From a nutritional standpoint, we want to employ a trick called carbohydrate manipulation. I call this “protein days”, and for most people I recommend doing two to three of these each week during this phase of the program. We will continue to eat small, frequent meals as recommended in my general nutrition plan – if you don't have a copy, you can find it on my web site's download page – the password is: metabolism (no caps). But on protein days, we will eliminate starchy carbohydrates, added sugars, fruits and alcohol. Because you are eating less (roughly one-third of our calories generally come from starchy carbs), we will want to eat more proteins, vegetables and lean dairy products. Fats are okay, too, but try to choose from the list of the best fats on page two of my nutrition guide.
Sugars (and the refined starchy carbs and processed foods that your body treats as sugars) are your body's preferred source of fuel. And the arch-enemy of fat loss. When we remove these from our diet, the body must turn to it's second choice for fuel – fat. Now, this is a two-part process: the body must first be in a place hormonally where it is releasing fat from the fat cells, which is the case when the blood-sugar is stabilized because we have been eating small, frequent and balanced meals as suggested. When this is the case, and we remove the sugars, this trick works amazingly well for burning stored fat as fuel.
This is also the best time in the program to increase your cardio, but lets be clear about what that means.
This does not mean jogging for an hour on a treadmill or using an elliptical or exercise bike at a steady pace for a long period of time. If this is how you do your cardio, it's time to put an end to that now - it will only set into place a mechanism by which you actually ADD fat to your body.
A great example of this mechanism taking place can be found in the many, many, many “over-aerobicizers” that I meet. They tell me that they do an hour of cardio most days. They tell me that they actually weigh about what they should. And then they tell me that they are terrified of wearing a tank top or a swimming suit.
Why is this?
It is because they are what I call “skinny fat”. They spend so much time doing ineffective cardio that the energy they are burning is coming mainly from their muscle tissue, not the fat stored in adipose cells. What this means is that they have blobs of blubbery soft fat hanging off their arms, thighs and midsections.
The answer for them, of course, is that they need to add some muscle (as was discussed in the last newsletter) to their body if they want to start moving toward the leaner, more cut look that they desire. And they need to be doing cardio in a more efficient way.
Long, steady-state cardio is not effective if the goal is a leaner, tighter body. It is not effective if you strive for something more like a “swimmer’s build” or a “gymnast’s body”. It just will not work.
The third part of the strategy that will start you toward getting you body working FOR you is doing the RIGHT kind of cardio.
When done correctly, in the Interval Training style, you will be doing MUCH LESS cardio and getting much better results in terms of fat loss at the same time.
How is this possible?
Easy. When you do steady-state cardio, you burn calories. When you step off the treadmill or elliptical, you immediately STOP burning calories. Also, a lot of the calories you burn do not come from your fat cells.
When you do Interval Training, you do it for a shorter time but you burn more calories, and when you finish doing it you continue to burn calories for hours, sometimes even up to twenty-four hours. In fact, done correctly, a fifteen-minute HIIT workout will burn more calories than a one-hour, steady state workout.
PLEASE NOTE: If you have not been exercising recently or regularly, you may not be able to work that hard at first. If that I the case, it’s okay. You will work up to it as you get into better and better shape. And, as always, consult your physician before you begin a new exercise program.
On days when you are not doing the HIIT workouts, you can add fifteen to thirty minutes of cardio. It doesn't matter whether you use a treadmill, and elliptical or run outdoors, as long as it is done as interval training. If you need to review the specifics, you can find the “cardio” sheet on my web site's downloads page. Password, again, is: metabolism (no caps). The amount of cardio you will want to do will depend on how much fat you want to lose. Some people at this point are close to their goals and just changing the nutrition will have a big enough impact. For others, there is still a lot of desired fat loss and doing cardio on as many off-days as possible may be the best choice.
My clients, on average, lose 1-3 pounds per week during a fat-loss phase.
As you close in on the end of summer and hopefully a new beach-ready “you”, remember to be thankful for what you have in your life and make a real and conscious effort to make improvements in those areas in which you feel you need it. So many things in life are about finding the right balance and I’m looking forward to helping you learn how to do that with your fitness goals.
Greg Rothman, MS PT, is a fitness professional, writer and the owner of Empower Fitness in NYC. He received his Masters Degree in Physical Therapy from Columbia University and has twenty years of experience in the fitness and rehabilitation fields. He believes that absolutely anyone can have the body of their dreams once they understand how to eat and exercise in a way that supports their goals. It is his mission to Empower as many people as possible to do just that. His “Recession-Proof” Fitness Programs are an affordable way to find dramatic physical change over the course of 10 weeks. Greg is happy to hear from you if you have questions about any topic related to fitness or nutrition, and can be found atwww.GetEmpoweredFitness.com.
Greg Rothman, MS PT, is a fitness professional, writer and the owner of Empower Fitness in NYC. He received his Masters Degree in Physical Therapy from Columbia University and has twenty years of experience in the fitness and rehabilitation fields. He believes that absolutely anyone can have the body of their dreams once they understand how to eat and exercise in a way that supports their goals. It is his mission to Empower as many people as possible to do just that. His “Recession-Proof” Fitness Programs are an affordable way to find dramatic physical change over the course of 10 weeks. Greg is happy to hear from you if you have questions about any topic related to fitness or nutrition, and can be found at www.GetEmpoweredFitness.com.