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Monday, May 08, 2006

Did You Inherit Fat Genes? The Truth About Biology And Body Fat.

Battle Your Biology? Fat Chance," proclaimed a headline recently in the health section of the New York Post newspaper. Quoting new research and citing psychologists, dietitians and physicians, the article says that more and more evidence proves that your weight is genetically determined, and if you're fat, "it's not your fault." "We've known for a while that genes - more than environment and behavior - explain obesity" argues Dr. James Rosen, an eating disorder specialist and professor at the University of Vermont.
While genetics are definitely a factor, believing you are destined to be overweight for life because you've inherited "fat genes" is the most disempowering and self-defeating attitude you could ever adopt. The only way you’ll lose weight permanently is to accept total responsibility for yourself and acknowledge the fact that you have the power to change, regardless what mother nature has given you to work with.
There's no denying that heredity plays a major role in how difficult it will be for you to lose fat. You inherited a body type, a predetermined number of fat cells, a metabolic rate and body chemistry just as you inherited your eye color and hair color. In the 1930's, Harvard psychologist Dr. William H. Sheldon developed a classification system for these different body types called "somatotyping." While there are no absolutes, Sheldon identified three basic somatotypes: ectomorphs, mesomorphs and endomorphs.
Ectomorphs are the lean, lanky types. They are usually very thin and bony, with fast metabolisms and extremely low body fat. An ectomorph can eat like a horse without gaining an ounce. Mesomorphs are the "genetically gifted." They are lean, muscular and naturally athletic. Mesomorphs lose fat and gain muscle with ease. Endomorphs are the "fat retainers." Characterized by round features, excess body fat and large joints ("big bones"), endomorphs usually have great difficulty in losing body fat. They have slow metabolisms, they are often carbohydrate sensitive, they gain fat quickly if they eat poorly or don't exercise, and they lose fat slowly - even on a healthy diet.
The tendency of endomorphs to store fat easily can be partly attributed to metabolic problems. For example, endomorphs often metabolize carbohydrates inefficiently. Normal people can eat lots of carbohydrates - up to 60% of their total calories - and they still stay lean. Endomorphs produce too much insulin when they eat carbohydrates and this leads to increased fat storage and difficulty in losing existing fat. This condition is known as "insulin resistance" or "Syndrome X."
Scientists claim that the tendency to gain weight easily may also be due to chemical imbalances in the brain that cause people to overeat. Researchers at Johns Hopkins recently announced the discovery a compound called C75 that blocks an appetite-regulating hormone in the hypothalamus. In mice injected with the substance, 30 percent more weight was lost because the drug caused the mice to eat less. More research is planned to develop a similar appetite-suppressing drug for humans. Unlike Xenical, which blocks fat absorption in the intestine, this new drug would affect the brain's chemistry so that people feel full sooner.
Many physicians and health professionals consider these metabolic disorders and chemical imbalances as genetically transmitted "diseases" that require medical treatment. "Obesity is a disease and should be treated like one" says Jackie Newgent, spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association . This idea should be viewed with a great deal of suspicion however, because weight loss is potentially the biggest market in the world for drug sales.
According to Justin Gillis, a staff writer for the Washington Post, more than 45 companies worldwide are trying to develop new obesity drugs, and the stakes couldn't be higher. Gillis writes, "In world where a blockbuster drug is worth $1 billion a year in sales, analysts give $5 billion as the low estimate for sales of an important obesity drug. If a company developed a truly safe, effective weight loss drug, and sold it for $3 a day to one quarter of the 97 million American adults estimated to be overweight, sales would exceed $26 billion a year in this country alone."
Basically, what the medical community is trying to tell you is that if you are overweight, it's not your fault; you were born fat, so don't feel guilty - and don't worry, we have a drug that can "cure" you. Sounds like there's an ulterior motive at work here, wouldn't you agree? Before you run to get a prescription for the next "miracle" drug, you'd better wonder whose interests are being served; yours or the pharmaceutical giants.
Besides, drugs can never be the solution if they treat the symptoms and not the cause. Drugs should be considered a last resort for the morbidly obese who have already tried everything else without success and who will face serious health consequences if they don't lose weight. The editors of obesity.com said it best: "Weight loss drugs do not take the place of diet, exercise, patience, and perseverance."


"Dieting can be an uphill battle against your genes." says Post writer Joyce Cohen. Unfortunately, if you're an endomorph, Cohen is right. Losing weight is definitely easier for some people than for others and that doesn't seem fair. But that's the way life is. Life isn't fair. Let's be honest; not everyone is going to become an Olympic Gold medallist, a Mr. America or a fitness model. But don't despair - you are not doomed to live a life of fatness if you don't have "athletic genes."
Obesity is the result of many influences. Genetics is only one of them. Like it or not, the primary cause of obesity is your own behavior. Most of the factors that affect body composition are entirely under your control. These factors include how much you eat, what you eat, when you eat, what type of exercise you do, how frequently you exercise, how long you exercise and how hard you exercise.
If you have the genetic predisposition towards obesity, you can lose fat like everyone else, you're just going to have to work harder and longer at it than other people. "There is a genetic component to weight," Says Dr. Thomas Wadden, a psychologist from Syracuse University, "but no one is destined to be obese. If weight has been a major problem in your family, you may not be able to become as thin as you'd like, but you can lose weight."
If you find losing weight to be a slow and difficult process, the empowering thing to do is to look at it as asset, because overcoming this obstacle will force you to develop discipline, determination and persistence. These traits will carry over to other areas of your life and make you a stronger person all around. Arnold Schwarzennegger said, "Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strength. When you overcome hardships, that is strength."
The first thing you must do if you want to lose weight or succeed in any area of your life, is to accept complete responsibility for your situation. In a short but powerful little book called "As Man Thinketh," the author James Allen wrote, "circumstances do not make a man, they reveal him." What he meant was that we are not products of our environment or our heredity (our "circumstances"), instead, we products of our own thinking and belief systems.
We create our own circumstances through positive thinking and positive action and we create negative circumstances through negative thinking and lack of action or wrong actions. In other words, we are responsible for where we are, what we have and how our bodies look.

Some people get very angry with me when I tell them this: They say, "Wait a minute. Are you trying to tell me that when bad things happen to me, it’s my own fault? That I brought unemployment, financial hardships, failed relationships, weight gain or even health problems onto myself? Because if that's what you're saying, that's totally unfair!"
Well, my friend, with very few exceptions, (some things really are out of your control) that is exactly what I am saying.
If you refuse to accept the fact that you are 100% responsible for your weight, you will never be successful. When people find themselves in undesirable situations or they aren't getting the results they want, it’s all too easy to make excuses: It's my genetics, I have big bones, I have a slow metabolism, I don't have enough time to exercise, etc. etc., etc. Making excuses is relinquishing control. It is conceding that you a victim of circumstances instead of the creator of your circumstances. Stop blaming and start taking responsibility for your life. Take action! Start working out. Eat better. Do something - do anything - but don't just sit there on the couch and curse your chromosomes.
So, are you a frustrated "endomorph?" Do you feel like dieting is an uphill battle against your genes? If your answer is "yes," please don’t just quit and chalk in up to "bad genetics," and don't believe that drugs are the answer either - they're not. Your genetics will largely dictate your athletic ability and how easily you will lose weight. That doesn't mean you can't get lean; it only means that you're going to have to adjust your diet and training to fit your body type and you may have to work harder and be more persistent than the "genetically lucky" ones.
Maybe obesity really should be classified as a genetically inherited "disease." But frankly, if you have a "disease" that forces you to learn more about exercise and nutrition, to eat nutritious foods, to adopt a healthier lifestyle, to develop a strong work ethic and to become a more persistent person, that sounds like a blessing in disguise to me.
About the Author:
Tom Venuto is a lifetime natural bodybuilder, an NSCA-certified personal trainer (CPT), certified strength & conditioning specialist (CSCS), and author of the #1 best-selling e-book, "Burn the Fat, Feed The Muscle.” Tom has written more than 200 articles and been featured in IRONMAN, Australian IRONMAN, Natural Bodybuilding, Muscular Development, Exercise for Men and Men’s Exercise, as well as on hundreds of websites worldwide. For information on Tom's Fat Loss program, visit: www.burnthefat.com

Friday, April 28, 2006

Q&A: What Color Is Your Diet.


QUESTION: Dear Tom: I’ve seen quite a few diet books lately that are based on the color of the foods you eat, including the rainbow diet, the color diet and the “color code” (sounds like the Da Vinci code, LOL!) Anyway, I’ve been reading your newsletters for a long time and I know how you feel about diet pills, books and gimmicks and I was wondering what you thought about these programs. Is it just another gimmick?

ANSWER: Based on the clever titles, it might be tempting to dismiss these programs as gimmicks, and in fact when your weekly menus are literally “color coded,” it might seem that the diet book authors are just scrambling for a new hook or premise on which to base an entire eating program.

I have not read any of those books you mentioned yet, so I can’t comment on any of them specifically. However, as “gimmicky” as eating from every color in the rainbow may sound at first, there is some very legitimate and scientific evidence that this is a great idea.

We are often given the advice to eat a lot of fruits and vegetables (which have a variety of different colors). Good advice of course; even common sense would tell us that. However, “eat a lot of fruits and vegetables”is vague advice because it could mean eating only apples and broccoli (red and green), and nothing else, but eating “a lot” of them. To take that advice to the next level, a better recommendation would be to eat a WIDE VARIETY of fruits and vegetables (not just “a lot”).

Even “wide variety” is not really defined. What is a wide variety? Did you know that there are hundreds of different types of fruits and veggies? To make an even greater distinction, you could begin to sort your fruits and vegetables by color and eat a wide variety every day (at least 5 to 9 servings) and an even wider variety spread over the span of each week.

Why would you go to all the trouble? Well, each various food color is indicative of the phytonutrients and other healthful nutritional compounds found within these foods. According to the textbook Sports & Exercise Nutrition by Katch, Katch & McArdle), over 4000 phytochemicals have been identified, and 150 of them have been studied in detail.
By definition, phytonutrients (also called phytochemicals) are naturally occurring, health promoting compounds found in the plant kingdom. There has been much research on the functional properties of these compounds, proving that they play important and diverse roles in maintaining your health and protecting you from disease.

Foods such as tomatoes (red), carrots (orange), broccoli (green), blueberries (blue) all contain important phytochemicals that play specific roles in health and disease prevention. Onions, whole grains, herbs, spices and other foods also contain their own special types of protective phytochemicals.

Here are some of the phytochemicals and naturally health-promoting compounds and the foods they correspond to:

FLAVONOIDS (quercitin, kaempferol, myricetin, catechins)FruitsVegetablesBerriesCitrus fruitsOnionsPurple grapesTea

CAROTENOIDS (luten, lycopene, zeaxanthin, a-carotene, b-carotene)CarrotsTomatoesCantaloupe Apricots

GLUCOSINOLATES (glucobrassicin, isothiocyanates, indoles)Cruciferous vegetablesBroccoliBrussel sproutsCabbage

SULFIDES (allium compounds, dithiolthiones)OnionsGarlicLeeksscallions

Each of these compounds has a health promoting role in the body ranging from antioxidant activity to cancer protection. There is much more going on here than just building muscle and shedding body fat. Eating a wide variety of fruits, vegetables and other natural foods has major health and quality of life implications.

It’s great news to know how much control we can take over our health and physical fitness simply with proper food choices (and proper exercise). The only thing about these discoveries that saddens and disappoints me is that it seems each time our scientists discover something, such as lycopene in tomatoes for example, someone wants to put it in a bottle and sell it to us. (Why not just go to the source and eat the tomatoes???)

I believe in an intelligent creator, and I believe that the creator of our bodies and this universe we live in, knew exactly what he was doing when he created the marvelous diversity of plants and animals that comprise our food supply. Although it may be prudent in this modern industrial age to take a multi vitamin/mineral supplement and maybe an essential fatty acid supplement for “nutritional insurance,” everything you need can be found in your food.
If you think about what the discovery of all these naturally occurring compounds really means, you will have to agree that food truly is the most powerful drug. Combine that with recent discoveries in physiology and psychoneoruoimmunology proving that our bodies are their own self-regulating natural pharmacies, and you also have to agree that the natural way is the best way.

In any case, it’s definitely not enough to think only in terms of calories and macronutrients (proteins, carbohydrates and fats). Energy needs and macronutrient needs are important, but also think about your nutrition in terms of a wide variety of natural foods, and that includes a wide variety of colors.

For more information about the all natural way to fat loss and better health, read about the Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle program at www.BurnTheFat.com

About the Author:

Tom Venuto is a lifetime natural bodybuilder, an NSCA-certified personal trainer (CPT), certified strength & conditioning specialist (CSCS), and author of the #1 best-selling e-book, "Burn the Fat, Feed The Muscle.” Tom has written more than 200 articles and has been featured in print magazines such as IRONMAN, Australian IRONMAN, Natural Bodybuilding, Muscular Development, Exercise for Men and Men’s Exercise, as well as on hundreds of websites worldwide. For information on Tom's Fat Loss program, visit: www.burnthefat.com

Everything You Need To Know About Loose Skin And Weight Loss


If you're extremely overweight or if you've been extremely overweight in the past, then you know that getting rid of excess weight is only one of the challenges you face. Once the fat is gone, you are often confronted with an equally frustrating cosmetic problem; Loose skin.
I receive a lot of e-mail from people with loose skin or from overweight people who are concerned about having loose skin after they lose the weight. Just recently, I received this email from a reader of my syndicated “Ask Tom” fat loss column:

“Tom, I began a fat loss program using your Burn The Fat program and it worked so well I got down to 15 1/2 stones (from 19). However, this has caused me a problem: Excess abdominal skin. I didn't crash lose this weight, it came off at the rate of about 2 lbs. per week just like you recommended. Now I'm unsure of whether to carry on, as my abdomen has quite a lot of excess skin - I feel like I've turned into a bloody Shar-Pei! (You know, as in the dog!)

Does everyone go through this? Will the skin tighten up? I was overweight for more than 12 years. Am I going to end up needing surgical skin removal? Can you offer me any advice? I'm a medical student in the UK and my colleagues seem determined to proffer surgery as the only option.”

My answer included 12 things you should know about loose skin after very large weight losses:

1. Skin is incredibly elastic. Just look at what women go through during pregnancy. Skin has the ability to expand and contract to a remarkable degree.

2. Elasticity of skin tends to decrease with age. Wrinkling and loss of elasticity is partly the consequence of aging (genetic factors) and also a result of environmental factors such as oxidative stress, excessive sun exposure, and nutritional deficiency. The environmental parts you can fix, the genetics and age part, you cannot. Advice: Get moving and change the things you have control over... Be realistic and don't worry about those things you don't have control over.

3. How much your skin will return to its former tautness depends partly on age. The older you get, the more an extremely large weight loss can leave loose skin that will not return to normal.

4. How long you carry extra weight has a lot to do with how much the skin will become taut after the weight loss: For example, compare a 9 month pregnancy with 9 years carrying 100 excess pounds.

5. How much weight was carried has a lot to do with how much the skin will resume a tight appearance. Your skin can only be stretched so much and be expected to "snap back" one hundred percent.

6. How fast the weight was gained also has a lot to do with how much the skin will resume a tight appearance. Your skin can only be stretched so quickly and be expected to "snap back."

7. How fast weight is lost also has a lot to do with how much the skin will tighten up. Rapid weight loss doesn't allow the skin time to slowly resume to normal. (yet another reason to lose fat slowly; 1-2 pounds per week, 3 pounds at the most if you have a lot of weight to lose, and even then, only if you are measuring body fat and you’re certain it's fat you’re losing, not lean tissue).

8. There are exceptions to all of the above; i.e, people who gained and then lost incredible amounts of weight quickly at age 50 or 60, and their skin returned 100% to normal.

9. There are many creams advertised as having the ability to restore the tightness of your skin. None are likely to work – at least not permanently and measurably – and especially if you have a lot of loose skin. Don't waste your money.

10. If you’re considering surgical skin removal, consult a physician for advice because this is not a minor operation, but keep in mind that your plastic surgeon may be making his BMW payments with your abdominoplasty money. (Surgery may be recommended in situations where it's not 100% necessary). Surgery should be left as the ABSOLUTE FINAL option in extreme cases.

11. Give your skin time. Your skin will get tighter as your body fat gets lower. I've seen and heard of many cases where the skin gradually tightened up, at least partially, after a one or two year period where the weight loss was maintained and exercise continued.

12. Know your body fat percentage before even THINKING about surgery. Loose skin is one thing, but still having body fat is another. Be honest with yourself and do that by taking your body fat measurement. This can be done with skinfold calipers or a variety of other devices (calipers might not be the best method if you have large folds of loose skin. Look into impedance analysis, underwater weighing, DEXA or Bod Pod).

Suppose for example, a man drops from 35% body fat all the way down to 20%. He should be congratulated, but I would tell him, "Don't complian about loose skin, your body fat is still high. Press onward and keep getting leaner.”

Average body fat for men is in the mid teens (16% or so) Good body fat for men is 10-12%, and single digits is extremely lean (men shouldn’t expect to look “ripped” with 100% tight skin on the abs unless they have single digit body fat, and women low teens).

Except in extreme cases, you are unlikely to see someone with loose skin who has very low body fat. It's quite remarkable how much your skin can tighten up and literally start to “cling” to your abdominal muscles once your body fat goes from “average” to "excellent." Someone with legitimate single digit body fat and a ton of loose skin is a rare sight.

So... the key to getting tighter skin is to lose more body fat, (and build more muscle), up to the point where your body composition rating is BETTER than average (in the “good” to “great” category, not just "okay"). Only AFTER you reach your long term body fat percentage goal should you give thought to "excess skin removal." At that point, admittedly, there are bound to be a few isolated cases where surgery is necessary if you can’t live with the amount of loose skin remaining.

However, unless you are really, really lean, it's difficult to get a clear picture of what is loose skin, what is just remaining body fat and how much further the skin will tighten up when the rest of the fat is lost.

Need help getting rid of that last bit of body body fat? Click here to find out how to do it the natural way: www.burnthefat.com www.burnthefat.com

About the Author:

Tom Venuto is a lifetime natural bodybuilder, an NSCA-certified personal trainer (CPT), certified strength & conditioning specialist (CSCS), and author of the #1 best-selling e-book, "Burn the Fat, Feed The Muscle.” Tom has written more than 200 articles and has been featured in print magazines such as IRONMAN, Australian IRONMAN, Natural Bodybuilding, Muscular Development, Exercise for Men and Men’s Exercise, as well as on hundreds of websites worldwide. For information on Tom's Fat Loss program, visit: www.burnthefat.com

Monday, April 24, 2006

The Truth About Counting Calories And Weight Loss


Do calories matter or do you simply need to eat certain foods and that will guarantee you’ll lose weight? Should you count calories or can you just count “portions?” Is it necessary to keep a food diary? Is it unrealistic to count calories for the rest of your life or is that just part of the price you pay for a better body? You’re about to learn the answers to these questions and discover a simple solution for keeping track of your food intake without having to crunch numbers every day or become a fanatic about it.

In many popular diet books, “Calories don’t count” is a frequently repeated theme. Other popular programs, such as Bill Phillip's "Body For Life," stress the importance of energy intake versus energy output, but recommend that you count “portions” rather than calories…
Phillips wrote,

"There aren't many people who can keep track of their calorie intake for an extended period of time. As an alternative, I recommend counting 'portions.' A portion of food is roughly equal to the size of your clenched fist or the palm of your hand. Each portion of protein or carbohydrate typically contains between 100 and 150 calories. For example, one chicken breast is approximately one portion of protein, and one medium-sized baked potato is approximately one portion of carbohydrate."

Phillips makes a good point that trying to count every single calorie - in the literal sense - can drive you crazy and is probably not realistic as a lifestyle for the long term. It's one thing to count portions instead of calories – that is at least acknowledging the importance of portion control. However, it's another altogether to deny that calories matter.

Calories do count! Any diet program that tells you, "calories don't count" or you can "eat all you want and still lose weight" is a diet you should avoid because you are being lied to. The truth is, that line is a bunch of baloney designed to make a diet sound easier to follow.

Anything that sounds like work – such as counting calories, eating less or exercising, tends to scare away potential customers! The law of calorie balance is an unbreakable law of physics: Energy in versus energy out dictates whether you will gain, lose or maintain your weight. Period.

I believe that it's very important to develop an understanding of and a respect for portion control and the law of calorie balance. I also believe it's an important part of nutrition education to learn how many calories are in the foods you eat on a regular basis – including (and perhaps, especially) how many calories are in the foods you eat when you dine at restaurants.
The law of calorie balance says:

To maintain your weight, you must consume the same number of calories you burn. To gain weight, you must consume more calories than you burn. To lose weight, you must consume fewer calories than you burn.

If you only count portions or if you haven't the slightest idea how many calories you're eating, it's a lot more likely that you'll eat more than you realize. (Or you might take in fewer calories than you should, which triggers your body’s "starvation mode" and causes your metabolism to shut down).

So how do you balance practicality and realistic expectations with a nutrition program that gets results? Here's a solution that’s a happy medium between strict calorie counting and just guessing:

Create a menu using an EXCEL spreadsheet or your favorite nutrition software. Crunch all the numbers including calories, protein, carbs and fats. Once you have your daily menu, print it, stick it on your refrigerator (and/or in your daily planner) and you now have an eating "goal" for the day, including a caloric target.

Rather than writing down every calorie one by one from every morsel of food you eat for the rest of your life, create a menu plan you can use as a daily goal and guideline. If you’re really ambitious, keeping a nutrition journal at least one time in your life for at least 4-12 weeks is a great idea and an incredible learning experience, but all you really need to get started on the road to a better body is one good menu on paper. If you get bored eating the same thing every day, you can create multiple menus, or just exchange foods using your primary menu as a template.

Using this meal planning method, you really only need to “count calories” once when you create your menus, not every day, ad infinitum. After you've got a knack for calories from this initial discipline of menu planning, then you can estimate portions in the future and get a pretty good (and more educated) ballpark figure.

So what’s the bottom line? Is it really necessary to count every calorie to lose weight? No. But it IS necessary to eat fewer calories then you burn. Whether you count calories and eat less than you burn, or you don’t count calories and eat less than you burn, the end result is the same – you lose weight. Which would you rather do: Take a wild guess, or increase your chance for success with some simple menu planning? I think the right choice is obvious.

For more information on calories (including how calculate precisely how many you should eat based on your age, activity and personal goals, and for even more practical, proven fat loss techniques to help you lose body fat safely, healthfully and permanently, check out my e-book, Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle at www.burnthefat.com

About the Author:

Tom Venuto is a lifetime natural bodybuilder, an NSCA-certified personal trainer (CPT), certified strength & conditioning specialist (CSCS), and author of the #1 best-selling e-book, "Burn the Fat, Feed The Muscle.” Tom has written more than 200 articles and has been featured in print magazines such as IRONMAN, Australian IRONMAN, Natural Bodybuilding, Muscular Development, Exercise for Men and Men’s Exercise, as well as on hundreds of websites worldwide. For information on Tom's Fat Loss program, visit: www.burnthefat.com

Don't Be A Big Loser - Why You Should Say No To Quick Weight Loss.

Patience. It’s the one thing you never seem to have when you’ve got a body fat problem. You want the fat gone and you want it gone now! And why not? It seems so do-able. Everywhere you look, you read and hear promises of quick weight loss and you even see people losing weight quickly. We have reality TV shows that actually encourage people to attempt “extreme” body makeovers or see who can lose weight the fastest, and the winners (or shall we say, the losers), are rewarded generously with fortune, fame and congratulations.

Let’s face it. Everyone wants to get the fat off as quickly as possible - and having that desire is not wrong – it’s simply human nature. However, you must become aware of some serious problems that can occur if you try to force it and lose weight too quickly. The faster you lose weight, the more muscle you will lose with the fat, and that can really mess up your metabolism. An even bigger problem with fast weight loss is that the loss just won’t last. The faster you lose, the more likely you are to gain it back. Think about it: We don’t have a weight loss problem today, we have a “keeping the weight off” problem.

Weight loss will be the healthiest, safest and most likely to be permanent if you set your goal for about two pounds per week (and even if you lose only a single pound each week, that is healthy progress). This is the recommendation of almost every legitimate and respected dietician, nutritionist, exercise physiologist and personal trainer, as well as exercise organizations such as the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Dietetic Association.

Are there any exceptions to this rule? Is it ever okay to lose more than two pounds per week? The answer is yes. It may be ok to lose slightly more than two pounds per week if you have a lot of weight to lose because the rate of weight loss tends to be relative to your total starting body weight. Generally the rule is that it’s safe to lose up to 1% of your total body weight per week, so if you weigh 300 lbs to start, then 3 lbs a week is a reasonable goal.

But there IS a catch.

What really matters is not how much weight you lose, but how much FAT you lose. Where did your weight loss come from? Did you lose body fat or lean body mass?

"Weight" is not the same as "fat." Weight includes muscle, bone, internal organs as well as lots and lots of water. What you really want is fat loss, not weight loss. If you only wanted weight loss, I could show you an easy way to lose 20 or 25 pounds in about 5 minutes. Just come over to my house. I have a really sharp hacksaw in my garage, and we’ll just slice off one of your legs, after all it’s just extra “weight” right?

Let’s look at an example with some numbers so you can really grasp this concept of weight versus fat and then you can see, clearly illustrated, what will happen when you lose weight too quickly (because I know you probably don’t believe me and you STILL want to lose weight as fast as possible… read on and it will all become clear to you).

As an example, let’s take a 260 pound man who has a lot of body fat to lose - let’s call it 32%. With 32% fat, a 260 pounder has 83.2 pounds of body fat and 176.8 pounds of lean mass. Using this example, let’s look at a few possible scenarios with losses ranging from two to four pounds per week.

Weight Loss Scenario 1:

Suppose our 260 pound subject loses four full pounds instead of the recommended two pounds per week. Is this bad? Well, let’s see:

If he loses a half a percent of body fat, here are his body composition results:

256 lbs31.5% body fat80.6 lbs fat175.4 lbs lean body mass

Out of the four pounds lost, 2.8 pounds were fat and 1.2 were lean mass. Not a disaster, but not good either. Thirty percent of the weight lost was lean tissue.

Weight Loss Scenario 2:

If he loses a half a percent of body fat and only three pounds, here are his results:

257 lbs31.5% body fat80.9 lbs fat176.1 lbs lean body mass

These results are better. Although he lost less body weight than scenario one, in this instance, 2.3 pounds of fat and only 0.7 lbs of lean mass were lost.

Weight Loss Scenario 3:

What if he only lost two pounds? Here are the results:

258 lbs31.5% body fat81.2 lbs fat176.8 lbs lean body mass

These results are perfect. Even though our subject has only lost two pounds, which seems slow, 100% of the two pound weight loss came from fat.

Weight Loss Scenario 4:

Now let’s suppose he loses three pounds but he loses more body fat: .8%
257 lbs31.2% body fat80.2 lbs fat176.8 lbs lean body mass

These are the best results of all. When the weekly fat loss is .8%, 100% of the three pounds lost is fat.

So the answer to the question is yes - it’s safe to lose more than two pounds per week… but only if the weight is all fat or at least mostly fat with minimal lean mass losses.

If you take example one – with thirty percent lean tissue loss and compound that over a few months, you’re talking about a massive muscle tissue loss which can dramatically slow down your metabolism and turn you into nothing more than a “skinny fat person” (a person with low body weight because they lost so much muscle, but still holding stubborn body fat because they shut down their metabolism).

One thing you should know is that water weight losses sometimes distort the numbers, especially when you first begin a new nutrition and training program. It’s very common to lose 3 - 5 pounds in the first week on nearly any diet and exercise program and often even more on low carb diets. Just remember, its NOT all fat - WATER LOSS IS NOT FAT LOSS!

The best advice I can give you is to focus on losing fat, not losing weight. If you lose three to five pounds per week, and you know it’s all fat, and not lean tissue, then more power to you!
Of course the only way to know this is with body composition testing. For home body fat self-testing, I recommend the Accu-Measure skinfold caliper as first choice. Even better, get a multi site skinfold caliper test from an experienced tester at a health club, or even a water (hydrostatic) or air (bod pod) displacement test.

From literally hundreds of client case studies, I can confirm that it’s rare to lose more than 1.5 - 2.0 lbs of weight per week without losing some muscle along with it. If you exceed 2.0 to 3.0 pounds per week, the probability of losing muscle is extremely high. If you lose muscle, you are damaging your metabolism and this will lead to a plateau and ultimately to relapse.

Lack of patience is one of the biggest mistakes people make when it comes to losing body fat. If you want to lose FAT, not muscle and you want to keep the fat off for good, then you have to take off the pounds slowly.

This is one of the toughest lessons that overweight men and women have to learn - and they can be very hard learners. They fight kicking and screaming, insisting that they CAN and they MUST lose it faster.

Then you have these TV shows that encourage the masses that rapid, crash weight loss is okay. To the producers of these shows, I say SHAME ON YOU! To the personal trainers, registered dieticians and medical doctors who are associated with these programs, I say DOUBLE SHAME ON YOU, because you of all people should know better.

The rapid weight loss being promoted today by the media for the sake of ratings and by the weight loss companies for the sake of profits makes it even harder for those of us who are legitimate fitness and nutrition professionals because our clients say, “But look at so and so on TV - he lost 26 pounds in a week!”

Sure, but 26 pounds of WHAT - and do you have any idea what the long term consequences are?

Short term thinking, folks… foolish. There are hundreds of ways to lose weight quickly, but only one way to lose fat and keep it off in the long term.

Do it the right way. Take off the pounds slowly, steadily and sensibly with an intelligent nutrition and exercise program, measure your body fat, not just your body weight, and make this a new lifestyle, not a race, and you will never have to take the pounds off again because they will be gone forever the first time. No more yo-yoing.

If you’re interested in the healthy, sensible way to take off the fat, while keeping all your muscle and actually increasing your metabolism in the process, then Burn the Fat, Feed The Muscle program can teach you how. No gimmicks or false promises. Just the truth - you have to work at it and you have to be patient. For more information, www.burnthefat.com

About the Author:

Tom Venuto is a lifetime natural bodybuilder, an NSCA-certified personal trainer (CPT), certified strength & conditioning specialist (CSCS), and author of the #1 best-selling e-book, "Burn the Fat, Feed The Muscle.” Tom has written hundreds of articles and been featured in IRONMAN, Australian IRONMAN, Natural Bodybuilding, Muscular Development, Exercise for Men and Men’s Exercise, as well as on dozens of websites worldwide. For information on Tom's Fat Loss program, visit: www.burnthefat.com

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