Posts Tagged body fat


Wait, what? I thought that a Calorie was a measure of energy. Am I wrong?

Well, not exactly. First off, the correct terminology to use here would be kilocalorie, or kcal. 1 kcal is defined as being enough energy to raise 1ml of H2O by 1 degree Celsius. That means that when a calorie is being used it produces HEAT.  Does your food continue to get hotter and hotter as it sits there? No. This is because the energy is STORED in your food. The Calories that are in your food are not energy; they are POTENTIAL ENERGY. So when you exercise, your body starts to “burn” this potential energy. Heat is produced as a waste product, and your body temperature goes up.  Pretty simple, right? Are you wondering why am I explaining the difference between energy and potential energy?


People are always concerned about whether or not they have consumed enough energy to perform a task. The reality is though, your body is going to find this energy one way or another. Your body has energy stored in a couple different forms, the largest being fat. In the simplest of terms: if your body does not receive enough potential energy from food to survive, it will then pull energy from your fat storage. This is something that I have to explain over and over again to clients; even those who are pregnant or nursing (and have excess body fat). Here is how the conversation goes:

“My doctor says that I need to eat an extra 200-300 Calories per day because I am nursing”

“How many Calories per day are you currently eating?”

“I don’t know. I’ve never tracked it”

“…then what are you going to add 300 Calories to?”

This dialogue always makes me laugh a little bit, because we Americans are always concerned about not getting enough energy from food, when the reality is that we don’t have a starvation problem here in America. In fact, MORE THAN HALF OF US ARE OVERWEIGHT! WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH US?! We need to start looking at food as POTENTIAL ENERGY, because that is a healthier and smarter way to look at it. When you are looking at something you are considering consuming you should ask yourself, “am I realistically going to use all of this energy?” This might help you make better choices.

All that being said, it is important to give your body enough fuel to maintain the muscle mass that you have. Otherwise you will begin to lose your muscle (because your body needed more potential energy) and your metabolism will begin to slow down… But how do you know how many calories your body needs per day? That is a question that is easier to answer if you have had an accurate Body Fat % measurement done recently. Either way, there are websites that you can use to get a good estimate of how much energy (kilocalories) your body uses, both at rest and with exercise. Once you know that you will have a better idea of how much POTENTIAL ENERGY to consume each day.

Here is a great calorie calculator:  (click on “Advanced Options” to enter your body fat %)


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Jay’s “12 Week Fitness Challenge” Transformation!

Jay was told by his doctor that he was pre-diabetic in early 2011. This scared Jay, who had just lost two friends; both close to his age. Something needed to be done. Now. He had a consultation with a Doctor to talk about the Lap Band, but after some thought Jay wanted to try to lose weight the right way. I met Jay in February when he committed to a 12 week program that I am involved with, focused on motivating people to get into the best shape of their life. You can check this out at

Jay was just shy of  300 lbs when he started the program. He had lost a few pounds, but felt like he needed more help with his diet as well as his exercise. The 12 weeks flew by, and Jay proved himself to be a MACHINE!!! He never cheated on his diet and never missed an appointment with me. He was also diligent in his cardio assignments, which would change every couple of weeks.

Long story short, Jay’s hard work paid off. He sweat his butt off in the gym, educated himself about nutrition, stuck with our meal plan, and in a few short months Jay looks like a different person! In 12 weeks he lost 41 lbs (9% body fat!), gained muscle, and got word from his doctor that his blood sugar levels look great now! Jay signed up for the next challenge and has stayed consistent with all of his hard work. I can’t wait to show you all how great he has done…

Great job Jay! It has been a pleasure to work with you.

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I Cheated… But it Didn’t Mean Anything! Promise!

As you well know, I live a pretty structured life: I workout 5 days per week, eat 6 (measured) meals per day, and spend the rest of my time teaching others to do the same. And then last weekend something happened…


Besides my vacation in Italy last summer, I cannot remember the last time I ate Spaghetti. It has literally been over a year. Saturday was the day that I gave in. I mixed a jar of my favorite all natural Marinara Sauce (Rao’s) with lean ground turkey  (that I seasoned and browned) and let it simmer for an hour. Here’s where things started getting dirty: Instead of grabbing a Spaghetti Squash to serve as my “pasta” I grabbed some good ol’ Spaghetti noodles. 7 minutes later, and there I was…  cheating on my diet, but I didn’t feel bad! Here’s why:

  1. Because I am so regimented with my diet and exercise, my body has become a fat burning machine!
  2. My lean body mass is higher than ever before, so I burn more calories at rest.
  3. I changed the serving size of my next meal to counter the extra 200-300 calories from the pasta.
  4. I took my wife Kayaking for 2 hrs the next morning to burn off anything that my body may have stored!

So here’s the deal: if you’re going to splurge, cool. But if you have a fitness goal that is important to you, then it should be a calculated splurge. Don’t just go crazy. When you do that you will often feel guilty afterward. Guilty feelings are stressful. Stress raises cortisol levels, and high cortisol levels make it harder for your body to lose fat. Bad cycle…

BTW, the weather was beautiful and Kayaking was a lot of fun! It is a great way to burn calories, take in the beauty of nature, and get some alone time with your significant other for some quality conversation. Here is a video I took on my phone: (and that is my beautiful wife doing all the work while I take in the view!)

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Hey Cardio Queen! Grab a Dumbell!

Are you a “Cardio Queen”?

Well maybe you’re not THAT extreme, but do your workouts consist mostly of cardiovascular training? Not in any way do I want to discourage you from doing cardio- it’s good for you! I do, however, want to explain why it is not the most effective way to lose body fat…

Let’s start with the meaning of the word “cardiovascular”- It means “of, pertaining to, or involving the heart and blood vessels.” So… cardiovascular training works your heart (which isn’t exactly the largest muscle in your body).

Have you ever noticed that cardio gets a lot easier after just a couple of weeks? Your body is starting to become more efficient, which is good; but that also means that you will burn less calories while you are running, biking, etc… This brings me to my next point.

How many calories can you burn with cardiovascular training? It depends on how much time you have. It doesn’t take long for your body to cool down after cardio and get back to its old ways of burning minimal calories.

John, I need your help! Can you please tell me how I can burn more fat without adding more gym time? Resistance training!!!

As a personal trainer in Newport Beach, people ask me a lot of questions about this topic.

What are the benefits of resistance training? Increased strength, power, bone density, and fat burn (to name a few). Resistance training is also used in Physical Therapy to strengthen the muscles and tendons that support your joints.

Resistance training burns more fat?! How? There are a couple of reasons…

You can burn the same amount of calories (or more) with circuit training as you can with cardio when they are done for the same amount of time. The difference is afterward. Your body has to spend energy to repair the muscles that have been damaged during your circuit routine. Don’t worry, you’ll be fine. These tears are microscopic, and they are why you get sore after a workout. Repairing this muscle tissue takes calories. Where is your body going to find the extra calories to repair your muscles? Your body fat! Whoo-hoo!

Now your body will add new muscle tissue (if you eat enough) in an attempt to stop any future muscle damage from happening. It is your job (and literally my job) to continue this cycle until you have gained the amount of muscle that you want. My friend, you have just turned your body into a fat burning machine! And ladies, don’t freak out. You won’t get buff. Trust me- if it were that easy, your husband’s push-ups would have him looking like Vin Diesel.

Quick example:

Pretend you are a 40 year old female (5’5″, 150 lbs).

In scenario A your body fat percentage is 35%

In scenario B your body fat percentage is 20%

In the first scenario, your body would burn about 1,327 calories per day, at rest. In the second, your body would burn 1,548 calories!!! That is equivalent to your body burning almost 1/2 lb of fat per week- AT REST!

By the way: both of these women go to the gym regularly, but their body compositions are very different. Can you guess which one of these ladies is the “Cardio Queen”?

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Lose Those Clothes!

I have a new(ish) client that I have been working with since December. Her name is Dina and she came to me with a weight loss goal. She had worked with a trainer before and had lost weight, but had gained it all back. We couldn’t let that happen again…

I made Dina promise me that when her clothes no longer fit her she would throw them away or donate them, but she couldn’t have them as a “security blanket” in case she did not keep the weight off… Folks, this is absolutely crucial if you have a weight loss goal. Show those “fat pants” who’s boss. Show them that you are never going back to your old habits or your old size. Embrace the fact that you can go shopping and buy something because you like it; not because it makes you look smaller or hides a flaw… Embrace the new you!

I am happy to announce that Dina has just donated her first bag of clothes! They no longer fit her because she has lost over 20 pounds!!! To give you an idea of what that looks like, consider this:

Did you know that one 16oz jar of regular mayonnaise is not only very close in volume to 1lb of human body fat, but also has almost the same amount of calories?

1lb human fat= 3500 cal      16oz jar mayo= 3,252

I bet THAT will make you think differently the next time you eat a sandwich. “Maybe this bread isn’t so dry after all,” you may say to yourself…

Dina, I am so proud of the progress you have made so far, and I cannot wait to post your “after” pictures in a few months! Keep up the good work!

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