The Official eNewsletter of TODAY! Fitness

vol. 2006 issue 4



You are what you eat

It is very important to monitor the effect of diet and/or exercise on muscle tissue and fat.  Research has shown that when a person goes on a typical health-fad diet (ie. Atkins, low-carb), with little exercise, they lose as much or more muscle tissue than fat.  (Scales will not tell a person this is happening).  When this person goes off the diet and gains the weight back, they gain more fat back than they lost and less muscle tissue than they lost.  Men generally put this fat back on around the waist and midsection, while women store the fat around the hips and thighs.  Either way, the result is more fat and less muscle than before the down-up cycle and the person is worse off than before the diet.  A healthy diet balances nutrient intake for optimum benefit and functionality.
There are 6 primary nutrients that are essential to a person engaging in an exercise program.  These nutrients are carbohydrates, fats, protein, minerals, vitamins, and water.  Each nutrient is imperative for optimal physical fitness.  Intensive training programs will deplete these nutrients, which is why a scientific nutrition plan is important.  When you lack these nutrients, your performance will suffer.
Carbohydrates provide the most efficient form of energy during exercise.  Carbohydrates fuel the central nervous system and muscles during physical activity.  Carbohydrates should compromise approximately 50-60% of your nutritional intake.  Complex carbohydrates (polysaccharides) provide the most efficient fuel and prolonged energy to maximize performance and achieve optimal gains. 

Fats should comprise approximately 10% of your overall food intake.  Fat is a secondary source of energy (particularly for aerobic activity).  If you consume excess quantities of fat, it will quickly store in the body.  Fat contains 9 calories per gram, while protein and carbohydrates contain only 4 calories per gram.  This is why excess fat consumption causes a more rapid weight gain than protein or carbohydrates.

Protein builds muscle.  Protein is extremely important to efficiently repair damaged muscle tissue.  A resistance training program will break down muscle fiber so that it can be rebuilt into a more explosive and powerful system.  Protein facilitates this recovery process.  Failure to supply the body with adequate levels of protein will compromise your ability to repair and rebuild muscles.  Your diet should consist of approximately 30% protein.  During intense training, you should consume .7-.9 grams of protein per pound of body weight. 

typical protein requirements = (bodyweight / 2.2) x .8

Vitamins are organic chemical compounds that the body needs for growth, metabolism, and health.  You need vitamins to make enzymes and hormones required for the chemical reactions necessary for survival.  Vitamins convert food to energy.  (vitamins A, B-1, B-2, B-3, B-6, Biotin, B-12, Choline, C, D, E, Folic Acid, K)
Minerals are inorganic substances not produced by the body.  They are required for proper bodily function.  (calcium, copper, chromium, iodine, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, zinc, boron.)
Water is the most plentiful substance in the body, comprising approximately 70% of your bodyweight.  As you lose water, your blood thickens.  When your blood thickens, it becomes more difficult to deliver oxygen to the brain and muscles.  Water is essential for energy production.  If you lack water, glucose remains in the blood stream until it reaches your liver.  Rather than using this glucose for enery, it is then stored as fat.  When you eat a large carbohydrate meal, it is important to drink plenty of water.  A 5% drop in body water can reduce physical performance by as much as 30%.  A 10% drop will make you ill.  A 20% drop can kill you.  It is important to consume water approximately 20 minutes before exercise as well as drink moderate levels of water throughout the day (8-10 glasses).
A good rule of thumb is to consume 1 part fat, 2 parts protein, and 4 or 5 parts carbohydrates, leaving you with plenty of energy and enough protein to foster recovery.  It is best to consume a small carbohydrate meal (along with water) approximately 2 hours prior to a workout as well as a protein meal with carbohydrates (and more water) shortly after your workout.  This promotes muscle growth and recovery as well as refueling your gas tank for energy.  

If you are looking to lose weight body fat, I'm sure that there are plenty of "unnecessary" things that you can cut out of your diet, so start by being smart and evaluating what makes sense.  Make sure that it is a healthy nutrition program that you can stick with and you will be surprised by the results that you will realize.  In addition, you can check out the fat loss tips published on or 

read the Dietary Guidelines for Americans

published by the USDA.


Elite Bodyweight Exercise of the Month!

Flutter Kicks

Abdominals (rectus abdominis)

Count:  4 count

Description:  Starting position lying flat on your back with your hands beneath your hips supporting your lower back.  With one leg up and one leg straight in leg lift position, you will want to freeze your knees throughout the exercise.  Alternate bringing one leg up and the other leg down.  2 times each leg (LRLR) counts as one repetition (4 count).

Six Pack Science

Throughout history, whether it be artwork or media, a sculpted midsection has been the idealized epitome of strength and attractiveness.  Muscles in general and abs in particular are undoubtedly a status symbol.  Everybody wants to be like the guys and gals in the media ads with the washboard abs.  Unfortunately, there are a few things that people don't take into consideration:  those "ab models" that you see on tv and in magazines are genetically gifted, it's their job to be in perfect shape, you only see them on their very best days (nobody stays shredded all year round), they often use unhealthy fat-burning drugs to speed up metabolism and melt off the last bits of fat around their midsection, photographers play tricks with lighting and touch ups, and you typically see them when they are holding their breath and flexing.  Although this is not meant not discourage you from your abdominal goals, it can help you to understand and ensure that your goals are realistic and achievable.
A pound of fat contains 3,500 calories.  A Big Mac contains 570 calories.  Doing 20 crunches burns about 9 calories.  In other words, a few minutes of abdominal exercise isn't going to make much of a dent in a lifetime's worth of accumulated fat.  You need to understand that exercises you do to build midsection muscles won't have much effect on the fat that surrounds them.  There is no such thing as "spot reducing" or targeting an area where you want to lose fat.  Fat does not turn to muscle... you burn fat and build muscle.  Where you lose fat is determined by patterns established by your anatomy and typically occurs systematically throughout your entire body.  In addition to a standard abdominal routine, one that is performed 2-3 times per week, the most effective means of displaying your six pack is to eat healthy with a good nutrition program and combine regular cardiovascular workouts (aerobic) along with your resistance training (anaerobic) for the most efficient calorie burn.  Once you get rid of that layer of insulation, you'll find that your abs are indeed under there... somewhere.  

Looking for a kick-butt ab routine?  Try this..


It's Go Time!

You ever notice that most of the people that you talk to that are part of that "low-carb cult" don't exercise?  Everyone's looking for the easy way out.  Well, I got bad news for you... there is no such thing as a "magic pill" or "wonder diet" that is going to trim you down and put everything in the right place!  If you want results, be smart.  Eat smart stuff, in smart portions, at smart times throughout the day and you should get the right results.  A healthy nutrition program coupled with a well-defined, regular exercise program should be part of everyone's goals!  No, it's not always easy... but neither is walking up the stairs or countless other tasks when you are overweight and/or out of shape!  If it was all fun and games they wouldn't call it "working out".  You just have to decide how important your health is to you.

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Can you feel it?  It's April and summer is right around the corner!  That means that the amount of clothing that you will be wearing is going to shrink pretty significantly very soon... Are you ready for that?

Good Luck!

Pete Mazzeo


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