The Fitness Guy – Which Foods Burn Fat?
Q: Is eating grapefruit really good for burning fat? I have a friend who swears he’s lost 10 pounds this way, but I have been eating it every day for a month and haven’t lost a pound. – Gary T.
A: Neither grapefruit nor any other food “burns” fat. There are foods that contribute to an increase of your metabolism because of the energy required to digest them. For instance, more calories are used to digest proteins than carbs or fats. For every 100 protein calories you consume, your body uses 25 to 30 just for digestion. By comparison, roughly half that number of calories, about 10 to 15, are used to digest 100 calories of carbs or fats.
Lean meats such as turkey, chicken and fish, especially salmon, along with whole grains, green tea, oatmeal, broccoli and almonds top the list of healthy foods which dietitians say may help to give your metabolism a boost. The bottom line is this: You lose weight by increasing your physical activity and using more calories than you consume. Strive to eat balanced meals with plenty of fruits and veggies – and stay away from the latest diet fad.
Q: I noticed in your recent article that you advised to avoid alcohol. In social environments, is there any such thing as an alcoholic drink that isn’t as bad for your body that you can have in moderation? –Darryl S.
A: If you have undertaken a fitness program with serious and specific goals, it behooves you not to consume alcohol – especially if those goals include serious fat loss. Otherwise, my advice is to drink moderately and sensibly.
Alcohol has a detrimental effect on your body’s fat burning process and can lower your testosterone level in addition to stimulating your appetite. But the reason has little to do with the calories in your favorite booze.
When you consume alcohol of any kind, it quickly reaches the stomach where about 20 percent is absorbed into the bloodstream while the balance continues to the intestines where it then also enters the blood stream. In the liver, enzymes break down the alcohol and produce a substance called acetate. This acetate then enters the bloodstream and replaces fat as the fuel your body uses for energy. In other words, it signals the body to stop burning fat. Not good if you’re trying to burn fat and build lean muscle!
A wild night of drinking with your buddies will also significantly lower your testosterone level for 12 to 24 hours and increase the muscle-devouring hormone called cortisol. With excessive alcohol use, estrogen levels can rise and lead to the development of breast tissue in men, a condition called gynecomastia. Scientists believe this is why excessive drinkers have less muscle than people who consume little or no alcohol.
Moderation is the key: limit yourself to just a couple drinks. Your best bet is to stick with a glass or two of red or white wine (70 to 75 calories) or light beer (90 to 105 calories). Mixers such as carbonated soda, orange and cranberry juices contain high levels of sugars—so be careful with your selection of mixed drinks.
TIP OF THE WEEK
Try this quick and easy protein shake after your next workout.
Ingredients: 2/3 cup fresh or frozen strawberries; 1 medium banana, sliced; 2 heaping Tbs. protein powder; ½ cup orange juice; 1 cup light vanilla yogurt; 2 cups of ice cubes.
Instructions: Combine all ingredients in a blender except the ice cubes. Blend until smooth. Add ice cubes and blend until desired consistency is achieved. Calories: 325; Protein: 21g; Carbs: 62 g; Fat: 1 gram.
EXERCISE OF THE WEEK
SINGLE-LEG HIP RAISE
Cutline: Brian Tyson demonstrates the Single-Leg Hip Raise
This is a terrific exercise to tighten your booty and strengthen your hamstrings (back of your upper leg). 1) Lie on an exercise mat with your left knee bent and your right leg raised straight off the mat. 2) Thrust your hips upward, keeping your right leg elevated. 3) Slowly lower your hips to the mat and repeat. Do 8 to 12 reps then switch legs and repeat.
Peter Jackson is a certified personal trainer and the owner of Push Fitness, a private, full-service personal training gym in Oakland Park which offers a variety of fitness programs 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.