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Building the Burn
June 14, 2005 12:09 PM
Building the Burn by Marjorie Flakowitz Energy Times, June 11, 2004
When was the last time you exercised? During the past decade, the number of obese Americans has jumped by 50%. A big factor in this increase: lack of physical activity.
Today, technological society seems to make everyday life effortless: car windows retreat at the push of a button, remote controls keep couch potatoes from budging off the cushions and video games have replaced non-cyber ball playing. Americans don't move around and burn off the calories they eat. Instead, our sedentary ways are causing big stomach bulges and a big bulge in health problems linked to being overweight.
Want to lose those pounds? Consuming the right nutrients and pounding the pavement are a great start.
Number of Large Americans Grows Larger
Fifty-five out of every 100 Americans are now overweight. And the numbers continue to surge. To take yourself out of these alarming statistics, plan a consistent exercise program. If the thought of sweating during strenuous workouts at the gym Scares you, relax. You don't have to do that much. According to a long list of research, a few half-hour walks a week can put you on the road to weight loss.
For instance, researchers at Duke found that walking a total of only 12 miles a week can help you control your weight even if you're not dieting (Archives of Internal Medicine 1/12/04). Of course dieting and taking the right supplements will help you lose weight a little faster, but walking burns off the pounds.
In the study at Duke, scientists gathered about 180 overweight, sedentary people and assigned them to one of four groups. The first group had to jog about 20 miles a week. The second group jogged 12 miles a week. The third group walked 12 miles, and the last group didn't do a thing.
" We found that the two low-exercise groups lost both weight and fat, while those in the more intensive group lost more of each in a 'dose-response' manner," says Cris Slentz, PhD, one of the researchers. " Simply put, the more you exercise, the more you benefit. Just as importantly, the control group of participants who performed no exercise gained weight over the period of the trial."
Everybody who was exercising lost weight; their stomachs and hips shrank. The folks who did nothing didn't just stay at the same weight; their weight went up.
Dr. Slentz adds, "From the perspective of prevention, it appears that the 30 minutes per day will keep most people from gaining the additional weight associated with inactivity. Given the increase in obesity in the US, it would seem likely that many in our society may have fallen below this minimal level of physical activity required to maintain body weight."
Of course, limiting the carbohydrates you consume and eating more protein at the same time as you exercise can help you lose weight more effectively. To help your body utilize protein more fully to fuel your exercise, many experts recommend taking enzyme supplements.
One of the most valuable enzyme combinations in this process is Aminogen(r), an all-natural, patented plant enzyme that assists the digestive tract in liberating the amino acids that are the building blocks of dietary protein. By helping separate these amino acids, absorption is boosted through the walls of the small intestines and your metabolism is better able to take up proteins and use them.
Add Chromium to Exercise
The mineral chromium is another supplement found helpful in aiding weight loss. An eight-week study at the University of Texas, Austin, compared weight loss among obese women who exercised and took chromium with the number of pounds that were lost by women performing the same amount of exercise without taking supplements (Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 1997; 29:992-8).
The result: women taking chromium lost a significantly greater amount. How does chromium work? A study at the University of Vermont found that chromium may help muscles take blood sugar (glucose) out of the blood more effectively by improving what's called insulin sensitivity (18th International Diabetes Federation Congress, Paris, 8/03).
Insulin is released by the pancreas to help cells take in glucose. By exercising and keeping your weight down, and becoming more insulin sensitive, you potentially reduce your chances of getting diabetes. The cells quickly respond to insulin and blood sugar stabilizes.
On the other hand, when insulin sensitivity drops significantly, the body may suffer what's called insulin resistance, a pre-diabetic condition that complicates and slows the removal of sugar from the blood. The Vermont researchers found that chromium increases the activity of a protein called Akt phosphorylation. This is a natural substance made by the body that makes cells more sensitive to insulin and speeds the movement of blood sugar into cells, where it can be burned for energy. So, in combination with exercise, which also helps the body become more responsive to insulin, chromium may help keep blood sugar under control.
As Sandra Woodruff points out in her book Secrets of Good Carb, Low Carb Living (Avery/Penguin), "[P]hysical activity boosts the body's ability to process carbohydrate and helps reduce insulin resistance....Exercise acts much like an insulin-sensitizing drug to make the body's cells more responsive to insulin, which enables them to remove sugar from the blood more efficiently." The results of exercise and getting sufficient chromium can help support weight loss and healthy blood sugar levels. The Vermont research team found that the exercising chromium takers boosted their insulin sensitivity by almost 9%.
Building a Lean Body
A prime benefit of exercising while you lose weight is that physical activity builds muscle tissue. Muscle tissue, even at rest, burns more calories than fat cells, so having extra muscle means you can eat more and still maintain or lose weight. An aid in this process is Coleus forskohlii root, Benth., a plant that originated in India. Research shows that forskohlii furthers molecular energy processes within cells that support the development of lean body tissue (muscle) and the enzymatic reactions that break down fat.
In a study of about two dozen women who took forskohlii extract, researchers found that taking this supplement was associated with feeling more energetic and less hungry (Experimental Biology meeting, 2002). According to Vladimir Badmaev, PhD, who has studied forskohlii, this herb's help in supporting lean body tissue is crucial to maintaining a healthy weight.
" In highly overweight individuals, fat tissue can constitute up to 70% of body weight. The remaining proportion of body composition corresponds to the lean body mass. Lean body mass is composed of muscle, vital organs, bone, connective and other non-fatty tissues in the body," says Dr. Badmaev.
" The body's metabolic rate is in direct proportion to the amount of lean body mass. Therefore, safely maintaining or increasing lean body mass is an important consideration for any weight-loss strategy."
The Skinny on Calcium
Calcium, long known for its ability to strengthen bones, is now turning out to play a key role in weight maintenance as well. In one study, obese mice who were put on calorie-restricted diets lost body fat when fed extra calcium (Experimental Biology meeting 2000). Both supplemental calcium and low-fat dairy proved effective. What's more, low-fat dairy's ability to burn fat and provoke fat loss have been confirmed in additional research (Obesity Research 4/04; 12:582-90).
Fat cells contain calcium, and scientists believe that the more of this mineral a fat cell contains, the more fat will be burned off. This action is especially important when you cut back on calories, since that often gives your body the idea that it's starving, leading your metabolism to slow and making weight loss extremely difficult.
A Complete Program
To lose weight efficiently, stay in top shape and retain your feelings of energy, you also have to make sure you get enough of the vitamins and minerals necessary for good health.
For those eating a high-protein diet who are limiting their fruits and vegetables, taking a supplement that incorporates nutrients from fruits and vegetables can help restore your feelings of well-being and help maintain your motivation for dieting and losing weight. (Supplements are available that deliver these nutrients without carbohydrates.)
In addition, supplements of what are called ketogenic amino acids-the natural substances that form protein's building blocks-can also help fuel your weight-loss program. These special nutrients can be efficiently used for the body's energy needs, a process that helps you lose weight.
And don't forget to keep moving! Soon you may have the kind of results researchers produced at the University of Pittsburgh when they studied women who exercised 40 minutes, five times a week (Journal of the American Medical Association 9/10/03). Those women lost 25 pounds in six months.
Your results may be just as good or better!