Take It Off Slowly
The Caloric Cost Of Lifting
Attitude And Training
The Scale Doesn't Tell All
Fat-Free Weight Gain
Substitutes Or Lower-Fat Cheese
Mobil Metabolic Rate
TAKE IT OFF SLOWLY
Our culture in general and bodybuilders in particular become obsessed
with bodyfat. Thin and lean are definitely in, but do we take it all too
far? Eating disorders and dieting have become Epidemic.
While athletes generally have lower bodyfat levels than their sedentary
counterparts, it must be emphasized that there's no direct relationship
between bodyfat level and athletic performance. Elite athletes range
from low levels of 4 to 6 percent bodyfat in runners and gymnasts to the
male norm of 15 to 18 percent seen in professional football linemen and
baseball players. There is little scientific evidence, however, that
bodyfat levels below 8 percent improve athletic performance. In fact,
women lose normal menstrual function when their bodyfat levels drop
below 10 percent. While reducing training overload and increasing
bodyweight will return normal levels.
Periodic dieting to reduce bodyfat often leads eventually to higher
levels of bodyfat once the person stops restricting calories. Yo-yo
dieting, as it's called, can also increase the risk of heart disease.
While low bodyfat is important for a bodybuilder's appearance and an
endurance athlete's effective horsepower, you should consider your
long-term health whenever you embark on a weightloss program. Understand
that drastically reduced bodyfat levels may not appraisal of your
genetic potential and set your sights on taking the weight off slowly.
There seems to be a lot of confusion as to how many calories a person
actually uses during a resistance-training workout. While there have
been many studies done on the various forms of aerobic exercise,
resistance training and energy expenditure hasn't been a popular
research subject. Aerobic exercise is continuos in nature; Weightlifting
is intermittent, with reason it is more difficult to control the caloric
expenditure for weightlifting.
Depending on the type of resistance training, the average caloric
expenditure for a 150-pound weightlifter ranges from values of 5.5 to 6
kcal/min for Nautilus and isometric-resistance exercise to 12.5 kcal/min
for circuit weightlifting. Isotonic, isokinetic and hydraulic forms of
resistance training fall in the range of 9 to 10 kcal/min.
Remember, however, that this represents the caloric cost of lifting, not
of the entire time spent in the gym. Using a mean value of 9 kcal per
minute, we can estimate that a typical hour workout, in which one- third
to one-half of the time is spent resting between sets, would result in
an expenditure of between 180 and 270 calories. A comparable hour spent
walking would expend 325 calories, even though walking has a lower
caloric cost (5.4 kcal/min).
Don't let these values mislead you, however. Aside from the health
benefits of resistance training, the additional muscle mass boost your
overall metabolic rate, which cause you to burn more calories,
throughout the day than you did in you less-lean condition.
In other studies on caloric expenditure researchers measured the effects
of watching television on the metabolic rates of both normal and
overweight girls. In both groups there was a significant drop in
metabolic rate while the subjects were watching TV when compared to when
they were lying at ease. The drop was greater in the overweight group,
16.5 percent as compared to the 12.5 percent drop seen in the
The link between TV and obesity begins with the lack of activity and the
influence of food commercials. This new data further establishes that
connection. If you're going to spend time in front of the TV, make sure
you've already spent some time in the gym to counter the harmful effects
that the tube will have on your metabolic rate.
The Institute for Aerobic Research in
Dallas has found
that attitudes toward dieting and healthy foods are directly inked to
bodyweight and the amount of exercise an individual gets. It appears
that the leaner the person and the more training he or she does, the
more positive the attitude toward healthy, lowfat foods. The results of
this study showed that sedentary people who were 15 to 30 percent
overweight had more negative feelings about food. These included the
belief that everything they like is bad, that bread is fattening, that
healthy food is boring and that it's hard to find healthy substitutes
for certain foods. It appears that as we become more nutrition
conscious, active and lean, not only do our health and performance
improve, but al does our attitude toward healthy eating.
THE SCALE DOESN'T TELL ALL
Your bodyfat level is a much more accurate indicator of your fitness and
health than your bodyweight is. This is particularly true for athletes
who have much higher bone density and muscle mass than their sedentary
counterparts. While weighing yourself on a weekly basis can let you know
if you're gaining or losing, the more important factors are you body
composition and whether what you're losing is muscle, water or fat. Lean
tissue, or muscle, will make you weigh more, yet it benefits your
performance and health. It's great to weigh 200 pounds if your bodyfat
level is less than 10 percent-that is, more than 180 pounds of you is
lean tissue. If, on the other hand, your bodyfat level is 25 percent,
you're only carrying 150 pounds of lean tissue, which dramatically
reduces your health performance and appearance benefits.
There are three methods for determining body composition and bodyfat
levels; skinfold measurements, impedance testing and hydrostatic, or
underwater, weighing. All three techniques have their advantages and
One of the most convenient and readily accessible procedures is the
skinfold test. If it is performed by a qualified practitioner, the
results can be as accurate as those for the other two methods. As with
bodyweight measures it's not so much what your initial value comes out
to be, but rather how that value changes with training and time. Just as
you might get two different bodyweight measures between your bathroom
scale and the one at your doctor's office, your body-composition level
will vary somewhat when determined by the different methods and with
different people performing the tests. No matter which method you
choose, it's best to have the test performed by the same individual and
under the same conditions every time.
Most people find it easy to gain weight. Unfortunately, most weight gain
comes in the form of fat. Athletes who want to gain weight are looking
to increase their lean muscle mass while gaining as little fat as
While people who have family histories of heart disease or other majors
illness are not encouraged to put on weight, especially bodyfat weight,
you can increase lean muscle by following several guidelines for
In order to put on weight, you must take in more calories than you burn
up. To gain one pound of muscle, you need to eat about 2,500 extra
calories. The best way to accomplish this is to spread the excess over
several days during each week for a reasonable weight gain of one to two
pounds per week. This way your daily intake doesn't exceed your energy
expenditure by more than 1,000 to 1,500 calories.
Don't change your diet drastically from what you normally eat, however.
Although you're increasing the quantity, stick with foods that are low
To ensure that the excess calories will primarily go toward building
muscle, you should undertake a vigorous training program during this
high-calorie period. Don't make the mistake that many athletes make and
reduce your activity in order to put on weight. This practice only
results in increasing your fat stores, not you lean muscle tissue.
As with weight-loss programs weight-gain programs should include
exercise, diet and behavior therapy. While weight-loss programs
emphasize aerobic exercise and sports activities to burn calories and
fat, weight-gain programs require resistance/strength training to
increase lean bodyweight and should limit calorie-burning activities
Your weight-gain diet should include an increase in calories, with an
added 750 calories on strength training days and an extra 250 on
nontraining days. The additional calories should come largely from
lowfat, protein-rich foods. Include an extra 20 grams of protein for
Behavior therapy is an important factor in achieving any goal. Develop a
reinforcement schedule to reward weight gains. Determine your desirable
weight and make steady progress toward that goal.
Plan to gain only one pound per week maximum. Too rapid an increase will
lead to an increase in bodyfat levels. Remember to return to aerobic
exercise and weight maintenance when you achieve your desired
Our current obsession with bodyweight and appearance leads most of us to
diet at one time or another. In fact, at any one time approximately 50
percent of women and 25 percent of men are on weight-loss diets. This
statistic, along with estimates that 95 percent of dieters are unable to
keep the lost weight off, supports the notion that diets don't work.
Recent research conducted at
Yale University and
at the Centers for Disease Control in
indicates that the risks of heart disease. Death from heart disease and
death from all causes are greatest amount individuals who undergo
repeated weight-loss/weight -gain cycles. Commonly known as "yo-yo
dieting." In one of the studies the group that repeatedly lost then
regained more than 25 pounds showed a higher incidence of premature
death than that of people who smoke cigarettes. The researchers
determined the risk of premature death to be 25 to 100 percent higher
for the yo-yo dieters regardless of each person's initial weight, blood
pressure, smoking habits, cholesterol level and physical activity.
If you're interested in losing bodyfat, you'll do better if you take a
more balanced approach, including diet modification, moderate calorie
restriction, exercise and lifestyle modification. This is a healthier
course and one that ensures you a better chance of keeping the weight
off. Subjects who are involved in weight-loss programs that include
education and behavior modification are more likely to remain at their
reduced weight than those who simply restrict calories.
Athletes such a bodybuilders who continually lose weight for competition
and regain it rapidly after the contest should be aware of these recent
studies and the possible long-term effects such practices may have on
their health. A more sensible approach would be to maintain your
physique at near-competition weight year-around.
Q: I love cheese, but I realize that it's high in fat and cholesterol,
two things you are always warning us to avoid. Are there any fat
substitutes or lower-fat cheeses?
A: I often receive requests and recommendations for nonfat, healthy
roods or recipes. I'm also a former cheese lover, and guess what? Help
is on the way. I've discussed other products for which manufacturers
have perfected as nonfat versions, such as the nonfat salad dressings
made by Kraft Foods, and now I'm pleased to report that there are nonfat
cheeses in the grocery stores. While some of these products leave much
to be desired, I have found one brand to be excellent. The product is
distributed by the Lifeline Food Company of Seaside, California, and is
called Lifeline Fat-free cheese. It is made with skim milk and is all
natural. If your store doesn't carry this brand, ask the manager to
Lifetime cheeses are delicious, particularly the cheddar and jalapeno-swiss
versions. The texture and taste remind me of what cheese used to taste
like when I was still eating it. You can melt it in an egg white
omelette, use it in other prepared dishes or eat it on its own with
nonfat saltine crackers.
Another great product to get you grocer to order is Rice & Bean Tortilla
Bites Light, an all-natural, fat-free chip manufactured by Baja Bakery
in Chicago, Illinois. This item comes in several varieties, but I like
the smooth ranch flavored ones the best. Keep an eye open because new,
nonfat alternatives are coming on the market all the time. If you have
any favorites in your area, please write and let me know so I can pass
the names on to the other readers.
The amount of calories a human burns at rest, known as the resting
metabolic rate (RMR), depends on a number of factors. If you want to
lose weight, the optimum situation is to have a higher RMR. While the
RMR goes up after you exercise and after you eat, it tends to be lower
in overweight individuals and to go down when you've been dieting.
Regarding this decrease that takes place after a period of calorie
restriction, recent research indicates that it is only transient and
that your metabolic rate will return to normal within a short period of
time. The only problem is, if you're repeatedly losing and regaining
weight, this alters your body's ability to store and burn fat. So even
though your RMR returns to normal between diets, your body is more
efficient at storing fat and less efficient at burning it.
This information reinforces something that your probably already know.
Since exercise enables you to burn fat more efficiently and also
increases your RMR for a while after you exercise, it is better to burn
calories through exercise than to restrict them through dieting to lose