With summer finally upon us, many fitness fanatics are packing the health clubs in a last-ditch effort to sculpt their figures -- the infamous beach-body mantra. Many of these people are targeting weight loss in a specific area of the body and practice what’s called spot reduction -- the false belief that training a certain area of the body will result in weight loss in that area.
The truth is that weight loss is an overall depletion of body fat and cannot be achieved in just one specific area. In other words, an excessive sit-up program might give you stellar six-pack abs, but they could still be hidden beneath an undesirable layer of fat, invisible until appropriate weight loss is achieved. The same holds true with a perceived spot reduction in the waistline and gluteus.
To achieve your beach-body goals, a good exercise program should be coupled with a good diet.
“Healthy eating means getting a variety of foods in moderation and not overindulging in what should be special, occasional treats,” said Dr. Rachel Johnson, American Heart Association (AHA) national spokesman and Professor of Nutrition at The University of Vermont. “Many people eat unconsciously and this often leads to weight gain.”
We also reached out to Biochemist and Certified Nutritionist Dr. Yu-Shiaw Chen, of Long Island Nutrition and author of Healthy Eating Wholesome Living, for some simple tips to summer nutrition.
Go for rainbow color nutrition. “It’s easy to tell nutrition by the color of fruits and vegetables,” Chen said. “Research has found a correlation between the chemicals in colorful foods and decreased risks of certain diseases. Examples of rainbow color nutrition are red peppers, orange color carrots, yellow squash, green broccoli and white cauliflower.”
Get plenty of antioxidants in fresh produce. “Antioxidants are health-promoting compounds in plants that help fight against free radical damage,” she explained. “The more antioxidants you ingest, the better protection you gain toward your immune system. Examples of antioxidants include lycopene in tomatoes and anthocyanin in blueberries.”
Take advantage of summer seasonal fruits. “Summer brings us terrific fruits such as watermelon, strawberries, peaches, pineapples, nectarines, cherries, mangoes, papayas, grapes and bananas,” Chen stated. “Fruits are best consumed in their own season when they are fully ripen and nutrients are at their peak.”
Watch out for high calorie food, such as deep fried food. “High calorie food takes a lot of energy to digest,” she said. “It is a good idea to reduce their consumption or avoid [them altogether].”
With the beach season now upon us, an adequate and healthy diet, combined with a quality structured exercise program, will help mold those looking to sculpt their bodies for a Long Island summer.
Brian T. Dessart is a nationally accredited Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, a New York State Critical Care Emergency Medical Technician and an FDNY firefighter. He can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter: @briandessart.