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Answers to Some of Your Health & Fitness Questions (Thanks for writing in)!

Q: Is it true that in order to burn fat more effectively I need to exercise at a lower intensity? I also noticed that my treadmill has a "fat burning zone". At this intensity I don't feel like I'm getting a good workout. Do easier workouts really burn more fat?

A: The information on those machines can be deceiving. The "fat burning zone" is a myth that is based on a fact, but taken out of context.

It's true that higher intensity exercise uses more glucose and glycogen (the form of energy your body gets from foods) in proportion to fat, but remember that "high intensity" in this context means exercise that you can only maintain for a couple of minutes before becoming exhausted (i.e. anaerobic exercise). It's also true that low intensity exercise uses more fat as fuel; moderate intensity exercise that you can maintain for 20 minutes or more is aerobic exercise, and will burn both fat and glucose.

You're better off exercising in the aerobic zone as much as you can, because exercising at higher intensities burns more total calories. The "fat burning zone" business is very misleading. You will burn a larger percentage of fat in relation to glucose when you are working at a lower intensity, but you will also burn fewer total calories and less total fat.

Bottom line: The relative percentage of fat burned has nothing to do with weight loss--it's the total amount calories burned that counts. So just ignore the machine and continue to exercise aerobically. As a bonus, aerobic exercise also strengthens your heart and cardiovascular system, lowers blood pressure, and improves cholesterol levels.

Q.  I started a walking routine 3 days per week and gave up sweets but I still am not showing any results.  Can you help me?
A.  Be sure your walks are brisk enough to increase your breathing and heart rate to a comfortable but hightened level.  A casual walk will not burn enough calories to lose weight.  You should break a sweat, but not be gasping for breath.  Make your walks at least 30 mins. in duration to get the full aerobic calorie burning benefits.  Add a day here and there when you can. 
Don't give up all your favorite snacks, rather work them into your meals periodically to stop any feeling to binge.  Go easy on potatoes and starches--they also turn directly to fat. 

Q.  I'm in pretty good shape, but can't get rid of the love handles that hang over my pants.  Any suggestions?
A.  Be sure you are doing enough aerobic to burn fat.   Do stomach crunches that twist at the waist and perform them slowly so to build muscle in that area.  A combination of these and a little patience will get you the results you're looking for in this area.  Also, keep the amount of sugar and saturated fat in your diet to a minimum.  Up your low-fat diary calcium intake to burn more stomach fat.  Also include resistance exercises which will up your metabolism (your calorie burning mechanism).

Q.  I am about 50-70 pounds overweight and want to start lifting weights.  How can I lose pounds and build muscle at the same time?
A.  Anyone who needs to lose over 30 lbs. should do an excessive number of repetitions (movements) with lighter weights.  Work up to 75-100 reps for each part of the body.  This much movement will still fatigue the muscle needed for it to rebuild, however, the constant movement will also add to your aerobic/cardio.  Every move you make burns calories, so the more movement in your workout, the more calories you'll burn.

Q.  I have been working out more, but still not losing weight.  What can you suggest?
A.  Look first at your calorie intake for a day.  Is it consistent with your "goal weight"?  [Goal weight divided by 2.2 X 24(hours) = Ideal Calorie Intake]
If you are taking in the right amount of calories, I suggest changing your exercise routine as your body will adapt and this makes it harder to see results.  If you're a runner, try some weight lifting.  The extra muscle will burn more calories.  If you're a weight lifter, add aerobic exercises like fast walking or running, this will slim you down.  This is "Cross-Training".  You're body will respond faster to a change in your routine.  As a rule, you should have a mix of cardio and resistance exercises and should change your routine at least every 3 mos. to keep the body challenged.

Q.  When is the ideal time of day to exercise?
A.  Anytime you can get exercise in is the best time to do it.  If you have an option, though, it is probably best to do it mid-day.  By that time, your body has loosened up from the long sleep and you are less likely to get injuries.  Early morning exercise can get your metabolism rolling, but your immune system is low and can make you prone to sicknesses, especially if you push yourself hard.  Late night exercise can cause you to lose sleep.  Ideally, about 1-2 hours after your first nourishing meal of the day is the way to go.

Q.  I recently lost 30 pounds on the Adkins Diet, but now that I'm eating more carbs, I'm slowly gaining it back.  What should I do.
A.  The Adkins Diet really does work to help you lose weight, many people sing the praises, however, it is an eating plan that you just can't stick with for life and once you go back to regular eating, the pounds creep back on.  Besides that, high protein and fat can have negative effects on your organs if you continue it for the long-term.  Be sure to stay away from the processed foods and sugars as you did on the diet, eat lean proteins with every meal (no bacon, no bad fats) to keep you feeling full, but add more fruits and vegetables to your menu.  Your body will re-adjust to a normal diet, but as long as you are not taking in excessive calories, this is a healthy one you can stick with for life.

Q.  I am a busy man in my mid-30's and want a program that will get the best results in the least amount of time.  I am not overweight, but I want to tone up and define my muscles.  What do you recommend?
A.  Circuit training is exactly what you are looking for.  You will be building muscle at the same time you are burning calories aerobically.  A routine such as this incorporates lifting weights with opposite parts of the body (upper first, then lower), with little or no rest between sets causing an elevated heart rate for an aerobic burn.  When both parts of the body become too fatigued to continue, you use a treadmill or march in place to keep your heartrate up.  Do an hour of circuit training 3-4 times per week for ultimate time-saving results (see 45-Minute Miracle--this is a circuit training routine).