- I’m a 41 year old male who has gained 10 pounds over the past few years. My waist is growing,
but I don’t think I’m eating more. What can I do to stop getting fat?
- You are not alone. An average American between ages 20-50 gains about half a pound per year. This
is largely due to a gradual loss of lean muscle mass, and the slowdown of one’s basal metabolism.
To control this trend, you must eat smarter and add exercise to your lifestyle. Instead of skipping breakfast and grabbing a donut in the late morning, begin your day with a balanced breakfast. This helps prevent overeating at lunchtime.
Try having a fiber-rich snack in the late afternoon. This will help curb your appetite at dinnertime. By eating more plant based diet and avoiding fast foods, you may be able to decrease your daily caloric intake without counting calories. Begin walking for 15 to 30 minutes 3 to 5 times per week. Then consider adding a strength program to your routine. You’ll feel better and will lose that extra weight in a healthy way.
- People on the Atkins diet lose as much as 5 pounds in one week. Is it possible to lose 5 pounds of fat in one week?
- No! This weight loss mostly comes from water. When the body is depleted of glycogen (the storage form of glucose) on a low carb diet, water associated with glycogen is lost (6 water molecules for each glycogen molecule). There is about a pound of glycogen in the body (approximately 75 grams in the liver and 350 grams in muscle tissue) so about 5-6 pounds of water is lost when the glycogen storage is depleted. This is why people gain weight back quickly as soon as they resume eating carbohydrate rich foods.
What is the Energetic Equivalent of Body Tissues? Implications for Weight Loss
(From Biochemical and Physiological Aspects of Human Nutrition, by Martha Stipanuk, WB. Saunders Publishers. 2000)
- Do I have to join a gym, or can I work out at home?
- As long as you have a good exercise program and proper training, where you work out
is your choice. If you decide to set up a home gym, it’s a good idea to consult a qualified
personal trainer for equipment recommendations. It’s also advisable to get trained to use
the equipment correctly. This will ensure better results and help prevent injury.
If you enjoy social interaction while exercising, joining a gym is a good choice. Proper training is critical. Ask your trainer to design a safe and effective exercise program for you. Don’t make the mistake of watching and imitating other people’s exercise methods—chances are they are lifting weights and exercising incorrectly.
- I have been doing 100 sit-ups each day for the last 3 months, but I can’t get rid of my love handles. What can I do?
- Unfortunately, the typical sit-ups are not effective in toning your abdominal muscles. A study conducted at San Diego State University Biomechanics Lab concluded that the traditional “crunch” is one of the least effective ways to train abdominal muscles.
The study found that the 3 best exercises to train the abs are the “captain’s chair”, the “reverse curl” and the “bicycle maneuver.” These exercises will help firm you up, but you must also eat smarter to lose the excess fat.
- I’m not a morning person and don’t have time to exercise before work. I heard it’s not good to exercise at night. Is this true?
- There is nothing wrong with working out at night, although some people don’t feel motivated when they’re tired and hungry after a busy day. Also, some people find it difficult to fall asleep after exercising. Ways to avoid these problems include having a healthy snack a couple of hours before working out. It is also advisable to allow 1.5 hours after exercising before going to bed. This allows the body’s core temperature to drop and it will be easier to fall asleep.
- I was told that walking is the best exercise for fat burning. I try to walk for 30-60 minutes per session, but can’t do it every day. Any advice for an alternative exercise?
- The belief that low-intensity exercises like walking burn the most fat is incorrect. The amount of calories burned is proportional to body weight, intensity and duration. Since body weight is a constant, the lower the intensity of the exercise, the longer the duration to burn the same number of calories. As you get fit, increasing your pace and adding hills will help burn calories more efficiently while decreasing time spent.
- I am afraid if I follow plant based diet I do not get enough protein. How much protein supplement shall I consume?
- According to Institute of Medicine, the adult recommended daily allowance (RDA) of protein is 0.8 g per each Kilogram of body weight(1). This means a man who weighs 180 pounds (about 82Kg) needs about 66 g of protein per day. For serious strength athletes and ultra-marathoner the amount could be higher at 1.41g per Kg Body weight(2). This amount is easily obtained by eating beans, nuts, seeds, vegetables and whole grains (see the Fueling the Vegetarian (Vegan) athlete by Dr. Fuhrman)(3). Present day vegan athletes such as Tony Gonzales of Kansas City Chiefs and Olympian Carl Lewis provide evidence that high-level athletic performance can be achieved without consuming animal protein. You do not need to supplement with protein powder as food provides sufficient protein. There is potential dangers of excess protein intake using protein powder supplement as it elevates insulin like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) level which promote cancer growth(4).
- Many people are losing weight on low carb diet. Do you recommend low carb diet?
- Carbohydrate is the preferred fuel for our brain and muscles. When a person increases the exercise intensity, the body’s fuel selection toward glucose increases until 100% of the fuel is coming from glucose. Therefore if you an athlete you need to consume enough carbohydrate to maximize the carbohydrate storage. We store glucose as glycogen in liver and muscles. A typical amount of stored glycogen is about a pound, but research has shown the amount of glycogen storage can be reduced to half(5). Carbohydrates are found mostly in plant based food which is the important source of fiber, micronutrients and phytochemicals. Reducing ‘empty’ carbohydrates such as white bread and sugary snacks is a smart choice, but lowering all carbohydrate will slow you down. For weight loss, I recommend eating more green vegetables and beans and less starchy vegetables like potatoes.
According to research by Brie Turner-McGrievy, Ph.D. those who followed vegan or vegetarian diet shed twice as much weight as omnivores-even though half of them cheated during the study conducted at the University of South Carolina(6). If you make half your meals meatless by swapping in beans and mushrooms for beef or chicken will help you shed more weight, too.
- Which is more effective for weight loss, exercise or dieting?
- Weight loss will come mostly from change in your diet, but exercise will minimize muscle loss. This is critical as the reduction of your muscle mass means lowered metabolic rate. This causes the weight loss increasing difficult and make you gain back all the weight lost plus more fat once you stop your restrictive diet. Often the weight you gain back is in your visceral fat which is considered to cause heart disease and metabolic disease(7). The true benefit of exercise is beyond the weight loss since aerobic exercise such as walking and stationary bike will increase the number of mitochondria, your body’s energy producing machinery. Mitochondria is where the fat is burnt so that more mitochondria you have, the better fat burner your body will become. This transformation does not happen overnight or in a week, but this is why you do not want to diet without exercising.
- Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine. Dietary reference intakes for energy, carbohydrate, fiber, fat, fatty acids, cholesterol, protein and amino acids. 2002/2005. Washington DC: National Academy Press.
- Tamopolsky MA, Atkins SA, MacDougall JD, et al. Evaluation of protein requirements for trained strength athletes. J Appl Physiol. 1992; 73 (5) 1986-95
- Fuhrman J, Ferreri DM. Fueling the vegetarian (vegan) athlete. Curr. Sports Med. Rep. 2010; 9 (4) 233-41
- Dewell A, Weidner G, Sumner MD et al. Relationship of dietary protein and soy isoflavones to serum IGF-1 and IGF binding proteins in the Prostate Cancer Lifestyle Trial. Nutr. Cancer. 2007; 58 (1) 23-42
- Huston M. Biochemistry primer for exercise science. Chicago: Human Kinetics; 2006.113p.
- Turner-McGrievy GM, Davison CR, Wilcox S. Does the type of weight loss diet affect who participates in a behavioral weight loss intervention? A comparison of participants for a plant-based diet versus a standard diet trial. Appetite. 2014; 73:156-62.
- Van der Kooy K, Leenen R, Seidell JC, Deurenberg P, Hautvast JG. Effect of weight cycle on visceral fat accumulation. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 1993; 58 (6) 853-57.