Frequent Questions

“The only bad question is the question you didn’t ask”.
Here are some common questions and answers.

PROTEIN is necessary for the growth, repair, and maintenance of muscle and other lean tissue. Protein is composed of building blocks called amino acids. There are more than twenty amino acids necessary to build tissues, red blood ells, and the hundreds of other protein-rich molecules that sustain life.

Many athletes and exercisers believe that a high protein diet will increase muscle mass and strength. The typical American diet supplies two to three times the recommended amount of protein and is more than adequate to meet all protein needs of athletes and exercisers Research shows that intakes that supersede normal requirements have no effect on building muscles. Only training increases muscle mass and strength.

There is now some evidence to support the use of carnitine to support increased strength in MEN who are dedicated weight lifters. It is of no use to the average strength trainer or young person who is eager to “bulk up”.

Water is essential to life. It is the medium in which all the functions of our body take place. In fact, water makes up 45-65% of our total body weight. About 62% of this water is stored in our cells. The remainders is in plasma, lymph, and other fluids.

The amount of fluid in our body usually remains relatively stable. If, for some reason fluid output exceeds fluid intake it’s no problem–if the imbalance is adjusted pretty quickly. It’s when fluids aren’t replaced that you can get in trouble and experience dehydration. If you do, the effects can be significant. Common symptoms of even mild dehydration include muscle weakness, decreased performance, reduced cardiac function during exercise, higher resting heart rate, decreased oxygen consumption and fatigue.

It’s normal for us to lose body fluids through perspiration, sweating, excretion and exhalation. Abnormal water loss occurs with prolonged vomiting or diarrhea, bleeding, burns and some medical conditions like diabetes.

The best way to prevent dehydration is to drink water regularly. Typical needs are about 6-8 glasses of liquid a day but individual needs vary based on the kinds of food you eat and whether or not you exercise. If you’re exercising you need more water to replace fluids lost as your body regulates its internal thermometer through perspiration. Out and out sweating does not cool your body so the requirement for water on very hot days increases significantly.

Physiologically it’s smart to drink one or two glasses of cold water 10-20 minutes before exercising followed by an additional glass of water for every 20 minutes you work out. If you exercise in very humid conditions you need twice as much.

Water with glucose and electrolytes or sports drinks with polymerized carbohydrates are popular fluid replacements for people who exercise for long periods of time. The polymerized drinks speed the replacement process while providing the carbohydrates for energy.

Plain water remains the best fluid for hydrating the body.

A typical supermarket offers about 20,000 different items. Food labels, now required by law on almost every food, can help you choose among the options available.

The most significant part of the new food labels is a new heading that reads Nutrition Facts. That is followed by:
• a list of the serving size of that particular food and
• the servings per container.
The new labels have more consistent serving sizes that replace those that used to be set by manufacturers.

There are mandatory and voluntary dietary components required on food labels. Mandatory data, per serving, listed in the order in which they must appear are:
• Total Calories
• Calories from fat

The next mandatory portion of the label provides information about nutrients that are most important to the health of today’s consumers and includes:
• Total Fat (in grams) (and a percentage)
• Saturated fat (in grams) (and a percentage)
• Cholesterol (in grams) (and a percentage)
• Sodium (in grams) (and a percentage)
• Total Carbohydrate (in grams) (and a percentage)
• Dietary Fiber (in grams) (and a percentage)
• Sugars (in grams) (and a percentage)
• Protein (in grams) (and a percentage)
and
• Vitamin A (in a percentage)
• Vitamin C (in a percentage)
• Calcium (in a percentage)
• Iron (in a percentage)

WARNING: Although this portion of the label is a significant improvement over the previous label which listed carbohydrate, protein, and fat in grams, it can still be misleading. Health promotion educator, Ronda Gates, has a favorite saying that applies to food labels, “Labels don’t lie, but liars write labels.”

For example, if a label lists 260 total calories and 120 calories per serving, but under that lists total fat (still in grams) followed by a percentage, most consumers believe that percentage is the percentage fat of the food. In fact, if you look closely, you will see that percentage value is nothing more than % of daily value based on a 2,000 calorie diet. These reference values are intended only to help consumers learn good diet basics. If you don’t eat a 2,000 calorie diet, the information is of little use to you.

A successful weight management program requires a long-term approach, one designed to modify the behaviors that can influence our ability to lose or gain weight.

The most important factors in eating for weight loss include maintaining energy and nutrient balance. Severe caloric restrictions will slow down the metabolism, making weight loss harder to achieve. For women this means a minimum of 1200 and for men, 1500 nutrient dense calories a day.
To maintain energy the nutrient balance should be 65-70 percent carbohydrate, 15-20% protein and 20-25% fat. Carbohydrates remain the best choice for fueling muscles and promoting a healthy heart. A 20% fat diet can assure you are not denied the foods that nurture you but limits fat intake to levels that support weight loss.

It’s also important to maintain frequency of meals. Three meals a day is standard in our society but no law says you can’t heat more often. It’s particularly wise to avoid the all-too-common pattern of no breakfast, little or no lunch, and a huge dinner. Several mini-meals of 300-400 calories keep the body’s metabolism elevated.

A varied diet is also important for long term weight loss. Avoid eating large amounts of one type off food–even if it is a nutrient dense food–to the exclusion of others.

Some people have the opposite energy problem. They weigh less than they should and have difficulty putting on weight. Some of the aids to gaining weight are the reverse of techniques suggested for losing weight.

First, start with a nutritionally adequate diet and eat larger meals, more often increasing the energy density of the food. Then, consider a progressive strength training program to add body weight in the form of lean tissue (muscles) while you strengthen the body. If implementing these suggestions does to achieve goal weight, you may need to accept the fact that your body is genetically regulated at a lower level of fatness and maintaining a greater amount of body weight may require more time, effort, and expense than are worthwhile.

Regardless of whether you need or want to lose or gain weight exercise remains the basis for any long term lifestyle goals. A balanced exercise program is the key component of any successful weight loss program. eight loss without exercise can have a negative effect on body composition, especially if weight is regained or lost.

So, exercise, eat a balanced and varied diet, low in fat, low in sugar and high in fiber. If you maintain that regimen the body will find it’s own genetic set point.

Absolutely. Although aerobic exercise burns far more calories, and a higher percentage fat calories, than strength or anaerobic training, weight lifting, or resistance training, increases your lean body mass. Muscle tissue is metabolically active. It uses as much as 45 calories per pound per day to sustain itself. The more muscle tissue you have, the higher your resting metabolism. Even when watching television, the local gym rat burns more calories than their couch potato neighbor. So, while aerobic exercise burns fat during and briefly after a workout, the lean muscle tissue that is gained by lifting weights burns calories around the clock. That’s especially important if you want to decrease body fat.

Stronger muscles also enable you to perform daily activities more easily. The result is less fatigue at the end of the day. Well-conditioned muscles also reduce your risk to injury.

Strength training is a highly individualized procedure. That’s why two equally successful strength athletes may have very different training routines. Nevertheless, in order to increase muscle mass or lean tissue, you need to train with weights a minimum of two to three times per week. The best resource for a program that will augment your aerobic conditioning program is a fitness professional trained to develop a program to meet your needs.

The American College of Sports Medicine now considers resistance training a necessary component of any sound exercise program. So regardless of what your fitness goal may be, get out there and toss some weight around.

If you’ve resolved to leave bad habits behind, you know how difficult it can be to maintain that resolve, but there are some ways you can successfully negotiate the path to new behaviors.

Set goals and objectives. They add aim to energy, focus effort and structure time. Surveys show that people who plan ahead are much more successful over the long term than those who plunge in without knowing where they’re going or how they’ll get there. Remember: Goals should be specific, measurable, attainable and realistic.

Put your goals in writing. Written goals are a tangible sign of a promise that you intend to keep. They will also help you track you progress, make your accomplishments more obvious, and help you identify problem areas that need more attention.

Identify supporters and saboteurs. The support of others will make it easier for you to pass through the sometimes difficult transition from old to new behaviors. Identify the people who will nurture you and help you maintain your well-being, as well s those who don’t see your point of view.

Plan for the unexpected. Lack of time is the most frequently mentioned reason for discontinuing a fitness program. Life is filled with surprises, so include strategies that assure you will make time for keeping your commitment.

Reward your success. Set up a reward system so you can receive a treat for changed behaviors. Some examples include extra time for yourself with a favorite book, a manicure or pedicure, a trip with a special friend or a lecture or play that stimulates your mind. Avoid rewards related to food and drink that may be sabotaging in the long run.

Negotiating the path to new behaviors can be fulfilling and rewarding if you can hang in there for the weeks to months necessary to make new behaviors lifestyle habits

It’s always a good idea to begin any aerobic workout, especially a run, with a light bout of walking or light jogging to allow muscles, tendons and other tissues to warm up gradually. Some fitness experts believe that’s all you need to do to prepare for a workout–that stretching serves no useful purpose. However, limited joint mobility can predispose you to injury and taking a few minutes to increase flexibility in muscle groups that might be overused cannot hurt. In fact, Research by Peter and Lorna Francis support the use of appropriate flexibility exercise before and after a walking or jogging workout. They encourage stretching the Achilles tendon, calf and hamstring muscle groups, quadriceps muscles, foot and even the low-back muscles will help improve jogging and running efficiency.

There are several types of stretching but they can be placed into two main categories: passive stretching and active stretching. During a passive stretch, the elastic components of the muscle are usually relaxed, and the portion of muscle most likely to be loaded is the connective tissue. The static stretch method is an excellent example of passive stretching. Active stretching has grater effects on the elastic components of the joints. It requires muscle contraction through a range of motion and prepares the muscles, tendons and joints for the functional activities at hand.

Regardless of which stretch you choose to use resist the temptation to rush through the stretching phase of your warm up. Stretches performed improperly and in haste are of little value. Talk to your personal trainer for the stretches most useful for your genetic make up and the goals and objectives of your run or other workout.

Interval training is a special training technique that involves periods of maximum or near maximum exercise interspersed with periods of rest or light activity. These intervals, which can be used to enhance competitive performance in a specific sport or to improve general fitness can vary in four ways, intensity and/or duration of the “sprint” and intensity and/or duration of the “rest.” Depending on how the workout varies an athlete can train the specific energy system necessary to develop his or her sport.

If you want to become a better sprinter, for instance, the Creatinine-Phosphate energy system needs to be trained. To do this, hard short sprints need to be followed by long walks. In “sprint” you go completely anaerobic then make sure you are breathing comfortably before the next sprint. During rest the ATP and Creatinine Phosphate energy systems are fully restored. The muscles say, “If I have to learn to sprint that hard, I have to make more than normal amounts of ATP between the sprints.” “I can only do that if the rest period is completely aerobic.”

On the other hand, if you are a middle distance runner (or play stop and go sports) you engage in exercise that can build up painful lactic acid. To delay this build up you need to train intensely then back off to aerobic levels where you almost get their breath back–sprinting again before you have completely recovered. Since the ATP and Creatinine Phosphate system are only partially replenished the muscles learn to handle greater and greater loads of lactic acid with less fatigue.

The long distance runner, interested in training the aerobic system, runs as hard as possible–moving into anaerobic metabolism then “resting” almost immediately in an aerobic mode. The secret in this form of interval training technique is in the recovery. During recovery aerobic enzymes not only replace ATP and Creatinine Phosphate they also process lactic acid and increase aerobic enzyme activity.

Interval training is the ultimate form of cross training because it makes use of all your energy systems. But most of all, it brings variety to a workout, decreases injury, and can make exercising fun.

Height-weight charts are statistical landmarks developed in the 1930’s by looking at height and average ranges of body mass of men of military age for whom the mortality rate was lowest. They did not take into account specific causes of death or the quality of health prior to death. At that time a man more than fifteen percent above the highest number in the range was considered obese and a health risk. In the 1940’s it also meant he was ineligible for military duty. The chart was developed by insurance companies. The numbers for women were extrapolated from the figures for men.

In the 1980’s the ranges for men and women were increased by about ten pounds to allow for the increased mass that is carried by most of us born after WWII.

Height-weight charts are now regarded as outdated by health and fitness professionals. That’s because total body weight, or mass, is not as important as your ratio of fat to lean tissue. This information is not revealed by a scale. Only body composition assessment, commonly called body fat testing, allows a qualified technician to accurately predict an individual’s percentage of body fat, pounds of fat and pounds of lean and a realistic weight goal..

Most of us have heard of stories of airline attendants who were put on probation when their weight was too high for their height or lean football players who, based on height-weight charts, were told to lose weight. How many of us have weighed ourselves in the morning because we know how radically weight changes over a day?

If you are still relying on height weight charts to determine if you are over or underweight you are “out of step” with the fitness community. Dump those statistics and your scale along with it. They’re worthless!

Most people who exercise and decrease caloric intake can expect to see decreases in body fat. It doesn’t always happen as quickly as we hope. Research has shown that the body has an internal control mechanism that drives it to maintain a particular level of body fat. The term used to described this phenomena is “set point.”

The set point mechanism acts much like a thermostat, turning energy expenditure up or down to avoid either weight gain or weight loss. When you restrict caloric intake the body attempts to maintain its weight and fat by lowering the metabolic rate. Conversely, the body will lose weight gained in excess of its internally regulated point by increasing metabolism. This may explain why some people have to exercise quite a bit in order not to gain weight.

Until recently we were told that the most efficient way of manipulating the set-point was by increasing exercise, thereby programming the body to store less fat. Now we know that after a certain amount of time this is no longer true. That internal control mechanism wants to maintain the equilibrium defined by your genes. So, although you can exercise your way to a leaner body than your parents, at a certain point it becomes counterproductive.

Most people who claim to be exercising more and eating less without seeing changes in body composition feel desperate. They begin to exercise more and eat less. In fact, the “cure” for a damaged set point is to drop back on your exercise program and increase the nutrient density of your diet.. Since this flies in the face of everything you have heard it’s a difficult task that can only be managed with daily support and dealing with body image issues that usually raise their ugly head at this time.

Stress is another well recognized cause for the inability to decrease body fat despite a physically active lifestyle and low calorie diet. Weight experts now acknowledge there is a relationship between stress and even suggest that it has to do with the fight or flight mechanism that encourages the body to store fat under stress. However, there is no significant research to explain this phenomena.
If you are exercising more and eating less and still not able to lose weight you face a significant challenge that needs to be met with a change in attitude.

Whatever you do, don’t charge off on another tangent that may make the situation worse. Consult your fitness professional for the non-judgmental support you need to be fit and fat.

Physicians used to be concerned about the total amount of cholesterol in the blood. Now they want to know the amounts of the two main forms of cholesterol, HDL and LDL. An elevated level of HDL, the “good” cholesterol is praised. On the other hand, LDL cholesterol is called “bad” because higher levels indicate an increased risk of heart disease.

Cholesterol is necessary to life. Without it we wouldn’t be able to digest fat since it is a key ingredient in bile. We wouldn’t have male or female characteristics because it is part of the steroid hormones. For that matter, we wouldn’t even exist since it is a major constituent of all cell membranes.

Cholesterol is a fat. In order for cholesterol to be soluble in watery blood, the liver wraps it with some protein so that blood won’t “see it” as a fat. When the protein wrapping is heavy and thick, it is called high density lipoprotein (HDL). When it is rather thin, it is called low density lipoprotein (LDL).

Cholesterol is a fat. In order for cholesterol to be soluble in watery blood, the liver wraps it with some protein so that blood won’t “see it” as a fat. When the protein wrapping is heavy and thick, it is called high density lipoprotein (HDL). When it is rather thin, it is called low density lipoprotein (LDL).

The better wrapped HDL doesn’t get “dumped” so easily. In fact, en route to its intended destination HDL cholesterol has a neat way of scavenging arterial walls by picking up cholesterol from them. Thus, it gets its “good” cholesterol reputation. Neither one or the other is really good or bad. They are simply two different delivery systems. It’s when they get out of balance that problems arise.

When you’re in stressful situations, be they physical, mental, or emotional, your adrenal glands secrete special hormones to help you through the stress. These hormones include epinephrine (also called adrenaline), norepinephrine, and cortisol. They prepare your body to handle stress by speeding up the heart to increase cardiac output, constricting blood vessels to the gut while enlarging those to the muscles, and dilating pupils dilate to give us a better look at whatever we’re confronting. They stimulate the liver to release its glucose stores for quick energy. Fat depots are induced to liberate free fatty acids for fuel. Stress hormone release produces a heightened state of awareness which helps us think more clearly and quickly.

The good thing about these hormones is the way they prepare the body to run away from danger. The potential bad effect is that many normal body functions are subverted in order to meet the demands of flight. Amino acids that are supposed to be used for tissue growth and repair are, under stress, burned for energy instead.

If the stress is emotional rather as well as physical, you have a medical time bomb. With constant stress, there is a constant perversion or re-routing of amino acids. Instead of supplying fresh material to grow hair, make antibodies, and rebuild heart muscle, amino acids are removed from tissues, travel to the liver, then go to muscles to be burned up as flight fuel.

A heart attack in someone under constant stress is more likely to be lethal. Invading bacteria from a cut are less likely to be mopped up by the white blood cells. The immune system is less hardy. Muscle wasting is more likely. People, training hard for athletics, are more likely to tip over into the over training syndrome.

What we need is a drug that will encourage our adrenal glands to make more stress hormone when we really need them, but none for the routine occurrences that we perceive as stressful. You will be pleased to know that such a drug is available although it has not been sanctioned by the American Medical Association, released by the Food and Drug Administration, or approved by the surgeon general. The drug is called exercise and you don’t need anyone’s permission to use it.

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