The Lean Look : Burn Fat, Tone Muscles, and Transform Your Body in Twelve Weeks Using the Secrets of Professional Athletes
Achieve the lean, fit look of a professional athlete in just twelve weeks with this straightforward fitness plan.
New studies are confirming what Paul Goldberg has already observed in his high-profile clients: getting leaner--not just thinner--is the single most important change that we can make to feel and look our best. What many Americans struggle with today is known as normal weight obesity: normal body weight, but high body-fat percentage, which can lead to serious health problems. Now Goldberg has developed an effective plan to lower body fat by eating the right foods and building muscle.
The twelve-week Lean Look program requires no fancy equipment, takes thirty minutes a day, six days a week, and can easily be done at home. Goldberg shows how to add foods to your diet that promote muscle development, cut back on foods that encourage fat storage, time your meals for optimal nutrition, and exercise to burn fat. With over 100 photographs, a Lean Look journal, body-fat tables, and a four-week meal plan, The Lean Look is a straightforward guide to getting the sculpted, athletic body you've always wanted.
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May 11, 2008
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Excerpt from The Lean Look by Paul Goldberg
Why Leaner Is Better
Do you wish that you were skinny? Would you like to lose weight? Well, guess what? I'm here to help you set a different goal--a better goal. Instead of getting skinny, I want you to get lean. Instead of losing weight, I want you to lose fat, while gaining muscle. I want you to achieve the Lean Look.
The Lean Look is my name for the tight, toned physique that you get when you lower your body fat percentage by burning away excess body fat stores and strengthening your muscles. It's the outward appearance that you earn through maximizing your inner vitality with a healthy, balanced lifestyle. And it has nothing to do with being skinny.
To be skinny is simply to have a low body weight for your height. Unlike leanness, skinniness comes primarily from having small muscles and only secondarily from having a small amount of body fat. Since body fat percentage is affected by both muscle mass and fat mass, skinny individuals, who have little of both, are not as lean as those who have small amounts of body fat and strong muscles. In fact, there are some men and women who look skinny but have just as much body fat as people who are obviously overweight. Why is this important? Because science has shown that skinny individuals are not as healthy as lean ones. Doctors recently coined the term normal weight obese to categorize men and women who fall within the normal body weight range but have more than 30 percent body fat. Studies have found that normal weight obese individuals have the same levels of circulating inflammation markers--a major risk factor for heart disease--as do those who are technically obese.
In recent years medical researchers have performed a number of studies comparing the effect of body weight versus body composition (or body fat percentage) on the risk for various diseases. The conclusion is always the same. While heavier men and women do have a higher risk for lifestyle diseases such as heart disease than do normal-weight men and women, the connection between body fat percentage and disease risk is much stronger. In fact, heavier individuals with a low body fat percentage tend to be healthier and to live longer than skinnier individuals with a higher body fat percentage.
Why is having even a little excess body fat so damaging to our health? It appears that excess body fat contributes to a slew of different diseases via various mechanisms. For example, high levels of abdominal fat are associated with high levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in the blood--and the more LDL cholesterol there is in the blood, the faster it accumulates in the arterial plaques, establishing the basis of heart disease.
A second reason that lean men and women are healthier than their skinny counterparts has to do with muscle. Recent medical research has shown that muscle mass is as beneficial to health as excess body fat is damaging to health. Having a little extra muscle has been shown to increase metabolism, reduce insulin resistance and diabetes risk, increase bone density and lower the risk of osteoporosis, and more. Having a little extra muscle even increases longevity. A number of studies have found that, among elderly populations, those with the most muscle strength live the longest.
What's more, research in the field of psychology has demonstrated that lean bodies (such as those of top athletes) are almost universally considered to be more attractive than skinny bodies (such as those of many fashion models) in both women and men. The muscle tone that comes with the Lean Look gives both male and female bodies a contoured appearance that is quite distinct from the straight-up-and-down look of skinniness. Several psychologists, including Devendra Singh at the University of Texas, have found that men consistently show a preference for a curvy, athletic form rather than the narrow, linear shape of skinny women, while women clearly prefer a moderate, fit-looking male physique to lanky ones, fat ones, and even extremely muscular ones.
JUST SAY "NO" TO DIETING
I realize that skinniness is not the major health problem in our society. Fatness is. But the reason I've taken such pains to distinguish leanness from skinniness is that when people set a goal to simply lose weight or get skinny, they usually pursue this goal by dieting. The trouble with dieting is that it is difficult to sustain, and even when a diet does last, it fails to improve one's health or appearance as much as a program that is tailored to achieving leanness.
Surveys show that a majority of men and women who try to lose weight do so by cutting way back on the number of calories they eat (and usually not exercising). In most cases they choose to follow a popular branded diet such as South Beach, Weight Watchers, or the Atkins Diet. On the surface these diets seem very different. One tells you to virtually eliminate carbs from your diet, another tells you to keep the carbs and eliminate fat instead, and still another encourages you to get most of your calories from processed drink mixes and food bars. But beneath the surface almost all of these eating plans are essentially the same thing: low-calorie diets.
Now, I won't deny the fact that in order to shed body fat most people have to reduce the number of calories they consume each day. However, there is a big difference between merely trimming calories, as I will have you do in the Lean Look program, and going on a low-calorie diet, as most popular diets require. The difference is that merely trimming calories is easy and painless, whereas low-calorie diets are unpleasant and therefore very difficult to sustain. Low-calorie diets demand high levels of restraint when it comes to eating and force the dieter to live with persistent hunger. When you go on a low-calorie diet, suddenly many of your favorite foods are off-limits. Your meals are too small to satisfy your hunger for very long, if at all. As a result, you end up being distracted by your rumbling stomach and thinking about food--especially your favorite off-limits foods--most of the day. It's only a matter of time before you scream, "To hell with it!" and break the diet. Surveys have shown that the average weight-loss diet lasts just two weeks!
Because dieters are rarely able to sustain their low-calorie eating plans (and frequently wind up eating even more than normal after they break the diet), the rapid weight loss they experience in the first days and weeks of the diet is followed by rapid weight gain of equal or greater amount. More often than not, this failure motivates the dieter to try again. Consequently, many dieters engage in a repeating cycle of rapid weight loss followed by rapid weight gain (called weight cycling, or yo-yo dieting) that is especially harmful. For reasons that are not yet fully understood, weight cycling increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality (death by any cause) beyond the level associated with any given degree of overweight. One possible explanation is that yo-yo dieters actually worsen their body composition by regaining less muscle and more fat than they initially lost while dieting.
Even when it does not lead to weight cycling, dieting almost always results in substantial loss of muscle and water, along with fat, and therefore does little to improve body composition. Severe calorie restriction is basically a form of semistarvation, and under starvation conditions the body breaks down almost as much muscle protein for energy as it does body fat. The problem of muscle loss during dieting is compounded by the fact that severe calorie restriction provides little energy for exercise, which is indispensable to improving body composition. Indeed, few dieters even bother with exercise. One survey found that less than a third of men and women who said they were "trying" to lose weight engaged in regular exercise. Talk about setting yourself up for failure!
The path to leanness is a lot healthier, more enjoyable, and more sustainable than dieting to become skinny. The best way to get lean is to starve not your whole body, as in dieting, but only your body fat stores, while at the same time fully nourishing your muscles. You can do this quite easily by (1) eating more foods that promote muscle development, (2) cutting back on foods that promote fat storage, (3) timing your meals to promote muscle development and prevent fat storage, (4) exercising to burn body fat, and (5) exercising to develop muscle tone. Only a combination of healthy eating and exercise--which is the essence of the Lean Look program--can truly optimize your body composition.
WHAT GETS MEASURED GETS MANAGED
I just listed five factors--five elements of the Lean Look program--that promote leanness. There is actually a sixth factor, a sort of wild card, which helps to promote leanness in a different way. I'm talking about monitoring your leanness by taking regular body fat measurements.
In the corporate world many senior executives are fond of the expression "What gets measured gets managed." I like this expression, too, and I think it applies to health and fitness. If you want to gain greater control over some aspect of your business (or your body), one of the best things you can do is to monitor it systematically using some kind of measuring stick. The very effort you take to do so makes it a higher priority and helps you improve this aspect of your business or your body independently of other efforts (such as the five ways of promoting leanness I have already listed).
In the Lean Look program you will be encouraged to measure your body fat percentage regularly using either of two simple and affordable methods described in the next chapter: a body fat scale or the tape measure method. You can also try an even simpler alternative to these methods--measuring the circumference of your waist, which provides a less exact but still helpful indication of leanness. Measuring your body fat percentage will help you manage it better by providing proof of your progress and thereby increasing your motivation and the amount of effort you put into the program.
If you're not the measuring type and prefer to just launch into the Lean Look program and observe the results in the mirror--something you will have no difficulty doing (the results you see in the mirror may be your most gratifying result even if you do use a body fat scale)--that's okay. But if you're open to fully committing to the management of your body by measuring your leanness on a regular basis, I believe you will be well rewarded for the small effort it takes.
WHAT IS A "GOOD" BODY FAT PERCENTAGE?
So, if being lean is good, and if body fat percentage is a good indicator of leanness, what is a good body fat percentage? There is no specific body fat percentage that is optimal for everyone. Age, gender, genetics, and other factors all play a part in determining the body fat percentage that is ideal for you at any given time. The most important variables are age and gender. The average woman needs and has more body fat than the average man. Also, body fat percentage naturally increases with age. If you're over fifty you should not expect to be able to get quite as lean as a twenty-two-year-old can.
Scientists have come up with age- and gender-based healthy body fat percentage ranges based on correlations between various body fat percentages and risk for diseases linked to excess body fat. The following chart presents a set of proposed healthy body fat percentage ranges that were published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. I have a personal objection to the low end of these ranges, because I routinely deal with female athletes with less than 20 percent body fat and male athletes with less than 8 percent body fat who are about as healthy as a human being can be. But one thing is certain: If your current body fat percentage is outside the healthy range for your age and gender on the high end, you need to lower it!
HEALTHY BODY FAT PERCENTAGE RANGES
healthy body fat percentage for women: 21-32
healthy body fat percentage for men: 8-19
healthy body fat percentage for women: 23-33
healthy body fat percentage for men: 11-21
healthy body fat percentage for women: 24-35
healthy body fat percentage for men: 13-24
Source: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
The body fat percentage you are able to achieve after completing the Lean Look program may or may not be your personal optimum level for your present age. If you are already fairly lean, there's a good chance that you will achieve your optimal body fat percentage by the end of the program. If you are not already fairly lean, then it could take a lot longer. But don't worry--in chapter 16 I show you how to extend the Lean Look program so that you can continue to make progress until you reach your personal body composition goal.
It is not possible to predict exactly what your personal optimal body fat percentage will turn out to be. You just have to continue eating right, exercising, and measuring your body fat and see where you end up. Your body fat measurements will continue to go down as you approach your ideal body composition and will eventually level off when you get there. At that time, as long as you're still adhering to the Lean Look lifestyle, you can trust that you have truly achieved your best body.
How to Measure Your Leanness
The device I use to analyze body composition with my hands-on clients is called the Bod Pod. It looks a lot like Mork's egg from the old Mork and Mindy television show. I like it not only because it is quite accurate but also because, unlike most other methods of measuring body composition, the Bod Pod provides consistent results regardless of the tester. There's no possibility for error or individual variation among different testers because all you have to do to operate the device is press a button. But before you rush out and buy a Bod Pod, you should know that the basic model costs $20,000 and the top-end model goes for $70,000!
Fortunately there are two fairly accurate ways you can use to measure your body fat percentage affordably and conveniently on the Lean Look program: with a body fat scale or using the tape measure method.
BODY FAT SCALES
Body fat scales using bioelectrical impedance technology are now widely available at department stores, drugstores, sporting goods stores, and elsewhere. In fact, the recent explosion in sales of these devices is one of the major reasons I decided to write this book. I have relied on body fat testing with my own clients for many years, but until recently I didn't think that accurate self-testing was convenient or affordable enough that I could offer my program to a mass audience. Now these devices are accurate enough to depend on for this program and are as easy to use, easy to find and affordable as a bathroom scale.