Friday, July 1, 2011

What Weight Watchers Can Learn From Bodybuilders


OK, this is probably the last guy that overweight women would ask for advice on how to transform their bodies.  But in general, observing the habits, training and eating patterns of bodybuilders can work wonders
for women, especially as we age, in achieving a leaner body and lasting weightloss.

Losing weight is normally easy - just eat less and exercise, right? - but bodybuilders will tell you that FAT loss is extremely difficult.  Most weightloss by women also includes muscle and bone loss.  The key to any successful diet is to lose bodyfat while maintaining muscle density, which is a constant challenge for serious
bodybuilders.  Here are some basic principles that are common sense in the bodybuilding community that can be used effectively by women:

Diet
   Do you ever see bodybuilders drinking Slimfast?  Didn't think so.....they know that drinking products high in sugar and low in protein is a killer in a weightloss program.  It hasn't been until recently that our country has embraced the "low carb, high protein" diet when it has been advocated for decades by bodybuilders.
  Women should make a special effort to increase protein while dieting to maintain and increase muscle mass.
The combination of low total calories, aerobic exercise and decreased protein intake will cause the body to
literally strip muscle off the body (which is part of the fast weightloss) - a mistake no bodybuilder would make.
  Protein is the key - consuming at a minimum 20% of total calories each day - to obtaining a strong, lean
body.  The highest quality of protein with the lowest calories is whey protein powder.  There is a reason why protein powders and shakes fill the shelves of vitamin stores....they are absolutely essential to getting the most out of your strength training program.  The reason for weight gain as we age is a drop in metabolism caused mostly from loss of muscle.  We lose 1-2% a year after age 50!  A protein shake or smoothie after a workout should be habit along with supplementing with whey protein each day to meet the daily protein requirements.  I like to blend up a smoothie or shake for a mid-morning and mid-afternoon snack.  It will also help with appetite control and energy.
   "Eating Clean" is a term well known in the bodybuilding world that means you are only eating whole foods and no processed food.  It may seem bland at first, until your taste buds adjust to the flavor of real food and you lose the taste for artificial flavoring and high fat and sugar additives.
   Bodybuilders also know that they can not build muscle without enough nutrients and calories in their diet.
They make sure that they keep their metabolisms humming by eating a meal or snack that includes protein, every 3-4 hours. 

Exercise
    Incorporating heavy weight-training (enough weight to fatigue muscles after 8-12 reps) will NOT bulk women up, contrary to popular belief.  We would need alot more testosterone and have extremely low bodyfat levels to look masculine.  Weight training is the single best way to preserve muscle while dieting and will also increase metabolic rate for hours after a workout (and can raise metabolism longterm with increase in muscle mass).

Hormones
    Bodybuilders understand the importance of maintaining a proper testosterone/estrogen hormone balance.
Women of all ages struggle with the effects of hormones on our bodies from birth control pills to menopause.
It is very important to our general health and quality of life to keep a check on our hormones, especially once into peri-menopause.  When prescribing hormone replacement, a doctor should not overlook testosterone.
Women do produce testosterone just like men, although its about 1/7th of the amount.  Our testosterone levels gradually decline as we age or drop off rapidly after menopause and this affects our ability to build muscle, our energy level, mood, sleep, sex drive and bone loss.
    When our estrogen levels are too high compared to testosterone, it will cause weight gain, as our bodies store more fat.  Burning fat becomes difficult to impossible when there is no testosterone to preserve muscle mass and mobilize fat, but plenty of estrogen to increase fat storage.

Commitment
     What impresses me the most about competitive bodybuilders is the high level of commitment they have to achieve such results.  There is no slacking off when in training and they give their workouts high priority in
their lives.  It also takes a tremendous amount of energy, time and willpower to eat clean, which is not possible without preparing your own food.  It doesn't have to be as extreme as a bodybuilder, but it is not until we get into a mindset that we make our health a priority - no matter what - that the transformation will begin.  I really hate the phrase "everything in moderation" because I see it as an excuse to not fully committing  to better eating habits. Even if you don't need to lose weight, regularly indulging in bad-for-your-
health processed,high fat and high sugar foods is risky business, even if it is the "American way".

In conclusion, I see women all the time who are facing weight gain as they age and think that the answer is to do more cardio, cut calories way back, and skip meals.  It will be slower weight loss in pounds when you  eat properly and strength train but the "bodybuilder diet" creates change in body composition that gives lasting results along with improved overall health.  Just stay with it long enough to see the positive changes and then you will be hooked!

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