John Spencer Ellis (Author, TV Show Host, Trainer and CEO, National Exercise & Sports Trainers Association) gives expert video advice on: Can prescription drugs help me lose weight? and more...
What is the "pinch test"?
The pinch test, or the skin fold test, is probably one of the oldest ones around. It's very accurate except for sometimes when people are very obese; the skin or the fat does not compress or allow the callipers to work as accurately. However, for the most part (for the general consumer) the skin fold test actually works very well. There are different sites of measurement for men and different ones for women, and depending on the manufacturer of the calliper (the skin fold calliper) there are a different number of sites of measurements going from 3 to 5 to 7 and even 9 points of measurement. That is then put into a formulation as a total sum of millimeters, and then based on gender and age it will tell you what that means as far as a body fat percentage.
Is obesity an epidemic in the United States?
It's an unfortunate fact that obesity is truly an epidemic in the United States. Over 6% of the US population is considered obese. And obesity varies from state to state; obesity also varies from ethnicity to ethnicity, and of course both genders vary in the proportion who are obese as well. There's a couple of reasons for this obesity epidemic. One cause of obesity is inactivity, caused by all the modern conveniences that we enjoy on a daily basis. And then of course, the epidemic itself of fast food and trans fats, which is kind of a funny fat that man has made to preserve the shelf life of food items contribute to obesity. Obesity then leads to the other epidemic that we are experiencing, which is the drastic increase in diabetes in both adults and children.
How is a body's metabolism tested?
Your metabolism can be tested using a medical device which can be found at your doctor's office, with an exercise physiologist, a personal trainer, a university or a registered dietician or a clinical nutritionist. It's a very simple test which takes about ten to twenty minutes. You simply breathe through a tube, they analyze the gas exchange that takes place as you breathe in and out and that gives a value which would probably be about 1,100 to about 2000. That means you would need 1100-2000 calories a day to sustain yourself, just sitting down quietly with your eyes closed for twenty-four hours which is how many calories you would need to consume just to maintain your body's pressure as it is.
What is a "free radical"?
A free radical is an unpaired electron, and this free radical is bouncing around inside the body like a pinball and it's looking to pair up so it can become stable. Then an anti-oxidant will come in and pair with that free radical to stabilize it so it doesn't continue to do cell damage. High anti-oxidant food, and in some cases supplementation are necessary to help stabilize those free radicals, because free radicals occur through exposure to radiation whether it's an x-ray, solar radiation, gamma radiation, or just as a by-product of exercise.
What foods contain the best antioxidants?
Antioxidants are found in a wide variety of foods, specifically fruits and vegetables, and even more specifically the skins of the fruits and vegetables. It's important to have a wide variety and colour spectrum of these fruits and vegetables. For example, the blueberry: how many other blue foods can you think of? There aren't too many. Therefore you need to make sure you have something in that colour spectrum to ensure you have all the antioxidants covered. Another good example is the carrot, the carotenoids. Another example of that is the pumpkin. It's still in the carotenoid family. It's that same colour spectrum. So, you need to have all the colour spectrums possible, and that's why it's important to have a very colourful plate.
Will abdominal exercises give me a flat stomach?
Abdominal exercises will certainly contribute to a flatter stomach. However, the most important thing that you can do to achieve a flat stomach is to eat appropriate foods in the appropriate amounts. That means eating organic foods whenever possible, not overindulging in foods that are high in saturated fats, and certainly eliminating trans fats. It's those sort of things that will actually flatten your stomach the most.
Can prescription drugs help me lose weight?
Prescription drugs controlled and issued by a physician can help you lose weight. However, there are numerous side effects such as dependence, potential kidney damage, and increased heart rate and blood pressure. There could be interactions with other medications and taking a drug like that does not teach you behaviour modification. It does not strengthen your heart, it does not improve your posture, and it does not help you exercise. Things like that are in addition to eating well, eating appropriately, exercising, proper rest, and appropriate supplementation with nutraceuticals, not necessarily pharmaceuticals. That should be close to a last resort when trying to lose weight, and always make sure you're closely monitored by a doctor and that you're getting the appropriate blood tests to make sure that your liver function, your kidney function, and your blood chemistry is appropriate and as it should be.