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Fat Loss Revealed Part 2

Feb 28, 2008
The secrets to achieving the lean athletic physique that you've always wanted are held by Canada's top trainer, Yuri Elkaim. Most people waste a lot of time in the gym with no real direction or positive results. Fitness and wellness coaches, such as Yuri Elkaim know there is a better way.

Yuri is a former professional soccer, Certified Kinesiologist, Registered Holistic Nutritionist, the Head Strength & Conditioning Coach for the nationally ranked University of Toronto men's soccer program, and considered by many as Canada's top trainer and fitness expert. He's created Fitter U, the world's only 12-week body shaping fitness program for iPod/MP3 players geared to helping people lose weight, burn fat, and improve their fitness level. In this article, Amy Coates, Total Wellness Consulting's nutrition expert will be interviewing Yuri on various facets of weight loss.

...continued from Part 1.

AC: So for beginners, a good nutrition program is possibly the most powerful factor?

YE: Absolutely! Obviously a nutrition program is vital - you must create a caloric deficit through a combined exercise and nutrition approach. But, more so I like to focus on getting my clients to focus on eating healthier, higher quality foods. I like to preach the qualitative side of nutrition more so than the quantitative calorie counting side.

So the key for the fat loss programs I use is exactly that - how can we force the body to burn as many calories as possible, and continue to burn them between workouts. The idea is to demand as much work from the body as possible - and maintain that caloric burn for as long as possible.

Now the ONLY reason the body burns calories is because the muscle tissue is working. It doesn't matter what activity you are involved in - aerobics or weight training - its muscular demand that determines caloric burn. So you have to begin with that in mind.

Let's think about this:

You can run a mile in ten minutes.

You can swim a mile in twenty minutes.

After a year of swimming every day and not running - you can now swim a mile in 16 minutes.

Without running - how much has your running improved? Very little. Why? We only have ONE cardiovascular system - so why doesn't improving your swimming (and cardio system) automatically improve your running?

Because the ONLY reason your cardio system was involved in the first place was because of demand from your muscular system. So you adapted to the SPECIFIC MUSCULAR demands of swimming which by default then involves the cardiovascular system - it's not the other way around as most people think. The muscles don't move because of cardiovascular demand - the cardio system is elevated because of muscular demand.

AC: What's the takeaway message?

YE: Hopefully the readers can understand - that we need to program the body based on the movements it's going to perform - not based on the cardiovascular system. That's an upside down method.

AC: So what methods work for fat loss? What methods are ineffective or inefficient for fat loss?

YE: Circuit weight training and interval training always work. Steady state aerobic work never works long term in the real world. Now for those of you out there who will no doubt get caught up talking about health, cardiac heart disease, cholesterol etc - I'm not arguing with you. But we're talking about fat loss here.

However - for fat loss, the research is unequivocal - high intensity work is superior.

I think the problem is this:

Aerobic training by nature is lower intensity. At some point you get so good at it that it just doesn't burn as many calories, and in effect, you are burning fewer calories than you used to for the same time investment. So what do you do? Go for longer and inevitably run into the same problem? Or increase the intensity? Increasing the intensity is the obvious answer.

AC: You have commented that aerobics were useless for fat loss. This caused a lot of controversy. What did you mean?

YE: I'm sure you'll agree Amy that it only seemed to cause controversy with people who don't do this for a living. Most of the good practitioners in this area didn't even blink. It's not controversial at all in terms of fat loss and I'm getting bored going over it.

I don't think anyone who has trained themselves or anyone else has ever seen low intensity cardio to be a very effective fat loss tool. The loss in lean mass that is typical in most weight loss programs needs to be offset - and steady state aerobic training (despite it's plentiful health benefits) only adds to that problem.

So let me expand on what I meant:

When I said "Aerobics are useless for fat loss" what I meant was "aerobics are useless for fat loss". Is that clearer?

Ok - to be less antagonistic, let's just say that aerobic training for fat loss is the most overrated and overemphasized method in use today. It's completely outdated as a fat loss modality. Here's something to remember - write it on your fridge it you have to: Lifting weights in the intensity zone of 8-12 reps coupled with short rest periods has been shown beneficial for releasing the androgenic hormone testosterone and growth hormone. These important hormones encourage development of lean muscle mass (metabolically active tissue). Fat, on the other hand is just along for the ride! Aerobic exercise has been linked with the release of the catabolic hormone cortisol, which is antagonistic to the development of lean muscle mass.

The efficiency argument is interesting. Does weight training build muscle? No. It breaks down muscle and the body ADAPTS by building more muscle. So in aerobic training - when we "encourage the use of fat" - do we force that same body to adapt by storing more fat? Interesting, most exercise and fitness experts all seem to think so. Think about it for a moment. Who is leaner and more defined...a 100m sprinter or marathon runner???

Seriously - there are thousands of overweight individuals each year who complete marathons. Now completing a marathon is damn impressive to me. However it shows that the aerobic fitness needed to complete a marathon doesn't have anything necessarily to do with creating a fat loss effect. So if you are capable of two to three hours of steady state running and still not be burning enough fat - we can either go to a higher intensity or you can try four hours of running. Any takers for the latter?

In terms of fat loss - calories burned are the most important factor. And aerobic training burns less calories than anaerobic training and weight training overall (besides doing very little to increase your metabolism -your body's calorie burning engine).

So if we accept that lean mass is a major factor in your fat burning engine - and aerobic training makes that engine smaller (i.e. less muscle) and more efficient at burning fat (remember more efficient means it burns LESS) - how can having a smaller more efficient fat burning machine burn more fat? It doesn't.

AC: So you are saying that cardio is the least important component?

YE: I don't think so necessarily. However, I do believe that a combination of properly structure strength training accompanied by high-intensity interval training is the MOST effective way to burn fat while promoting lean muscle mass. The results speak for themselves, time and time again!
About the Author
Yuri is the owner of Total Wellness Consulting and creator of the only 12 week body shaping fitness program designed for Ipod/Mp3 players. Please visit http://www.myFitterU.com for more info.
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