Ignore The Scale – It Lies

Health on June 10th, 2010 No Comments

You're trying to lose weight.  You're exercising and eating better.  So how are you going to measure your success.  Most people's first answer would be to weigh themselves on a scale.  While I do believe this is the easiest way to monitor your progress, it can also be misleading and depressing.

It is a fact that 1 pound of fat is equivalent to 3500 to 4000 calories.  In order for a person to gain, or lose, 1 pound of fat, you must either create a caloric deficit, or gain, of 4000 calories, above or below, your base metabolic rate ( the average female burns 1800 to 2000 calories per day while the average male burns 2000 to 2200 calories per day).  If your metabolism burns 2000 calories per day, and you go on a 1200 calorie diet.  Each day you create a caloric deficit of 800 calories.  At this rate, you can expect to lose 1 pound of fat  approximately every five days.

In general, the most weight that you can realistically expect to lose as a female is 1 to 11/2 pounds per week and for males 11/2 to 2 pounds per week.  Weight loss greater than this is usually simply water weight or muscle tissue (that you don't want to lose). 

If you are utilizing the scale to monitor your weight on a daily or even weekly basis you can be greatly disappointed.  Even after a week of dieting, you may often times see a rise in your weight.  This does not mean that you're not succeeding in working toward your dieting goal. It simply means the scale is not telling the whole story.  1 gallon of water weighs approximately 7 pounds.  Your body's water weight can fluctuate greatly on a day-to-day basis.  Water weight can shift as much as five to 10 pounds in one day from simply sweating and becoming dehydrated.  You can also have significant water fluctuations based on your diet.  If you are eating a high sodium diet, or a diet high in carbohydrates (see my earlier blog on why carbohydrates are not bad) your body will tend to retain more water.

Obviously, water weight, which can fluctuate up to five to 10 pounds per day, can easily mask a fat loss of one to 2 pounds per week . For example, you could start a diet in a dehydrated state weighing in at 150 pounds.  The next day you may rehydrate and your weight may bounce back up 155 pounds. If you're a female, and lost 1 pound of fat over the course of the week your overall weight would be 154 pounds.  This is 4 pounds greater than your start weight. You're doing great on your diet but the scale is telling you that you are not.

These misleading scale readings can cause you to become frustrated, leading you to unhealthy dieting strategies or abortion of the diet altogether. When assessing your progress with any weight-loss strategy, you must be patient and look at trends of one month or longer.  Very few people lose weight in a linear fashion.  Most people experience peaks, valleys, and plateaus.  If after three to four weeks you show no improvement in with your diet, then it is time to consider changing your strategy.  Prior to this, I would encourage you to ignore the scale and persevere with your current strategy.  The scale is a helpful tool when used properly.  If used improperly, the scale can cause you grief.

Why Carbohydrates Appear Evil

Health on June 8th, 2010 No Comments

In my last post I explained to you why carbohydrates are your friends.  Now I will explain to you why many consider carbohydrates to be evil.

  1. Carbohydrates and proteins are equal in their caloric value.  They each possess 4 calories per gram.  This is, however, slightly misleading.  Carbohydrates begin digestion immediately upon entering your mouth.  By the time they reach your intestines that have been broken down and are ready for digestion.  Because the breakdown of carbohydrate is so efficient digestion is almost 100%.  By contrast, protein doesn't begin digestion until it reaches the stomach.  It must then be broken down to a small enough molecule that can be adjusted in the first 6 feet of the small intestine.  If it is not broken down to a smaller size, it will simply pass completely through the system, undigested.  The efficiency for digestion of protein is only about 30%.  In other words you can eat three times as much protein as carbohydrate for the same digested caloric value.
  2. For energy storage, your body places carbohydrates in the muscles.  This is similar to you putting gasoline in your car.  When carbohydrate is stored in the muscles it is packaged together with water.  Water is a very heavy substance.  1 gallon of water weighs approximately 7 pounds.  When carbohydrate is broken down for fuel, it is separated from its storage partner, water.  As the water is no longer necessary, it is then excreted in the urine.  This results in significant weight loss.  You can see, if your body has low carbohydrate stores this will make it appear that you weigh less. When you engage in a low carbohydrate diet your body will scour the carbohydrates stored in your muscles giving you the appearance of significant weight loss.  This is not true weight loss.  After a while, your body will begin to feel the effects of limited energy as you are trying to run your body without fuel (carbohydrate).  Your brain will recognize the need for carbohydrates to replentish your gas tank.  Eventually, you will give in to these cravings and consume carbohydrates.  This will result in a significant weight gain of water (that is simply stored with the carbohydrate). You will then think that carbohydrates have unfairly caused you to gain weight.  In actuality, you now know that this weight was never lost in the first place.

Why Carbohydrates Are Your Friends

Health on June 8th, 2010 No Comments

Carbohydrates have gotten a bad rap over the last few years. Unfortunately, most of the reasons are unjustified. Granted, your simple carbohydrates (i.e. sugar) are not a good source of nutrition but they are giving a bad name to your friends the complex carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates are food such as pasta, bread, potatoes, fruit, etc.  Below I will systematically explain to you why carbohydrates are indeed your friends.

  1. The only source of fuel that your brain is able to use is carbohydrate.  Without a steady supply of carbohydrate in your diet, you can guarantee that your brain will not function as well.
  2. Fat burns in the flame of carbohydrate. This is an expression learned in physiology. Simply stated, the body is unable to process or metabolize fat without carbohydrate being present.
  3. Carbohydrate and protein are exactly the same in relation to the amount of calories found, in equal amounts, of each food. Both carbohydrate and protein possess 4 calories per gram. Fat possesses 9 calories per gram and alcohol possesses 7 calories per gram.
  4. Carbohydrate is stored in your muscles. It is there to provide energy for you to do work. Without carbohydrate present in your muscles you will feel lethargic and weak.
  5. When your blood  sugar is low, your brain will trigger your body to go into scavenger mode. You will feel hungry and crave foods that will raise your blood sugar quickly (candy, cookies and other sweets). This will often lead to binge eating and will quickly sabotage your weight-loss strategy.

Muscle: the Secret to Long Term Weight Loss Success

Health on June 2nd, 2010 No Comments


When you restrict calories to a severe degree, or fail to eat on a regular schedule (you should eat six times per day), your body goes into starvation mode. In starvation mode, fat is hoarded. Fat is a storage fuel and its main purpose on your body is to keep you alive when food is in short supply. Muscle on the other hand is a highly metabolically active tissue. It requires a lot of fuel and energy to be maintained. It is also extremely heavy. Therefore, when the body is confronted with decreased food intake, it figures the smartest choice for a fuel source is muscle.

For some women, you may think losing muscle is a good idea, but it is not. One pound of muscle burns 35 calories per day , at rest. Simple math will tell you that the more muscle you have on your body the more calories you burn every single day. This is one of the reasons that men have an easier time losing weight than women.  Men simply have more muscles on their body than women.

Muscle is the secret to long-term weight loss success. The more muscle you have on your body the more calories you will burn.  This equates to being able to eat more calories and still maintain your weight. For those concerned about looking overly muscular from lifting weights, fear not. Most people can easily put on 10 pounds, or more, of muscle and the only change that they will notice is that they look more "tone". You will certainly not be overly muscular.

Simply stated, most diets fail because a large percentage of the weight lost during the diet is muscle mass. This loss of muscle slows your metabolism and causes you to gain weight even though you may be eating a reasonable diet.


Health on January 4th, 2010 1 Comment

Welcome to the Fast Track Fitness and Physical Therapy blog.

Fast Track is dedicated to providing not only the finest rehabilitation services but also the highest quality preventative care. The purpose of this blog is to update people on health/wellness information and to provide current research regarding the prevention of illness and injury.