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JONES: Q & A: April’s foolish fit and fat foolery

Aloha, fitness fanatics, exercise enthusiasts and weight-wary warriors. April Fools has come and gone, but not the opportunity for me to debunk some of the most common myths about fitness and fat loss.

If you want to discuss any of my answers in more detail, please join me on tomorrow’s free “Walk &Talk” (April 7). We meet at 6 p.m. at the Kapa‘a public pool, right behind Chicken in a Barrel on Kou Street. All ages, and all abilities are always invited.

1. Which activity burns the highest percentage of fat?

Stamina? Nope. Strength? Nope/ Sleep? Yes… can you believe it? During rest, up to 80 percent of the calories that you burn are from stored fat. But, to take full advantage of this time of preferential fat burning, you need to crank your metabolism in the short term with stamina (cardio) and in the long term with strength (muscle).

2. In terms of body composition, which tissue weighs more: muscle or fat?

I’ve heard it a thousand times; muscle weighs more than fat, right? Wrong! Five pounds is 5 pounds. One hundred pounds is 100 pounds. Weight is weight. That being said, muscle is more dense and sinks in water. Body fat is more voluminous and floats in water. You can’t always trust the scale, so be wise … by being as dense as possible.

3. Since sleeping burns the highest percentage of fat, how can training in the “fat-burning zone” burn the most fat?

That’s easy. It can’t. Lower intensities of activity, like sleeping or “fat-burning zones,” burn higher percentages of fat, but much lower overall quantities of fat. With regard to exercise, training at a higher intensity (intervals into the “cardio zone”) burns a much greater volume of fat, even though the actual percentage is less.

4. How much weight should a novice expect to lose during their first week of working out?

You should not expect to lose any weight initially. In fact, gaining weight during the first week of exercise is a good thing. Gaining weight temporarily is the secret to losing fat permanently. This initial weight gain is not fat; it’s primarily blood volume and muscle glycogen storage. Both are necessary to fuel the body to burn fat more efficiently.

5. What is the single most effective secret for building more muscle and burning more fat?

To build metabolically active muscles, most people need to do one thing — stop lifting weights. Yes, this is another trick question, but my answer is scientifically sound. “Slowering the Lowering” of a weight (seven seconds down) builds muscle fast. This, in turn, burns fat forever. Focus on lowering weights (eccentrics), not lifting them.

6. Why is swimming such an incredibly effective fat loss tool for overweight populations?

I’m so sorry, but it’s not. Yes, water workouts are a phenomenal cardiovascular exercise and can safely work muscles throughout a full range of motion. However, fat floats. Buoyancy makes workouts very efficient (less fat burned), especially for overweight populations. Plus, there are no eccentric muscle actions because water doesn’t push back.

7. For many people, what is the primary dietary principle to help stave off the onset of obesity?

Staving off starvation is crucial. In other words, fueling your furnace is critical. Repetitive low-calorie dieting starves your muscles (and brain) of nourishment (including carbohydrates) and forces your body into a protective metabolic meltdown. Calorie restriction might be temporary. Muscle reduction is probably permanent. Fat wins.

8. Which resistance training exercise is likely to burn the most fat off of the midsection?

While abdominal exercises target the building of muscles throughout the midsection, none of them do squat for burning off the fat covering them. Speaking of doing squat … this is precisely the exercise which works the body’s largest muscles (glutes and thighs). Squats are the best way to create truly functional muscle mass, burning fat off your midsection, and everywhere else.

9. How much of an increase in metabolic rate can a person expect after losing weight?

Overall metabolism is affected by many factors, but is most largely impacted by body weight and, more specifically, lean body mass, namely muscle. Unfortunately, most people lose muscle while losing weight, hence the concomitant decrease in metabolic rate during weight loss. Strength training is the only way to maintain (or increase) muscle while losing weight.

10. What’s a guaranteed benefit to expect when I “lose a tire” around my waist?

Hmmm … “Loose attire” around your waist? Happy fools!


Doug Jones earned his Master’s Degree in Exercise Physiology from the University of Maryland and has served professionals and personalities as a concierge fitness trainer for decades. As a resident of Kaua‘i and Connecticut, he has helped millions of people learn the secrets of fitness and fat loss, both online and in person. To submit your questions, or for more information, call (808) 652-6453 or visit
Source: The Garden Island

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