We need to start our path to fitness somewhere, for many of us the emphasis is on getting leaner. After a lifetime of personal struggles, I have found the "secrets" of staying lean year round.
1. A SIMPLE EQUATION
CALORIES IN must equal CALORIES OUT.
If you exceed your caloric intake it's stored as fat.
If your caloric intake is insufficient you burn fat.
The key to this is to know and adhere to your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate).
Initially calorie counting will be a necessary evil, but most get an idea of portion and amounts very quickly.
2. LACKING FREQUENCY; I often relate the way metabolism works to a furnace, the more you stoke it the hotter it burns and the more calories are expended. How can we affect our metabolism?
Our metabolism can be increased by any increase in our activity. Spacing out activity is a great way of elevating our metabolism several times a day, whether it's taking the stairs instead of the elevator, taking a afternoon stroll or giving a piggy back ride to the kids. The more instances you can build in the faster you will lean out. Frequency can also be impacted when you can't get to your work out place, so I really stress adding alternative exercise techniques that require no equipment, when you can't make it to the gym.
|This is only trumped by those who circle the parking lot looking for the closest spot.|
Muscle mass burn calories at a rate of: 10 calories per pound/ per day at rest.
Greater muscle mass also burns more calories during activity (exercise or activities of daily living). So the more muscle we can put on our frame, the more calories are burned. Women sometimes worry about getting too muscular and so they avoid working with weights, without the increase in muscle it's that much more difficult to get lean.
Don't worry ladies, no one is looking like a bodybuilder without the help of male hormones(steroids). Recent studies have shown that women have a good capacity for building muscle, it's just that the distribution is different(larger % in the lower half)1.
|My guess is that she's been exposed to male hormones..|
If an individual over indulges in any category, it gets stored as fat. Sears calls for a 40% carbohydrate 30% fat and 30% protein. The Atkins diet is another system that touts increasing fat intake over carbohydrate intake, but some who use Atkins seem to overindulge in the fattier proteins
5. NOT ENOUGH WHOLE FOODS; Most of what we truly need from the super market can be found on the perimeter of the store. MOST of the processed food and snacks occupy the center isles. The majority of processed and snack foods are high in carbohydrates, including the "diet food". Whole foods on the other hand, are high in macro-nutrients (vitamins from foods not encapsulations), are typically a lower glycemic index and overall lower in calories. Whole foods also have a smaller caloric footprint with a higher volume, so they are more filling and less fattening.
|Sure it's sugar free, I bet it's not calorie free|
6. GET YOUR ZZZZZZ's; Many of us are not getting restful deep sleep, and there are some important hormonal implications here. MANY studies show that hormones responsible for the growth and repair of muscle occur in deep sleep. Even if you're doing everything right --if your not sleeping, you may be robbing yourself of muscle growth. We discussed how greater muscle mass burns more calories in #3; but greater muscle mass (and muscles used) also cause a larger hormone response, therefore positively affecting muscle growth. All of these factors lead to the same premise;
use exercise movements that recruit as much muscle as possible--tire them out AND get some sleep!
7. KEEP IT SIMPLE? Eh no; Exercise can be classified into two major categories, simple and compound. The typical gym is geared towards simple exercises, any exercise using one muscle is simple (i.e. bicep curl). Compound exercise uses multiple muscle groups and many times the whole body (squat, plank). The body's response to these two types of exercises is very different. Without getting too technical, your body grows a lot more muscle by doing compound movements, compound movements are also functional (mimics daily activities) and are discussed here.
There is a definite movement in the fitness industry towards compound and functional movement. In our area there are several of these types of workout centers that are extremely knowledgeable and reputable. While each center is different, each is qualified and use a graduated approach (not letting you get too far over your head). Functional movement awareness exists in these establishments and is discussed here.
In part two of this series we will discuss the paradigm shift in fitness towards compound movement and the differences in our fine local establishments that provide such services.
In conclusion I should go back to my opening statement, here I am with my kids after some good ole' fashioned functional exercise (digging in the sand).
(Advanced apologies for the excessive display of me.)
Dr. Serafim is a Rehabilitation and a Strength and Conditioning Specialist. He lives and works in the Exton PA area and has devoted himself to furthering his understanding of movement related disorders. He teaches continuing education and operates a private practice. More information can be found at Kinetx.org and feel free to like us at our facebook page.
1.American College of Sports Medicine, ACSM Fit Society® Page, Summer 2004, p. 4-5.