekend.

As a result, the researchers concluded that many exercise and diet programs fail because of weekend lifestyle behaviors.

Here's what you need to do to prevent this weekend weight gain from catching up with you.

First, identify all the problems that come up on weekends that cause you to eat more or exercise less.

Second, brainstorm two solutions for each one of these problems.

If you plan and prepare your weekends just as hard as you do for your weekdays, you'll continue to lose fat week in and week out.

Helping you cut through the fat loss clutter to get more results in less time,

Craig Ballantyne, CSCS, MS

Click Here for the Truth About Fat Loss

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Meal Replacement Bar Scam

The other night after filming a set of workout videos at a friend's gym, I reviewed the plethora of meal replacement energy bars at the front counter and thought, "What a scam".

Some were made with all natural ingredients, while others contained numerous chemicals, but all contained about 250-300 calories.

As I reviewed the labels, I told my videographer about the energy bar paradox (aka scam).

Each of these bars, I said, was advertised to replace a meal. But as anyone who has ever eaten one knows, these bars never fill you up. As a result, you are still hungry and end up eating more calories to calm your appetite.

In contrast, for 300 calories, you could have eaten 3 large apples, and that is guaranteed to fill you up for hours. So that's the energy bar paradox. They don't do what they are claimed to do.

In fact, Brazilian researchers compared apples, pears, and oat cookies (a type of meal replacement snack) in their ability to reduce appetite. Four hundred and eleven women were put into three groups and instructed to eat one of the foods three times per day plus three regular meals.

(Reference: Weight Loss Associated With a Daily Intake of 3 Apples or 3 Pears Among Overweight Women. Appetite. Volume 51, Issue 2, September 2008, Pages 291-295)

After 12 weeks, the subjects eating the pears or apples lost over 2.5 pounds, significantly more than the oat cookie group (and with no other diet instruction or exercise program). The fruit eaters also significantly lowered blood sugar levels.

So if you are looking for a snack to fill you up between meals, go with apples or pears. Apples are more portable than pears, and can be taken on airplanes with you as well. Skip the so-called energy bars.

Helping you cut through the fat loss clutter to get more results in less time,

Craig Ballantyne, CSCS, MS
Click Here for the Truth About Fat Loss

Myth: One Pound of Muscle Burns 50 Calories Per Day

Myth: 1 pound of muscle burns 50 calories per day

The Truth:
This is perhaps the biggest misconception and most often quoted myth in fitness articles.

Unfortunately, it is just not possible for each pound of new muscle to burn 50 extra calories per day.

Just think about this number in the big picture.

If I put on 10 pounds of muscle, it is wishful thinking to believe that my metabolic rate will go up 500 calories.

That would be a huge jump, and would make it difficult to keep the new muscle on my body if my metabolism jumped up that much.

Now I'm the first person to recommend strength training to people, but we can't use this myth any more as justification.

But not to worry, there are hundreds of other reasons to strength train when your goal is a better body.

As one study from Perdue University showed, men and women over the age of 60 can build muscle and burn fat with strength training alone - without dieting or adding cardio.

(Reference: Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Apr;85(4):1005-13.Resistance training and dietary protein: effects on glucose tolerance and contents of skeletal muscle insulin signaling proteins in older persons.Iglay HB, Thyfault JP, Apolzan JW, Campbell WW.)

Click HERE to read more about that study

Helping you cut through the fat loss clutter to get more results in less time,

Craig Ballantyne, CSCS, MS
Click Here for the Truth About Fat Loss

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Myth: You Can't Gain Muscle & Lose Fat At the Same Time

So, according to scientists, you can't gain muscle and lose fat at the same time. Phooey, I say.

And ironically, I turn to science to show you that you can...

In fact, even if you are "past your prime", you can gain muscle and lose fat at the same time (as the study that supports this was done in men and women with an average age of 60 at Perdue University).

For many men and women, the idea of an exercised-based weight loss program conjures up thoughts of long, boring aerobic workouts on a treadmill or a bike. But a recent study shows that doesn't have to be the case.

Exercise and nutrition scientists from Purdue University showed men and women (with an average age of 61 - with one subject 80 years old!) were able to lose fat, gain muscle, get stronger, lower LDL cholesterol, and improve blood sugar control with a simple strength workout routine.

(Reference: Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Apr;85(4):1005-13.Resistance training and dietary protein: effects on glucose tolerance and contents of skeletal muscle insulin signaling proteins in older persons.Iglay HB, Thyfault JP, Apolzan JW, Campbell WW.)

Note the absence of "traditional cardio aerobic exercise"...yet they still lost fat!

In the study, 36 healthy men and women performed strength training three times per week for 12 weeks while consuming a 2000 calorie per day diet.

The workouts consisted of basic exercises that can be performed at any health club, including leg presses, chest presses, and seated rows.

Each workout consisted of 3 sets per exercise and 8-12 repetitions per set.

While the average bodyweight of the men and women didn't change over the 12 week program, they did gain an average of four pounds of lean mass and lost over four pounds of fat.

They gained muscle and lost fat at the same time!

Normally, most scientists will tell you that you can't gain muscle and lose fat at the same time, but when beginners start a program, it does seem possible - at any age.

In addition, strength training also improved the subject's blood sugar control - helping to protect against diabetes. The researchers believed the gains in muscle mass contributed to improved blood sugar control.

If you are new to strength training, simply ask a personal trainer to design you a workout using basic, time-tested exercises that have been used for decades to help build muscle and burn fat.

You don't even need fancy machines, as a good trainer can easily provide you with dumbbell exercises to do at home.

Helping you cut through the fat loss clutter to get more results in less time,

Craig Ballantyne, CSCS, MS
Click Here for a home gym workout to gain muscle and lose fat

300 Hours Of Cardio

I've received a few emails about a "new groundbreaking fat loss study" and how it is supposed to burn fat faster than regular cardio (even though we know regular cardio sucks).

Researchers compared...

a) Doing a 60 minute bike (at 60% max effort) then recovering for 60 minutes

vs

b) doing a 30 minute bike, resting 20 minutes, and then doing another 30 minute bike and then resting for 60 minutes. (both rides at 60% max effort).

The results showed...

i) The total calories burned between the workouts did not differ.

ii) More fat was burned during the recovery for the split workout (77% vs 56%).

What does this mean?

Jack squat.

Nothing.

First, why would i even consider doing either of the above when a 20-minute interval workout gets more results?

Second, who is going to do this?

Third, look at the actual numbers of fat calories burned...at most, it could be 50 extra calories.


Again, useless in all practical terms.

But...

Look for health clubs to be full of people sitting around for 20 minutes between cardio bouts...maybe clubs will start offering "recovery rooms" where people can sit for 20 minutes and read dry People magazines, instead of the sweat covered People magazines they are used to reading while doing their relatively worthless cardio workouts in the past.

Why am I so hard on cardio?

Because its a waste of time...

...And now these researchers and the authors of these "news reports" want to waste even MORE of your life...

As I wrote recently...

A recent study published by the North American Association for the Study of Obesity, subjects aged 40 to 75 were instructed to do 60 minutes of aerobic exercise per day for 6 days per week for an entire year.

(Reference... Obesity 15:1496-1512 (2007). Exercise Effect on Weight and Body Fat in Men and Women. Anne McTiernan*, et al.)

Given the amount of exercise, you'd expect weight losses of 20, 30 pounds, or more, right?

Well, the surprise findings showed the average fat loss for female subjects was was only 4 pounds for the entire year, while men lost 6.6 pounds of fat over the year. That's over 300 hours of aerobic exercise just to lose a measly 6 pounds of blubber. Not time well spent, in my opinion.


I look forward to helping you cut through the clutter and make sense of the latest contradictory research study,


Craig Ballantyne, CSCS, MS
Author, Turbulence Training

PS - Please let me know if you have a specific diet or exercise myth that you would like to see "debunked" here at the DietDebunker.com

Diet Debunker: The Truth About Diet & Exercise Studies


Welcome to the Diet Debunker!


My name is Craig Ballantyne. I'm a world-renowned Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), and author of too many articles to count in magazines such as Men's Health, Men's Fitness, Oxygen, and Maximum Fitness.


More importantly, I have a Master's Degree in Exercise Physiology, having studied with some of the world's top nutrition and exercise scientists, AND I have a "Master's Degree in Sorting Through Research BS" that shows up everyday in the Media.


So this is where you'll find the TRUTH about the latest exercise and diet research studies.


After all, you can't blame the media for reporting on fad science. The folks at radio stations, TV stations, and magazines are over-worked and under-paid. I've spent a lot of time with these good people and they are just trying to do their best to get the latest info out to you.


But most media folks just don't have a background in science. So when they see the latest press release hitting the wire about how "drinking Green Tea can boost your metabolism", they pass that info onto you.


Because it sounds good, and it must be true, right? After all, it came from a scientific study. So it must apply to your real life weight loss program, right?


WRONG!


Most studies don't apply to the real world. And that's why I'm here.


To sift and sort through the baloney and bring you the meaty, real-world tips that are going to help you save time, burn fat, and get the body you want in as little time as possible.


All while improving your health and giving you more energy.


Real research, real results. That's all you'll find here.


I look forward to helping you cut through the clutter and make sense of the latest contradictory research study,


Craig Ballantyne, CSCS, MS

Author, Turbulence Training - Home Fitness Workouts


PS - Please let me know if you have a specific diet or exercise myth that you would like to see "debunked" here at the DietDebunker.com