Jonny Bowden, M.A., C.N.S., is a respected expert in the fields of fitness and nutrition. He is the
author of "Jonny Bowden's Shape Up!", "Jonny Bowden's Shape Up Workbook!", and most recently,
"Living the Low Carb Life: From Atkins to the Zone Choosing the Diet That's Right for You".
His work has also appeared in The New York Times, GQ, Cosmopolitan,
Seventeen, Fitness, Family Circle, Marie Claire, Allure, Men's Health and Walking.
He frequently appears on television and radio as a fitness expert and is also a popular speaker at
media events and seminars. His course, "Becoming a Personal Trainer," is a frequent sell-out at the
Learning Annex in New York.
Jonny will take your questions
about fitness and about low carb! Have a question for Jonny? Send it to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
While not all questions can be answered, we'll do our best to publish all we can. We are grateful to Jonny for taking the
time out of his busy schedule to lend a bit of advice to our readers!
Question from Barb Trevitt:
Copyright © April 2004 Jonny Bowden and Low Carb Luxury
I am a bit confused about weight training vs cardio training.
First off, I am overweight by about 40 lbs. I read that doing weight training is better as it will build muscle which
uses more calories all day instead of cardio which only burns for two hours after the workout. I know cardio is better
for your heart, but I am more focused on weight loss right now. What is your opinion on the most benefit for weight
loss. And, if it ends up being a bit of both, would I do the weights then the cardio or the other way around?
Thanks for your help.
You're absolutely right about weight training building muscle which is ultimately your metabolic furnace- muscle allows
you to burn calories (and fat) more effectively and at a higher rate than fat, hence it is your best ally in fat loss.
Cardio is important too — not only for the heart, but for the calorie burning effect. For most people, I suggest a
circuit/interval type training in which you go from machine to machine with very little rest, hitting the whole body
in one workout. You can also intersperse cardio intervals of varying intensity (say three minutes hard on the treadmill)
in between every two or four exercises. This kind of program gives you an awesome full body workout, preserves muscle
and gets your heart rate going like crazy — it also burns a lot of calories!
For more great info on "low-carb exercise",
go to the gurus: Graeme and Kate Street at www.lowcarbexercise.com.
Question from Karen Donegan:
There is so little said about low carb eating and endurance exercise. I have been low carbing consistently for
5-1/2 years. At 57 years have slowly turned into a high achieving athletic female. Training to do one or two
triathlons this summer. Have found I am in need of more carbs. Have added them an hour or two before and an hour
after a training session. Please, if you can give me any more input it would help. Most athletes have no idea how
some of us are so carb sensitive. So far what I'm doing is working. Oatmeal is a favorite. Look forward to
I think you already have the answer and you got it in the best possible way — by experimenting, listening to your body
and honoring your own individuality.
My favorite story about the "high carb training regimen" is this: Stu Mittleman,
world record holder in a bunch of 'ultra-endurance' events like the six day runs, and a man who once ran across the
United states conducting interviews by cell-phone, rarely eats a diet of more than 40 percent carbs. When training
his diet is 50 percent or more fat. It's definitely true that many athletes do need more carbs than the average
low-carb dieter looking to lose weight, but how much more is a completely individual thing, and, as you've
discovered, it may not turn out to be nearly as much as the old timers thought.
Question from Kathie Hyde:
I am hypothyroid and have read a lot about the difficulty in losing weight but not much in how to overcome them.
Do you have any experience in this? I lost 15 pounds in three months and and then plateaued for six months,
gained five pounds in six weeks of not low carbing and then lost the five pounds but am back on the plateau. I
still eat less than 20 carbs a day, pork rinds and a 0 carb chocolate bar a couple of times a week.
You don't mention if you are on medication, but perhaps you should be. In my experience low thyroid
function can also be related to overproduction of stress hormones (cortisol, adrenaline) from the
adrenals, so stress management comes into play here as well. According to some
endocrinologists — notably Dr. Diana Schwarzbein — too little carbs can push the adrenals into overproducing cortisol
which can then result in a compensatory rise in insulin. She recommends not going too low in carbs,
and that might be something for you to consider. Perhaps you need to up the carbs slightly from the
very low 20 grams you're currently doing. Remember, even on Atkins it is not recommended that you
stay at that 20 gram level indefinitely.
Many women have found that, paradoxically, upping the carbs
slightly helps them to break out of a plateau. Keep your foods whole, natural, organic when possible,
low glycemic and unprocessed. And experiment with slightly different proportions of protein carbs and
fat. You may be surprised at the result. You might also consider doing the Metabolic Typing Program
available through my website.
Question from Janna Franklin:
Please encourage me with any helpful hints and secrets to low carbing success for a Thin Person
(5'5" and 105 pounds) . . . all the LC news is geared towards people who are over-weight. Bottomline
Problem: It's very difficult to stay on an eating plan for any length of time that causes
weight gain . . . water retention and bloating etc. I would truly appreciate some encouragement
to stay on the LC Plan past the negative effects - meaning to be able to see the Rainbow behind
the Clouds :>)
Please share with me any experiences and knowledge you have from working with Thin People changing
over to the LC Plan for Life.
Water retention and bloating have more to do with food reactions than with anything else. Identifying
which foods cause that and then eliminating or severly reducing them should be your goal — but this does
not mean you can't have any carbs. It's very possible that the foods that are causing you problems are
in the grain or dairy family, but even if that's so you can still enjoy a terrific controlled carb diet
that allows you tons of vegetables, fruits, nuts, and even the ocassional grain.
Metabolically you may indeed be someone who can have a bit more carbs than the person who seeks low-carb as a way of losing
weight. I think the answer for you should be an emphasis on whole, natural unprocessed foods, which
should keep your weight where you want it and keep water retention at bay.
Question from Tammy Pennington, MS, LDN, RD:
I'm a registered dietitian that has been an advocate of low carb eating for many years. It really offended
me to read "They're usually dietitians who are about as clueless about nutrition as my Golden Retriever."
There was absolutely no call to insult a profession like that — very disrespectful.
I have been an RD since 1987 and have work with hemodialysis and pertioneal dialysis patients for the last
11 years. I don't consider myself clueless about nutrition. Not all RDs bashed the low carb way of eating.
You may have had some experiences of debating this topic with dietitians in the past which lead you to believe
dietitians in general are clueless — but it is very disrespectful to dump all dietitians in general in that
group. In the future I hope you are more careful with your words.
Tammy Pennington, MS, LDN, RD
Let me start out by saying that I believe the training some RDs get in areas like dialysis is extraordinarily
valuable and makes them an important part of some medical teams. I have great respect for that. And let me
add- as I have said many times in print and on-air — that I know and work with some extraordinary nutritionists
who came from the ranks of RD's, including my friend and colleague Linda Lizotte, president of Designs for
Health institute, and one of my most respected colleagues, Colette Heimowitz, M.S. of Atkins Nutritionals.
That said — I stand by my overall comments. The profession as a whole has been behind the envelope on nearly
every important innovation in nutrition; has been an apologist for the big food industry giants including
sugar manufacturers; has been reactionary and conservative on the issue of supplements (going so far as to
try to take their precious certification away from Dr. Shari Lieberman because she went against the party
line — a case they happily lost in court); has behaved disgracefully in trying to promote its exclusive
right to speak with authority on nutrition, and remains woefully behind the times when it comes to awareness
of the hormonal effects of food. To this day I see clients who come in with high carbohydrate diets for
diabetes that "the dietitian gave them." Its spokespeople continue to parrot party lines as predictably
as the Sean Hannitys of the world and with as just as little ability to entertain other positions.
According to virtually every "recovering" dietitian I meet at conferences, dietitians are trained to be
the handmaidens of the medical profession, and if you want to take the position that doctors are nutritionally
educated, then we have very little to discuss as we are on different planets. If you think I am being unfair
to the profession, you ought to hear some of the RD's that attend the nutrition conferences I go to talk
about their colleagues — it makes me sound positively gracious.
And by the way, I believe the original quote was "My Old English Sheepdog will figure out nutrition before
the dietitians get it right" and it was said by Dr. Robert Atkins.
Jonny Bowden, M.A., C.N., C.N.S.
Certified Nutrition Specialist