Body for Life (cont.)

"Is this the solution to our huge national problem of obesity? No, people will not do that much exercise, other than a tiny percentage," Blair tells WebMD. "As it is, fewer than 15% of adult Americans get as much exercise as the recommended three 10-minute walks a day. But if a person who by sheer force of will is able to do the BFL program -- and tolerate the injuries from such intense effort -- there is nothing wrong with it."

Experts disagree on the value of a diet that's 40-50% protein. If you have normal kidneys, it's probably not a problem, says Conrad Earnest, PhD, direct of human performance at the Cooper Institute. "If you are not blessed with well-functioning kidneys, you may have a problem." The body uses carbohydrates first for fuel. When you limit carbohydrates, your body turns to stored fat for fuel. This process burns fat, but it also increases the strain on your kidneys.

Food for Thought

Six small meals a day is a very good idea, as long as the total number of calories you eat doesn't go up, says Peter W.R. Lemon, PhD, director of the exercise nutrition research laboratory at the University of Western Ontario in London, Canada.

"If you go to grazing instead of (large) meals, you alter how your body handles energy intake," he explains. "The body is predisposed to store energy as fat when you eat a few large meals. When you graze, you tend to use stored fat as energy. So eating many meals will make you more efficient."

But don't expect to look like the "after" pictures in just 12 weeks, warns Earnest at the Cooper Institute. "Intensity like this does produce both a functional and a cosmetic result, but nobody gets bodybuilder muscles just by following the basic program for 12 weeks," he says. "That takes more advanced training."

Reviewed By Charlotte E. Grayson, MD February 2004.


SOURCES: Body-for-Life web site. Conrad Earnest, PhD, director of human performance, The Cooper Institute, Dallas. Steven N. Blair, PED, director of research, The Cooper Institute, Dallas. Peter W.R. Lemon, PhD, director of the exercise nutrition research laboratory, the University of Western Ontario, London, Canada.

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Last Editorial Review: 5/20/2005