Having a "fast" metabolism means that you're
burning calories efficiently all the time, whether you're
resting or training. When you have a slow metabolism, your
diet doesn't work as well and even a well-designed training
program is rendered less effective. Slow metabolism syndrome
is why it's possible for a person eating very few calories
and "aerobicizing their brains out" to see little or no
results. Your mission is clear: find ways to speed up your
metabolism and get it revving as fast as possible. |
The practice of eating small,
frequent meals - one approximately every three waking hours
- is by far the most effective way to speed up your
metabolism. Five meals a day seems to be the optimal
number for women and six meals is ideal for men. The
difference is because men require on average, about 600-900
calories per day more than women.
So, if five or six meals a day
is good, then seven or eight or even ten must be even
better, right? Well, not exactly. You could experiment with
one extra meal and it might produce slightly better results.
However, it takes a minimum of two to two and a half hours
to digest a meal, so it doesn't make any sense to eat more
than six or seven times per day. If you did, you would only
be piling food on top of undigested food. How much you eat
isn't as important as how much you fully digest and
assimilate. Unless each of your meals was tiny, you also
might be eating too many calories for the day.
After 12 to 16 weeks of strict
pre-contest dieting on super clean high protein foods eaten
six or seven times a day, competitive bodybuilders often
have metabolisms "spinning" so fast, they burn through huge
quantities of food - even junk food! (and they just keep
getting leaner and leaner). When frequent
eating is combined with the right food choices, your body
will literally turn into a turbo-charged fat burning
Coincidentally, eating a
properly constructed meal every three hours is also the only
way to effectively build and maintain muscle. The longer you
consistently practice the five to six meal per day
discipline, the more muscle you'll develop. The more muscle
you develop, the faster your metabolism will become - it's a
positive, self-reinforcing cycle.
Of course you can
still get results on three meals a day. A
traditional breakfast, lunch and dinner, carefully selected
using the guidelines in this program and combined with
aerobic and resistance training, will definitely get you
some noticeable results. However, If you have
ambitious goals, such as bodybuilding or fitness competition
(or if you just want to look like a bodybuilder or fitness
model), then five or six meals meals per day is an absolute
Starving yourself is not the only way to get really lean!
There's no way around the fact that you
must reduce calories in order to burn fat. Energy balance and
thermodynamics dictate that you have to burn more than you
take in for fat loss to occur.
However, most popular diet programs are
too low in calories. Many border on starvation: 1200
calories, 1000 calories, even 800 calories or less.
Ironically, if you cut your calories too low, your metabolism
slows down to protect you from starving. Your fat cells
begin to release less of the hormone leptin, which is the
signal that tells your brain you are well fed and not
starving. This in turn triggers a cascade of other
hormonal, enzymatic and metabolic events including a decrease
in thyroid output (the "metabolism-regulating hormone") and a
dramatic increase in appetite.
It's hormonally, metabolically and
physiologically impossible to achieve permanent fat loss by
starving yourself. In fact, very low calorie diets can
actually make you fatter in the long run. Very low
calorie diets not only slow your metabolism so you burn fewer
calories, they are also much more likely to cause muscle loss.
If you lose muscle tissue, your weight loss will become even
harder and any increase in calories that follows will cause
immediate fat gain. This "rebound effect" is almost
inevitable because no one can stay on low calories (with a
raging appetite and irresistible cravings) forever.
When you put yourself through drastic
measures attempting to achieve rapid weight loss, your
metabolism adjusts itself to maintain
equilibrium in energy balance and body fat balance, much the
same way as a thermostat maintains the temperature of your
home within a desirable range. As soon as you're in
danger of starving, your body will quickly turn your metabolic
"fat thermostat" down, so you burn fewer calories and turn
your "appetite thermostat up" so you eat more calories!
This fail safe mechanism is often referred to as "the
The only way to get rid of fat and keep
it off permanently is to avoid the starvation mode with
physiologically and hormonally correct nutrition and training.
The popular recommendation is that you decrease your calories
very conservatively - only about 20% below your daily calorie
maintenance level - then increase your exercise level
aggressively to burn more calories.
Carefully look at the calorie
recommendations of any diet program before you start it.
You'll probably discover that in most cases, you are required
to slash your calories to "starvation" levels (1200 or less
for women, 1800 or less for men). Any program that's
extremely low in calories will work in the beginning - but it
will never work for long.
So get moving... when you exercise,
including both resistance training and cardio training, you
can actually eat more food while still keeping a small calorie
deficit. You will burn fat, retrain your lean body mass and
your metabolism will thank you!
Bodyweight Exercise of the Month!
Chin & Crunch
mentioned before how great pull-ups and
chin-ups are for your back and biceps. They can also be
a VERY challenging exercise, especially if you have not yet
built up the kind of upper body strength necessary to "pull
your weight". When I started to incorporate chin-ups
into my back and bicep routine, I made the mistake of adding
it towards the end of my workout and not giving them the focus
they require. I quickly found that performing the
chin-ups first, while my muscles were still fresh, made a
significant difference in the benefit that I was able to
obtain from them. This strategy also pertains to other
exercises in your routine that you want to see more results
from. It's good to mix up the order of your routine
sometimes and work a different muscle group first, before
fatigue sets in.
This variation of
the chin-up simply incorporates a hanging crunch into the
exercise. By focusing on a slow controlled crunch of
your knees towards your chest, to match the pace of your
chin-up, it adds another dynamic to the motion and works an
additional muscle group.
arms, abdominals (latissimus dorsi, biceps brachii, rectus
Hang from the bar with an underhand grip (palms facing you).
Pull up, as far as possible attempting to raise your chin
above the bar. At the same time, and at the same pace,
crunch your knees toward your chest. Lower down twice as
slow as you pulled up and repeat until failure.
Weight-training programs manipulate resistance, sets,
repetitions and rest. Changing even one of these
factors affects the capacity in the others. For
example, a short rest interval reduces the capacity to lift
heavy weights or perform more sets or repetitions.
Some research has concluded that the proper rest interval
depends on the goal.
To gain muscle size, you need to give your muscles
adequate recovery time so they can continue to exert their
maximum force. After about 2 minutes following a lift,
your muscles recover 80 percent of their strength. The
recovery percentage is less for each second before the
2-minute mark. Take note of how much time you
currently take between sets to see if you have to rest
Rest longer if the goal is maximum strength development
(5 minutes or more between sets). Rest 3-5 minutes
between sets when lifting loads less than 90 percent of
maximum effort. Rest 3 minutes when training for
muscular power, and take short rest periods (30-60 seconds)
when attempting to boost growth hormone levels. Short
rest intervals of about 30 seconds work best when training
for muscular endurance. Rest time doesn't mean much if
you haven't optimized intensity and volume.
Constructing the optimal workout program is as much art as
There are many factors that can cause
muscle cramps, but there are easy ways to prevent them from occurring.
Here are some common causes and preventions of muscle cramps:
Cause: Overexertion -- By rushing through sets and not giving your
muscles enough time to recover, you can cause a spasm.
Prevention method: Have adequate breaks of 60-90 seconds between
sets. If your doing a total body exercise like squats or dead lift with
a very heavy weight, give yourself 2-3 minutes to recover.
Cause: Dehydration/lack of Vitamins -- Muscle tissue is made up of a
large percentage of water, if you don't drink enough water you will
cramp up a lot easier. Not having enough vitamins such as potassium can
also fast track cramps.
Prevention method: Drink large amounts of water consistently
throughout the day, not just before your workout. To test if you're
drinking enough water you can check the color of your urine. If its
yellow you're dehydrated, if its clear your doing fine.
Try to avoid soft drinks and coffee as they will dehydrate you faster
then not drinking anything at all. If you do end up drinking some coffee
or a soft drink, try to consume twice as much pure water to rehydrate
yourself. Banana's are a good source of potassium, if you cant get a
hold of one though, drink a multi-vitamin.
Cause: Not warming up or stretching your muscles -- Its surprising
how many people in the gym don't stretch and do warm up sets, they just
rush out of the locker room into the weights room and start their normal
heavy sets. This is a sure way to not only get a cramp, but to also tear
a muscle and get injured.
Prevention method: Even if you're late to the gym and its about to
close, you must spend at least 20 seconds stretching each muscle. You
should then perform a warm up set of 15-20 reps with a light weight
before you go all in and start lifting heavy. This doesn't tire you
muscles, it just gets blood pumping, ensuring proper circulation.
Cause: Excessive heat: This is the common cause of cramping during
summer. Your body's heat rises above what it can cool down and your
muscles then overheat, causing them to start cramping.
Prevention method: This relates back to staying very well hydrated,
you must make a conscious effort to keep drinking lots of fluids. If
it's hotter then normal, you may want to turn the pace of your workout
down slightly to prevent your muscles overheating.
With your new found knowledge on how to prevent cramps, you shouldn't
need to worry about getting a cramp ever again!
Doesn't spring bring with it an abundance of new energy?
It makes you want to get out and do something! It's
time to start using your powers for good! Get outside
and bike, walk, run, whatever you can do to get your blood
pumping! Personally, I find it rather painful to
squeak out 30 minutes on a stationary bike... but I look
forward to a nice long 90 minute cycling ride outdoors and I
get a better workout doing it! Give it a try... you'll
find that the outdoor versions of most cardio workouts are
much more enjoyable.|
Reminder: the MS Walk at the U of D is May 20th. To join
the Bear Essentials Walk team
click here. To donate
to the MS Walk
click here. For more
information, just shoot me an
email. Join the
movement... together we can make a difference!
For prior issues of this
newsletter go to
"Exercise: You don't have time not to"