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Ask the High Performance Lab

May 25, 2008 12:25 PM

PLEASE NOTE: The medical opinions in USTA.com's Ask the High Performance Lab are responses intended for the average player. Please consult with your primary physician before beginning any new exercise program.

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From Suzanne Truitt of Opelika, AL: I am a recreational tennis player trying to lose a few pounds through exercise and good nutrition. What is your opinion of maltodextrin in protein shakes? Some manufacturers rag on it while most use it.

I am not sure of the maltodextrin controversy referenced in the question, but maltodextrin is a carbohydrate-like substance that comes from splitting corn syrup. Corn syrup is similar to table sugar and is used in a variety of products for its sweet taste.

Maltodextrin is sometimes listed as a “modified starch” and like tapioca and rice starch is used in food products to provide stability and texture, to mimic fat without the fat calories. There are no established ill effects of consuming reasonably amounts of maltodextrin in foods.

As with any natural substance, substances derived from natural sources, or man made substances, however, balance is the key.

From Jody Price of Forest City, NC: I have been on a fitness program since last August when became more serious about my tennis game since college 20 years ago. Light weights, 15 to 20 hrs a week of intense tennis, and controlling my fat intake to responsible level and not be excessive on carbs, also several exercises specifically targeting my abs. I lost from 227 down to 181, fat % from 36 to 22, waist from 42 to 37, yet I still can’t get rid of all the fat on my abs to be ripped.

Bailey: First, consider that human beings are so diverse and have different body forms. For some people, no matter what you do, what you eat and how many crunches you do, you may never have a six pack or a completely fat stomach. For others, the hard to reduce area may be the hips, or inner thighs, or another area.

Having said that, you can do some things to reduce your belly fat to a reasonable point – things that are compatible to your body type and a healthy lifestyle. I can’t emphasize it enough, don’t base your ideal body image on images you see in others (and keep in mind that celebrity photos are sometimes touched up).

Here are some hints:

Consume a reasonable amount of carbohydrates in your diet (40-60% of the calories you consume).

Make sure the majority carbohydrates choices are whole grain starches, fruits and vegetables! Limiting carbohydrates may not produce desirable results because you need the carbohydrates for the nutrients, fiber and energy they provide. Choose low fat carbs and protein sources, but check food labels since some low fat items are high in sugar.

Consume a reasonable calorie intake if weight loss is desired (no more than 500 – 700 calories less than your body’s daily calorie needs) and/or increase burning calories through physical activity.

For example, if your body needs 2,400 calories to maintain your current weight, you can aim to consume 1900 calories (2400-500) to lose 1-2 pounds per week. You can lose additional pounds and/or fat tissue by increasing physical activity, exercise or training. For most young women, it is difficult to get your nutrient needs if you consume less than 1800 calories a day.

Also trying to increase weight loss by eating a very low calorie diet not only reduces the intake of nutrients you need for overall health, growth, immunity and energy, it can cause your body to conserve energy which will make it harder to lose weight in the long run. To determine your daily calorie needs, consult an MD specializing in sports physiology, a dietitian, or estimating it using the tools on the www.mypyramid.gov website.

Do 30-90 minutes of activity every day or as often as possible.

Include aerobic exercises that involve the abdominal muscles, such as walking with arms pumping or using the elliptical trainer with the arm levers.

Do sit ups and/or waist exercises at least 5 times a week.

Consult a personal trainer to ensure abdominal exercises are done properly or use exercise DVDs or books by established exercise trainers.

Include weights with your exercise.

Including upper body weights in your routine not only builds arm muscles (a benefit for tennis players), but when performed properly further engages the abdominal muscles. Building muscle also will increase your overall metabolism.

Try these tips consistently for several weeks and you should see a slimmer belly. However, if you are eating right and exercising, you should feel good about your accomplishments and not focus on achieving an ideal look or looking like someone else.

Be the best YOU that you can be!

All answers to this week's "Ask the High Performance Lab" column are provided by Anita Bailey, a nutritionist on the Sport Science Committee.
Bailey, a native of Philadelphia, PA is a registered dietitian, member of the American Dietitian Association and a licensed dietitian/nutritionist in the state of Maryland. Upon completion of a Master of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell University she began her postgraduate career as a clinical dietitian at the Medical College of Pennsylvania. Since that time she has served as a Clinical Nutrition Manager, Assistant Director of Patient Services, Assistant Director of Retail Services and Food Service Manager at several hospital facilities in Philadelphia, PA and the metropolitan DC area.


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