Summer Slim Down!

Dietary supplements are, and always will be, immensely popular. Fat-loss supplements are particularly popular as America is currently facing an obesity epidemic. And, I might add, bodybuilders are facing a 4-pack epidemic...
Dietary supplements are, and always will be, immensely popular. Fat-loss supplements are particularly popular as America is currently facing an obesity epidemic. And, I might add, bodybuilders are facing a "4-pack" epidemic, meaning that winter just recently left and the entire 6 or 8-pack isn't showing.

So what do you do to get lean? Do you take supplements? Do you bump up cardio? Do you cut out carbs? Since just this morning I've received close to 10 emails from readers about how to lose that last bit of belly fat.

I thought I'd delve into some specifics. Here's one question in particular.

Chris,

    Thanks for keeping us up to date with your supplement articles each week. I need to know what I can take to lose weight, what I need to eat, and if I should stop eating carbs completely (as in none) as my trainer suggested.

    It doesn't seem like this is a wise idea; I tried to consider what foods I would and wouldn't be able to eat, and thought it was strange that I wouldn't even be able to have a post-workout drink like you recommend. Do I do cardio? Help!

Thanks,
MK

MK,

Great question and I get similar ones on a regular basis. First, I think your trainer fell, and dropped a barbell or two on his head over the years; no diet should ever totally eliminate any food group.

The whole low-carb thing is popular among many fitness enthusiasts (although trends show its popularity is weaning). But, to recommend that you totally eliminate every single carbohydrate in your diet is taking it to more than extremes... very unhealthy extremes.

I do not agree with the whole low-carb fad that came and went in less time than the popularity of HMB. Why--because neither are very useful.

  • First
    Low-carbohydrates does not mean and never did mean no carbohydrates.

  • Second
    It is more the type of carbohydrates than the entire food group itself that are important.

  • Third
    The post-workout meal is arguably the most important meal of the day (it's neck and neck with breakfast). However, it's a rather ineffective recovery drink if it's lacking carbohydrates.

Let's take each point one by one.

  1. Low-carbohydrates, moderate carbohydrates,
    A Short History Of The Low Carb Diet.
    The low carb diet has been the diet news story of the last decade. But believe it or not, it didn't start with Dr. Atkins or with Dr. Di Pasquale's Anabolic or Metabolic Diets. It actually started with a London undertaker more than 140 years ago.
    carbohydrate controlled diet or whatever you want to call it, essentially means reducing your carbohydrates pretty drastically, but also choosing the better types of carbohydrates.

    Sure, your body can function with a very low carbohydrate intake by using proteins and fats as fuel. However, I can guarantee that you'll be much stronger in the weight room with some real fuel inside your body.

    If your car runs on high octane fuel 100% of the time and then you suddenly switch to a lower grade octane since prices are through the roof, your car will run, but not as well as with "the good stuff." Same goes with your body; don't treat your body like a piece of junk or else you'll get junk in terms of performance.

  2. It is definitely the type of carbohydrates more than the quantity of them. Quantity is just one component of the diet; quality is just as important, if not more!

    If your diet consists of sugar based cereals, candy, desserts, etc, I would highly recommend a low carbohydrate diet (cut them all out)! However, if you eat whole grains, fruits and vegetables, I'll never recommend eliminating those.

    Sure, if you're dieting for a show things will be a bit different. However, there is still no need to totally eliminate one food group. In case you're all wondering, there are actually two nutrients that you cannot consume from any other food other than carbohydrates.

    They are fiber and vitamin C. Yes, you can get these from supplements, but it's not close to the same as when eating them through whole foods. So, I assume your trainer recommended several supplements with your carb elimination program?

    Remember, you can drink protein shakes until you're blue in the head, but you won't be getting much out of 'em aside from the protein itself.

  3. If your trainer is recommended eliminating carbs from the post-workout meal, s/he should no longer be your trainer. Like I said, post-workout meals/shakes are arguably the most important meal of the day.

    Think about it. You were just in the gym beating up your body for the last hour or so. During this workout, you depleted (or drastically reduced) your glycogen stores (storage form of carbohydrate).

    Protein has a very difficult time stepping up and filling carbohydrates shoes, so to speak. Therefore, subsequent workouts will not be all out massacres, like earlier ones when there were some carbs in the body. As I've recommended before, consume a post-workout drink or meal immediately after your workout; these should be comprised of about 3:1 ratio of carbs:protein, which works off the bevy of research supporting this ratio.

As for dietary supplements for fat loss, see some of my previous reviews on this category of products. To be quite honest, aside from ephedrine, no other supplement has yet to show the same outcome results with use. Green tea may have some "legs" to support its use, but at this time I think drinking the actual beverage will provide more benefit than a particular supplement.

Six-Pack Supplements.
I've recently had a surge of questions about how to lose weight, the best diet to follow, and what fat loss supplements folks should consider. I've covered some in the past, but I thought I'd touch on a few others that are not covered very often.
[ Click here to learn more. ]

In addition, even if there is a small positive effect, any effect can be more safely duplicated by a balanced diet, with a modest energy reduction and an increase in energy expenditure.

Another part to your question was about doing cardio. It really depends on your goals, MK. Without knowing anything about you, it's hard for me to make specific recommendations. In general, cardiovascular work can help with weight loss, yes.

If you are not tremendously heavy, however, and just have a bit of weight to lose, than maybe some type of circuit training program would work with you.


What Are Your Goals?
>Lose Fat
>Build Muscle
>Improve Energy
>Other

With this type of workout, stick with compound, multi-joint activities and leave no more than 60 seconds between sets (30 seconds for real veterans). For example, one workout could be a set of squats, followed by a set of dips (30 seconds in between sets). Then do a set of walking lunges and a set of chin-ups.

Continue these 4 exercises until you hit 3 sets of each exercise, with 30 seconds rest between exercises. Also, keep water with you and, as always, consult your physician before starting this or any other exercise program (wow, I now officially sound like an infomercial for a product).

Remember, don't try anything fancy or fad like. The key with any long-term program is important to get to the root of the situation, rather than only cutting down the weeds; solely using dietary supplements for weight loss, for example, is akin to cutting down the weeds. A sound program of moderate energy reduction and increased exercise are most important when trying to decrease body weight and body fat.