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Expert Solutions: Metabolism Mistakes

SparkPeople experts and coaches weigh in on the top 4 metabolism mistakes even smart dieters make


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The way the nutritionist and trainer explained the fat-burning zone to me was the simplist to understand. The avg person starting out isn't going to be able to stay on a treadmill (or other machine) for 45-60 minutes at the cardio zone level so they focus on getting them exercising hard enough to raise their heart rate into the fat burning zone and keep it there for 45 minutes. If you can handle exercising for 45-60minutes at the cardio zone then that's what you should do as it will burn more fat.
What trainers (and their clients) need to understand is that everyone is different, and depending on the level of fitness of the individual, their willingness to push themselves, and their recovery period you have to adjust the training to what will work, and then adjust it again to make it keep working. Report
JENSABARBIE (!) "I've done lots of metabolic testing using medical equipment that determines ACTUAL fat and carbohydrate being burned during exercise and there really IS greater fat burn in lower heart rate zones"
Can you tell us what kind of testing and what medical equipment you were using? Report
NATURALBODZ "- Weightloss has nothing to do with calories, your body is not a simple counting machine. How can you count calories when various foods like protein use up 40% of themselves in the digestion process? That kind of blows the calorie counters out of the window. " what the?????
Sorry, but weightloss has just about everything to do wiht Kcals. A calorie is a unit of energy-producing potential in food, And yes, the different nutrients have different calorie counts per gram because of their varying energy producing potential.

This is in response to DAVVIKs comment about personal trainers. Personal trainers help people be consistent and stay motivated. Their training is limited—but don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater. We need lots of personal trainers as motivators.

Individuals should be aware of myths, learn as much as possible, and listen to their own bodies. If we credential personal trainers to death like we do professional providers like physicians and those with intense science background and mandatory continued education, we won’t have enough trainers to help with our obesity epidemic.
Enlightening! I am a shift worker and clearly do not manage my diet, sleep or activity very well as I am always tired because of the regular switch around in day to night working and back again. Sometimes it is 8 hours sleep and other times 3. As for eating as the energy levels drop at 3am and I become tired what do I reach a biscuit or chocolate for an instant boost. It would be good to have some info on the effects of shift working on our bodies and how to manage them. Report
Those who say they are personal trainers that believe in the fat burning zone, what are your credentials. From what I understand you don't have to take intense science cources nor are you required to keep up with new research. Report
Yes you burn more percentage of fat in the fat burning zone, but absolutely, you burn more fat minute for minute at a higher intensity. I think the point is, if you can sustain a higher intensity for a given amount of time, you should do it. I am a personal trainer, too, and I have seen trainers tell a person who is obviously doing fine at a higher intensity that they should "bring it down to the fat burning zone."
I am a personal trainer...when I tell people to work out in their fat burning zone, it IS in their aerobic zone, just not at a super high heart rate.
I've done lots of metabolic testing using medical equipment that determines ACTUAL fat and carbohydrate being burned during exercise and there really IS greater fat burn in lower heart rate zones. You really do burn more fat if you work out below your anaerobic threshold; as you approach the AT, the percentage of fat used for energy decreases and the percentage of carbs used for energy increases.
I'm not saying you should never push yourself, or that your cardio should be easy. You NEED to include interval training and some steady-state workouts in higher heart rate zones BUT you also need to spend some time at the lower end of your aerobic zone as well (also called active recovery). So...yes, you are always burning both carbs and fat. But if you can sustain a cardio workout for 60 minutes at a medium-hard intensity vs 30 minutes at a really high intensity, you still burn more calories and total fat during the longer workout. Report


It's mind-boggling to know how much missing as little as one hour of sleep can affect one's metabolism negatively... Especially considering how LITTLE sleep people normally get day to day Report
Understanding the balance between burning calories and eating enough calories is proving to be the most difficult thing for me to master. As a weight watchers online member I didn't find a lot of information on this subject. I am finding much more emphasis on Sparkpeople. Now to read it....and understand it.
It sounds like a fine line to walk. Report
WOW! I think I have been enlightened!! I've posted on message boards about how madly frustrated I have ben....looking for any type of help. I am 5'3" and weigh 136 with a BMI of 24.5%. My MAX weigh loss goal is just 16 lbs. that I haven't shed any of! Having said this (not meaning to knock anyone) I got VERY little feed back in general! But reading other articles, larger people seemed to get tons of reply's.....ahhhhh okay so that's off my chest, WHEW! This article has seemed to hit on many of the things it seems I'm doing wrong!! I'm a "night owl" fr sure. For some reason, whn it get's dark...I wake up!!So, it's not unusual for me to go to bed at 2AM and get up at 7 to get the kids to school, but I feel so miserable in the mornings. I don't have to be at work til 11AM, so sometimes I'll lay back down for an hour and BOY do I go into a DEEP sleep when I do!! Secondly, I am eating wayyyy too few calories and skipping meals!! I can't seem to make myself hungry! Maybe the way I was brought up is behind some of this. We grew up very poor and ate little food, especially very little meats. Maybe my body just got too used to eating 700 calories a day or so?!! When I found SP, I tracked my calories but stopped bc I almost never met my 1299 min. calorie count, although it felt as if I was forcing myself to eatto help fix that problem! One thing not mentioned is alcohol and how that may cause problems too. I admit to loving wine and usually have 2 to 3 glasses 5 to 6 nights a week. I'm no expert,,,,,,,but I'm sure these things are urting me. I'm at the gym at least 4 to 5 hours a week and love cardio, no change, yeah I'm doing alot WAY wrong! I bought melatonin today and plan to try that tonight nd be in bed by 11. So, I apologize for ranting.....but this article has been great for me I think. So, THANK YOU!!!! Report
I do not like diet pills or any pill for that matter, however, I do want to bring up what was said about diet pills not being FDA approved. The FDA gets their money from the drug companies. Just because a pill is FDA approved, it is not necessarily safe or effective. People should not take diet pills because some are dangerous, some don't work, and natural weight loss is just cheaper and more rewarding, the FDA shouldn't be the reason for this decision. Report
Working out on an empty stomach a myth!
Its a fact that working out on an empty stomach first thing in the morning will tap into stored bodyfat and not blood sugar. This is one of the staple facts that I provide hundreds of the clients I have helped get into their best ever shape.

Its a little strange to see myths in the myths. Is that a oxymoron myth?

What I see too often is people who do not really have a lot of experience sharing innacurate information with others, this only leads to confusion.
There are a few fundamentals that need to be followed and understood.

- Weightloss has nothing to do with calories, your body is not a simple counting machine. How can you count calories when various foods like protein use up 40% of themselves in the digestion process? That kind of blows the calorie counters out of the window.

- Exercise, and how much is too much?
Do not believe the crazy people who try and tell you that 5 minutes is all you need.
Or the people who say you don't have to raise a sweat to get results.
For every action there is a re-action. No action = zippo so don't fall for the less is more thinking. 20 minutes per day is a minimum and best this be in the form of weight training circuit style with short rest intervals or interval cardio. Short burst of intensity couple with reduced pace.

- Food choices - natural is not always best.
Just because you change your diet to eat more natural foods does not mean you will lose pounds of fat. In fact in many instances if your food choices are not accurate you may find yourself gaining weight!

One of my favorites is fruit, this is the worst food you can possibly eat if you are trying to lose weight and live a long and healthy life. Don't believe me just do a search for fructose and bodyfat or fructose and aging in google.
I often hear gym goers say but fructose is very low on the glycemic index. I say for sure, the reason why is it never enters your blood stream as glucose it is converted in your liver to triglcerides (fats) and enters as fat! If you want to jump start your fat burning efforts drop the fruit and replace it with vegetables. Far better choice and far superior end result.

- How to kick start your motivation.
First things first to be motivated you need a reason to be motivated.
If your goal is to lose weight stand in front of a full length mirror naked and be honest with yourself. Do you want to keep moving down the same old road getting bigger and bigger, and more unhealthy with each successive year?
There are people in the world who have serious handicaps who would kill to have normal use of their limbs. What excuse do you have?
If you have full mobility of your arms and legs the skys the limit, you have the power to transform the way you look much faster than you could ever imagine.

I prefer not to over complicate the process of getting into great shape and enhancing health. There should be no confusion and the fundamentals should always be at the forefront of your mind.

Site like this are fantastic and the internet itself is brilliant, however it has allowed an avalanche of information to be thrown out in front of people. The problem is when the mountain of information floods in its difficult to disect.
Just remember anyone can have a website these days, and anyone can post whatever they want! Whether its accurate is another question.

My best piece of advice is do your own research, as I mentioned with the fruit issue.
Jump online and search some of the medical sites like pubmed. Science does not lie.
Look at the people who are preaching a particular method, are they in great shape?
Text book heroes have little to no understanding of what it takes to lose weight, enhance health and overall fitness. I see this all the time, people decide to become a personal trainer and do a 8 week course, they are then in the gym sharing their 8 weeks worth of knowledge.

Experience comes with time and it has taken me over 20 years to decipher the Dietcode. It is not all what it seems and most often by doing what you think is right is taking your further away or if not slowing down your overall progress.

So be selective and research the information that you find before implementing it into your lifestyle, you may find it will save you years of frustration and dissapointment.

Remember the truth always tends to shine brightly and makes perfect sense.
If it makes little or no sense, it is more than likely missing an "n" as it's non-sense. Report

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