May 21, 2008

Calories are not the enemy

Most people think when trying to lose weight one must cut calories. This is true, but only to a certain point.

Drastic cutting of calories will encourage your body to lose lean body mass (LBM) -- which include your muscles, bones -- anything but fat. This is not good!!! You need your LBM to stay intact so your body works properly. Calories are the fuel that allow your body to function. Calories give your body the protein, carbohydrates and fats it needs to energize your muscles.

Remember that muscle directly effects your metabolism. If you increase your muscle (the strength/size) you increase your metabolism. The opposite is true as well; you decrease your muscle, you decrease your metabolism. (Again - this is not good!!!)

My suggestion mirrors some other personal trainers' suggestions; when you exercise (especially weight train), you need to eat more afterwards. You need to provide fuel to your muscles so they can repair themselves and build strength more efficiently.

One idea is to find out how many calories you need per day to achieve your desired weight (or maintain your current weight) and then add back either a portion of or all of the calories you've burned during that exercise session.

So for example, if you burn 300 calories on the treadmill during your workout, you should add at least 100-200 calories back into your diet (if not all 300). How does this help you lose weight? I swear I'm not crazy. By adding in those calories you are giving your body the energy it needs to continue to repair your muscles stronger, and those muscles continue to burn fat. Again, this is especially true after you've lifted weights. Your muscles crave those nutrients to help build themselves back up again. I'd suggest a protein snack or shake within 30 minutes of finishing your weight training.

You can take my word for it and try this, or you can ignore me. I get tons of weird looks when I tell people my opinion/thoughts about this. But I've seen people follow my advice and drop weight, and I've seen people ignore my advice (which really is fine; it doesn't hurt my feelings) and their body holds on to those last 15 pounds despite their constant efforts at the gym.

Keep in mind how tired you are after a workout. Would you want to workout again, right away, without any rest? That's how your muscles feel afterwards. Not only did you tear their little fibers apart when you lifted weights, but now they have to find the energy to repair themselves to be stronger than they were before. Give them an extra push by feeding them more calories, and they'll work more efficiently for you (increasing your metabolism).