Weight Loss - THE SECRET!

It’s cardio right? Cardio and high reps of weights – low weight, high reps, that’s themantra! In fact I was in Bangkok last month and a supposed “world-class” Trainer and Motivator told the audience just that. So that’s THE SECRET!

Er, No!

I am afraid to say that a lot of Personal Trainers here in Singapore are under the misconception that a cardio plan with a lifting regiment that focuses on low weight and high reps is a recipe for weight loss and tone. Sure some people may fluke it and get results from this kind of training. And if you’re one of the hundreds/thousands of PT clients currently grinding out this training program you’re thinking every day, “I’m on the right track, I’ll keep grinding, I’ll get there eventually, I’m sweating out so many calories I CAN’T FAIL!” Whoops, you can.

So what is the secret?

Well in a word, hormones. Yep, insulin, cortisol, testosterone, estrogen, growth hormone, these are the keys, sort these out and you will sort EVERYTHING out. And fortunately you do NOT need to be an endocrinologist to do it however your Personal Trainer should know the basics of hormone manipulation/balance. If he/she does not then either ask him/her to do some research or if this doesn’t work find a Trainer that does have the knowledge and skill-set.

So what do we need to know? First off food and exercise stimulate hormones, this is a fact and this is why what exercise and food program we follow works or doesn’t. For instance when it comes to weight management, first-base is focussing on reducing insulin spikes. What’s that? Well in response to eating carbohydrates the body releases insulin from the pancreas. Insulin is the bodies mechanism for transferring carbohydrates into usable energy stored in muscle, blood and the liver. Insulin is a massively important hormone due to the human requirement for energy for all sorts of activities. And insulin will slam the energy into the muscles, blood and liver quickly or trickle it in slowly depending on one thing, GI! 

A while ago a new concept was introduced to actually rate the speed in which insulin responded to carbohydrate and this is called glycaemic index (GI). A high GI means insulin spikes very rapidly and a low GI means insulin doesn’t spike at all, it kicks in slowly! But here’s the thing, if you eat high GI foods regularly the body spikes insulin and quickly looks to slam in the energy but if the 3 receptors, muscle, blood and liverare full, what happens? Well for all you people that remember your school science classes, energy can only ever be transferred to another state (it has to do something) and the ingenious organism called the human body stores the energy as fat. FACT!

Herein lies several HUGE issues (and I mean HUGE!). Doing slow long distance runs burn what fuel? (Hint, it’s an aerobic activity). Doing high reps and low weights recruits what muscle fbres (aerobic). Aerobic, on both counts. Does an aerobic state burn carbohydrate (glycogen)? NOPE! And on top of that science there is this. Long distance runs, high rep ranges in the gym are stress creaters. Stress means what? Cortisol! Double whammy! Cortisol is kind of like kryptonite (that stuff that can kill Superman!) to growth hormone. It suppresses it and is bad for us on other counts, for one it promotes fat storage.

Interestingly research confirms that a low rep-range and heavy weight stimulatesgrowth hormone(GH) AND so does interval-style cardio training! Growth hormonedoes exactly what its name suggests it does, it helps grow the body. This is why professional athletes training for maximal growth use deadlifts, squats, bench presses and cleans as staples in their programs and do such exercises twice or 3 times per week (unfortunately body-part splits may turn you into a bodybuilder but will never grow you functionally).

So wait where are we at? Insulin spikes are bad as they promote fat storage. This means high GI foods are not good and this is usually the case. Long distance,continuous cardio and high rep-range weights are also no good because theyincrease cortisol and this is also bad. Correct.

Low GI foods are good because they don’t overly stimulate insulin and low rep, heavy-weight training/lifting is good because it stimulates growth hormone, very GOOD! Interval training at the track or fartleks are also really good because they also stimulate GH, brilliant!

I can hear all the women out there right now! Low reps, high weights? Noooooooo! I’ll bulk up! Another “wive’s tale”, perpetuated by uniformed individuals. So why won’t you bulk up? For a start to bulk up you need testosterone and women, sorry you don’t have nearly enough. You will if you “artificially” increase your levels and my guess you won’t be doing that! On top of that you need to eat a LOT of protein and if you don’t, well, you will NOT bulk up! If you follow the prescription above, you will lean up, get stronger, function better!

In summary a successful training program addresses food and training to manipulate hormones. A balanced hormonal profile will result in your body finding it’s true weight initially and afterwards, permit you to reach sports or other related goals, more quickly and in a more sustainable fashion!