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Build Muscle Not Fat


Still haven't gotten rid of that old winter padding? Maybe it has slowly crept up on your unsuspecting physique over years of wrong food choices.

Still haven't gotten rid of that old winter padding? Maybe it has slowly crept up on your unsuspecting physique over years of wrong food choices.

Since we're all born with some 30 billion fat cells and each one can expand up to 1,000 times in volume, we have an unlimited capacity to store fat. Excess fat is "dead-weight:" it slows us down, robs us of energy and contributes to an early demise. To win the war on fat you should understand the biochemistry of fat burning.

Concentrate on building lean muscle tissue through resistance exercise like weight training-it's the key to long-term fat loss. This is due to the numerous energy factories called mitochondria found throughout muscle cells. The more muscle you have, the higher your fat-burning potential.

With proper exercise, we build muscle, increase our basal metabolic rate and prolong lifespan. One pound of active muscle burns more than 50 calories a day. The more active our muscles, the more active the mitochondria in those muscles become and the more fat we burn 24 hours a day even when we're resting.

Aerobics Myth

Surprisingly, high intensity cardiovascular activity can be counter-productive to fat-loss goals. Too much will not build muscle. In order to create extra fuel, the body begins to break down proteins from muscle in a process called gluconeogenesis. This is the remaking of glucose from other body materials, mainly by the liver and kidneys. Muscle will be lost and fat-burning capacity diminished. This process cannibalizes muscle tissue almost faster than dieting.

The body usually starts warming up with a rich blood glucose mix, not fat. Certain hormonal and enzymatic responses then change the primary fuel mix to fat, which usually takes about 20 minutes.

Do a 20-minute warm-up like the weight-bearing activity first and the cardio activity second, or do the cardio activity longer than 20 minutes to ensure you're burning fat. It's like a car heater. The engine needs to warm up before you get warm air. Weightlifting frees up fatty acids to be burned during cardio activity so that we burn body fat as our primary fuel source. As muscles are used regularly, over time they will increase their ability to utilize fat as a preferred source of energy.


You're not in fat-burning mode if you can't carry on a conversation while exercising without gasping for your next breath. Gasping is an indication that there's insufficient oxygen being supplied to the tissues. Your body will switch gears and start burning glucose as its main fuel instead of fat. It takes an enormous amount of oxygen to burn the dense fat molecules.

The optimal intensity when it comes to fat loss is whatever intensity allows us to take in enough oxygen to burn fat. Usually it is much lower than the proposed anaerobic threshold of 70 percent of maximum heart rate: it's more like 50 to 60 percent. This is good news for all of you who love taking long walks an excellent fat-burning exercise.

The best time to exercise for most effective fat-burning potential is first thing in the morning. I know: you barely have enough energy to get out of bed, let alone hop on a treadmill. Over a short period of time however, your body gets used to the new time zone. Before you know it, you won't believe you ever exercised at any other time of day! Exercising in the morning allows you to take advantage of the body's higher metabolic rate for the entire day. Every time you sit down to eat after exercise, you'll be more efficient at burning the calories.

Eating Right On Time

Along with resistance exercise, proper high-octane fuel is needed to maintain lean tissue and increase metabolic rate. Most important is to supply the body with the right fuel at the right intervals. Circadian rhythms, the natural daily patterns of the various processes within our bodies, are regulated by the cycle of daylight and darkness. Since we produce most of our energy in the daytime and begin to shut down at night for the sleep phase, eating should closely follow this natural metabolic cycle.

Here are some suggestions:

  1. The largest meals should be consumed early in the day, with the size of meals declining later in the day. No one meal should be higher than 500 calories. The evening meal should be approximately 300 to 350 calories and should have little or no carbohydrate other than fibrous vegetables like lettuce, spinach, broccoli and cauliflower.

  2. Eat regularly for optimum fat burning. Never let more than three waking hours go by without fueling the body. After about four hours, blood sugar levels tend to dip and the body switches into its starvation-protection mode. This is hard on hormones.

  3. At least two meals should consist of shakes that contain quality dietary protein, fruit from the berry family and essential fatty acids such as organic ground flax meal.

  4. Stick to foods that are on the low side of the glycemic index, like fibrous vegetables and fruits such as berries and apples, and stay away from processed foods like white bread and pasta.

  5. Be sure to consume high quality organic dietary proteins like free-range eggs, cultured whole milk, firm tofu, miso and tempeh. At least one tablespoon of organic flax seed oil should be consumed each day to supply your body with essential fatty acids. They actually help burn body fat.


Innovation for Good

Innovation for Good

Neil ZevnikNeil Zevnik