Calorie Counting Diets- The Quickest Way To Weight Loss Or Just A Gimmick

In the last few days the Food And Drug Administration (FDA) in the U.S. has made it mandatory that every restaurant post the exact number of calories in their servings.  Such a move now makes it easier for Americans to go on calorie counting diets, but is this the right approach to weight loss?

With so many fad diets going on every year, this year it’s the Dukan Diet, it is hard to distinguish not only which diet plans work but also which approaches work when losing fat and losing weight.  Sometimes we are told that eating high protein, other times it’s high carbs and other times it’s a mix of everything.

What It Takes To Lose Weight

So often the topic of losing weight is handled as if it was a difficult concept that only a few people know the secrets to.  Losing weight is much easier than you think.  In order to lose weight the best way to do so is by spending more calories than the number of calories consumed.

Think of your body as a car.  If a car has a full tank it will be heavier than on an empty tank.  The car needs fuel, for us fuel is food, and as it drives it burns that fuel until it is left on empty and thus is lighter than when it was a full tank.  I am not advocating not eating. Quite the contrary you need to have food and calories to go about your day but I find the simple car analogy works.

At this point the key point to remember is

  • To lose weight you have to spend more calories than what you eat.

Eat 10,000 Calories And Lose Weight Guaranteed!

During the 2010 Summer Olympics it was revealed that American Gold Medal Swimmer Michael Phelps (nobody can argue that a swimmer’s body is very attractive) ate between 8 thousand and 10 thousand calories a day. This news shocked most people and were asking themselves, “how in the world is he eating that much and staying thin? I want his secret!”

There was no secret.  Athletes do intense activity in their respective sport for 6 to 8 hours a day.  This level of activity makes them spend huge amounts of calories and energy and as a result their bodies need more food (calories in).  Because athletes burn more calories than they eat the result is a lean body when it is coupled with the proper exercise.

Calorie Counting Diets- The Way To Go?

Now that you have seen that all it takes to lose weight is it worth trying a calorie counting diet?  There are diet plans that follow this concept by counting either “points” or calories.  This approach can be helpful for someone who needs discipline in tracking how well he or she eats.  In order for this method to work in weight loss you need to follow two techniques:

  1. You need to count calories of every food item you eat
  2. You need to count how many calories you burned from exercise, walking, and throughout the day

This may seem difficult to do and in many ways it is.  With technology it has become easier as there are phone apps that can work as a calorie calculator for what you eat and what you have done in activity.

Become A Fat Burning Machine In Your Sleep!

So if you stay active during the day you will burn plenty of calories. Makes sense right?  Well what if I told you that when you work out you continue burning calories after your workout and even as you sleep?  This is true and one of the reasons why exercise is very important if you want to lose fat.  However, it is the right type of exercise that will help you burn more calories when you rest.  For excellent workouts that burn calories more effectively the best types are:

By doing these types of workouts you will find yourself burning more calories as you rest which will make it easier to forget doing calorie counting.  As long as you eat sensibly and maintain a lower calorie count you won’t have to worry too much whether you are burning more than what you ate.

If you want to follow a calorie counting diet approach simply know the range of calories you are roughly eating and maintain an activity level where you are spending more calories than what you ate.

Other Factors To Consider

Taking all of this into account it is easy to consider eating any type of food, for example junk food, and think that as long as you keep your calories down you will be fine.  Well it is not so simple.  One thing I like to promote is calorie quality.  In other words, you want to eat good quality calories found in healthy foods.

Not All Calories Are Created Equal

The calories in a chocolate bar are not the same as the calories you find in a salad for example.  If you eat 300 calories of junk food and 300 calories of fruits and vegetables the results on your body will be different.  In fact, you will have to work much harder to get rid of the bad stuff, to put it simply.  This factor is why perhaps it is hard for calorie counting diets to win as an alternative by the general public and experts alike.

There are other alternatives that make it easier and more manageable.  Diet plans like “Eat Stop Eat,” for example make it easy so that the person does not have to count calories, follow a gimmick like having no carbs or no protein, yet is able to eat sensibly and healthy without having to sacrifice food.

Losing weight does not have to be difficult and does not have to rely on grabbing a calculator to count how many calories have been eaten.  Calorie counting diets are simply one other approach that can be followed in order to reach your goals.

Feel free to comment below and join the discussion.

Do An Athletic Workout And Get the Body You Deserve

Summer is right around the corner and it looks like it’s crunch time again. Just about everyone and the cat is wondering how they are going to get an athletic body in time for the warm weather.  Although everyone looks for a quick fix, the best way to achieve a great body is by adding an athletic workout as part of your fitness regimen.

(Photograph courtesy of Robert Benson)

Around this time of year and the holidays you start hearing about a new fat loss method being called a miracle cure.  Fad diets become all the rage at least once a year (see The Dr. Dukan Diet), and other times the infomercials take the airwaves (wait, do we even use airwaves anymore) with some new gadget promising ripped abs.

I know everyone looks for an easy fix, especially when it comes to fitness.  The truth is there are easy steps you can take today that will get you one step closer to getting in shape but the results will not come to you overnight.

An Athletic Workout Is The Best Alternative To Getting Fit

This may not sound like the most appealing thing to do.  I mean, when we think of an athletic workout we think of hard work and sacrifice to achieve an athletic type body.  Well, getting fit is never an easy task but it also does not have to time consuming to the point of sacrificing a part of your social and family life.

If you have ever bought a piece of fitness equipment from an infomercial hoping to get 6 pack abs or a ripped body, then you probably know by now that got you absolutely nowhere.  Maybe you tried some diet and that also got you absolutely nowhere.  Perhaps you have been doing long cardio sessions and you still have the same body type you had a year ago.  What gives?

Time to do an athletic workout!

What a good athletic workout consists of:

Interval Type Cardio

Strength Training

A Good Diet- For a good diet plan check out Eat, Stop, Eat

Sounds easy enough.  This is not about reinventing the wheel.  These three simple steps can get you closer to your goals in less time than other approaches out there.

Let’s Break It Down

Interval Type Cardio

There is not escaping it.  In order to look fit you have to include cardio in your workouts.  You can’t avoid cardio but you also cannot do TOO MUCH cardio.  Get rid of long cardio sessions if that is what you have been doing.

Cardio sessions should consist of short burst training (also referred to as HIIT).  Your cardio should be broken down in to brief yet intense activity.  This can be done using sprint workouts or simply imitating a sprint.

Choose your favorite cardio exercise and perform a sequence like the following

  • Jog for 2 minutes
  • Sprint for one minute
  • Jog/ walk for 2 minutes
  • Sprint for 1 minute

Continue with this sequence for 15 minutes

Do intervals 2 or 3 times a week on non-consecutive days

This type of cardio workout is more effective than your typical long cardio sessions. This type of cardio is key to get a swimmer’s body or a gymnast body or that similar to an Olympic sprinter.

Strength Training

Strength training can be done with weights, bodyweight workout routines, kettle bells, resistance bands training, and machines. It does not matter as long you like the equipment you are using.  You can even use a combination of equipment if that is your preference.

  • Do not perform exercises on consecutive days:  it is fine to workout on consecutive days, just not on the same muscle group.  This is one problem that is all too common.  I think most of us have been guilty of it especially when we first started working out.  For example, doing chest and arms on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday is a recipe for failure.  Instead break up your body and work on them on different days.
  • Allow about 5 to 7 days between workouts for each body part:  It is best to allow sufficient time between workouts.  So if you did arms today then do not perform this workout until a week from today.
  • Do multi joint movements:  It is fun to do biceps curls and triceps extensions and leg extensions but chances are you won’t see sufficient changes in your body unless you perform multi joint movements. Athletes focus on these types of exercises to get in shape.

Examples of these are: push-ups, bench presses, squats, deadlifts, pull-ups, shoulder presses, lat pull downs.

  • Do not spend longer than one hour in the gym: the time you spend combined between cardio and strength training should not exceed one hour.  If you spend longer than this your body will begin burning out soon after that.  Eliminate those 90 minute or 2 hour sessions.  Once you hit the 1-hour mark it is time to call it a day.

A few days ago I was talking to my friend and he wanted some tips on putting on muscle and getting an athletic body.  I outlined a plan that I think will work for him and may is good for someone who is serious about looking in shape.

Sample Athletic Body Workout Plan

Day 1: Chest and Triceps

  • Bench Press
  • Incline Press
  • Fly’s (optional)
  • Triceps Overhead Extension
  • Triceps Pull down

Perform 4 sets of 5 repetitions

Rest 30 seconds to 1 minute between sets

Day 2:  Back and Biceps

Pull Ups (as many as possible per set)


  • Lat Pull Downs
  • Barbell Biceps Curl
  • Dumbbell Biceps Curl (optional)

Perform 4 sets of 5 Repetitions

Rest 30 seconds to 1 minute

Day 3: Legs

  • Squats
  • Leg Presses
  • Calf Raises

Perform 4 sets of 5 Repetitions

Rest 30 seconds to 1 minute between sets

Day 4: Shoulders

  • Military Press/ Shoulder Presses
  • Lateral Raises
  • Upright Row

Perform 4 sets of 5 Repetitions

Rest 30 seconds to 1 minute between sets

For cardio do intervals at least twice per week with moderate paced cardio on the other days if needed.

Total time with weight training and cardio combined should not exceed one hour.  In fact, the weight-training portion will only take around 20 minutes per day at the most.

This workout was outlined for him as he has been working out consistently for a couple of months and he was performing in the range of 10 repetitions.  Because he has gotten his body accustomed to working out I felt comfortable with switching it to lower rep ranges.

However, he was working out each muscle group too often and felt he had to move to targeting each muscle group once a week immediately.  Also, he could have probably done a 3 days a week approach but he is already working out at a gym 4 days a week so this gave him a chance to work on weights on those days without doing muscle overkill.

So there you have it.  Feel free to try this athletic workout to get an athletic body.

Comment below if you have any questions, suggestions or other tips you want to share.


The Dr. Dukan Diet- A Diet Fit For Royalty

It looks like there is a new diet hitting the streets and your dinner table soon- The Dukan Diet!  The new craze has been quite a rave in France and has been compared to the Atkins’ Diet that was popular some years ago.  This latest hype in fat loss and weight loss diets is causing quite a stir-The Dr Dukan Diet.  What is it? Is it just hype or a solution to everyone’s fat loss needs? This article looks at whether it is the real deal or a bust.

The diet was created by Dr. Pierre Dukan, a French doctor, and has been labeled the French Dr. Atkins.  In his book, Dr. Dukan outlines his high protein, low calorie diet… yes, definitely Atkins- esque.

Here is an outline of the 4-phase program:

Phase 1: Eating non-fatty protein (skinless chicken, fish, low fat beef, turkey breast), 1.5 teaspoons of oat bran and drinking plenty of water.

Phase 2: Veggies are then included in the diet along with the foods in phase 1.

Phase 3:  along with the items already mentioned twice a week the following is permitted, two slices of bread, a serving of cheese and fruit and two servings of carbs a day, also wine and dessert.

Phase 4: The diet is no longer strict and can eat anything he or she pleases but has to eat strictly according to Phase 1 once a week.

Blame It On The Royals For Making This Popular

Apparently this diet has become the latest rage thanks to the future Princess (perhaps future Queen), Kate Middleton.  Kate Middleton has been on it- along with bridal bootcamp– after her mother tried it and reportedly lost 4 pounds in 4 days. (source: Yahoo)

T- Rex Would Have Loved The Dukan Diet

Okay, that’s the British super group T-Rex… here is the other T-Rex

The Dr. Dukan Diet has become a hit especially among people who love their meat.  It is not restrictive and the ability to eat beef, turkey, chicken and fish sounds like a better option than counting calories, going vegan or eliminating favorite foods.

Dukan Diet critics have stated that the diet is low in vitamin C, fiber and is high in salt and can lead to increase risk in cancer and heart problems.  Dr. Dukan stands by his diet and argues that it is effective for losing weight and that there isn’t research to claim his diet is harmful and can be EXPENSIVE.

Why I Believe The Dukan Diet Is Not The Solution

As with most fad diets there are problems.  Although most diets tend to be restrictive, this one is not so much, which makes it appealing.  However, one thing that is not emphasized is the benefit of working out.  Dr. Dukan has stated that all you need to do for activity is light walking. (Did I mention that Kate Middleton is doing a “bridal bootcamp”).

I am a fan of walking as a method of exercise but there are ways to truly burn more fat and it includes strength training using weights, bodyweight workout routines and strength training with resistance bands.  Building muscle by strength training, burst training and interval type cardio like running stairs and sprint workouts are a great way to melt the fat away.

The True Factors Behind Fat Loss

One thing I want to stress is the need to get away from a weight loss mentality and move to a fat loss mentality.  Losing fat is what makes anyone look healthy, look like an athlete, have a cover model type body, etc.

As mentioned above, certain types of workouts, strength and cardio are effective as burning fat.  The important contributor to fat loss is an INCREASE IN GROWTH HORMONE.  These types of workouts achieve increases in growth hormone.

You Don’t Have To Give Up Carbs Or Fat To Lose Weight/ Fat

The Atkins Diet and the Dukan Diet place a big emphasis on increasing protein and avoiding carbs and fats.  As we all know the really delicious stuff contains both of these.

There are actually approaches to losing weight and losing fat that do not eliminate fat or carbs but actually promote eating what ever you please.  The program, “Eat, Stop, Eat,” by Brad Pillon is one approach that has been considered extremely effective at burning fat without having to follow a difficult and restrictive regimen.

Fad Diets Are Just, Well, Fads

The problem with fad diets is they are popular today and tomorrow they start falling out of favor when they are too tough to follow or something else comes along.

It is important to have a balanced diet but honestly, it is not so much about what you eat but really about quality of calories.

There are long term programs that are not restrictive and have been show to give real results and give great results when paired with a great workout routine.  It is not about restricting oneself to a difficult diet.

I guess we will be hearing more about the Dr Dukan Diet.  In the meanwhile stay healthy and may the Royals have a happy life.

Short Burst Training Workouts: The Best Way To Become A Fat Burning Machine

I am sure you are wishing there was a quick way that would burn the excess fat from your body.  What if I told you that there is such a way and it is through short burst training workouts that you will achieve quicker gains than if you were doing long cardio sessions.

I am not going to lie and tell you that doing one quick session once a week you will get lean and looking athletic.  But if you do these types of workouts you will definitely shave time and boring days during your typical workout.

What are Short Burst Training Workouts?

Burst training involves doing brief yet high intensity training either with cardio or with weights.  This type of workout gets your fast twitch muscles involved .The principles used in short burst training is the same as what you see in interval training and HIIT workouts.  A separate example of this is with Fartlek training (for an example of this go to Not Your Average Fitness Tips).

Short burst training consists of doing high intensity short duration exercises followed by a period of less intense activity and/ or rest.

This type of training helps create an increase in growth hormone (HGH) and testosterone that are highly effective at burning fat and creating muscle growth.

An Excellent Way to Raise Your Metabolism

Performing this type of workout helps elevate the metabolism of the person doing a workout.  Although most of us think that doing long and moderate level cardio helps more for fat burning the truth is that performing these brief high intensity intervals is more effective for fat loss.

By performing brief intervals you are simply forcing the body to use fat for energy.  Although traditional cardio does this as well it takes longer periods of time and longer workouts.  In the end by working out less with a higher intensity you end up becoming a more efficient fat burning machine and that is a time saver.  For a great example of these types of workouts check out Craig Ballantyne’s Turbulence Training as he shows very specific techniques for torching fat.

Have you ever wondered what is the secret weapon behind some of the best physiques at your local gym or when you go to the beach or even celebrities and actresses?  Believe it or not, it is performing short burst training workouts.  These exercises are what give people a lean look year round.

Get The Heart Pumping

There is no other way around it.  In order to burn the fat you will have to get the heart pumping and get some sweat going but you will enjoy the results.

The Benefits Of Burst Training

  1. Burns fat at a higher rate
  2. Will speed up your metabolism
  3. Help build more lean muscle
  4. Help you have higher energy levels

As mentioned earlier, burst training can be done with weight training or resistance training.  This includes bodyweight training, kettlebells, resistance bands training and weights.

Example of Burst Training with Weights For Arms

Triceps Workout

  • Triceps Pulldown
  • Seated Triceps Pushdown
  • Overhead Triceps Extension

Biceps Workout

Barbell Biceps Curl

Double Biceps Cable Curl

(Option: replace all three biceps exercises with my short biceps workout)

  • -Heavy Weight for 4-5 repetitions and 3-4 sets each exercise
  • -Rest time between sets 15-30 seconds
  • -This sequence takes around 15 to 20 minutes to complete.
  • I prefer starting with a 5 minute plyometrics training warm up

You can do this type of sequence for any muscle group: chest, back arms, legs etc.  You can do them with any type of equipment and even with bodyweight exercises.

Do not choose a bunch of exercises, no more than four per muscle group. If your body can only do less then that is fine as well.  The goal is to get the heart elevated and pumping to an athletic level.

Once you complete the resistance portion move in to a cardio phase.

Perform a series of intervals doing your favorite type of cardio exercise.  You can follow a sprint workout if you would like.

I like doing a sequence as follows:

  • Start with a moderate walking pace for 2 minutes
  • Follow with a sprint at 70 percent your maximum speed
  • Follow with 2-minute walk or jog
  • Sprint at 80 percent max speed for one minute
  • Jog or walk for 2 minutes
  • Sprint at 80 percent max speed for one minute
  • Jog or walk for 2 minutes
  • Sprint at 70 percent max speed for one minute
  • Jog or walk for 2 minutes
  • Sprint for 90 percent your max speed for one minute
  • Jog or walk for 2 minutes

Total time for cardio sequence: 18 minutes

You can adjust it to a one-minute rest, one minute sprints sequence, or any variation you feel comfortable with.

As I said earlier, you can use any type of equipment for this cardio sequence.  You can even do it by swimming the bursts/ intervals can be very brief as long as they are explosive.

As you can see following this type of program is challenging but spending only 30 minutes to 45 minutes working out beats long 2 hours long workouts any day.  For further examples of how short workouts can get you to burn more fat check out Turbulence Training by Craig Ballantyne.

Say goodbye to long boring workouts and hello to a fit fat burning body with these short burst training workouts.

Can Muscle Mass Slow Down Weight Loss?

Have you been wondering, “can muscle mass slow down weight loss?” I have very often heard people complain that they do not like working out and put on muscle because they put on pounds or do not lose the number of pounds they were expecting. Although they may be right this way of looking at fitness is quite misguided.


The first thing to keep in mind is that muscle speeds up our metabolism. When the metabolism is sped up fat burning occurs. Fat burning is key as this leads to fat loss and that should always be the goal when following an exercise plan.

If you follow a proper fitness routine and are consistent you will lose fat as a result of speeding up the metabolism. In effect you will become a fat burning machine and the results cannot be denied. Less fat is always a good thing.

Unfortunately, most of us are stuck in the mentality of losing pounds because that is what we have been taught. We are taught that if we weigh X number of pounds we are either overweight when in reality this should never be the main focus. The reason why we should not really be looking strictly at what we weigh is because muscle weighs more than fat. The more muscle we have the denser we will be.

So it is often the case that after losing a lot of fat the number in pounds we weigh will be less than what we were expecting. You can put two people; one that works out regularly and one who never does, but weigh the same and you will see the difference. What we should be more concerned with is what our body fat percentage is at. The lower the body fat percentage is the better.

Instead of worrying that you did not lose those 30 pounds or 20 pounds or whatever number you were focusing on losing, look at your results. If you have been working out consistently how many inches did you lose around your waist or how do your clothes fit? Usually this is a good gauge to see how we are progressing. Although it is hard do not ask yourself whether muscle mass slows down weight loss.

Remember to focus on the percentage of fat loss not on what the scale tells you that you weigh this week. The fastest way to lose the fat is by incorporating weights to your workouts along with cardiovascular workouts. You will be happy with the results. So remember not to worry whether muscle mass will slow down weight loss, instead focus on losing fat.

What Is The Best Way To Burn Belly Fat?

Are you feeling desperate and wondering what is the best way to burn belly fat without using some strange supplement? The answer is simple and it is not by doing a bunch of sit-ups.

You have definitely seen those infomercials promising six pack abs and a flat stomach by doing sit-ups on a funny piece of equipment. Contrary to what you have heard sit-ups and crunches will not do the trick.

In order to bring out that abs you first have to eliminate the fat percentage in your body. In order to reduce your fat content you have to do a couple of things. First thing to do is increase your metabolism. The second thing to do is clean up your diet.

The most effective way to increase your metabolism is by doing high intensity exercise. The first thing that comes to mind in order to burn fat is doing cardiovascular exercise. Although this is a good way it will take a while to burn the fat. In fact, in order to reduce fat substantially it would take an average of running 10 miles a day on average.

Most of us are not marathon type runners so this type of workout is not ideal. However, when cardio is paired with weight training or weight lifting your body becomes a fat burning inferno. Weight training burns more calories than doing cardio exercise alone and by gaining some muscle your metabolism will increase and burn fat.

The second thing to do is to clean up your diet. This is the hardest part for most people to achieve. Doing diets is one of the worst ways to try and get a lean body. When we restrict or reduce calories or skip meals our bodies slow down their metabolism and will hold on to more fat. Do this for days, weeks or months on end and you will stay soft and flabby.

My recommendation is to eat foods low in fat and low in sugar. By eating a balanced meal in carbs, proteins and small quantities of fat you will be one step ahead. However this is still hard for most people to do because of our busy schedules.

However, one simple adjustment can pay off big time. Think of one thing you eat or drink that is not healthy for you. Is it fries or chips or soda or maybe it is that chocolate bar you have daily. If you simply eliminate this one unhealthy item from your diet you will see the fat start to come off.

So if you are looking for the best way to burn belly fat just start by making one small adjustment in your eating habits and include a good weight training plan with 20- 30 minutes of cardio. In as little as a few weeks you will see a significant difference.

How To Build Muscles From Sprinting

When working out believe it or not there are ways how to build muscles from sprinting. In bodybuilding the common technique used to build muscle is by using weights to train our bodies consistently. However there is a different method there does not get mentioned very often in bodybuilding or in workout magazines.
Disappointing final sprint...
Photo courtesy of Stefanos

When we look at athletes, more specifically those who do short burst of running we can see a lean and muscular physique. For example look at an Olympic sprinter or a soccer player. These athletes are able to maintain a muscular physique despite running and doing high intensity cardio.

In bodybuilding cardio is often discouraged from a fitness regimen. Long periods of cardio like long distance running is counterintuitive in building muscle mass. However, short bursts of activity like running is the best way to burn fat and at the same time maintain muscle and even form new lean muscle. The use of short bursts of activity triggers testosterone that in return helps with muscle building.

One of the best ways to incorporate sprinting in a workout is by doing a two to one ratio, in other words a two-minute rest for every minute of running. This type of workout can be done on a treadmill or on a track.

· Sprint one: Run for one minute at 70 percent of your maximum speed
· Sprint two: Run for one minute at 80 percent of your maximum speed
· Sprint three: Run for one minute at 90 percent of your maximum speed
· Sprint four: Run for one minute at 80 percent of your maximum speed
· Sprint five: Run for one minute at 70 percent of your maximum speed

Rest for two minutes and no longer than that between sprints. The total time should be 15 minutes. You can add two more sprints to this routine with a maximum speed of 80 percent on the sixth and 90 percent maximum speed on the last sprint. This routine should be performed two times a week with 48 to 72 hours between days of rest.

The effects of doing this type of workout will lead to fat burning without losing muscle mass and gaining mass in the lower body specifically. This type of workout will also create gains overall in muscle gain.