The Fitness Guy – Understanding your metabolism and weight loss
Q: I love your column and enjoy reading it! I’m a 40 year-old-male who is about 15 pounds overweight. I eat virtually nothing, am constantly on a diet, and keep count of my calories – but nothing happens! Why can’t I drop the fat? – Glenn H.
A: Let’s start with three doses of cold, hard reality: 1) Diets don’t work; 2) Counting calories is basically a waste of time and won’t lead to fat loss; and 3) Skipping meals and eating “virtually nothing” is a surefire way NOT to burn fat.
To accomplish your goal, you will have to increase your metabolism. Metabolism is the number of calories (energy) your body burns to sustain life. Now, muscle burns more calories than fat does, so people who are muscular (low body fat) and exercise have a higher metabolic rate than people who have far less muscle (high body fat) and don’t exercise. The average woman burns about 10 calories per pound of body weight per day while the average man burns about 11.
To simplify a complex subject, there are three components to your daily energy “burn” – known as your Total Energy Expenditure, and understanding this will help to be successful in your weight management.
1) About 10 percent of calories are burned by what is called the thermic effect of eating – quite simply, the act of digesting your food. Far more calories are used to digest proteins than carbs or fats (25 calories for every 100 calories of proteins versus 10 to 15 for every 100 calories of carbs and fats). This is why a nutrition plan with an emphasis on healthy proteins (chicken, fish, lean red meat, cottage cheese, eggs) is recommended;
2) About 30 percent of calories are burned by physical activity and exercise. Adding strength training to build muscle, in addition to a cardio program (walking, running) is essential to increasing one’s metabolism;
3) The majority of calories, about 60 percent, are burned by what is called your basal metabolic rate (BMR), which is simply energy used to breathe, eat and maintain bodily functions. Controlled to some extent by genetics and environmental factors, the rate at which your metabolism runs can be influenced heavily by your diet and level of physical activity and exercise.
Dieting (calorie restriction) without exercising is one of the most common mistakes people make. When you lose weight by dieting, muscle tissue accounts for about 20 percent of what is lost. Consequently, dieting without exercising to maintain or build muscle actually slows your metabolism and can lead to weight gain in the long term.
TIP OF THE WEEK
Green tea: A powerful antioxidant
Research continues to support the powerful role of green tea extract in weight loss, with one study noting that green tea was preferentially shown to target fat in the belly. The International Sports Sciences Association reports green tea is “perhaps the most potent antioxidant known to man” in its ability to prevent such conditions as lung cancer due to smoking, skin damage and skin cancer due to radiation, antiviral activities and many other maladies. Green tea is also credited with lowering cholesterol levels in the blood. Green tea supplements, taken on an empty stomach, are believed to be more effective than drinking green tea alone.
EXERCISE OF THE WEEK: REAR LATERAL RAISE
Cutline: Ed Johnson demonstrates the Plate Bicep Curl.
This is a simple but effective exercise to build the biceps. 1) Standing with your feet shoulder width apart and your torso straight, hold a weight plate on either side at waist level. 2) Keeping your elbows fixed to your sides, curl the plate up until it reaches your chin. 3) Lower the plate slowly and repeat.
Peter Jackson is a certified personal trainer and the owner of Push Fitness, a private, full-service training gym in Oakland Park which offers personal training, TRX Suspension Training and spinning for individuals, couples and small groups. Peter welcomes your questions: e-mail peter@PushFitnessFTL.com or visit him online at www.PushFitnessFTL.com or www.PozFitness.com.