Frequently Asked Diet and Fitness Questions: Page Two

Can't I lose weight just by exercising?
Are super-slow repetitions with weights better at building strength?
May I Exercise with a Hangover?
Should I use heat or ice to relieve muscle stiffness?
What is Circuit Training?
What is Eccentric Training?
How many calcium-rich foods should I consume daily?
I heard something about a "bean quotient". What does this mean?
Are nuts good for me or not?
I hear we should eat fatty fish -- what gives?
Can someone hydrate too much?
Is it worth it to keep track of calories?
If I eat too much sugar, will I get diabetes?


Can't I lose weight just by exercising?

Yes, but (always the 'but', huh) the weight will come off more slowly than if you combine exercising with better eating habits. If you want to lose weight through exercise alone, the trick is learning to work out more effectively and burn more calories per minute. How? With interval training in which you pump up the intensity and then pull back.
Example: Try alternating one minute of fast walking or sprinting with two minutes at a slower pace.
Run/Walk Cardio:
Warm up:  Walk ten minutes, starting at an easy pace and building speed.
Jog:  Three minutes (about 6.7mph on a treadmill)
Walk:  Three minutes (about 4.0 mph on a treadmill)
Jog:  Three minutes
Walk:  Three minutes
Jog:  Three minutes
Cool Down:  Five minutes at an easy pace

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Are super-slow repetitions with weights better at building strength?

Doing repetitions with lighter weights than you usually use at about one-third the normal speed i.e., super-slow, forces you to fully contract the muscles you are working through their full range of motion. In addition, you need a lot less weight to work you muscles. Super-slow strength training is safer too, because your chances of hurting yourself are much less with lighter weights. Yet, it is more difficult because it takes a lot more discipline to maintain proper form and move at a super-slow pace. Most people don't use this method in the gym for one reason - ego. They'll use heavy weights even if they have to "throw" them and use bad form to complete the repetition - because it looks more macho. Next time you're working out with weights cut the weight you use in half and slow down the speed of your repetitions. But be forewarned: You may be sore two days later, because you are using part of your muscles that you did not stress in the past.

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May I Exercise with a Hangover?

Your head is raging, your mouth is drier than the Sahara and you're cursing that "one-too-many" cocktails you had last night. It's taking its toll - is exercise the perfect hangover cure or not? Experts feel a grueling workout would NOT be a good idea due to the fact that when hung-over, you are in a physically impaired state. Not only are you dehydrated from the alcohol, your coordination is diminished. You can more easily trip while running or taking a fitness class, or drop a heavy weight on your foot - or someone else's foot! In addition, you won't have as much energy, so extra exertion may place undue stress on the body. If you really want to do something, try stretching or an easy walk in the fresh air. Then rest, drink lots of fluids and eat healthy (even if you're craving fast food!). See also: The Physiological Effects of a Hangover.

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Should I use heat or ice to relieve muscle stiffness?

First of all, it is important to be sure you are not injured and that you do just suffer from stiffness. For injuries involving a muscle or a ligament, you need ice first, heat later. The same can be said for soreness. Ice controls swelling, decreases muscle spasm and can decrease the pain caused by inflammation. Right after an injury or strain to a muscle, you should use ice, alternating 20 minutes on and 20 minutes off. For soreness, moist heat may help relieve stiffness. Try using a warm towel or take a warm shower or bath. Note:  This could increase swelling if there is an injury. If you are injured, hold off on heat treatments for a day or two after the injury.

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What is Circuit Training?

Circuit training means moving quickly from one muscle group to the next during a workout, which allows you to burn more calories by working more muscles in less time. The key to minimizing your total downtime between sets is by utilizing opposing muscle groups in sequence, such as going from a biceps move to a triceps one, or working your quads followed by your hamstrings, or going from an upper-body exercise to a lower-body one.
To design your circuit, pick eight or ten exercises that will challenge your major muscle groups. For each exercise, choose a weight that you can lift in sets that last about 30 seconds between sets. If, however, you start to feel dizzy or your form becomes compromised due to fatigued muscles, give yourself more time to recover.

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What is Eccentric Training?

In eccentric training, the slower the eccentric (lowering) phase of an exercise, the bigger the challenge to the muscle. That translates into a longer rebuilding process and a greater post-workout metabolic increase. Studies show a 48-hour metabolic increase when the eccentric phase was emphasized. Take gravity and momentum out of the equation. Control the weight as it reaches the bottom, then pause for a moment before lifting again.

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How many calcium-rich foods should I consume daily?

Two or three:  Not only does adequate calcium support strong bones and help prevent osteoporosis, but clinical studies suggest that it helps prevent colon cancer, high blood pressure, and PMS. Obvious high-calcium choices include fat-free yogurt and reduced-fat and fat free cheese. Other good choices are orange and grapefruit juices and soy milk that have been fortified with calcium. Look for at least 30-percent of the Daily Value (DV) of calcium per serving.

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I heard something about a "bean quotient". What does this mean?

First, it means getting five servings of beans a week. Beans are the highest fiber foods you can find, with the exception of breakfast cereals made with wheat bran. Diets high in fiber are linked to less cancer, heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and even ulcers. Beans are high in soluble fiber, which lowers cholesterol and folate, which lowers levels of another risk factor for heart disease: homocysteine.

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Are nuts good for me or not?

Studies show that people who eat nuts regularly (about five times a week) have less heart disease and other illness than people who avoid them. Exactly why is not known yet, but one reason could be a compound in nuts called tocotrienols. The key to eating nuts is to not eat too many; they are so high in calories that you could easily gain weight. To avoid temptation, keep a jar of chopped nuts in your refrigerator. Sprinkle 2-tablespoons a day on cereal, yogurt, vegetables, salads or wherever the crunch and rich flavor appeal to you. Notable Note:  The fat in nuts is the "good" fat, another reason they are no longer considered bad for you. See also: Peanut Power.

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Can someone hydrate too much?

Taking in too much water and not enough sodium (which we mainly get from food) could result in a condition called hyponatremia, which causes headaches, weakness, fatigue, nausea, light-headedness, muscle cramping, seizures and even coma. But it is not common (some experts think the condition only affects endurance athletes), so staying hydrated when you work out is the more important concern. Exercisers may be at greater risk for hyponatremia in hot environments, because the heat increases thirst and decreases appetite. If you've consumed more than three liters of water on a relatively empty stomach and are not sweating enough, you could be at risk. If you notice symptoms, stop exercising and have a salty snack and a sports drink; call your doctor if your condition worsens.

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Is it worth it to keep track of calories?

It sure will not hurt to try! Monitor your eating and exercise patterns by writing everything down. Studies show that one of the common links of those that lost more than 65 pounds and kept it off for six years was that they frequently kept track of the calories they ate and burned.

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If I eat too much sugar, will I get diabetes?

For someone with a blood glucose (sugar) disorder, sugar can aggravate the situation if intake isn't regulated. But, like salt, the substance itself does not cause the disease. There is a caveat: Too much food, especially sugars and fats, leads to obesity. Obesity can lead to insulin resistance and possibly to diabetes. A balanced diet plus moderate exercise -- about half an hour's worth each day -- can help prevent that from happening.

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FAQs: Page One





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