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Craving carbs? What to do about it...Get Fit, Lose Fat and Feel Fantastic!, Issue 0001
December 31, 2004

A monthly Newsletter to help you make the most of your workouts, from Gina Paolino and Home Bodies in-home fitness training.
January 4, 2005, Issue 001

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*Exercise smarter, not harder for best fat-burning

*Can You Really "Spot Reduce" Those Trouble Areas?

*Have 20 minutes, Want intense workout

*Why do I crave carbs, and what can I do about it?

Exercise smarter, not harder for best fat- burning

There is so much confusion out there surrounding exercise advice. Not only is it confusing what you should be doing, the order in which to do it can be just as perplexing. One of the most common questions I'm asked is, "How can I structure my workout in order to burn the most fat?" Along the same line is the popular question, "If I'm going to do cardio and resistance training in the same exercise session, should I do cardio first or weights? Here is the answer:

Almost everyone will have the best results by doing cardio after resistance training. There are several reasons for this:

1. Resistance training uses carbs and only carbs for energy. If you deplete your muscles of stored carbs and then try to perform strength training, you will be weaker during the strength training.

2. Cardio can be performed by tapping into the energy in bodyfat. It takes 20-30 minutes of activity for the body to switch from primarily burning carbohydrate to burning fat. If you weight train first, that means you are already burning fat at the start of your cardio session.

3. Your heart rate will be elevated sooner during your cardio session. Weight training elevates heart rate. This means that within a few minutes at most during your cardio session, you will be in your target heart rate zone, which is the recommended zone for weight loss and cardiovascular conditioning. If you started with cardio, you would need to go for longer just to get into your target heart rate zone.

If you have ever belonged to a gym, you have probably noticed that almost everyone does cardio before weights.Most people do this for one of two reasons:

A. They don't know any better, or

B. They want to get the "boring" part out of the way first.

Those "in the know" do their weight training first! Of course, your other options are to do them at separate times-such as weights in the morning, and cardio in the evening, or vice versa. Alternately, you could "alternately" (pardon the pun) do cardio and weights-weights one day, and cardio another.

Can You Really "Spot Reduce" Those Trouble Areas?

You've seen them--the "infomercials" for various fitness gizmos that promise to give you flat, toned abs or firm thighs, or bulging arms or eliminate cellulite, or whatever. Did you know that some of those "shows" cost up to $1 million to produce? They're incredibly slick productions with beautiful models, exotic settings and best of all - great lighting!

These shows promise that ten minutes a day, 3 times per week with their "technologically advanced" product will bring you amazing "spot reduction/tightening/firming/development" of particular body parts. Their message is so compelling, it's really hard to keep your credit card in your wallet. Don't feel bad if you've purchased one or more of these gizmos - you're not alone. Millions of people have. And I would venture to say that 99% of those people did not get their results that were advertised. Why?

Because "spot reduction" doesn't work. Here is what you can expect diet and exercise to do to your body:

1. Shrink the fat cells, therefore reducing overall bodyfat. By creating a caloric deficit, you can shed fat from your body. Usually, the last place the fat came on is the first place it leaves. The first place you gain it is the last place you lose it. This is due to genetics and you cannot change it. Cardio helps accelerate fat loss when done with the proper intensity and in conjunction with weight training and diet.

2. Increase muscle size. By resistance training with bodyweight exercises, free weights, or resistance machines, you can increase muscle size and density. Coupled with fat loss, this creates a "toning" effect, meaning the area is firm and tight in appearance.

3. Reduce water retention. This can be safely accomplished by controlling salt intake, drinking plenty of water, and sticking to a moderate-carbohydrate diet. Exercise also helps with fluid circulation and elimination. Vegetables have a safe diuretic effect, helping to tighten the appearance of your waistline.

Many people spent most of their time exercising on movements like leg lifts, inner and outer thigh machines, and, the perrenial favorite, ab work. I find that my clients get better and faster results getting the body they want by focusing on weight training the major muscle groups (for example, squats and chest press) and doing cardio to burn the fat. I have seen amazing six-pack abs on people who never directly work them - but they have tight fit bodies and work hard on their lifting and cardio. The abs are always working as stabilizer muscles, so oftentimes once you strip off the fat you have a beautiful midsection already there.

Have 20 minutes, Want intense workout

Try compound sets or giant sets. They will fatigue you quickly, but also give you a benefit with little time. They are very taxing on the body and generally shouldn't be performed more than once per week, or once per muscle group per month.

For a Compound Set: Perform two exercises for the same muscle group back to back. Example: dumbbell squat, immediately followed by the leg press.

For a Giant Set: Perform three exercises for the same muscle group back to back. Example: bench press immediately followed by a machine chest press, immediately followed by push-ups.

Warning: Don't Try these at Home. Just kidding--but, in all seriousness, you should use a little bit less weight than usual for 10-15 reps.

Why do I crave carbs, and what can I do about it?

Your body is telling you something when you find yourself craving carbs. In most cases, you're looking for quick energy, or you're low on serotonin.

If you haven't been eating regularly and sleeping well, your body will look for a quick "pick me up," which comes along with simple carbs found in flour and sugar. Serotonin is a "get-happy" neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood-and eating carbs stimulate it's release. Reaching for cookies and candy can only temporarily give you a serotonin, and therefore mood, boost. The only way to stay content and happy is to maintain stable blood sugar and serotonin levels throughout the day. There are two ways to do this:

1. Eat five or six small daily meals to provide a steady supply of energy.

2. Make sure those meals include complex carbohydrates such as fruits and veggies, whole grains, and beans.

Complex carbohydrates are digested and absorbed slowly by the blood stream, providing a steady flow of serotonin and energy. Refined carbohydrates, such as chips, most breads, candy, and baked goods, are quickly absorbed and trigger the pancreas to produce large amounts of insulin. They give you an initial boost, followed by a rapid drop.

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