Wednesday, September 1, 2010

What PACE Is

Here's the claim:
"You don't have to do cardio, lift weights, or go to aerobics classes to get the body you want. You don't even need a gym membership.
You can build a lean, effortlessly energetic body with a bulletproof heart, robust lungs, and muscles as strong as steel. without wasting your time.
It takes Terri an average of 12 minutes a day."
The author is Dr. Al Sears, whom I think of as a low carb hero after his appearance in "Fat Head the Movie" - but the claims, do they seem too good to be true?
I would say, "yes and no." I'm sure you appreciate the certainty. I've attached the parts of Dr. Sears' program below that I like - the claims he makes below are true from my perspective, with one exception. I think he's wrong about the impact of exercise on fat loss. I think exercise is essential for physical and mental health, not to mention having the option of enjoying old age, but there is no scientific evidence to validate the assertion that exercise will contribute to long term body composition management. As I've written before, if exercise was good for fat loss, all lumberjacks would have died of starvation.
What I really mean by that is this - the body has a complex feedback system which regulates appetite based on a large number of inputs. About the only way to throw this system off is to ingest a fairly large amount of non-food - stuff like grains, legumes, sugars and processed dairy. If your plan is to eat a bunch of non-food that the body will learn to partition into fat stores, then spend a bunch of hours 'burning off' the fat stores ... good luck. This is a plan that wastes time, compromises health and won't create much fitness (but it IS better than doing nothing!).
The better plan is to eat the right food, and let your body's exquisitely well engineered systems tell you how much to eat based on your appetite. More on this topic, by Mike Eades, is here:
That said - if you eat real food, and exercise like Dr. Sears describes, you will in fact lose body fat and gain muscle. Most of the claims he makes are cornerstones of CrossFit programming - short intense workouts do provide the best benefits. They will increase strength and muscle mass, improve your fasting lipid profile, stabilize your blood sugar and minimize oxidative stress when compared with long, slow distance training.
So, if you want to read on for more information about why high intensity interval based training is far superior to aerobics or long distance run/bike/swim/row ing, read on. If you already CrossFit and eat Paleo, you should know most of what follows. Is Dr. Sears' program worth the price? I would say yes if you would like a guide to effective training with minimal equipment. It's not CrossFit, but it will work, and in many respects I would rate this program as better than P90X, due to the shorter, more time effective programming.
Dr. Sears' comments follow:
Here's why I tell my patients aerobics and cardio are not the way to exercise:
They won't make you lean!
They won't protect you from heart disease!
They won't even boost your energy!
Even worse, aerobic and cardio training - the kind most doctors and even the federal government promote as the path to good health - can actually wreck your body. Do enough, and it will make you sick, tired, and old before your time.
This Harvard Health Professionals Study backs me up on this. Researchers followed over 7,000 people. They found that the key to protect your heart is exactly the opposite of "cardio." It's not endurance. It's intensity. In fact, they proved that the more intense the exertion, the lower their risk of heart disease.1
And that's not all. Another Harvard study compared vigorous and light exercise.2
Those who performed exercise that is more vigorous had a lower risk of death than those who performed less vigorous exercise.
Aerobics and cardio are low-intensity, long-duration exercises. This Harvard study clearly shows that this kind of exercise increases your risk of heart disease and death.
For our ancient ancestors this was natural. They didn't run marathons or jump around for an hour at a time without a break. They exerted themselves in brief bursts, then rest. It was a matter of survival.
The metabolism you have right now is a result of this lifestyle. Millions of years of evolution have crafted the heart that's beating in your chest at this very moment. This pattern of brief intensity, followed by rest, is hardwired in your genes.
Your genes define the kind of movement and exertion you need to survive and stay fit. Your muscles, bones, and organ systems are reflections of this genetic design. And the way they work together with the challenges of your environment is the formula for strength, vitality, and long life.
Long duration exercise like aerobics and cardio burn fat during your workout. Sounds good, right? Not at all. This sends a message to your body that you need a reserve of fat available for the next time you do long-duration exercise.
This self-defeating cycle ensures that your body makes more fat every time you finish exercising.
That's why you may have such a hard time losing fat at the gym. Every time you burn fat during exercise, you body reacts by making more.
PACE sessions can be as short as 12 minutes. And they never last more than 20 minutes. That means your body never has a chance to burn fat during exercise. During PACE, your body burns carbs from muscle tissue.
This triggers your "afterburner." After you finish your PACE session, your body will burn fat to replace the carbs it just used. In fact, your body continues to burn fat for up to 24 hours after you finish. even while you sleep.
After a while, your body stops making fat. It simply doesn't need it. This after burn is the key to getting rid of excess body fat, not long hours of boring exercise.
To illustrate just how powerful the effects of this after burn are, take a look at this: Researchers in Quebec's Laval University divided exercisers into two groups: long-duration and repeated short-duration.3
They had the long-duration group cycle 45 minutes without interruption. The short-duration group cycled in multiple short bursts of 15 to 90 seconds, with rests in between.
The long-duration group burned twice as many calories, so you would assume they would burn more fat. However, when the researchers recorded their body composition measurements, the short-burst group showed the most fat loss.
In fact, the short-burst group lost 9 times more fat than the endurance group for every calorie burned!
Raise Your Levels of Human Growth Hormone: This is your body's "anti-aging" hormone. It's been shown to build muscle, melt fat, improve bone density, raise your "good" cholesterol, and reverse the negative effects of aging. Blood levels of this hormone rise dramatically during and immediately after PACE-type exercise. (Traditional aerobic exercise has no effect.)
Burn More Calories: PACE turbo-charges your metabolism. After intense bursts of exercise, your body needs to burn extra calories to repair muscles, replenish energy, and bring your body back to its "normal" state. This process takes anywhere from a few hours up to a whole day - meaning you'll burn calories long after your workout is over.
Get More Strength and Greater Fitness in Less Time: After a few weeks of a "cardio" routine, you stop making progress and hit a "plateau." PACE helps you break through those dead spots and keeps you moving forward. Within just a few months of PACE, you'll be able to pump more blood and deliver more oxygen to your muscles - raising your energy levels like never before.
Build a More Powerful Heart: The PACE program gives your heart a boost you'll never get from traditional aerobic exercise. Because PACE demands more oxygen, your heart adapts by increasing both its heart rate and stroke volume (the amount of blood your heart can pump in one beat). This increased pumping power makes your heart stronger - and last longer.
1 Lee I, et al. Relative intensity of physical activity and risk of coronary heart disease. Circulation. 2003 Mar 4;107(8):1110-6.
2 Lee I, et al. Exercise intensity and longevity in men. The Harvard Alumni Health Study. JAMA. 1995 Apr 19;273(15):1179-84.
3 Tremblay A, Simoneau JA, Bouchard C. Impact of exercise intensity on body fatness and skeletal muscle metabolism. Metabolism. 1994;43(7): 814-818.
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