IMPORTANT! PLEASE READ: 
By viewing the web pages on bodyfatguide.com, you agree to be solely responsible for any adverse effects on your health that results from the application of the information on this web site. Never attempt a diet and exercise program without consulting a physician.

www.bodyfatguide.com Body Fat Guy Diet Myths Fat Guide Love Handles Body Fat Review
Fat Talk! Flab Fighters Body Fat % Muscle Mass Ultimate Butt

STILL MORE FAT TALK!

Answers to Your most Frequently Asked Questions about Weight Control.

Address your questions to: ronbrown@bodyfatguide.com.
All reader names and addresses kept confidential. Questions posted in Fat Talk! are summaries of actual questions. All questions and answers are copyright of HealthStyle.

Download The Body Fat Guide FREE Demo E-Book

Subject Index
Click to go to:

Afraid of Cheating
Skin Problem
Diuretic Tea
Male Breasts
Fat Cheeks
High-intensity Burns More Fat? 
Rate of Perceived Exertion
Minimum Calorie Intake
Crash Diet
Calories Per Mile
High-Protein Diet
Reducing By Feel
Too Heavy To Walk
Weekend Splurge
Negative-Calorie Foods
Net Calorie Intake
Fasting
Insulin Shock
Water Intoxication Syndrome
Anorexia
Waist Size
Minimum Lean Body Mass
Starvation Mode
Junk Food

Gaining Muscle

Damage Control

Social Support

Does Eating Fat Make You Fat?

Menu Plans

Do You Lack Discipline?

Diet From A Trainer

Slower Loss For Lightweights

Weight Gain in Ex-Smokers

Insulin Insensitivity

Improving Fertility

Burning Fat in the AM

Hunger During Ovulation

Back to: Fat Talk!, Back to: More Fat Talk!

Angle of Waist Photo

Afraid of Cheating

I am a 19 year old male. In the past 2 years I have lost 100 pounds... I was 244 at my peak weight and now I am 145. I sometimes get the urge to eat donuts. I love them, but I don't normally eat fast food. The only thing I mostly eat is cereal with low-fat milk for breakfast, an apple for lunch, and grilled chicken on a bed of white rice and veggies for dinner. I want to know if one donut, maybe 2 in a week, is going to hurt me? I am so used to having a 44" waist that I worry about gaining the weight back.. but sometimes I just have to cheat! I need some tips.

What you are realizing is that following a restricted-foods reducing diet by itself doesn't teach you how much to eat to maintain your weight in the real world of donuts and other goodies. You need more than just a few "tips." You need a basic foundation of weight management skills.

Yes, you can maintain your current weight and eat anything you want as long as it is part of a nutritionally balanced diet, and as long as you don't exceed your maintenance daily calorie allowance. But, do you know what your maintenance calorie allowance is? Most people haven't a clue! That's the number one reason why the majority of people who lose weight gain it all back. Don't let this happen to you.

Read all the pages here at bodyfatguide.com. Set up your Energy Balance Chart and your Food and Activity Journal. Follow the numbers as you further develop the lifestyle habits that will allow you to eat whatever you want while you permanently control your weight!

Back to Subject Index

Skin Problem

I lost 20 kg. and have maintained my weight for the last 2 years by eating properly. The only thing I don't eat is fatty foods like, butter, cheese, pizza, ice cream and other fatty foods. I notice my skin is very dry, drawn and lacks the glow I use to have when I was fat. Any suggestions.

I am not a dermatologist. However, I have a suggestion about what might be the cause of your problem. The nutrient most responsible for the sheen on the coats of animals is...fat! Perhaps your diet is TOO low in fat and is causing your skin to dry out. If so, this is yet another example of the health problems resulting from following a nutritionally unbalanced diet to control one's weight.

Make sure about 30 percent of your daily calorie allowance is coming from healthy fat sources. The best sources are uncooked nuts, seeds, avocados, cold pressed vegetable oils, and, if you are not a vegetarian, some dairy products.

Back to Subject Index

Diuretic Tea

Hi! I was wondering what the effects are of drinking too much diet tea ( the type that make you use the washrooms afterwards)?

Substances that make you lose weight by increasing the frequency of your trips to the bathroom include laxatives and diuretics (including some herbal teas). But, the weight lost this way is only water and gastrointestinal contents, not body fat! Taking unregulated doses of these substances can cause dehydration, and seriously disturb the balance of your electrolytes, the minerals in your blood. This can affect organs like your kidneys and your heart. If you are concerned about eliminating water retention and want to avoid using diuretics, simply cut back your intake of common table salt, sodium chloride.

Male Breasts

I need to know the quickest way to lose fat in my chest area. I am a man, and it looks like I almost have breasts. I used to have much more fat in the area, and I lost some of the fat, but a few pounds still remains, and it's really embarrassing. I just want to know the fastest way to lose them.

There are no specific exercises that can spot reduce body fat on problem areas, whether it's fat on a male's chest and belly, or fat on a woman's hips and thighs.. However, these problem areas will usually reduce as one's overall body fat level drops. It may take longer for these problem areas to reduce because body fat is piled up higher there than in other areas. Just give it time. Get your body fat level down and keep getting it down until all the excess fat is gone.

In addition, toning up the muscles in your problem areas with resistance training will help to improve their appearance. Push-ups are a good beginner's exercise for the chest muscles. If you are weak in this exercise, try it with your knees on the floor. Keep your back straight and your hands shoulder width apart. Try 2 sets of as many repetitions as you can manage. Eventually, as you build up strength, extend your legs straight back behind you.

You should know that some men suffer with a condition known as gynecomastia, enlargement of the mammary glands in the breast. See your doctor for more information.

Back to Subject Index

Fat Cheeks

I'm a 16 year old teen in desperate need of help. I have an average weight, but there is one thing that concerns me and that is my cheeks. I have HUGE cheeks, and I wondered if you could give me advice on things I could do to get my cheeks thinner. PLEASE HELP!

Check your body fat percentage. Just because you are "average weight" doesn't mean you are as lean as you could be. You could be average weight and be very high in body fat. If so, follow the program here at bodyfatguide.com to get your body fat percentage down. You might have to replace some of your fat weight with muscle in order to keep your overall body weight normal. As your body fat percentage drops, your cheeks should tighten up!

Also, keep in mind that some people have a condition known as "moon face" where extra body fat is stored in their faces. This is often seen in adrenal gland disturbances such as Cushings syndrome. I believe it is possible that caffeine use may be among the contributing causes of this condition. How so? Caffeine causes the mobilization of  body fat from storage sites, especially from the arms, legs and buttocks. But, if this fat is not burned for energy, it is redistributed back to other sites such as in the face (moon face), upper back and torso (buffalo torso).

Back to Subject Index

High-intensity Burns More Fat?

I've read literature about the value of high-intensity exercise in being BETTER than low-intensity forms for burning fat. I have seen an athlete friend of mine REALLY shed the body fat when training specifically to run fast. This is obviously due to high-intensity efforts, but this person couldn't care less that he was losing body fat. He ate anything and everything he wanted. Any comments?

It is true that high-intensity activities, like running, burn more fat in one minute than one minute of low-intensity activities, like walking. Nevertheless, walking a mile burns more fat than running a mile! How can both these statements be true? It all depends on whether you are comparing units of time, or you are comparing units of distance.

Measured in equivalent units of TIME, you burn more overall energy and thus more fat per minute running than walking, even though a greater percentage of that energy is coming from muscle glycogen when you run. However, given the same body weight, equal DISTANCES traversed will burn the same amount of overall energy because they involve the same amount of work, regardless of the length of time spent performing the activity. Work (calories) = Force (body weight) x Distance. One can easily match the total amount of calories burned from running simply by walking the same distance. And, since virtually everyone can walk farther than they can run, they can burn more total calories when they walk, with a higher percentage of those calories coming from fat rather than from glycogen! For example, I can burn 1000 calories from fat by walking 10 miles. Can you sprint 10 miles? Even if you could, significantly fewer of your burned calories would come from fat. Thus, to favorably affect changes in your body composition, the percentage of the type of fuel burned, fat or glycogen, is no less important than the total amount of calories burned. 

Additionally, since a significant amount of glycogen is burned during high-intensity activity, this temporarily lowers lean body mass. Sprinters and other athletes who train anaerobically replenish glycogen on their rest and recovery days when they eat a maintenance amount of calories or more. But, a maintenance caloric intake is contrary to the calorie restriction necessary to lose body fat. On the other hand, if calorie intake remains restricted on rest and recovery days, full muscle replenishment of glycogen, water and mineral compounds like creatine phosphate are diminished, with a net loss of lean body mass. High-intensity activity becomes more and more difficult to execute in this glycogen-depleted state, thereby reducing training ability. Without fully replenished energy storage, high-intensity training progress gradually grinds to a halt!

To counter the argument that high-intensity activities cause loss of lean body mass while dieting, high-intensity advocates point to studies showing that muscle is not lost during high-intensity activities, even during moderate calorie restriction. This may be true regarding the protein component of muscle, provided the diet is not too severe, but protein only makes up 20% of a muscle. What about the other 80% of the muscle? Water, glycogen and mineral compounds in muscle are affected by high intensity activity, which in turn affects one's lean body mass level. This can add up to a significant amount of lost weight, but none of it is body fat! This effect is similar to the temporary weight loss on a crash diet, which is water from muscle. Bodyweight may be reduced, but improvement in body fat percentages are minimized when lean body mass is lost. In addition, if the diet is too severe, the protein component of lean body mass is lost as well.

High-intensity advocates also note that muscle atrophy occurs if high-intensity training is omitted over long periods...the use-it-or-lose-it principle. However, to avoid muscle atrophy while on an extended reduced-calorie low-intensity program, one simply needs to periodically increase calorie intake and switch to an anaerobic routine for awhile. Checking changes in lean body mass and body fat levels is the best guide to determine when to alternate training intensity in this manner.

Sprinters and most other athletes do not train exclusively with all-out effort. A good deal of volume training is performed at lower intensity levels in order to increase their aerobic capacity. This burns a greater percentage of fat aerobically for fuel, thus contributing to any body fat loss. However, if one intends to burn maximum calories from body fat, and reduce body fat levels in the shortest period of time without lean body mass loss, one is better off keeping activity intensity levels within a comfortably low range while reducing caloric intake. Like the tortoise and the hare, slow and steady activity gets you to your goal faster!

Back to Subject Index

Rate of Perceived Exertion

Just wondering, how much calories would be burnt in a day's cricket?

I don't play the game myself. But, if your activity isn't listed on a calorie chart, here's how to estimate the calories burned during any activity. This method uses your RPE or Rate of Perceived Exertion.

Simply compare the feel of the activity in question to the feel of another activity whose calories you know. By feel, I mean the feel of your breathing during the activity. If you know the feel of your breathing while performing one activity, how does that compare to the feel of your breathing while performing the activity in question? Does the activity in question make you breath faster or slower than the activity you are comparing it to?

For example, walking briskly burns a number of calories per hour that is equivalent to twice your body's poundage (lb.). So, if the feel of your breathing while playing cricket is the same as the feel of your breathing while walking briskly, you will know how many calories you are burning while playing cricket.

Try comparing cricket to the feel of other activities like golf, bowling, tennis, etc. Check the average calories burned for these activities at the Activity Calorie Table.

Come up with a calorie estimate for your activity in question and use it on your energy balance chart. Don't worry too much about its accuracy at first; just write something down. Later, as you check over your chart, you will be able to tell if your body composition results are consistent with your calorie estimates. If they aren't, go back and correct the calorie estimate of your activity until everything balances out.

Back to Subject Index

Minimum Calorie Intake

By my calculations with The Body Fat Guide my body needs 1640 calories a day. In order to lose 2 pounds a week, the book said I need to take 1000 calories off of what my daily calorie needs are. That would only leave me with 640 calories a day. Is this correct? I've always read 1000-1200 calories is the lowest anyone should go.

When determining your minimum calorie intake on a diet, you must select an amount of calories that maintains your lean body mass. Since people have different amounts of lean body mass, there is no minimum calorie intake that works for everybody. You can check changes in your lean body mass with The Body Fat Guide. Decreasing levels of your lean body mass will tell you if you need to increase your calorie intake while dieting.

If want to lose at a rate of 2 pounds a week, but you feel you need to eat more food to maintain your lean body mass, than increase your activity level. This will allow you to eat more calories to sustain your lean body mass while still creating enough of a calorie deficit to lose 2 pounds a week, or 1000 calories a day. Or simply lose at a slower rate of 1 pound per week. Let your body composition results be your guide in determining the right amount of calorie restriction for you.

Back to Subject Index

Crash Diet

I'm in the navy, and I weigh 200 pounds. I need to weigh 188. I'm keeping my calorie intake to less than 1000 calories a day, and I'm running every evening. But, today I ate nothing; I just drank lots of water. I feel fine and I am not hungry. Will I succeed by eating less than say 200 calories a day? Or is my body just going to store fat? What's the best course of action?

You are on a crash diet. Here's what you can expect on a crash diet:

1. As long as you correctly guess that your body is burning more calories than you are eating, your body weight will drop. You are in negative calorie balance. You cannot store body fat in negative calorie balance.
2. If you drink nothing but water, eat nothing (fast) and are very active, you could lose several pounds of body weight a day. Most of this weight loss is muscle and water.
3. The more calories you eat, the more this rate of loss will slow down. The more your activity intensity increases, the more muscle you will lose.
4. Your body fat percentage will soar HIGHER as your body weight and muscle mass drops. You may weigh less, but you will actually be fatter! Your flesh will droop and look flabbier, too!
5. You will only be able to sustain this rate of loss a few days before you start getting the urge to eat more. At that point, you are at risk for gorging on large amounts of food. Your weight will immediately start bouncing back.
6. Statistically, the odds are 19:1 that you will regain all your weight after putting yourself through all this!

Here's another approach:

Determine your daily maintenance calorie allowance (Resting Metabolic Rate + Activity calorie estimates) and eat 1000 fewer calories than this amount. Limit your activity to nothing more intense than brisk walking. Eat a balanced diet of 10% calories from protein, no more than 30% calories from fat, and the rest carbohydrates.

You will lose 2 pounds of body fat a week. More importantly, you will have a balanced eating schedule consisting of your favorite foods that will allow you to stay on track to maintain your weight loss!

Back to Subject Index

Calories Per Mile

How many calories will I burn while walking 1 mile?

If you are walking at 3.5 m.p.h., in one hour you will burn an amount of calories equal to twice your pounds of body weight. Take that amount of calories and divide it by 3.5 to see how many calories you burn per mile.

High-Protein Diet

Hi. I've been on this high-protein, low-fat and low-carb diet and I was wondering if having one cheat day (eating what I want and as much as I want) a week will affect my overall results?

So, tell me...before addressing your question, if a high-protein diet is so wonderful, why do you feel a need to cheat on it at all? The answer is: Because you can't sustain yourself on an UNBALANCED diet for long without craving "forbidden" foods! And that's the problem with losing weight on an unbalanced diet, like a high-protein diet. You may achieve temporary weight loss, but chances are you will regain all of the weight when you return to your normal eating habits.

But, getting back to your question. Whether one cheating day will affect your results depends on how many calories you eat. If you are eating more calories than your body is burning, you will gain weight. So how do you know how many calories your body is burning? Read through bodyfatguide.com. Calculate your Energy Output by adding together your Resting Metabolic Rate and your activity calorie estimates.

With this information, you will happily discover you can just as easily control your weight WITHOUT following those unhealthy, unbalanced diets that only give temporary results, and that set you up to binge on restricted foods. The choice is yours.

Back to Subject Index

Reducing By Feel

Hi, I am a 16 year old male. I want to take off about 10 lbs, and have a "6-pack". I tried eating less and running a mile a day for a week, and I saw no change. This kind of made me depressed because I worked hard. Please get back to me on how to reduce the fat on my waist.

Many people think that performing more activity along with sensible eating will automatically reduce their body fat. But, it isn't how much you eat and exercise that's important, it's how they balance out. You can't always judge the correct balance between your eating and activity by feel. What people don't realize is that exercising more to lose weight will make them feel like eating more. Every time they increase their energy output, their bodies will demand more food! This won't get them anywhere when trying to reduce their body fat .

Forming new lifestyle habits is the only way to permanently control your weight. But, forming new eating and activity habits that are correctly balanced is very difficult to do by feel. You need a measuring tool...an objective method to measure changes in your body composition while monitoring and modifying your diet and activity. That's the method presented here at bodyfatguide.com.

Follow the Energy Balance numbers and avoid the guesswork of going by feel. The numbers will tell you exactly how much to eat to get results, regardless of your current habits! Soon you will learn to automatically modify your diet and activity properly, and you won't need the numbers any more. This is the best way to form new habits.

Read everything on bodyfatguide.com. Set up your Energy Balance Chart and your Food & Activity Journal, and follow the exercises in Trade in Your Love Handles for a 6-pack

Back to Subject Index

Too Heavy To Walk

I am a male, age 54. Use to be 291 pounds, now at 273, going to 160. I have lost big amounts of weight many times. This time I am counting calories, but leaving walking alone till I lose my first 50 pounds. It seems that at my weight, a 1/2 hour walk, at 3 mph consumes only 183 calories. I know all the theories about losing, and keeping the weight off, but I haven't been able to achieve success yet. Looking forward to your comments.

A person who moves a lot of body weight while walking is burning more calories than you think. In fact, they are often burning so many calories that they are out of their fat-burning range! Walking becomes like lifting weights, which means it is anaerobic, which means you are burning mainly muscle glycogen, not mainly body fat!

At 273 pounds, walking at 3.5 miles/hour for an hour burns an amount of calories equal to twice your body weight. That's 546 calories for you! This is more than most people burn performing strenuous activities like lifting weights!

To lose fat, it isn't absolutely mandatory that you do any exercise, as long as you cut back your calories enough. Try using the Energy Balance Chart here at bodyfatguide.com and follow the numbers. However, if you choose to do some exercise (hey!...it's good for you, after all), you should know that larger people are better off doing low-intensity aerobic activity that gets them off their feet, like cycling or rowing. Or walk much slower. That way they will stay within their fat-burning range.

Back to Subject Index

Weekend Splurge

I was in good physical shape, for several years. Then I had an operation and became inactive. I gained 20 pounds during my recovery. Recently I returned to my normal eating and exercise routine, but after 5 weeks I have not lost even one pound. I feel like I have been busting my butt, with no return.

An example of my week: Monday-Friday: Breakfast: protein shake, banana, strawberries, 12 oz milk./ Snack: banana./ Lunch: Hard Boiled Egg, light yogurt, balance bar./ Snack: apple./ Dinner: chicken breast, steamed vegetables, rice (1/2 cup). Workout: 30 minutes aerobic, 5 times a week, alternate arms & legs on the weight machines. On weekends, I'll bike or rollerblade instead of the gym workout. On weekends, I may have a glass or two of wine with dinner. I've tried not to vary my diet much on the weekend. Can you help?

Sure can! I'm assuming you are referring to one pound of body fat when you say you haven't lost a pound. It's possible that you could be replacing pounds of body fat with an equal number of pounds of muscle. However, the sentence that caught my attention in your letter is: " I've tried not to vary my diet much on the weekend." Your program sounds reasonable until you get to that part about the weekend. Perhaps that could be where you are sabotaging your results.

EVERYDAY counts, whether you are dieting or not! One splurge day can undo all the results of your dieting days. But, that doesn't mean you can't relax, take a break from your diet and enjoy yourself when you like...as long as it doesn't go too far! You have to keep monitoring yourself even on your days off.

The main key to learning to control your weight is knowing how much to eat to NOT get fat! So, whether you are very active, inactive, eating a little or eating a lot, you must always be aware of your calorie allowance. Follow the formulas on bodyfatguide.com, calculate your calorie allowance according to your Resting Metabolic Rate, your activities and your body weight goals, and adjust your calorie intake as your day-to-day routine varies.

Back to Subject Index

Negative-Calorie Foods

Are there really foods like celery that burn more calories being digested than they actually have? If yes, where can I find a list?

Most non-starchy vegetables fall into this category. Foods high in protein, and low in fat and carbohydrates like lean meats are similar. But remember, as important as it may be to regularly include adequate amounts of some of these foods in your diet, don't be tricked into thinking that restricting your diet to "negative-calorie foods" is a substitute for learning to control your weight on a well-balanced diet.

Net Calorie Intake

I bought your book The Body Fat Guide about a month ago. I jumped right on an exercise program and altered my diet a little. I use a Nordic Trak for 30 minutes, 5 days per week. For the last 3 weekends, I've gone cross-country skiing for 3 hours. When I started, my weight was 181 and my waist 39 1/2". A month later, my weight has only gone down to 178 and I have a 38 3/4" waist. What am I doing wrong?

According to the measurements you provided you have lost approximately 3 pounds of fat over the last month. Great! But, judging by your concern, I assume you wish to reduce at a faster rate. No problem!

Examine your Net Calorie Intake. That's the difference between your daily calorie intake and your daily energy output. If your current rate of weight loss is approximately a pound of fat a week, that means your Net Calorie Intake is currently averaging about 500 negative calories a day. In other words, each day your body is burning off and losing 500 more calories than you are eating.

To increase the rate of your fat loss to 2 pounds a week, your Net Calorie Intake will have to be bumped up to 1000 negative calories a day. To do that, simply increase your activities and/or decrease your calorie intake until your Net Calorie Intake equals 1000 negative calories.

Following the numbers is a learning experience that FORCES you to examine your diet and activity and helps you form new habits, so don't neglect to do the number crunching! Once you get the numbers right, you'll learn to do it correctly by feel.

Back to Subject Index

Fasting

What do you think of fasting to lose weight?

Fasting offers unique health benefits not possible through dieting alone, but fasting is not a substitute for learning and practicing proper weight management skills. One may regain bodyweight faster than usual following a fast. For this reason, fasting is sometimes recommended for people interested in gaining weight!

An important health advantage of fasting over dieting is how it facilitates the healing of digestive tissue. It is also valuable during acute systemic conditions such as fevers, colds and nausea when hunger is often impaired or absent. Many people have been able to reduce or completely disintegrate tumors on fasts supervised by experts. One should usually only fast under the supervision of a competent expert. But, for general weight loss purposes, fasting, as well as dieting, only provides temporary benefits if one does not follow up the fast with proper weight management practices.

Surprisingly, fasting offers no greater benefits to improving one's body composition than does proper dieting. This becomes apparent when comparing changes in body composition during fasting and dieting. Average bodyweight loss during a fast when the faster is relatively inactive comes to about a pound a day. But, only 26.2% of this loss is body fat (Shelton, The Science and Fine Art of Fasting, p.102). This equals 1.86 pounds of body fat loss a week. However, 5.14 pounds of lean body mass are also lost in a week of fasting. It often takes several days of eating after the fast is broken to restore this lost LBM. The end result is that it takes longer to achieve the same net loss of body fat without any loss of LBM as it does to simply diet and lose body fat at the rate of 2 pounds a week! With the proper balance of low-intensity aerobic activity and a low-calorie intake, much quicker  improvements in body composition are possible.

Proponents of fasting see an advantage in the hastened breakdown of lean tissue during the fast, and its replacement with new revitalized tissue when the fast is broken...a rejuvenation! According to one theory of cellular aging, the accumulation and retention of metabolic waste products that are normally excreted by body cells causes them to age. By drawing upon the protoplasm of all of the body's cells for energy, fasting promotes the removal of this accumulated cellular debris; the replenishment of new cellular protoplasm following the breaking of the fast renews and rejuvenates these cells. 

Longevity and rejuvenating effects similar to those seen in fasting have been demonstrated in animals placed on calorie-reduced diets. In dieting, as in fasting, all of one's tissues are temporarily reduced each day, including LBM, body fat, and certain deposits of surplus material, as the body is forced to break down tissue for energy purposes (gluconeogenesis). However, dieting differs from fasting in that lean tissue lost while dieting is replenished on a daily basis with small amounts of new lean tissue. Over time, it's possible that the daily breakdown and restoration of new LBM on a diet provides the same overall amount of renewal and rejuvenation of lean tissue as does recovery of new tissue after a fast. In other words, the difference between fasting and dieting for rejuvenation and longevity comes down to when you choose to recover your lost LBM: day by day as you lose weight on a diet, or during the period immediately after  the breaking of a fast.

Following a fast, there is a greater need for protein intake as the body replenishes lean body mass. From this we may infer that the intake of a maintenance amount of protein to sustain lean body mass levels during dieting is beneficial.

Back to Subject Index

Insulin Shock

I am a female insulin dependent (Type1) diabetic who works out with weights 2-3 times per week and does cardio 2-3 times a week. How should my diet be structured in order for me to lose weight yet still maintain healthy blood glucose levels?

The answer is simple. SEE YOUR PHYSICIAN! Exercise and weight loss are especially serious business for type 1 diabetics who have impaired insulin production. Insulin is the hormone that allows the transport of nutrients from the blood and extracelluar fluid into the cells. Exercise has an insulin-like effect on your blood sugar level, i.e., it moves nutrients from the blood into the cells, and thus lowers the level of sugar left in your blood.

Too much exercise and/or not enough food could send you into insulin shock. Your intake of insulin must be carefully controlled to match any changes in your diet and activity. Let your physician help you get your insulin dosage in balance with your diet program, and you shouldn't have any problems losing weight like everyone else.

Back to Subject Index

Water Intoxication Syndrome

I try to drink a lot of water before my workout to prevent dehydration. I have been told that by the time I experience thirst while exercising, I am already dehydrated. How much water should I drink?

The idea that you should constantly drink to prevent the oncoming of thirst is as ridiculous as constantly eating to prevent hunger or constantly sleeping to prevent fatigue. Like hunger and fatigue, thirst is a natural and welcome sign from your body telling you the best time to drink. Ignoring the urge to satisfy normal thirst by going without water is obviously not wise. But, in their zeal to prevent dehydration, I believe some fitness experts have gotten carried away with prescriptions for excessive water intake.

Drinking when there is no normal thirst forces more water into your body than it can properly use. If you think there is no harm in drinking too much water, then you probably are not familiar with WIS, water intoxication syndrome. This occurs as the blood plasma becomes diluted with water and the body's extracellular mineral concentration is disturbed, thus upsetting many metabolic processes. The kidneys are also overworked trying to process all this water.

Rather than trying to outsmart your body, why not listen to what it is telling you? When you are thirsty, stop your activity and drink as much water as it takes to feel completely satisfied!

I have had much feedback from people protesting that I am discouraging people from drinking enough water. Therefore I will state unequivocally: Never hesitate to drink as much water as it takes to completely satisfy your thirst. However, there is no need to force yourself to drink more water in the absence of normal thirst.

Back to Subject Index

Anorexia

I am a person who suffers with an eating disorder, anorexia. Your web site consists of material that revolves around how to lose weight. I don't see how you can claim your site is helpful to those of us who are suffering from eating disorders. We are trying to do the exact opposite of what you are doing!

Just to set the record straight...my site deals with the proper way to control one's weight. This excludes prolonged crash dieting and other behaviors that encourage the development of eating disorders. There is a big difference between proper weight loss and obsessive weight loss. I believe the cause of anorexia and other eating disorders is often associated with lack of information about responsible weight management.

I know that many eating disorder clinics try to get clients to forget about their weight. Too bad! How will they educate the public and correct the misconceptions about dieting and weight loss that contribute to the cause of eating disorders? For example, many people do not understand how improper dieting adversely affects one's body composition. Just getting thin isn't the same as getting lean!

Forgetting about one's weight doesn't teach one the principles of responsible weight management! For more information see Stop Anorexia Now.

Back to Subject Index

Waist Size

You claim that waist size isn't determined by your bone structure because, other than the spinal column, a waist is just soft lean tissue and fat. That is ridiculous nonsense. The waist size is determined to a great extent by the shape of the rib cage. Not every person can have a tiny waist.

That may be true if you are taking your waist measurement up in the midriff area which lies several inches below the sternum of the ribcage. People often take their "waist" measurement at the midriff because it measures smaller than around their belly. But I'm referring to the waistline which is measured at the navel, below the ribcage.

How much the waist bulges out depends on how much soft tissue lies around the abdominal muscles. You can't blame your waist size on your large bones! A "tiny" waist depends on the proportion of the waist size to the entire body. Anyone can have a proportionally small waistline if they apply the proper weight management skills.

Back to Subject Index

Minimum Lean Body Mass

First off I would like to thank you for all the information you are providing! I have learned so very much at this site! I was raised to believe that if you want to weigh less you need to eat much less. Sometimes I would skip a day without eating. I was pretty good at starving myself.... I was actually very attractive and even did modeling. Then I had two children. After my second pregnancy I kept 25 pounds that I REALLY did not want. I tried not eating and it did not work. I tried lots of quick fixes and I have done more harm than good. After doing the calculations, I discover that I am 32% body fat, even though I am not very large. I have ruthlessly dieted off muscle and destroyed the very stuff that burns fat! No wonder I am not happy with how I look, even though I am a bit slimmer!

Well, I am starting my new program right away. My question is this... do I start by eating enough to build muscle and lift weights, or do I go for long walks and eat 1000 fewer calories than I am burning? Or should I vary my schedule every few days? Lose fat or build muscle? Or can I do both at once?

Thanks for yours comments. As a female who is above 22% body fat, it is probably a good idea for you to concentrate most of your program on getting your body fat level down, rather than building up muscle mass. Of course, you should include some muscle toning days when you feel like it. But don't try to do too much muscle toning together with fat burning on the same day. They'll cancel each other out. In other words, if you don't eat enough, you will lose muscle...but if you don't cut back on your eating, you won't lose fat!

An important factor is your LBM level. Check the recommended minimum LBM levels for your height. If you are below the minimum recommended level, then shift your program's emphasis more toward muscle building/toning workouts with appropriate amounts of food and rest. Check changes in your body composition very carefully. Try to keep your overall body weight within a reasonable range as you transform your body composition. Don't shock anyone with drastic weight changes. Remember, THIN is not the same as LEAN. Go for a steady and consistent change in the quality of your weight.

Back to Subject Index

Starvation Mode

I've been exercising for 8 weeks with few results. I've just recently incorporated weight training into my routine and was completely confused as to how one should eat when wanting to add muscle and lose fat. Your site has been incredibly enlightening to me as to the MANY things I was doing wrong. Thank-you. :) My only question is: on aerobic days when we're suppose to take in 1000 fewer calories than maintenance, how is it that we don't trigger our "starvation mode" as so many authorities claim? My maintenance allowance is 2000 calories. Wouldn't cutting back to 1000 calories put me in starvation mode?

I think many authorities have good intentions when they warn people about what they call "starvation mode." It rightly discourages people from over dieting and over exercising as they attempt to alter their body weight. However, when you are given the tools to monitor your energy balance and to measure precise changes in your body composition, you can easily determine the exact calorie intake that will help you achieve your desired body weight and body composition goals at the pace you choose. Then you won't be dependent on some arbitrary number from an authority that was only intended as a general guideline.

Everyone is different. There are many individual factors that affect the customized amount of calories that are right for each person. Let your body composition results guide your diet and activity modifications. If you can demonstrate through changes in your body composition measurements that dieting on 1000 calories a day (or whatever amount of calories) results in reducing your body fat without sacrificing lean mass, that's all that counts...even if your calorie intake is higher or lower than the generally recommended amount.

Back to Subject Index

Junk Food

I know you say I can include any food as part of a healthy balanced diet when I am balancing my calorie intake with my energy output. But exactly how much junk food can be included in my diet when I am trying to control my weight?

It is important to realize that eating to stay healthy means minimizing your intake of junk food. Few people are immune to the harmful effects of these foods. The ideal healthy diet includes NO junk food, and that is something toward which we can all strive! But, for weight control purposes, it makes no sense to strictly prohibit these foods if that only makes you rebound binge on them. You have to find an intake level of these foods that is tolerable for you. Learning to stay in control of your weight while eating a wide variety of foods, even if it inevitably includes eating some junk food, is an important skill. Often, just allowing yourself to occasionally include some of these foods in your diet helps remove the attraction of indulging in "forbidden fruit," and you actually wind up eating less of them!

BUT BEWARE! There are two main reasons why eating junk food on a regular basis can quickly lead to a progressive deterioration of your eating habits and undermine weight control. First: Since junk food provides "empty calories" that contain few nutrients, eating this food on a regular basis often means your body will continue to demand more food to meet its nutrient requirements. That means extra calories and body fat gain.

Second: These foods tend to raise the threshold level of your taste bud response. In other words, as they overpower your taste buds, junk food quickly exhausts your taste bud's responsiveness and reduces their sensitivity. It then takes more stimulation with greater doses of junk food to produce the same taste bud response. But, the more you continue to overstimulate your taste buds with more junk food, the more you continue to tire out your taste bud's response and decrease their sensitivity. Soon you are just mindlessly swallowing gobs of this stuff without even enjoying it any more. Your taste buds are virtually paralyzed, and your calorie intake is sky rocketing!

Rather than trying to "wake up your taste buds" with more stimulation, give your taste buds a rest. Get back to a normal eating schedule and select better quality foods. That will give your taste buds time to gradually restore their normal sensitivity and recover their full responsiveness. Soon, you will once again be fully satisfied while eating normal amounts of healthy food, and that will make it much easier to control your calorie intake and your weight.

Back to Subject Index

Gaining Muscle

I am 25 years old and I live in Romania. Thanks to the internet, I've reached your page after hours of searching for some ideas on "weight growth". Everyone is trying to loss weight, but I would kill for an extra pound. My weight is 56 kilograms (sorry, right now I don't know how to translate into pounds) and I am 1.70 meters tall (same problem). Can you give me advice?

Here's how to convert kilos to pounds and meters to inches:

1 meter = 39.37 inches
1 kilogram = 2.2 pounds

You will never gain weight unless your calorie intake is higher than your energy output. Of course, you want to gain healthy muscle, not body fat. But even if you train very hard with resistance exercises to build muscle mass, your muscles can't increase in size without extra calories to allow for growth. So, whether you are interested in losing fat or gaining muscle, you must always be aware of your energy balance...how many calories you are eating and how many you are burning off.

Follow the instructions on this web site to calculate your energy balance numbers, check for changes in your lean body mass, and adjust your diet and activity until you are getting the results you desire. Also, give yourself plenty of time to rest to allow your muscles to grow. For more information about gaining muscle, follow the advice at Muscle Mass Myths .

Back to Subject Index

Damage Control

Although I try to keep track of my daily calorie intake, sometimes I lose complete track, especially when eating out or attending parties and banquets. If I overeat I just wait until the next day to start over again. Is this okay?

It would be nice if we could always take a proactive approach to managing our weight by planning out our daily calorie intake and sticking to it. But often, especially when eating on social occasions, it becomes difficult to stick to our eating plan. When dining out, sometimes we aren't even sure of exactly what we are eating, and it seems almost impossible to make accurate calorie estimates. The good news is you don't need to live like a social-outcast to avoid this problem.

On days when keeping track of calories gets beyond your control, one solution is to immediately move to a reactive approach. Measure changes in your body composition the next day and react appropriately. Did you gain fat?...retain water?...lose muscle?  If you gained a half pound of fat over the previous day or two, then you know your calorie intake exceeded your energy output by 1750 calories. Adjust your energy balance to make up for the excess and get back on track as soon as possible.

Whenever you know you will be socializing and eating out later in the day, and you are not sure if you will be able to accurately estimate your calorie intake, try to leave enough room in your calorie allowance ahead of time to accommodate a REASONABLE amount of food. Anything beyond that will show up on your waist the next day, and you can immediately do something about it.

This reactive approach is most effective if you measure yourself on a consistent daily basis. Don't put off measuring yourself until you discover you have accumulated 10-20 pounds of body fat or more! This leads to yo-yo dieting. And remember: This form of damage control is only a safety net. Don't depend on managing your weight this reactive way all the time. It is not a substitute for learning to eat proper amounts of food.

Back to Subject Index

Social Support

I am doing a research paper on the importance of social support from others in achieving weight loss, and I would appreciate your feedback. Why is support from others so important? How can you get support from friends and family? What if those close to you are not supportive of your weight loss efforts? How can you form your own support group? Thanks ahead of time for your response.

Your resolve to lose weight can be undermined or enhanced by the type of social support surrounding you. Getting others to RESPECT your weight-loss goal is the key to gaining their support. This is often not too difficult to accomplish. Others are usually happy to see you succeed and improve your health and appearance, except if jealousy is involved on their part. On the other hand, you may have a much harder time getting others to respect your chosen weight-loss method.

"Not another crazy diet," is a response from others that indicates their cynicism of the weight-loss method you have chosen, even though they may support your desire to lose weight. Considering the high rate of recidivism among dieters, it's no wonder the general public's cynicism about dieting is so high. How many times have family and friends seen their loved ones drive themselves crazy trying to lose a few pounds, only to see it all pile back on again?

To gain more respect from your friends and family, and thus more support, chose a weight-loss method with realistic expectations. Use this checklist::

  1. Is your program reliable and grounded in common sense rather than in miracle quick-fix promises?
  2. Does it consist of unhealthy, unbalanced diets that cause rebound bingeing? It's hard to maintain people's respect when they catch you sneaking out to gorge on "forbidden" food.
  3. Does it rely on potentially dangerous pills, supplements and costly gadgets that allow the weight to come back when you stop using them?
  4. Does it encourage crash weight loss, which usually lowers lean body mass and which gives you that unhealthy haggard look? One to two pounds of body fat lost a week is reasonable.
  5. Is it flexible enough to accommodate a wide variety of foods and physical activities? Your family may not appreciate any attempt to ban certain foods from the house.
  6. Can you follow it at your own pace?
  7. Can you participate in all social functions while following it?
  8. Does it allow you to easily get back on track when you slip up?
  9. Does it include a maintenance method to keep the weight off?
  10. Most importantly, does it help you form new lifestyle habits, which is the key to long-term success? New lifestyle habits often come with new friendships. A walking partner, health-club buddy, diet-conscience co-worker...all these people will gradually form your new support group.

Whether you chose to work with others or on your own, if your program meets all these criteria, not only will you easily gain support from others, you will be a shining example for others to follow.

Back to Subject Index

Does Eating Fat Make You Fat?

I'm following a low-fat diet, and I notice that alot of low-fat foods are high in calories. What is the difference between the effect of fat and calories on your weight? How do calories turn into fat and into fat grams?

I know it may SEEM that eating fat makes you fat, but actually it's the total amount of calories you eat and burn that determines your body fat level. This is verified by recent reports that show our intake of fat has declined while our weight has increased. Extra unburned calories from any source, even from low-fat foods, are stored as excess body fat.

One gram of fat always contains 9 calories, regardless of whether that gram of fat is in your food or on your hips. But, how that gram of fat gets from your food to your hips is strictly determined by the balance between how many calories you eat and burn. Follow the numbers in The Body Fat Guide to help you properly adjust that balance.

Back to Subject Index

Menu Plans

I am looking for a program that will use a list of all the food that I like to eat. Then the program will give a thirty day meal planner for five or six meals a day. Is your program capable of this?

I'm sure there are software programs that will do this for you. I have used software programs that analyze the nutrients and calories in foods, and I have found them useful for planning nutritionally balanced meals. You can also refer to nutrient tables, or consult a dietitian or a certified nutritionist. In addition, there are sample meal plans on this web site.

However, bear in mind that planned menus need to be calorically adjusted to your specific weight management goal. Eating a nutritionally balanced diet in improper amounts is not going to help you manage your weight. Following a reduced-calorie menu plan to lose weight probably won't help you maintain your weight. How accurately can your menus tell you how MUCH to eat according to your exact energy requirements? And what happens if your daily energy requirement changes? More importantly, what do you do when you fall off the menu plan? Creating menus is a lot easier than sticking to them!

Use whatever method you wish to calculate the calories in your food portions, in your meals and in your daily menus. Store this information for easy reference. Then follow the information on this web site to accurately modify and balance your calorie intake with your energy output. You can also use the Electronic Energy Balance Chart to automatically calculate your daily requirement for protein, carbs and dietary fat according to your calorie intake.

Learn to apply the principles of weight management and gain the flexibility to adjust your diet by habit. Then, if you fall off your menu plan, you can still eat what you want, whenever you want, and maintain your weight!

Back to Subject Index

Do You Lack Discipline?

One of the most outstanding statements I found on your web site was "if you yo-yo between overeating, dieting, and overeating again, what have you learned?" I for one have not learned anything from this same scenario. I had been on what I believed to be a very disciplined weight training/nutritional programs, and at one point I maintained a weight of 205 lbs. and felt very healthy and energetic. Then I began working to further myself on my job, started a family and all my energy went into my job. I stopped training and started skipping meals and pigging out at dinner time. Here I am several years later and 50 lbs. heavier. I now have no energy and I cannot find the discipline to eat properly. I understand that it takes a lot of discipline for an overweight person to become healthy and even more to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated.

All the discipline in the world will never substitute for weight management skills! Unless you know how to balance the calories you eat and burn each day, what good is discipline? I believe that people overemphasize discipline and other factors like motivation because they lack basic weight management skills. With the right knowledge and a little practice to develop those skills, most people can quite comfortably manage their weight with a balanced diet that includes a wide variety of foods. They can eat and exercise as much or as little as they want because they have learned how to keep things in balance.  But, you will never learn to do this until you follow the numbers, no matter how much discipline you have...you can't manage what you don't measure!

Learning to do this takes no more effort and discipline than learning to drive a car. Even though it takes some discipline to drive a car, that doesn't stop most people from finding the time to learn to do it. It eventually becomes a habit. The same applies to weight management. The amount of weight you need to lose isn't an indication of your lack of discipline. It merely indicates how long you have been mismanaging your weight. Just read all the information on this web site. You can do it!

Back to Subject Index

Diet From A Trainer

Hi! I just hired a personal trainer who put me on a diet to help me lose fat. It consists of:

Breakfast: 3oz oatmeal, 6 egg whites
Snack: 6 oz chicken or turkey, 10 oz California mix, 1 tbsp MCT OIL
Lunch: 6oz chicken, 10 oz Green Beans
Snack: 6 oz extra lean ground beef or chicken, 8oz California mix, 1 tbsp MCT oil
Dinner: 6oz Chicken or turkey, 8 oz green beans, 1 tbsp MCT oil
Snack: 7 oz chicken or turkey, 7 oz carrots, 1 tbsp MCT oil
Supplements: Multivitamin (centrium one with breakfast), MCT Oil

The problem I see with this diet is that it doesn't look like it has enough carbs or dairy products in it. I know it will cause me to lose weight, but will my body weight yo-yo? Is this a diet I could look to be on long term without health risks? Where would I get MCT oil equivalent in a normal diet plan?

In my opinion, few fitness trainers are weight management experts. I know because I use to be one of them. I saw first-hand how my clients would regain their weight after following diets, including the kind of unbalanced high-protein diet you described.

Just follow the advice on my web site to learn how to permanently manage your weight. Get on a balanced diet and put the energy balance numbers together. All the oil you need should come from nuts, seeds, avocados, cold pressed vegetable oils, and, if you are not a vegetarian, from lean meats and dairy. Your results will guide your diet and activity modifications.

On the other hand, if you enjoy your unbalanced diet, then go ahead and follow it, but sooner or later you will have to deal with the root cause of your body weight problem: energy imbalance.

Back to Subject Index

Slower Loss For Lightweights

I am a 5' female, about 100 lbs. with a 26" waist, and I'm very confused. I read your web site pages, and it said that to lose 2 pounds a week I need to consume 1000 fewer calories than my energy output. Since I do no activity other than sedentary activities, that would mean consuming only 265 calories! Is this realistic?

Since you are a "lightweight", you needn't lose so much weight each week to see good results. Try losing 1 pound a week instead of 2 pounds. Remember, weighing 100 pounds means you only need to lose 1 pound of body fat to reduce your body fat percentage by a whole point. A 200-pound person needs to lose twice as many pounds to reduce their body fat percentage by the same amount. In other words, losing 1 pound of body fat has a greater effect on your smaller body than it does on a larger person.

By aiming to lose 1% of your body weight each week, the less you weigh, the less body fat you would need to lose. Of course, you can still lose more as long as muscle is not sacrificed.

I suggest you start doing more activity like walking to help burn off body fat. This will allow you to eat a bit more. So, if you aimed for one pound of fat loss a week and you walked 1.5 hours every day (which burns 300 calories at your weight), you would need to eat 1065 calories. And that's more realistic.

Back to Subject Index

Weight Gain in Ex-Smokers

How do you address weight gain when you stop smoking?

A recent survey showed that 40% of young women listed weight control as a reason for taking up smoking. Smoking adds significant STRESS to your system. In response, your body burns about 10% more calories per day resisting the toxic effect of smoking. A similar toxic response is seen when ingesting large amounts of caffeine, high-protein diets, and other drugs and supplements. These are just some of the 1001 ways you can burn more calories by putting your body under stress, wasting your energy, and sacrificing your health! This is certainly not a substitute for proper weight management skills.

When you stop smoking you remove this stress on your body. Then you simply have to readjust your calorie intake to match the 10% reduction in your calorie output. Follow the energy balance and body composition numbers on this web site to do this correctly, until it becomes a new habit. Then you can stay healthy while controlling your weight!

In addition, food usually tastes better when you stop smoking, so be sure to make intelligent food selections and satisfy your hunger with nutrient-dense foods, not empty-calorie foods. Don't substitute a junk food habit for a nicotine habit!

Back to Subject Index

Insulin Insensitivity

Does insulin insensitivity cause obesity as certain low-carb programs suggest?

You have it backwards. Insulin insensitivity doesn't cause obesity; obesity causes insulin insensitivity. As you become obese from absorbing more calories than you burn, your body cells become insulin insensitive. This means that insulin does not perform it's normal hormonal function of allowing nutrients to enter your body cells from your blood plasma. As a result, these nutrients accumulate in your blood plasma and raise blood sugar levels, hyperglycemia. But hyperglycemia and insulin insensitivity are signs of obesity, not causes. Why try to treat the physiological signs with unbalanced diets and drugs? Address the cause: obesity due to energy imbalance.

Improving Fertility

My husband and I have been using the services of a fertility clinic with little success. I was finally told that I would need to lose weight to improve my chances of getting pregnant. Can your program help me?

Yes. Studies show that gaining body fat reduces fertility. As you reduce your body fat, you may be able to improve your chances of getting pregnant again. Follow the advice on this web site, and hopefully start reversing the process as much as you possibly can.

Back to Subject Index

Burning Fat in the AM

To burn off abdominal fat, is it better to do aerobic exercise in the morning, rather than during the day or at night, being that you're just about depleted of your carbohydrates?

Whether day or night, whenever your blood glucose level starts falling, your body begins drawing upon its extra energy reserves stored in fat and muscle. If you exercised in this state, the amount of fat released and burned from storage sites would increase. But, that doesn't necessarily mean you will lose more body fat by the end of the day. Burning fat isn't the same as losing body fat!

You see, sooner or later you have to eat again, and then those energy storage sites immediately start refilling. To lose body fat and retain muscle, the trick is to refill your storage sites at a slightly slower RATE than they are used up. It doesn't matter what time you eat and exercise; it's how all your calories add up by the end of the day that counts. Follow the energy balance numbers in The Body Fat Guide and prove it to yourself!

Hunger During Ovulation

I often get very hungry a week or more before my period, and I start eating more food. I am not more active during this time. What is driving up my demand for calories?

There is evidence that a woman's calorie expenditures may rise by 150-300 calories a day during ovulation, probably because ovulation increases energy needs for reproductive purposes. If this applies to you, then simply make the proper modification in your calorie intake. Check your body composition to make sure your modifications are keeping your weight in line. Avoid turning to junk and salty snack foods to provide extra calories. Salty foods, in particular, encourage water retention and bloating that commonly occurs during the premenstrual period.

Back to Subject Index

Angle of Waist Photo

You say that when a person has low body fat, their navel is the narrowest part of their waist. However, I often see photographs of lean models whose navels don't appear to be the narrowest part of their waist. Why is that?

Photographers often shoot models from an angle, usually from above the model's waist looking down. The model may also pose by tilting the angle of her pelvis. The effect of these two angles makes it harder to accurately connect the line between the model's navel and the narrowest portion of her waist in the photo. But, this is just a 2-dimensional optical illusion. In the real 3-dimensional world, the narrowest portion of the model's waist usually lines up with the level of her navel. For example, in the following photo, the 2 yellow lines show that the level of the model's navel, the bottom yellow line, appears lower than the yellow line at the narrowest part of the model's waist. However, the red line, which is parallel to the side strap on the bikini bottom, shows the actual 3-dimensional angle of the photo. Notice how this angle directly connects the point of the narrowest part of the waist to the navel, indicating that these are actually at the same level in the 3-dimensional world.