Category Archives: Fat Burning Zone

Quiet the noise!

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OK, a quick recap of confusion in the fitness world. What’s true, what’s not, what’s grey, what’s black, what’s white?

  1. Coffee is bad for you.
  2. Coffee is good for you.
  3. You need cardio to lose weight.
  4. You don’t need cardio to lose weight.
  5. Reduce calories to lose weight.
  6. Reducing calories won’t make you lose weight.
  7. Lifting light weights at high volume will not bulk you up.
  8. High volume & light weights add muscle mass.
  9. Lifting heavy makes you big.
  10. Lifting heavy helps you lose weight.
  11. Reduce fat intake.
  12. Fat doesn’t make you fat.
  13. Paleo works.
  14. Paleo doesn’t work.
  15. The whole wheat-free, gluten-free thing is wrong.
  16. Eat wheat-free, gluten-free.
  17. Barefoot running is bad for you.
  18. Barefoot running is the best way to run.
  19. Crossfit is bad and causes injuries.
  20. The injury rate in Crossfit is not an higher than any other fitness movement.
  21. Vegans cannot add quality muscle mass.
  22. Vegans can add quality muscle mass.
  23. Eating too much protein is bad for you.
  24. You can’t truly eat too much protein before it’s bad for you, you’ll only add muscle.
  25. P90X and Insanity are bad programs that only few people actually finish.
  26. P90X and Insanity are great programs that deliver results.

Please add to the list, as I am sure this can go on in the most unregulated, fastest growing industry that every single person thinks of every day, positively or negatively, at some point, whether it’s buttoning your pants, huffing up the stairs because the elevator’s out, looking at a billboard for Equinox, see an ad for Greek yogurt etc.

Know that for every one of these points, there is data to back it up, and a lot of theories also (be they straw men arguments or not).

Chase away fat with this sprint routine.

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I think the brand is K-Swiss (never owned a pair, sorry K-Swiss, but sponsor me and I’ll write nice things), and on the front window of their Santa Monica store, Danny McBride (as a character he plays in a movie or show I don’t watch either) is holding a pair of shoes (I normally wouldn’t wear) next to a slogan that says “tubes, if you don’t like them, then change your mind!”

I am not contradicting myself when I say “run for enjoyment, don’t run because you think it’ll make you lose fat” and in this post, I am recommending a sprint routine that will help you burn extra fat. Running/jogging at a steady heart rate does burn calories, yes, and does little for your metabolism and “after-burn effect”. Sprinting uses a lot more muscles and is more closely related to resistance training sets, because you’re going to get gassed after a relatively short distance. Your heart can deliver only so much oxygen to your lungs and muscles at once! The routine I am about to suggest is to be done in addition to your weight lifting program, not instead of, and have “fun” doing it, see what you’re made of. And, it’s more “functional” for sports or any physical activities.

The best marathoners (and by that I also mean the fittest, least injured kind) know the value of sprinting. The “burn” or “wall” happens sooner, which allows them to mentally overcome that challenge to get to their second wind faster.

less impact, less “overuse pattern”. And again, more muscles used, more calories burnt, more fat loss. You’ve seen overweight people on the treadmill not making progress after a while (diet factor also included), yet I bet you’ve never seen an overweight sprinter.

See my point above about distance running. Same extra benefit here if you’re busy.

Constant: Pick a spot where you can run 100 meters/yards. Sprint at 50% of your maximal effort. Walk or lightly jog back to your starting point. Repeat. Several times.
Do it on a light training day or off day.

Time: as many sprints as you can in “X” minutes of your choosing. Beat by one+ next time.
Performance: time each sprint and stop when your time is 20% longer than the previous run (vortex). Only use your latest run as a baseline for the next. Again, try to beat the amount of sprints by at least one next time.
Rounds: Choose a set amount of sprints and time how long it takes you to perform them.
Pick any self-limiting variable above and stick with it for at least one or two more sessions. I even do 2 variables at once (performance and time).

After you’ve reached your time limit or your vortex, do one last sprint at 85% max effort. Record the time. You’ll notice something very interesting…

F.A.S.T. Pillar #4: Tone

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This is by far the most common desire and goal for anyone who exercises for the purpose of health.
While there is a vanity factor we should all acknowledge within ourselves (it’s natural, it’s actually not vain but driven by our species’ need to thrive, survive and reproduce), not exercising 3 times a week is actually bad for you (something I see plastered on the walls of Gold’s Gym Venice, based on some scientific study which I don’t recall the exact source…).

Why yes, it is bad for you if you don’t exercise, because of one word: entropy!

Not doing squat (I am not referring to the exercise) is bad because as we age, we lose about a pound of muscle every couple of years past 30. If a pound of muscle burns 50 calories a day (at rest) and you lose 5lb of muscle in your 30’s, when you reach 40, you can gain up to 90lb! How does that work? If you’re not burning 50 calories a day for a year, that’s 50×365=18250 calories the pound of muscle made you not burn. A pound of fat is 3600 calories, so that’s roughly 5lb between the ages of 30 and 32. Compound that over a decade, you get pretty close to 90lb, EVEN IF YOU ARE EATING THE SAME HEALTHY FOODS YOU’VE BEEN EATING THE WHOLE TIME!!!

Well, that’s the culmination of all things wellness related: nutrition, training, sleep patterns and hormonal balance and environmental factors (work, home, stress…). I emphasized exercise for health in the first sentence. Performance based exercise is geared at a specific goal, such as an athlete trying to lift a certain weight, run a certain distance, fight X amount of rounds… The result leads to improved muscle tone and a greater functionality in the muscles anyway, without being the main goal. Consequently, let me ask you this: why not pick a performance-driven goal so you can both look good and do stuff? You don’t have to be an athlete to train like one. Besides, training like an athlete puts you in a better frame of mind for EVERYTHING else in your life. That competitive edge, the desire to push and better yourself is something society is lacking. We make excuses, look for shortcuts and fail.

So, go ahead and DO it. Don’t try, that’s just a promise to fail!

Become Flexible, so you can have more mobility, less aches and pains and greater ability in your daily activities.
Develop your Agility and hand-eye coordination, so you’ll never be off guard, always ready and better prepared with sharper reflexes.
Lift to get Strong, because no one needs to be weak. Lift that baby while you’re carrying groceries, move that couch, push the stranger’s dead car off the main road, rescue the damsel from the fire.
More muscle, more speed, more movement leads to more Tone anyway.

Congratulations, you are now FAST!

To read pillars 1 through 3, click on the links below:
Pillar 1: Flexibility
Pillar 2: Agility
Pillar 3: Strength

Time to eat!

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Long time readers and clients may already know this, but for those of you who recently joined, I thought this blog entry would be a good, simple reminder that you can still enjoy tasty treats while observing good nutrition. I am encouraging the “tasty” part because too often, people see nutrition as some kid of bland hellhole when in fact, some of the most flavorful meals I’ve had were the healthiest.

Simply put, eat what you want, and if it happens to be a carbohydrate, consume it around physical activity, i.e. you want a piece of chocolate or a cookie, have it. You deserve a sweet treat once in a while, enjoy it as your reward after a nice, but intense workout, be in weight training, yoga, a martial arts session, a tennis match or some interval running. Any kind of interval workout, which all of the aforementioned types qualify, makes you burn carbohydrates. All other times, you are burning fat. An endurance workout on the treadmill, or a walk will not burn enough calories and elevate the heart rate to levels of intensity that will solicit your body to tap into your carb tank.
Hence the misunderstanding of the “Fat Burning Zone” on a treadmill.

So, you may consume carbs pre- and/or post- training, and stick to protein, natural fat and fiber all other times.

Dated beliefs and misinterpreted, skewed data will have you believe that there is a Fat Burning Zone, which falls on a lower elevation of the heart rate. On a treadmill for instance, the claim is that you will BURN MORE FAT at low intensity, and that when you run like a mad person at a full 12% incline and 10mph, you’d be burning LESS fat. While that is true, it is not quite how it works, because while the higher intensity of an uphill fast run burns carbs rather than fat, it also burns a heck of a lot more calories than a leisurely walk in the Fat Burning Zone. The FBZ comes from the fact that at rest, we burn fat. As I frequently tell about, overweight people may ask “if I am burning fat while at rest, why am I still fat?” Answer: because you consume too many carbs, which you STORE in your FAT CELLS (picture them as pockets). Thus, our heart rate is lowest at rest, when we burn most fat, and therefore, a lower intensity workout will burn more fat.

The laws of thermodynamics also dictate that thermogenesis occurs by burning more calories than you take in to lose weight. If a pound of fat equals 3500 calories, then a high intensity interval hill run with a heart rate at 85% of your maximum heart rate will get you closer to your weight loss goal than a low intensity walk of the same duration, because the latter will burn way, way less calories.

– Protein (meat, fish, eggs, protein shakes made with water and low carb/sugar content).
– Fiber (veggies, yet they are considered carbs too, no starch in them).
-Natural fat sources (nuts, olives, cheeses, avocados…)

Some of the time (around workouts or, the night before in preparation of a sustained, high intensity caloric burn like a marathon ):
-Carbohydrates (natural sugar from fruits, starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes, dairy -which also contains fat and protein).

There is enough information out there for you to find out on your own what foods fall into what category. Although, I recently interviewed a new weight loss client who told me she ate very well, “a ton of protein every day” and when I asked her to name me the types of protein she ate, she mentioned lots of bread, lots of white rice and lots of bananas… True story. If you don’t see the problem, feel free to email me for a complimentary phone consultation for us to design a nutritional program for you 🙂

(Part 1 of this 2 part post can be found here).