Archive for the tag - metabolism

If You Workout, Can You Eat Whatever You Want?

20080812-phelpsIt’s a new year – and many people are making resolutions to exercise. Great! But many people mistakenly believe that working out is a free pass to eat whatever you want.

A few years back, Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps gained a lot of attention for his alleged 10,000 calorie-per-day diet including lots of “pizza and pasta.” Most experts believe that Phelps’ actual diet is likely closer to 6,000 calories as it’s nearly impossible to eat 10,000 calories in a day.

Still… for the rest of us non-Olympians, Phelps’ legendary diet helps fuel the popular misconception that you can eat whatever you want as long as you exercise. Simply put, this is untrue.

On one end of the equation, each of us burn a set number of calories during the course of the day. If we exercise, we can certainly boost that number. At the other end of the equation, each us consumes a certain number of calories through the foods we eat. At the most basic level, if calories in is greater than calories out, we will store those extra calories as fat.

It’s true that regular exercisers have higher metabolisms and thus need more calories on a daily basis. Many people, for example, are surprised by the amount of food that I consume even though I’m just 155 pounds. But if I ate beyond my body’s daily caloric needs – even despite my rigorous workout routine – there’s no doubt that I’d gain excess fat.

And working out doesn’t prevent an individual from developing nutritional deficiencies. As such, it’s not a free pass to eat a diet of French fries and cheeseburgers. On the contrary, it’s still important to eat with health in mind – and it’s important to give your body the fuel it needs to power through workouts and maintain muscle mass.

Bottom line: The idea that you can eat whatever you want if you workout is a total myth. All of us, regardless of our activity level, must pay attention to the foods we eat.

Does Eating More Meals Speed Up Metabolism?

small-mealsIt’s totally true that when you eat food, your metabolism speeds up to process what you’ve consumed. But it’s also true that this increase is quite small – and that it’s related to the size of the meal eatten.

Here’s how it works out.

If you eat 2,000 calories a day and split those calories over three meals, you average roughly 666 calories per meal. If you eat 2,000 calories a day and instead split those calories over six meals, you average 333 calories per meal. Instead of three larger metabolic boosts, you rev up your metabolism six times to a smaller degree.

So what does this amount to? According to John Foreyt, Ph.D., director of the Behavioral Medicine Research Center at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, not much:

The calorie difference is so small it doesn’t add up to a hill of beans.

Moreover, having six smaller meals can mean three additional times per day to slip up, overeat or make unhealthy choices.

Having said all of that, smaller meals can work – but it’s really a matter of preference and strategy. For example, six smaller meals can help curb hunger by making your body feel “fed” constantly. But you have to find what works best for you.

As for the idea that eating more meals means a huge metabolic boost, it’s busted.

How Late is Too Late to Eat Dinner?

Hey Davey,

I recently changed careers to a job that keeps me later into the evening. I don’t get home from work until 8 or 9PM and I still have to cook dinner and then go to bed. Though I haven’t noticed any weight gain from eating late, I’m concerned. How late is too late?

From,
Jason

Have you ever heard the saying, “Eat after eight and you will gain weight”? You’re certainly not alone. As it turns out, it’s a popular myth that is rooted in some truth. Research has shown that what you eat is far more important than when you eat it. Rather than being related to meal timing, obesity rates are linked to the types and quantities of foods that we eat.

But the story doesn’t end there.

Overeating at night is very easy. Some people save up their calories during the day and then binge at night. This is entirely unhelpful for your metabolism – which prefers meals spread out through the course of the day. In addition, many people graze during the evening – and often end up eating too many calories as a result.  We also tend to select less healthy foods late at night. Perhaps we’re tired and we let our guard down, and then get caught up in mindless munching.

So what does it all mean?

If you’re only choice is to eat late at night, don’t sweat it. Just be extra careful to make smart choices and to limit your portions in accordance with your daily calorie requirements. If you eat healthy foods and proper portions, and do a good job of spacing out your other meals, you’ll be just fine.

What Can I Do to Lose Weight Faster?

Dear Davey,

I’m 44 years old and weigh 327 pounds. In the last 20 months I have lost 214 pounds. Yes, I used to weigh 541 pounds… and I’ve been overweight since I was 3 years old.

I came out in July of 2010 and started losing weight after I fell in love with a man that broke my heart. It threw me into a deep depression and I lost my appetite for several months. After not eating for 4 months, I had lost a considerable amount of weight and, when my appetite returned, I limited my meals to just one per day and that is how I have continued to lose weight.

Even though I go to the gym, my weight has slowed down in the last couple of months and now I am struggling to lose weight. Is there anything more I can do activity wise to speed up my weight loss?

Regards,
Al

Dear Al,

I’m really touched by your story.

Congratulations, first and foremost, on coming out of the closet. I think you’ll agree that life is too short to spend it hiding who you are.

Though your weight loss journey didn’t start under the best circumstances, perhaps your situation is an opportunity-in-disguise to create a new, healthier lifestyle for yourself. But because of the underlying issues and depression, I would encourage you to reach out to a trained professional.

I’m not surprised that your weight loss has plateaued.

Our bodies are very smart. When you starve your body, your metabolism comes to a crawl; your body tries to burn as little calories as humanly possible to stay alive. Your body goes into survival mode.

When you do eventually start eating again, you’re stuck with this slower metabolism. Because you are consuming calories and burning very few, it’s very hard to lose weight. And continuing to starve your body with only 1 meal a day isn’t helping.

There are two things you need to do: Eat and exercise.

Your body needs food – and you need to feed it. Instead of eating one meal a day (and wrecking havoc on your body’s metabolism), opt for three well-balanced and nutritionally-sound meals. This government website provides guidance for building a healthy plate of food with appropriate portions. In short, it’s about selecting lots of veggies, some fruits, whole grains, protein and dairy.

Beyond three meals, give your body healthy snacks in between. A handful of unsalted nuts or an apple or carrot sticks and hummus will help curb hunger throughout the day. And be sure to drink lots of water; it nourishes your body and boosts your metabolism. Speaking of boosting your metabolism, here are 9 effective ways to do just that!

When it comes to exercise, it’s great that you’re hitting the gym. Exercise will get your heart pumping and it will incinerate calories – even after your workout is complete. Make sure your combining both cardiovascular exercise and strength training as both are needed to maximize your results. And if you’re feeling unsure or uncomfortable at the gym, it’s always a wise idea to hire a personal trainer (even if it’s just for a few sessions).

Again, I’m very touched by your story – and I wish you the best of luck as you transform your body and your life.

Love,
Davey

If you have a fitness question for Davey Wavey, ask him!

What is High Intensity Interval Training?

Ho, ho, ho – the holidays are here!

For most people, the holidays have a negative impact on their efforts to live a healthy lifestyle. For one, it means lots and lots of unhealthy foods, buffets and alcohol. Secondly, it means that all of us have a little less time in our already busy schedules to hit the gym. As a result, many of us tend to gain weight during the holidays.

But here’s a quick fix that not only prevent holiday weight gain – but actually cause you to lose weight. Yes, lose weight during the holidays. It’s called high intensity interval training – and it will absolutely rock your world.

Consider this: A recent study led by Jason Talanian in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that subjects who completed just seven sessions of high intensity interval training over the course of two weeks boosted their aerobic capacity by 13 percent and increased fat burning capacity by 36 percent. In a separate study that followed participants for 15 weeks, researchers discovered that the high intensity interval training group experienced 9 times as much fat loss as those performing regular cardio.

While regular cardio burns calories during the exercise, high intensity interval training actually boosts your metabolism and causes more calories to be burned all day long. Even while you’re watching TV. Or standing in line at the buffet.

I bet I have your attention now!

With a typical cardio program, participants run at a set speed and intensity for the duration of their workout. We’ve all seen people spending 30 minutes (or even more!) walking endlessly on the treadmill or peddling on the bike. While it’s better than sitting on the couch, the benefits for this type of cardio training (called endurance training) are fairly limited – especially when compared to high intensity interval training.

High intensity interval training sessions are much shorter. In essence, it involves alternating very intense exercise with moderate intensity exercise or active rest. While it can come in a variety of forms, I prefer performing my intervals on the treadmill. I sprint as fast as I can for 60 seconds, and then jog for 90 seconds. I do this for 15 minutes, and it absolutely kicks my butt. You can do it on the bike, elliptical – or even at home without any equipment. Try doing some vigorous bodyweight exercises like burpees or push-ups for 30 seconds followed by 15 seconds of rest. Keep repeating this for 10 or 15 minutes.

So why isn’t high intensity interval training more popular than it is? Well, it’s because most people don’t understand how effective it is. It’s got to be the best kept fitness secret ever. Moreover, it’s challenging. It’s easy to walk on a treadmill for 45 minutes; the same can’t be said for 15 minutes of high intensity interval training. It’s hard work! But it’s totally worth it.

High intensity interval training is great for the holidays because it’s such a fast workout. Though we’re all strapped for time during the holidays, all of us can set aside 10 minutes for a good, quick and effective workout. Give it a try – and let me know what you think!

Myth Busted? Should You Not Eat Before Bed?

I'd eat Ryan Sheckler before bed. Or in bed, for that matter.

You’ve probably heard that eating before bed is bad – that the food sits in your stomach and turns to fat. But is it true – or can we put this old adage to bed (pun intended)?

There has been a lot of research on the subject. For the most part, studies have concluded that meal frequency or timing doesn’t really matter. If you get a good and balanced diet, it doesn’t matter if you eat five times a day or three times a day, and it doesn’t matter if that last meal is at 5PM or 10PM.

In 1997, researchers sought to compile the findings of numerous studies regarding meal timing. The conclusion was that obesity rates are not connected to the times of day at which people eat. Instead, obesity rates are connected to the types of foods (and quantities thereof) that people are consuming. If you eat 2,000 calories in a day and burn 2,000 calories, you’ll maintain your weight. It doesn’t really matter when you get those calories – and so the old saying of “breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, dinner like a pauper” can finally be put to rest.

But a word of caution: The findings of these studies don’t serve as a green light to eat whatever we want late at night. It doesn’t mean that the bag of Oreo cookies becomes a good late-night option. When eating late at night, there is a tendency to snack mindlessly on unhealthy foods while watching TV – that’s not what these studies support. But eating your healthy and balanced dinner a bit later is perfectly fine.

The bottom line: Focus your efforts on the quality and quantity of what you eat more then when you eat it.

9 Really Effective Ways to Boost Your Metabolism

Boost your metabolism for weight loss or increased definition..

Your metabolism is like the fuel-burning furnace that powers your body. If you’re looking to lose weight or increase definition, then boosting your metabolism should be a top priority. Increasing your metabolic rate helps create the calorie deficit (more calories out than in) that results in the loss of body fat.

There are a number of things that you can do to boost your metabolism, including:

  1. Eat within 60 minutes of waking up. Within 15 minutes of starting my day, I always eat a banana to prime my body’s pumps and get my metabolism in gear. Research shows that those who eat breakfast lose more weight than those who skip breakfast. Think of it this way: Your metabolism slows down while you’re sleeping – and it won’t speed back up again until you eat. Not eating until lunch time or late morning means your metabolism is sleeping in.
  2. Get your daily calcium. There are a handful of supplements that improve metabolism, but I’m leery to ingest compounds like Betaine that I don’t fully understand. Calcium is a safe and effective way to boost your metabolism without the risk of serious side effects. You can simply take a calcium supplement – or consume so low-fat dairy products like yogurt.
  3. Drink lots of cold water. Water is a metabolism booster – especially if the water is ice cold; your body needs to work hard to heat it up. If your urine is dark yellow, then you’re dehydrated. Light yellow or clear urine is ideal. Gotta love the piss talk. 🙂
  4. Add on a few pounds of muscle. Muscles incinerate calories. If you – or someone you know – has a muscular build, take notice of their appetite. It takes a lot of calories to sustain muscle, and even by adding a few pounds of muscle mass, you’ll do wonders to boost your metabolism.
  5. Lower the temperature of your home or apartment. This one falls into the strange but true category! Your body will have to work harder to keep your internal temperate at 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. Doing so burns calories, increases metabolism – and saves money on your heating bill!
  6. Eat metabolism-boosting foods. Aside from calcium rich foods like yogurt, the following foods (for various reasons) have been linked to increased metabolic rates: Cinnamon, curry, jalapenos, oatmeal, beans, green tea, ginger, grapefruits, apples, coffee, almonds, blueberries, watermelons and turkey. Incorporate them into your diet.
  7. Don’t overdo the alcohol. No surprise here: Alcohol decreases your body’s ability to burn fat during and after consumption by as much as 73%, so limit your drinking for best results.
  8. Do intervals. I know that I sound like a broken record player when I espouse the metabolism-boosting benefits of interval cardio training – but it’s extremely effective. If you’re doing mindless minutes of repetitive cardio training (which can actually cause you to gain weight), learn how interval training can take your workout to the next level. I promise you’ll never look back.
  9. Eat before you get hungry – and never starve yourself. The best way to keep your metabolism in high gear is to eat smaller meals spread throughout the day. If you consume less than 1,000 calories in a day – your body will go into starvation mode and your metabolism will slow down immensely.

While all of these tips will help you boost your metabolism, it’s important to remember that “calories out” is just part of the equation when creating a calorie deficit for weight loss. The “calories in” part of the equation is just as important – so be sure to include proper nutrition as part of any comprehensive plan.

Is Your Cardio Killing Your Results?

Results like these don't come from endless cardio sessions. Just saying...

There is a delightful older woman at my gym who spends 60 minutes on the treadmill each day. She walks at a moderate but steady pace, and complains endlessly about the lack of results she is getting from her workout. And yet she continues to do more of the same. Like many gym goers, her cardio program is killing her results.

There are a few reasons why endless cardio sessions don’t serve you well:

  1. If you’re doing more than 45-minutes of cardio, you’re entering into the “danger zone” at which point your body will start burning muscle – not fat.
  2. Since long sessions of monotonous cardio result in muscle loss, the effect is a decrease in the body’s metabolism (as muscle is a large driver of your metabolism). In other words, the body will burn fewer calories throughout the day because of muscle loss. For some people, this could even mean gaining weight.
  3. It’s time consuming! 60-minutes on the treadmill is time better used elsewhere… like in the free weight or strength training section of your gym. Or even time better spent doing some fitness research, like reading this blog. 🙂

There are two quick fixes for endless, monotonous cardio sessions:

  1. Interval training. I keep my cardio sessions relatively short – but extremely effective – by using interval training. In a nutshell, it’s all about varying between intensities on cardio machines – from medium intensity to high intensity. I jog for 90 seconds and then sprint for 60. After 15 minutes, I’m totally beat! It burns more calories than long cardio sessions, and has a huge positive effect on metabolism.
  2. Strength training. I can’t say it enough: Any comprehensive fitness program needs to include both cardio and strength training. If you are just doing cardio, then you are killing your results. Everyone needs to hit the weights as well – especially if your goals include weight loss.

Are you in a long, monotonous cardio rut? Tell us about it in the comments below. And I hope this post can be a light at the end of that results-killing tunnel!

And note: Today is the last day to save 25% off of my Ultimate Guide to Working Out – and it’s the last chance to get Underwear Yoga as a free gift. Through my program, we’ll create a fitness program that is customized to your results. Use discount code “buddy” during checkout to save 25%.

8 Ways to Boost Your Metabolism and Burn Fat!

I can think of some good ways to burn calories with him. Woof!

Your metabolic rate is the rate and which your body burns calories to maintain itself. As we age, this rate decreases by a few percentage points each decade until around age 50 – though the amount of food we eat, often does not. As a result, a slower metabolism is one reason (of many) that people tend to gain weight as they age.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. There are a number of things that all of us can do to keep our metabolism at full throttle:

  1. Studies show that B vitamins and magnesium may help increase metabolism. Of course, I’m sure another subsequent study will show that they also cause brain tumors and cancer. Nonetheless, foods that are rich in these nutrients – like nuts, edamame, lentil soup for magnesium and bananas, avocados and tuna for vitamin B – will give you a needed boost.
  2. Spread your meals out by eating healthy snacks in between. Try eating 5 – 6 times per day. If you go a long time without eating, your body enters starvation mode and your metabolism slows down to try and compensate.
  3. Eat breakfast. Research shows that by eating breakfast, you may boost your metabolism by as much as 10%. Try to eat within one hour of waking up – even if it’s a small meal like a banana and cup of old fashioned oatmeal.
  4. Exercise with intervals. Intense bursts of energy followed by slower exercise has been shown to dramatically increase metabolism. This is very easily accomplished on a treadmill doing sprints. Run quickly for a minute and then slow down for 90 seconds. Repeat. And don’t forget to strength train – muscle incinerates fat! As we age, our muscle degenerates and so it is necessary to compensate for this loss through strength training (i.e., lifting weights, weighted machines, etc.).
  5. Stop dramatically cutting calories. A calorie deficit is the only way to lose weight, but it’s better to create that deficit though additional exercise than by a reduction in food – especially when considering metabolism. As stated before, your body can switch into starvation mode – and then it will be very difficult to achieve any weight loss goals.
  6. Eat foods that are low on the glycemic index. Foods that are higher, like white rice and white bread, tend to have a negative effect on metabolism.
  7. Get lots of fiber! Fiber slows down the digestion process which increases your metabolism. High fiber foods include apples with skin, bran cereal and various beans.
  8. Sleep. Believe it or not, during sleep, your body produces higher levels of a growth hormone that acts directly on your cells to increase metabolism. Get your full eight hours!

Try some of these tips – whether you’re 20 or 120 – to keep your metabolism pumping and those calories a-burnin’!

Have you noticed any slow down in your metabolism? Let me know in the comments below!

Working Out Twice a Day: Is It For You?

This guy is one of the few things that could get me to the gym twice a day.

Okay, I admit it. I occasionally workout twice a day. But my second workout is usually something fun and different – like swimming, kayaking, canoeing or a bike ride. It’s not something that I do a lot, but it is common practice for a handful of very dedicated enthusiasts (though most of us have a hard enough time getting to the gym even once!).

Ideally, “twice-a-dayers” will do cardio in the morning and strength training in the evening. Each workout could range from 20 minutes to an hour. Hitting the gym twice a day is really a splitting of your workout. It doesn’t mean that you’ll be doing your normal routine twice – it means that you’ll divide things up accordingly. And in fact, many people find they’re able to push themselves harder by exercising twice a day, and that they’re actually able to shave off some time from their workout.

Here’s what you stand to benefit:

  • Double boost in metabolism. When you exercise, your body burns fat and calories at an increased rate. This increase continues for some time even after your workout is complete. So obviously, when you exercise twice a day, you get twice the boost! If you’re trying to lean up or release some extra weight, this is good news.
  • Shorter workouts. Instead of doing a 90 minute fitness routine, you could break it up into two 30 – 45 minute workouts. Shorter workouts make it easier to focus – and much easier to really give it your all; you’ll avoid the drag that most people experience in the second half of a longer workout.
  • Increased energy. If you workout in the morning, you’ll know that it’s better than a cup of coffee. Whether you’re feeling lazy, sluggish or unproductive, there’s nothing like a good workout to energize your day. But by the afternoon, most of us fade back into a haze. If, however, you hit the gym again in the afternoon, you’ll be stimulated and alive all evening. It’s like a second wind. And don’t worry – working out close to bedtime doesn’t lead to insomnia or sleep problems for most people, though there is some risk.
  • Better results. Maybe. If you’re able to push yourself harder, faster and stronger by splitting your workout in two, then you’ll see better results sooner.

Working out twice a day isn’t for everyone. For me, the benefits are often outweighed by the idea of commuting to the gym twice, changing twice, dirtying two gym outfits, etc. But what do you think? Do you workout twice a day? Is it something that you’re interested in trying?