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Health News / Fitness Tip

During the 24 hours in a day, approximately one hour will be spent exercising.  Okay, 60 minutes are covered, but what you do during the remaining 1,380 minutes will make the difference between fat and phat.

 

Good nutrition is your greatest ally in the quest for a lean and muscular body.  I'm sure you've seen people who work out religiously yet don't really have the results that you would expect.  Chances are poor eating habits are to blame for their body not looking like a fitness model.  As you know, outside the gym you have plenty of opportunities to eat too much, too little, or just not often enough to support muscle growth and fat loss.

 

TIMING FOR SUCCESS:

 Whether you are trying to lose body fat or pack on some rock hard muscle you need to eat frequently-ideally, every 3-4 hours to ensure your muscles have adequate fuel.  It may be the way we were raised or our busy schedules, but too often we only eat 3 meals per day and usually we space 6 hours between those meals.  Even so, what you eat should match what you burn.  How can you tell if what you're eating matches what your body is burning?  Well, besides monitoring your shape and the number on the scale, consider your blood-sugar levels.

 

Blood sugar fluxes about every three hours.  It rises when you eat, then levels off, then starts to drop in about three-hour units.  Most people in the U.S. eat every five or six hours, creating about a two-hour discrepancy between blood-sugar needs and food to meet that demand.  The human body has a backup system to fill in that difference between normal blood-glucose flux and typical eating behaviors.  The body infuses sugar into our bloodstream, but the systems used to do this are not particularly good in terms of our weight or how we feel.

 

Muscle Loss

The first backup system is to catabolize (break down) lean mass.  In other words, your body eats away muscle to obtain an amino acid called alanine, which is eventually converted into glucose (blood sugar) by the liver.  The day-to-day variations in lean mass loss are very small, but the additive effect is very real.  Also, once you begin to lose muscle, your metabolic rate drops.  This drop in your metabolism means that it's harder to lose weight and easier to gain weight.

 

Fat Gain

The second problem is that lean mass that was broken down and converted into glucose isn't an adequate method.  It never really brings your blood-sugar level up to a normal range.  What does this mean?  When you finally do eat, you are now eating hungry.

 

What are the consequences of eating hungry?  First, you have a different metabolic response to the food because your blood sugar was low in the first place, and now you'll produce more insulin than normal.  Insulin is necessary to produce fat, so if you have excess insulin, guess what...you'll have excess fat manufactured from what you eat.  The second consequence of eating hungry is that you tend to over-eat, which means an excess of calories which will be stored as fat.

 

Goals

Your goal should be to take the same amount of calories you eat within your 3 meals and divide them up between five or six meals.  Try to eat something within an hour of waking up, then about 3 - 4 hours afterward.  Fruits, vegetables, oatmeal, protein bars, and meal replacement shakes are excellent ways to get a quick snack in to make up those extra two or three meals.  Preparing your food at home can make adding these meals an easier transition as well.  So, whether you're trying to lose body fat or pack on some rock hard lean muscle, a nutritional makeover that has you eating every 3 - 4 hours may be the missing ingredient you need to reach your fitness goals.

 

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