Building the Burn
by Marjorie Flakowitz
June 11, 2004
When was the last time you
exercised? During the past decade, the number of obese
Americans has jumped by 50%. A big factor in this increase:
lack of physical activity.
Today, technological society seems to make everyday life
effortless: car windows retreat at the push of a button,
remote controls keep couch potatoes from budging off the
cushions and video games have replaced non-cyber ball
playing. Americans don't move around and burn off the
calories they eat. Instead, our sedentary ways are causing
big stomach bulges and a big bulge in health problems linked
to being overweight.
Want to lose those pounds? Consuming the right nutrients and
pounding the pavement are a great start.
Number of Large Americans Grows Larger
Fifty-five out of every 100 Americans are now overweight.
And the numbers continue to surge. To take yourself out of
these alarming statistics, plan a consistent exercise
program. If the thought of sweating during strenuous
workouts at the gym scares you, relax. You don't have to do
that much. According to a long list of research, a few
half-hour walks a week can put you on the road to weight
For instance, researchers at Duke found that walking a total
of only 12 miles a week can help you control your weight
even if you're not dieting (Archives of Internal Medicine
1/12/04). Of course dieting and taking the right supplements
will help you lose weight a little faster, but walking burns
off the pounds.
In the study at Duke, scientists gathered about 180
overweight, sedentary people and assigned them to one of
four groups. The first group had to jog about 20 miles a
week. The second group jogged 12 miles a week. The third
group walked 12 miles, and the last group didn't do a thing.
" We found that the two low-exercise groups lost both weight
and fat, while those in the more intensive group lost more
of each in a 'dose-response' manner," says Cris Slentz, PhD,
one of the researchers. " Simply put, the more you exercise,
the more you benefit. Just as importantly, the control group
of participants who performed no exercise gained weight over
the period of the trial."
Everybody who was exercising lost weight; their stomachs and
hips shrank. The folks who did nothing didn't just stay at
the same weight; their weight went up.
Dr. Slentz adds, "From the perspective of prevention, it
appears that the 30 minutes per day will keep most people
from gaining the additional weight associated with
inactivity. Given the increase in obesity in the US, it
would seem likely that many in our society may have fallen
below this minimal level of physical activity required to
maintain body weight."
Of course, limiting the carbohydrates you consume and eating
more protein at the same time as you exercise can help you
lose weight more effectively. To help your body utilize
protein more fully to fuel your exercise, many experts
recommend taking enzyme supplements.
One of the most valuable enzyme combinations in this process
is Aminogen(r), an all-natural, patented plant enzyme that
assists the digestive tract in liberating the amino acids
that are the building blocks of dietary protein. By helping
separate these amino acids, absorption is boosted through
the walls of the small intestines and your metabolism is
better able to take up proteins and use them.
Add Chromium to Exercise
The mineral chromium is another supplement found helpful in
aiding weight loss. An eight-week study at the University of
Texas, Austin, compared weight loss among obese women who
exercised and took chromium with the number of pounds that
were lost by women performing the same amount of exercise
without taking supplements (Medicine & Science in Sports &
Exercise 1997; 29:992-8).
The result: women taking chromium lost a significantly
greater amount. How does chromium work? A study at the
University of Vermont found that chromium may help muscles
take blood sugar (glucose) out of the blood more effectively
by improving what's called insulin sensitivity (18th
International Diabetes Federation Congress, Paris, 8/03).
Insulin is released by the pancreas to help cells take in
glucose. By exercising and keeping your weight down, and
becoming more insulin sensitive, you potentially reduce your
chances of getting diabetes. The cells quickly respond to
insulin and blood sugar stabilizes.
On the other hand, when insulin sensitivity drops
significantly, the body may suffer what's called insulin
resistance, a pre-diabetic condition that complicates and
slows the removal of sugar from the blood. The Vermont
researchers found that chromium increases the activity of a
protein called Akt phosphorylation. This is a natural
substance made by the body that makes cells more sensitive
to insulin and speeds the movement of blood sugar into
cells, where it can be burned for energy. So, in combination
with exercise, which also helps the body become more
responsive to insulin, chromium may help keep blood sugar
As Sandra Woodruff points out in her book Secrets of Good
Carb, Low Carb Living (Avery/Penguin), "[P]hysical activity
boosts the body's ability to process carbohydrate and helps
reduce insulin resistance....Exercise acts much like an
insulin-sensitizing drug to make the body's cells more
responsive to insulin, which enables them to remove sugar
from the blood more efficiently." The results of exercise
and getting sufficient chromium can help support weight loss
and healthy blood sugar levels. The Vermont research team
found that the exercising chromium takers boosted their
insulin sensitivity by almost 9%.
Building a Lean Body
A prime benefit of exercising while you lose weight is that
physical activity builds muscle tissue. Muscle tissue, even
at rest, burns more calories than fat cells, so having extra
muscle means you can eat more and still maintain or lose
weight. An aid in this process is Coleus forskohlii root,
Benth., a plant that originated in India. Research shows
that forskohlii furthers molecular energy processes within
cells that support the development of lean body tissue
(muscle) and the enzymatic reactions that break down fat.
In a study of about two dozen women who took forskohlii
extract, researchers found that taking this supplement was
associated with feeling more energetic and less hungry
(Experimental Biology meeting, 2002). According to Vladimir
Badmaev, PhD, who has studied forskohlii, this herb's help
in supporting lean body tissue is crucial to maintaining a
" In highly overweight individuals, fat tissue can
constitute up to 70% of body weight. The remaining
proportion of body composition corresponds to the lean body
mass. Lean body mass is composed of muscle, vital organs,
bone, connective and other non-fatty tissues in the body,"
says Dr. Badmaev.
" The body's metabolic rate is in direct proportion to the
amount of lean body mass. Therefore, safely maintaining or
increasing lean body mass is an important consideration for
any weight-loss strategy."
The Skinny on Calcium
Calcium, long known for its ability to strengthen bones, is
now turning out to play a key role in weight maintenance as
well. In one study, obese mice who were put on
calorie-restricted diets lost body fat when fed extra
calcium (Experimental Biology meeting 2000). Both
supplemental calcium and low-fat dairy proved effective.
What's more, low-fat dairy's ability to burn fat and provoke
fat loss have been confirmed in additional research (Obesity
Research 4/04; 12:582-90).
Fat cells contain calcium, and scientists believe that the
more of this mineral a fat cell contains, the more fat will
be burned off. This action is especially important when you
cut back on calories, since that often gives your body the
idea that it's starving, leading your metabolism to slow and
making weight loss extremely difficult.
A Complete Program
To lose weight efficiently, stay in top shape and retain
your feelings of energy, you also have to make sure you get
enough of the vitamins and minerals necessary for good
For those eating a high-protein diet who are limiting their
fruits and vegetables, taking a supplement that incorporates
nutrients from fruits and vegetables can help restore your
feelings of well-being and help maintain your motivation for
dieting and losing weight. (Supplements are available that
deliver these nutrients without carbohydrates.)
In addition, supplements of what are called ketogenic amino
acids-the natural substances that form protein's building
blocks-can also help fuel your weight-loss program. These
special nutrients can be efficiently used for the body's
energy needs, a process that helps you lose weight.
And don't forget to keep moving! Soon you may have the kind
of results researchers produced at the University of
Pittsburgh when they studied women who exercised 40 minutes,
five times a week (Journal of the American Medical
Association 9/10/03). Those women lost 25 pounds in six
Your results may be just as good or better!