News & Expert Interviews
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Losing Body Fat
1) Assuming that some form of dieting is necessary to lose body fat, is there a "foolproof" way to lose fat without losing muscle tone? Eg. By making sure you have enough protein, or some other method?
Unfortunately, nothing is ever foolproof. But, the key to a healthy approach to dieting is not to do anything in extreme. Keep to moderation. Do not lower your calorie intake too far. The amount of calories you consume daily varies a lot from person to person based on many individual factors. But most experts agree that 1200 calories per day is the absolute lowest one should consume. You also should intake at least the USDA recommended daily amount of protein based on their guidelines. And, exercise is, of course, very important. Both cardio and strength training are important elements to losing body fat. The strength training will definitely help ensure that your weight loss comes from fat more than from muscle. But don't take exercise to an extreme. Too much of a good thing can be detrimental. It can lead not only to burnout but even to injuries.
2) Will every weight loss or diet program cut into body fat? In other words, can your diet make you lose muscle mass and water weight but not body fat? Can a diet ever *increase* your amount of body fat?
Absolutely a diet can cause muscle loss and little to no body fat loss. When the steps mentioned above are not followed, it is very common for people to lose muscle. And, since muscle is more dense than fat, the scale will reflect a larger amount of weight loss. This can mistakenly create positive feedback for and individual when the feedback is actually anything but positive.
3) True or false: Overeating carbs or proteins will cause body fat. (Ie. it's not just eating too much fat in general that leads to body fat?)
In general most research has really shown that overall the number of calories taken in versus the energy expended is what controls your weight. But, what you eat can have some effect as well. For example, carbs can elicit a response in your body that actually makes you more hungry. This can lead to eating too many calories.
4) Is there an optimal exercise range to help burn body fat? By time, or by heartrate?
There has been a lot of research on whether exercising at a lower intensity or higher intensity will burn more fat. Many of the top fitness organizations have published information stating that both low intensity and high intensity are effective at burning fat. They state that lower intensity exercise burns a higher proportion of fat calories but high intensity exercise burns more total calories from fat. I recommend that exercisers include both forms of exercise in their weekly regimen. The most important thing is to do workouts that you enjoy enough to stick with week after week.
5) Does resistance training (Eg. weightlifting) burn body fat the same as cardio training? Is it important to mix cardio and resistance training while trying to lose body fat?
Yes, it is very critical to include both types of workouts. Moderate aerobic exercise, such as walking, has a metabolic cost of 5-7 per minute on average (in other words, it burns 5-7 calories). Moderate to vigorous strength training has a nearly equal metabolic cost at 5-8 per minute. So both walking and strength training can promote an equal amount of calories burned during the actual activity. But, there's an extra benefit to strength training: you burn calories after you've stopped working out! Resistance training recruits both slow and fast twitch muscle fibers so the metabolic rate stays elevated longer. This means that you are burning calories long after you've stopped working out.
6) True or false: Exercising in the morning before eating breakfast will help you burn body fat? Why or why not?
There is no concrete evidence that this is true. Some research has shown that exercise on an empty stomach in the morning can elicit small increases in burning body fat. Again, though, the best time to exercise is the time of day that works best for each individual.
7) Does the "six-pack abs" look come from having extremely low body fat, from extensive abdominal workouts, or a combination of the two? If so, how low a body fat % range would you need to achieve that look? Is it a realistic goal for most people?
It certainly is attainable by the majority of people. There is no magic body fat range to achieve it. But, it is possible to have a "six pack" but not be able to see it because of either too much body fat in the stomach or even possibly too much stretched out skin. So the key is both lower body fat and also abdominal, core and strength workouts.
Do Muscles Turn Into Fat? by Robert Adams
Beginner's Guide to Getting Fit by Diana Keuilian
Easy At Home Workouts by Lynn Bode
Get in Shape for Summer by Lynn Bode
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