March 5, 2012

Running For Fat Loss

I have been in the field of health and fitness for going on 17 years now. The amount of misinformation on how to lose body fat has only grown more with the onset of the internet.

Most people treat health and fitness like mob bosses and hit-men treat spirituality; they do horrible crimes during the week, but as long as they show up to church on Sunday and repent, everything should be fine. Just as this is not spirituality, eating a hundred calorie snack pack, and then spending 2 hours on the treadmill trying to burn more calories than you consumed is not health.

Health is about balance, not counter balance. This is the first notion to understand if you want to permanently drop body fat. The second biggest belief mistake that most people make is that more cardio = less body fat. To lose body fat, one must first balance their hormonal system and get their body functioning optimally. This means eating a diet high in vegetables and animal protein, getting to bed by 9pm, sleeping in darkness, and exercising smartly; i.e. using exercise to promote greater production of anabolic hormones such as growth hormone, testosterone, and estradiol, and not using exercise to induce greater stress and create a more catabolic environment by inducing the body to produce more cortisol.

Anabolism is the building of metabolic pathways (production and repair of lean muscle tissue, and a more efficient metabolism). Catabolism is the breakdown of metabolic pathways (the tearing down of muscle tissue). To get a lean, toned, muscular frame, we want to create an environment that promotes greater anabolism.

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So the question at hand is: does more cardio equal a leaner more toned body, and more importantly, does it lead to greater health?

People who do the most cardio are marathon runners. Research into the physiological effects of marathon running, suggests the possibility of maladaptive consequences including: dehydration, gastrointestinal bleeding, muscle damage, immune suppression, and even sudden cardiac death have all been reported (see Uchakin, Gotovtseva, & Stray-Gundersen, 2003).  Leading experts have concluded that marathon running is one of the most stressful activities in which normal, neurologically intact humans engage (Sapolsky, 2004, p. 104).

High amounts of cardio conditioning produce an abnormal amount of stress and put the body into a fight or flight state which will hinder the loss of body fat and lead to the destruction of muscle tissue and malabsorption of nutrients. This is the exact opposite of what you would want to do if you want a lean more toned body!

This is the solution to loosing those stubborn love handles:

1. Eliminate all sugar, alcohol, grains, legumes and dairy from your diet. All of these foods will stress your immune system and leading eventually to a higher amount of body fat storage, or at the very least a stagnation in fat loss.

2. Every meal should include animal proteins (Eggs, poultry, pork, beef, or seafood) and vegetables. One green vegetable (spinach, kale, asparagus etc…), and one colored vegetable (yams, carrots, beets).

3. Keep your fruit intake to 1 small apple a day. No More! Sugar is sugar; even if it is fructose.

4. Lift weights. The purpose of strength training is to teach the body to recruit more muscle fibers at once. This leads to great muscle tone and definition, not necessarily size.

5. 45 minutes to 1 hour of weight training 3-4 times per week will create a positive growth Hormone surge in the body. After one hour of training growth hormone declines and the fat loss benefits of conditioning decline.

6. Sleep! All of your anabolic (anti-aging) hormones are produced between the hours of 12am and 4am. Getting to bed by 10pm is crucial for a healthy lean body.

This article was written by Bill Esch.
Next time I will talk about one of the three important factors to consider in living a healthy, fit lifestyle.

 

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