Monthly Archives: February 2015

March 2015 Newsletter: Exercise, Science, and the Cardio Myth

“I Don’t Get it. I Work Out Every Day with My Trainer and Can’t Lose Weight.”

Is this you? It is many of my clients. And, I hear this statement more often than you’d think. What’s going on? In January I introduced you to the book Body by Science. This month you’ll learn more of the details. I have a series of four articles to share with you which capture the major themes from the book. The first two appear in this newsletter. The four articles are:

1. Introduction to Body by Science

2. The Cardio Myth

3. Fat Metabolism

4. Genetic Expression

So, without further ado, let’s get to Body by Science.

Getting Started With Body by Science

“I don’t understand. I work out every day and I’m still gaining weight.” Believe it or not I hear this question quite frequently. On the surface it seems to be quite the paradox. All the conventional wisdom tells us to lose weight all we need to do is watch what we eat (meaning to eat less) and exercise more. Follow this simple formula: use more calories than you take in.

In the past I’ve explained part of this myth – how all calories are not created equal. Based on what the calorie is from (protein, fat, or carbohydrate) it will have a different effect in your body. If you need a refresher you can find that article on my blog at http://brwellness.com/nutrition-news/?p=135.

Now let’s explore the other half of the equation: exercise more. This of course leads to a series of questions. What type of exercise is best? How many times a week should I exercise? How long should I exercise?

For the rest of the article click here: http://brwellness.com/nutrition-news/?p=27

The Cardio Myth

In the introductory article I summarized his key points. In this article I will address one of those key points. His recommended method of exercise is what he terms high intensity training (or HIT). It benefits both the aerobic and anaerobic energy pathways. Most “cardio” only works the aerobic pathway.

High intensity training is in many ways the complete opposite of what is now known as “cardio.” HIT is designed to be short and sweet. The techniques work the major muscle groups to exhaustion and then you must stop, rest, and then begin the next exercise. Cardio is designed to be lower intensity so that you can perform the exercise without stopping, usually anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour.

For the rest of the article click here: http://brwellness.com/nutrition-news/?p=26

The Cardio Myth

I have recently introduced you to the book Body by Science by Doug McDuff, MD and John Little. This book offers a clear explanation of the actual science of exercise, how activity relates to hormones, and how this determines what happens in your body. In short, it answers the question I am frequently asked. “Why am I gaining weight when I am working out every day?”

In the introductory article I summarized his key points. In this article I will address one of those key points. His recommended method of exercise is what he terms high intensity training (or HIT). It benefits both the aerobic and anaerobic energy pathways. Most “cardio” only works the aerobic pathway.

High intensity training is in many ways the complete opposite of what is now known as “cardio.” HIT is designed to be short and sweet. The techniques work the major muscle groups to exhaustion and then you must stop, rest, and then begin the next exercise. Cardio is designed to be lower intensity so that you can perform the exercise without stopping, usually anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour.

The roots of modern cardio trace back to the mid-1960’s when Kenneth Cooper was searching for an exercise that he thought would optimize cardiovascular fitness. This was the time when we first began to see a dramatic increase in heart disease related deaths and the thinking was by exercising our hearts they would not attack us!

Unfortunately he began with a false premise. He believed that “aerobic” was the same as “cardiovascular” and wanted to develop an exercise that would isolate the aerobic metabolic system. He created the term “aerobics” to refer to his exercise technique. This low intensity and steady in state method he developed is now referred to as “cardio.”

But this is where we have to understand how the body works! The body has two pathways for metabolism – aerobic and anaerobic. These processes are conducted in each and every cell in our body. Both are essential for the total health of the cell and thus the entire organism. Aerobic means “with oxygen” and anaerobic means “without oxygen.”

Cooper believed that the aerobic was the most important pathway therefore it should be isolated and trained. There was no actual evidence that one pathway was more important, it was just his belief, and unfortunately for many he was wrong. For many it proved to be dead wrong.

His main error was that the pathways cannot be separated in a live human (remember our body is not a test tube – what happens in the body is different than isolating something in a test tube!). The aerobic pathway is fueled by a substance called pyruvate which is produced by the anaerobic pathway.

As we’ve discussed before energy comes from glucose going from the blood stream into the cell. It takes a series of twenty chemical reactions to produce pyruvate from glucose. This is an anaerobic process. Pyruvate then goes to the mitochondria of the cell. If you remember your basic biology the mitochondria produces energy via the Krebs cycle in an aerobic process.

So, as you can see, we need an exercise method that will strengthen both systems of metabolism. Modern day “cardio” does not fit the bill as it isolates the aerobic and the science share in the book shows it does not benefit the anaerobic. It is high intensity training that will benefit the complete system.

The effectiveness of any exercise is all about hormones, fat metabolism, and blood glucose levels. High intensity training works the major muscle groups to exhaustion, uses up glucose, and encourages the body to burn fat and build muscle. This is explored further in the article Hormonal Implications of Exercise.

Another irony concerning aerobic specific training is that it produces additional oxidative stress on the body which creates inflammation and excess free radicals in the body. This factor puts one at increased risk of heart disease – exactly what the “cardio” exercise is supposed to help prevent!

Bernard Rosen, PhD is a Nutrition Consultant and Educator. He works with individuals, groups, and at corporations to create individualized nutrition and wellness programs. His office is in Mequon, WI. To learn more or to schedule an appointment, e-mail at bernie@brwellness.com, call (262) 389-9907 or go to www.brwellness.com.

Why and How You Can Work Out Every Day and Gain Weight

“I don’t understand. I work out every day and I’m still gaining weight.” Believe it or not I hear this question quite frequently. On the surface it seems to be quite the paradox. All the conventional wisdom tells us to lose weight all we need to do is watch what we eat (meaning to eat less) and exercise more. Follow this simple formula: use more calories than you take in.

In the past I’ve explained part of this myth – how all calories are not created equal. Based on what the calorie is from (protein, fat, or carbohydrate) it will have a different effect in your body. If you need a refresher you can find that article on my blog at http://brwellness.com/nutrition-news/?p=135.

Now let’s explore the other half of the equation: exercise more. This of course leads to a series of questions. What type of exercise is best? How many times a week should I exercise? How long should I exercise?

Some people say “aerobic” is best. Some say weight lifting. Others say yoga, or interval training, and still others say high intensity training. Some tell you to do a different type of exercise every day for an hour. On the other spectrum some will tell you once to twice a week for fifteen to twenty minutes is all you need. You can see there is quite a variance in the answers.

To best understand any issue relating to health and nutrition I always ask one simple question. How is the body designed? When I discuss with clients what they should eat and what they should avoid I just don’t say “eat this and not that.” I explain to them how their body works and what the different foods will actually do in their body. When we understand how our body is designed to work it makes it much easier to determine what it needs and to separate myth from fact. Unfortunately in the world of health and nutrition there is a lot of myth and hype which is quite different than the facts.

Of course I am limited by the space of this article. Whole books have been written to address these questions and I’ve read quite a few of them! Recently I read one that I believe explains it the best – Body by Science by Doug McGuff, M.D. and John Little. With his medical background, Dr. McGuff understands how the body is designed and he uses this to explain the science of exercise.

My plan is to have several articles based on the book. I will use the remainder of this article to summarize the major points of the book. Future articles as noted below will be more in depth on specific topics. But in the mean time, if you are interested I’d encourage you to read the book sooner rather than later. It will likely change the way you think about exercise! Here is a quick summary of his major points:

1. Who can you trust? Most exercise testimonials and a fair amount of “research” is shall we say – slightly misleading and biased and does not address the true science of exercise.

2. Genetic expression plays a major role in our physical appearance. People can do similar types of exercise but in the end their genes determine how their physical activity is expressed in their body. I will have a separate article on this subject.

3. Being “fit” does not mean you are healthy.

4. High intensity training is his preferred method. It benefits both the aerobic and anaerobic energy pathways. Most “cardio” only works the aerobic pathway. The effectiveness of the exercise is all about hormones and blood glucose levels. High intensity training works the major muscle groups to exhaustion, uses up glucose, and encourages the body to burn fat and build muscle. I will have a future article about the “cardio myth.”

5. Fat metabolism and fat loss is also determined by hormone activity which is affected by the type of exercise. Hormones signal the body to burn fat and to store fat. Some exercise will produce the “burn” signal, others the “store” signal. I will have a future article about fat metabolism.

6. Exercising once to twice per week for 15 to 20 minutes when done according to his methodology is all you need to properly engage your body and manage the body building and fat burning hormones.

As you know from past articles I am also a big believer in “walking the talk.” I have found a local trainer who follows the basic principles as outlined in the book and began training several weeks ago. In one month I have already noticed several significant changes. I will keep you posted on that as well.

Bernard Rosen, PhD is a Nutrition Consultant and Educator. He works with individuals, groups, and at corporations to create individualized nutrition and wellness programs. His office is in Mequon, WI. To learn more or to schedule an appointment, e-mail at bernie@brwellness.com, call (262) 389-9907 or go to www.brwellness.com.