Breakfast: 100 cal English muffin with 3 egg whites, 2 jennio-o turkey bacon, coffee
Snack: Protein Shake: 1/2 banana, 1/4 cup strawberries, 1 cup spinach, 1 scoop chocolate whey protein, 1 scoop PB2, ice
Lunch: 1/4 cup black beans, 4 oz chicken, 1/4 cup rice, 1/4 cup edamame, 1/4 avocado
Snack: 1 cup Special K protein cereal, 1/2 banana, 1/4 cup strawberries, 1/2 cup milk
Dinner: Lean Turkey Lasagna and 1 small salad
Snack: 1/2 apple
Breakfast: 1 cup Special K Protein Cereal w/ 1/2 cup of milk, 1 egg and 3 scrambled egg whites
Snack: 1/4 cup pistachios
Lunch: 4 oz. grilled chicken, 1 cup broccoli, 1/4 cup brown rice
Snack: Light & Fit Greek Yogurt with handful of berries
Dinner: Stuffed green pepper (ground lean turkey, black beans, corn, rice, 1/2 TB light sour cream, salsa) and a small salad
Snack: Sugar Free Fudgsicle
Saturday, December 10, 2005. I’m in my second year of college at Oakland University. It’s 6am… I am trying to sleep in after a long week of exams, work, and studying for Mike Stack’s 400 level quizzes in his 100 level class (yes that’s right! I had him as a professor). In my apartment, the wall of my room shared a wall with that of our living room, which proved to have no advantages whatsoever. I was in that perfect sleep position… you know the one! My feet were tightly wrapped under the end of the blanket, a fortress of pillows with just the right amount of fluff surrounded my head. It was shaping up to be a nice relaxing Saturday for me, when all of the sudden…Beep…….Beeeeeeeeep… Beep. Beep. Beep. I didn’t set an alarm clock the night before so I knew it wasn’t that, plus it was coming from the living room! All at once my slumber that previously consisted of “rapid eye movement” transformed into an angry shuffle of rapid foot movement! I charged toward the living room and discovered my roommate chugging away on her exercise bike, punching in her workout numbers on the electronic display-Beep…Beep..Beep. “What are you doing?!” I shouted. She was un-phased and responded, “Didn’t you know you burn more fat doing cardio in the morning?” The rest of the story is really not important, but let’s just say I don’t feel bad for pulling the plug on her exercise bike that morning…and I’ll sleep easier tonight knowing I pulled the plug on this myth for my clients.
Exercising in the morning after an overnight fast is a common strategy employed by individuals of all fitness levels hoping to maximize fat loss. The rationale behind this theory is that upon waking, muscle glycogen (the sugar we store in our muscles and use to perform exercise) is at a reduced level and will force the body into using fat stores as a fuel source. While this sounds like a valid theory and makes sense at first glance it is not supported by any scientific literature.
Studies on performing low intensity exercise (equivalent to walking at 3mph on a treadmill) in a fasted state show more energy is expended from fat after approximately 80-90 minutes of activity. The problem is you have to exercise for almost 1.5 hours to achieve this effect. While you may burn a little more energy from fat as a percentage of total calories burned, the absolute amount of fat you burn is significantly less than if you were to perform moderate intensity exercise. In addition, a percentage of this small increase in fat use comes from fat inside our muscles which has no negative effect on health or appearance.
At moderate and high intensities there is no greater use of fat as a fuel source for exercise in fasted vs. fed state. While it is true that at moderate and high intensities, more fat is readied for use (in a fasted state) it is never actually broken down and used for energy production and therefore is re-stored as body fat. This restoring of fat nullifies any potential benefit from fasted exercise. In addition to any potential benefit of exercising in a fasted state being nullified by the restoring of fat, benefits from consuming calories prior to exercise are not gained. Consuming calories prior to exercise not only increases energy levels (which results in more intense exercise and more calories burned) but there is also an increased thermic effect from exercise when calories are consumed prior to exercise. This increased thermic effect caused by consuming calories pre-exercise would nullify any advantage gained from even low intensity exercise in a fasted state.
Exercising in a fasted state can have a negative impact on the quality of an exercises session. I am sure most clients have seen us handing out glucose tablets to clients during morning or evening sessions. One of the possible reasons for this is because their glycogen depletes quickly, and blood sugar drops, from being in a fasted state (from sleep or from no food since lunch) and they become hypoglycemic. It can take between 5-30 minutes to recover from hypoglycemia and is most situations workouts cannot be finished. Even if you do not experience hypoglycemia your workout intensity is inherently reduced because the main fuel source for any moderate to high intensity training (like WLS, FS, or GRST) is carbohydrate in the form of muscle glycogen. Reduced intensities = less calorie expenditure = less fat loss.
Another important issue that should be noted is the effect of fasted exercise on the breakdown of muscle tissue. Research has noted that muscle tissue breakdown was doubled when training in a glycogen depleted state vs. glycogen loaded state. Over an hour long exercise session at moderate intensities (jog on the treadmill at 4-6 mph) this could account for approximately 10% of calorie loss. For individuals looking to maintain or gain lean mass this would be a major contraindication to fasted training.
Looking at the fuel source used during exercise is shortsighted when trying to quantify the effectiveness of an exercise session with regards to body composition. Most people exercise 4-6 hours during a 168 hour week! The amount of fat burnt during exercise pales into comparison to the amount of fat you burn throughout the day. In order to get an accurate measure of fat loss you must take into account at least an entire 24 hour period. As a general rule, when all else is equal, if you burn more calories from carbohydrate during a workout you will use more fat during the day and vice versa. At the end of the day/week your calorie deficit will be made up for by using fat stores in the body.
Example: 1 week of exercise
Energy expenditure from workouts:
• 3000cals from FAT/ 500cals from CARBS = 3500cals= 1lb fat
• 3000cals from CARBS/ 500cals from FAT=3500 cals= 1lb fat
• No matter how you achieve your deficit your body will use stored fat to make up for it!!!
The “spare tire,” the “arm curtains,” the “love handles…”chances are you’ve used these clever nicknames to refer to your “problem areas” at one time or another. I get it, you want better arms! Now stop waiving those things in my face. Once again, we can blame a wide variety of things for our spot training misconceptions. Pick up the latest issue of Women’s Health, Cosmo, or Shape Magazine and you’re sure to find countless articles on targeting abdominal fat, toning your legs, and tightening your arms. “Lose abdominal fat with these new and exciting moves!” Please, you’d have a better chance selling ice to an Eskimo! The truth is that we’re all guilty of working a little harder on certain areas of our bodies, myself included. It was not until I became educated on the differences between fat loss and hypertrophy of skeletal muscle that I stopped wasting my time. Read on and hopefully you can learn from my mistakes.
First, we need to identify (and come to terms with) why we have “problem” areas. Everyone has at least one area on their body that they are not happy with. For men, problem areas seem to be centered around the mid-section and through the torso. For women, fat mass seems to be concentrated in the hips, thighs, and upper arms. Why? The number one culprit is genetics! Everyone is genetically predisposed to be shaped a certain way. I know this can be hard to hear, but it’s the truth. If you genetically have more fat cells in your lower body, you may never have the legs of the model pictured on the cover of Shape Magazine, and that’s ok! Don’t get me wrong – fitness models work very hard, but they are also “genetically gifted.” That’s why they get paid for it! They look great in pictures because they have very little fat mass, not because they did 8000 bicep curls to tone their arms.
Targeting a specific area on your body through resistance training exercises will work the underlying skeletal muscle; it will do nothing for the overlying fat mass. So what actually happens to the muscle when you “spot train” a certain area? More than likely, you will experience growth of that specific muscle group. The muscle is able to adapt to the stress of exercise by a mechanism called hyperplasia. Hyperplasia is essentially increasing the size and amount of contractile proteins within the muscle fiber, leading to an increase in size of the whole muscle. This muscle growth is a good thing! What people need to realize is that you can increase muscle mass from head to toe, but if you have an inch of subcutaneous fat on top of it, the only results you will see are larger girth measurements. In order to “tone up,” you need to LOSE THE FAT on top of those muscles.
As most of you know, fat loss comes from a calorie deficit. It does not come from crunches, curls, squats or push-ups – it comes from eating less energy (calories) than you expend during the day. Just because you have very sore arms after a workout does not mean you burned extra fat in that area. The burning sensation you feel in your arms while exercising is due to a lack of oxygenated blood getting to your muscle tissue. That burning is not a magic oven that melts fat away from your arms (in fact, the burning you’re feeling is the breakdown of carbohydrate, NOT fat, and the more burning you feel, the more carbohydrate you’re breaking down). The consequent soreness is due to the damaged muscle fibers and lactic acid that builds up during exercise.
If you are in a calorie deficit, you can expect to lose fat mass consistently from head to toe. This does not mean that you are going to visibly “tone up” from head to toe at the same rate. For example, if you have a 10mm triceps skin fold and a 40mm abdominal skin fold, you are going to notice a 3mm drop in the triceps site before you will notice a 6mm drop in the abdominal site. Here’s why: picture a snowman slowly melting in the sun. It always seems like the head of the snowman is melting at twice the rate of the bottom snowball. We know this is not true. They are melting at the same rate, but since there was less snow in the head of the snowman to begin with, it appears to be melting much faster. Same goes for your body. You are going to lose fat mass consistently, but the areas with less fat at the start are going to SEEM like they are changing at a faster rate. Make sense?
Now that we have established that you cannot target one specific area for fat loss, let’s talk about the potential dangers of spot training. Spot training can lead directly to overuse injuries. Take a teenage male for example, who does “curls for the girls” every time he steps into a weight room. Over time, he does not give his muscles the proper amount of time to rest and repair. This can lead to cramping, muscle strains, muscle tears, tendonitis, or even worse, the complete rupture of the biceps muscle or the surrounding connective tissue. An injury to this degree could potentially set him back months! Worth it? I think not!
Another thing to consider when trying to “spot train” is the size of the muscle group you want to work. If your goal is weight loss, the absolute best thing you can do is burn the maximum amount of calories in a specific timeframe. People often ask me, “Why so many squats?” or “Why are we doing more lunges?” or “Why do we do wall sits all the time?” The answer is to burn calories! The more muscle fibers you can activate during a workout, the more calories you are able to expend. You will not find a larger group of muscles than your quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes (all of which are worked by squats, lunges and wall sits.) You can have two people side by side with the same height, weight, age and gender. Person #1 is doing bicep curls and triceps extensions; Person #2 is doing squats and lunges. They both appear to be working equally hard, but who do you think is burning more calories? Person 2! He/she is working a larger muscle group, which requires the body to use more stored glycogen and burn more calories.
In a nutshell, if your main goal is WEIGHT LOSS, spot training will not work for you. If you reach a point where you have no more fat to lose, you can spot train certain underdeveloped muscles to enhance their appearance through muscle growth. Until then, you are not doing yourself any favors by doing extra sets of curls, extensions, crunches, or the most notorious – hip adductor/abductor machines at your local gym. Want leaner arms? Try a squat! Need to blast that tummy fat? Try a lunge! Want to battle the bulge in your thighs? Eat less and move more… Sound familiar!?
Nutrient Timing Tips for athletes:
FYI..since I technically don’t train as hard as a legit athlete..I don’t go to the extent of the above as far as supplements. I just use supplements during my work out (the 20-30g of dextrose and BCAA)..I’ve noticed a significant difference in my muscle tone and energy levels. Just something to think about..