Follow These 4 Rules if Weight Loss is Your Goal


According to WHO statistics, more than 1.9 billion adults were overweight in 2014 and of these, more than 600 million were categorized as obese. The number of children, in 2013, under the age of 5 that were overweight or obese was 42 million. The good news, however, is obesity is preventable. In terms of a percentage, 38 percent were men and 40 percent were women. The worldwide prevalence of obesity has more than doubled over the past 34 years. But again, the good news is that obesity is preventable.

The goal for many is weight loss or changing their body composition, which means building more lean muscle tissue and reducing body fat. A long-term goal for men might be 80 percent lean muscle and 20 percent body fat, this would eventually shift towards 85 percent lean muscle and 15 percent body fat. For women, a long-term goal, with exercise and nutritional modification of course, might be 70 percent lean and 30 percent body fat. Eventually those numbers would shift towards 77 percent lean muscle and 23 percent body fat.

To reach your goals, you must regulate your exercise and diet. Here are a few steps to follow to help you reach your goals.

1. Remove the “empty” calories from you diet. This means do not drink your calories. The average American consumes between 400-550 calories a day from soda, sports drinks etc. You could lose a pound a week just by cutting back on this and yes, it means alcohol too. A study in the journal Obesity found that people who drink diet soda were more likely to have a higher percentage of body fat around their mid-section. Subjects who reported not drinking diet soda gained an average of 0.8 inches in their waist circumference over the 9-year period compared to 1.83 inches for occasional diet soda drinkers and more than 3 inches for people who drank diet soda every day, according to a new study recently published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. An easy way to decrease your calories and break your diet soda routine is to simply drink more water.  Your goal is to drink water first thing in the morning to help speed up your metabolism and then again with your meals. Try a glass of water with lemon in the evening after dinner.

2. Add strength training to your exercise routine. This is critical for both lean muscle development and maintenance. Muscle is more metabolically active than fat (it takes 3x more calories per pound to maintain) and requires a third less space on your body. Strength train 2-3x a week.

3. Decrease your added sugar. Are you aware of how much added sugar you’re eating on a daily basis? If you’re drinking 1-2 medium size Cokes or other soft drinks – you’re probably already over your limit….and we have not even looked at your meals/snacks yet. If you cut your added-sugar to less than 150 calories a day (38 grams) for men and 100 calories a day (25 grams) for women, you will experience weight loss.

4. Increase your NEAT, EPOC and TEF. Let’s first define these terms and keep in mind they are important. Non-exercise activity thermogenesis or NEAT according to researcher James Levine, MD, PhD, is “the energy expended for everything we do that is not sleeping, eating or sports-like exercise. It ranges from the energy expended walking to work, typing, performing yard work, undertaking agricultural tasks and fidgeting.”

Excess post oxygen consumption or EPOC (some call it “after-burn”) is defined by Len Kravitz, PhD, as the period of time when the “body is restoring itself to its pre-exercise state, and thus is consuming oxygen at an elevated rate. This means that energy is also being expended at an elevated rate.” This occurs at a higher rate as the intensity of exercise increases and is seen following both a cardio and strength session. A very challenging strength session or high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is ideal for elevated EPOC which means your body continues to burn calories long after the bout of exercise is completed.

The thermic effect of food or TEF is defined by Reed and Hill as an “increase in metabolic rate after ingestion of a meal.” One of the many benefits of eating more good sources of lean protein as part of your diet is because protein has a higher thermic effect compared to carbohydrate and fat. Eating smaller meals more often – compared to a few big meals throughout the day – may also make better sense to you now. Your body utilizes 10 percent of its daily energy, in the form of calories, towards TEF.  For example, if you consume 2,500 calories over the course of the day, about 10 percent, or about 250 calories, will be expended on digesting, absorbing, metabolizing and eliminating that food.

Hopefully these tips will help you reach your goals and if not you can always remember that individuals who let “creeping obesity” set in, eventually, have other issues to worry about such as:

  • High Blood Pressure
  • Diabetes
  • High Cholesterol
  • Heart Disease
  • Various forms of Cancer
  • Ulcers
  • Gallstones
  • Skin Infections
  • Back Pain
  • Increased Stress levels
  • Poor Quality of Life

High Intensity Interval Training Burns More Calories, in Half the Time, than Traditional Cardio Exercise

“High-intensity interval training (HIT) describes physical exercise that is characterized by brief, intermittent bursts of vigorous activity, interspersed by periods of rest or low-intensity exercise.”

There are probably more research studies currently in progress, involving various forms of high-intensity interval training (HIIT), than any other exercise-related topic being looked at today. A great deal of the HIIT research (also known as SIT, HIT, and HIIE) that has been published over the past decade by researchers like Martin Gibala, PhD, from McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, continue to show amazing results when compared to traditional exercise. Gibala and colleagues offer their definition of HIIT above.

In a study by Matsuo and colleagues (2014), a group of sedentary men performed 13 minutes of high intensity interval training five times a week for 8-weeks. The  (HIIT) group burned more calories per minutes on average than men who performed 40 minutes of traditional steady state cardio. During the study the HIIT group saw a 12.5% gain in maximal oxygen consumption (VO2 max) using 27 less minutes of exercise. Tomoaki Matsuo, Ph.D, co-author of the study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, suggest doing three-minute HIIT stages with two-minute active recovery stages repeated for three rounds.

Research presented in the Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise shows that when test subjects exercised using high-intensity intervals, the total amount of calories their body expended during one-hour post workout was elevated up to 107 percent more than with low-intensity, short duration exercise, and 143 percent more than with low intensity, long duration exercise! That’s because interval exercise peaking at levels above a 70 percent maximum-intensity effort, speeds up metabolism for up to three hours after exercise – a benefit not found with low-intensity exercise.

A study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology (1990) by Makrides et al., showed that 12-weeks of high-intensity training produced greater increases in total work accomplished in 30 seconds in old (60-70 year old, 12.5%) than young (20-30 year old, 8%) test subjects.

One study in the journal Metabolism compared 20-weeks of aerobic training with only 15-weeks of high intensity interval training (HIIT) in which participants did 15 sprints for 30-seconds and lost nine times more body fat than the aerobic and control groups. They also lost 12 percent more visceral belly fat than the aerobic group.

A study in the International Journal of Obesity compared the effect of 15-weeks of HIIT with aerobic exercise. The HIIT group resulted in significant decreases in overall fat mass (3.3 pounds) while the aerobic exercise group had a fat gain of 1 pound on average. The HIIT group also had a significant 9.5 percent decrease in belly fat, while the aerobic group increased their belly fat by 10.5 percent by the end of the study. A 2012 study at Colorado State University found that test subjects who worked out on a stationary bike for less than 25 minutes, with just a few sprints mixed in, expended an additional 200 calories a day, due to excess-post oxygen consumption (EPOC) or commonly known as the after-burn effect.

A 2015 study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research by Falcone and colleagues, compared the energy expenditure of single exercise sessions using resistance, aerobic, and combined exercise involving the same duration. The test subjects were young, active men. All sessions were 30-minutes. The resistance training session used 75 percent of their 1-RM, the aerobic session, on a treadmill, used 70 percent maximum heart rate while a high-intensity interval session (HIIT) session was done on a hydraulic resistance system (HRS). The HRS workout used intervals of 20-seconds of maximum effort followed by 40-seconds of rest. The HIIT session using the HRS had the highest caloric expenditure of the three workouts. The data suggest that individuals can burn more calories performing HIIT with HRS than spending the same amount of time performing steady-state exercise.

A 2007 study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology looked at moderately active women who in their early twenties. The subjects were tested for power output on a stationary bike to determine what their VO2max was and then made to ride for 60-minutes at 60% of VO2max intensity. These tests were then repeated again at the end of the study to gauge the effectiveness of HIIT for this particular subject group. This particular training protocol showed some of the following results: a lower heart rate in the last 30 minutes of the 60-minute session, whole body fat oxidation increased significantly by 36 percent in only two-weeks using just 7 workout sessions.

A final study, published in the journal Cell Metabolism (2012), observed healthy but inactive people who exercised intensely. The research concluded even if the exercise was brief, it produced an immediate change in their DNA. “While the underlying genetic code in the muscle remains unchanged, exercise causes important structural and chemical changes to the DNA molecules within the muscles.”

Adrian Peterson, Leon Hall

As the HIIT research continues to demonstrate, it would be advantageous to supplement your current exercise routine with at least one HIIT session each week to maximize your training results. HIIT continues to show significant results when looking at total caloric expenditure, gains in VO2max, and elevated post oxygen consumption (EPOC).


Matsuo T, Saotome K, Seino S, Shimojo N, Matsushita A, Iemitsu M, Ohshima H, Tanaka K, Mukai C. (2014). Effects of a low-volume aerobic-type interval exercise on VO2max and cardiac mass. Sports Exerc. 46(1):42-50. doi:10.1249/MSS.0b013e3182a38da8

Falcone PH, Tai CY, Carson LR, Joy JM, Mosman MM, McCann TR, Crona KP, Kim MP, Moon JR (2015). Caloric expenditure of aerobic, resistance, or combined high-intensity interval training using a hydraulic resistance system in healthy men. Strength Cond Res. 29(3):779-85. doi: 10.1519/JSC.000000000000066

Makrides L. Heigenhauser GJ. Jones NL (1990). High-intensity endurance training in 20- to 30- and 60- to 70-yr-old healthy men. Journal of Applied Physiology. 69(5):1792-8.

Stadium Stair Workouts are Ideal for Maximum Calorie Burn in Minimal Time

Photo Credit: Koko FitClub
Photo Credit: Koko FitClub

After completing a stadium stair workout this morning at Harvard University’s classic football stadium (built-in 1903) I thought about other great workouts that also offer a by-product of maximal caloric expenditure in minimal time. The minimal time that I’m referring to is about 30 minutes. These types of workouts are also ideal for EPOC (excess-post oxygen consumption), which means your body will continue to burn calories long after the workout is completed. Here are some additional workouts to try when you have time constraints and can only commit to half an hour or so. The following list is not in any particular order, they are just the first twenty that came to mind. You now have a few more workout options for 2015.

1. Stadium Stair Workout (walk and/or run).

2. HIIT (high-intensity interval training) – via running, cardio equipment etc.

3. Jumping rope

4. Boxing workout

5. Power Yoga Class (advanced level)

6. Cardio-type class (advanced level)

7. Mountain biking

8. Snow Shoeing

9. Skiing (down hill and xc)

10. SUP (short-course race)

11. Mountain/Ice Climbing

12. Koko Cardio Tabata workout (Int./Adv. session x 2)

13. Speed Skating

14, HIT (strength-training and body weight workouts)

15. 2000m all-out Row (followed by moderate 20+ minute row)

16. Sprint Interval workout

17. CrossFit WOD

18. P90X type workouts (30:00 session)

19. Swimming (interval type workouts)

20. Sprint Triathlon/Spartan type races/Navy Seal obstacle (short) course events.

“No Time to Exercise” is No Excuse With HIIT

interval1_380Research has consistently shown that high intensity interval training (HIIT) is not only time-efficient but also very effective in improving health and fitness. The duration used for some of the early HIIT research may have utilized brief work periods (like 20 seconds) but the intensity level used to get results was extremely high (i.e. 170% VO2 max).

In 2010 Martin Gibala, PhD and colleagues from McMaster University took HIIT research to the next level, showing significant results could be obtained by using a lower intensity during the interval stages. His group used a protocol that involved 8-12 one-minute sprints on a bike with 75 seconds of recovery in between the sprints, 3 times week for 2 weeks. The intensity used during each work stage was about 100% of peak power output (an average output of about 350 Watts).

The “secret” to why HIIT is so effective is unclear. However, the study by Gibala and co-workers also provides insight into the molecular signals that regulate muscle adaptation to interval training.

It appears that HIIT stimulates many of the same cellular pathways that are responsible for the beneficial effects we associate with endurance training.

The great thing about a well-designed HIIT training session is that it can be fast but yet effective in producing health benefits. Here are a few examples of HIIT that I used in a recent workout. This template can be adapted for your needs depending on your fitness level and goals. The first interval example was performed on a stationary cycle using a 1:3 work-to-rest ratio while the second example was performed on an erg (Concept 2 rowing machine) using a 1:2 work-to-rest ratio. Try this type of protocol using other modalities that may fit your needs like running or other cardio equipment like an elliptical machine or treadmill.

The key take away is that the duration should be short and the intensity should be high. Use this type of HIIT protocol 1-3 times a week. The higher the intensity, the higher the excess-post oxygen consumption (epoc). EPOC is a “measurably increased rate of oxygen intake following strenuous activity intended to erase the body’s oxygen deficit.” In recovery, oxygen is used in the processes that restore your body to a resting state. It is possible to expend a few hundred extra calories (depending on body weight and intensity of the workout) over the course of 24 hours or more following strenuous exercise.

 Example of HIIT Bike Protocol

2:00 Warm-up

20 seconds of all-out work (300-700 Watts) >100 rpm

1:00 recovery (<50 rpm)

Repeat x 3 then cool-down


Example of HIIT Rowing Protocol

2:00 Easy Rowing (damping set at 4-5, 20-25 spm)

30 seconds of all out work (damping set at 4-5 and >30 spm)

1:00 recovery

Repeat x 3 and cool-down


Jonathan P Little, Adeel S Safdar, Geoffrey P Wilkin, Mark a Tarnopolsky, and Martin J Gibala (2010). A practical model of low-volume high-intensity interval training induces mitochondrial biogenesis in human skeletal muscle: potential mechanisms. The Journal of Physiology, DOI: 10.1113/jphysiol.2009.181743

6 Minutes of High Intensity Training Elevates Metabolism for 36 Hours

The following study published in the Journal of Applied Research by Petrofsky and colleagues showed that only six minutes of high-intensity training (HIT) can elevate metabolism for up to 36 hours.

The exercise protocol, conducted by researchers from Azusa Pacific University in CA, consisted of a one-minute warm-up, four-minutes of high-intensity work followed by one-minute of recovery. All ten subjects followed an exercise video for six minutes. All subjects had a personal trainer present to ensure the protocol was followed especially during the four-minute HIT component. The HIT consisted of 8 intervals; each interval was 20 seconds of exercise followed by 10 seconds of recovery. The body weight exercises included squats, jumping in place, lunges, and split squats. The experiments were conducted over a 4 day period.


The top subject in the group burned 112 calories during the six minute protocol and 345 calories over the next 24 hours for a total of 457 calories. At three and six hours post exercise, oxygen consumption was still significantly elevated at 26% and 20% respectively compared to resting values. The study showed that the substrate used during exercise was mainly carbohydrate but following exercise, more fat was utilized. This study compared well with other studies that demonstrated excess post-oxygen consumption was significantly greater for 24 hours but extended out to 36 hours.


Petrofsky J et al. (2011). Post exercise Basil Metabolic Rate Following a 6 Minute High Intensity Interval Workout. The Journal of Applied Research 11(2):65-72.