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September 22, 2007

Fitness Q&A

By Diane Bomba

Weight loss plateaus, eating more often to burn more calories and why caffeine pills don’t work.

Plateau with weight loss

Dear Diane,

I’m 20 pounds overweight and began doing cardio exercises about 4 months ago. At first, I saw some significant weight loss, but now it seems that I’ve hit a plateau and can’t drop these last 5 pounds. I’ve even been doing more cardio but nothing seems to be working.


Hi Brianna,

First of all, congratulations on your commitment to weight loss. It seems to me, however, that your problem is a complex one. The beautiful thing about the human body is its ability to adapt to most anything that’s thrown at it, and it seems that your body has become accustomed to the cardio and you’ve hit a plateau.

To begin, you should not be doing more than one hour of cardio per day. Anything more than that and your body begins eating away at your muscles for calories. Second, I recommend you start lifting weights. Muscle development will help you burn more calories (keep in mind that the scale numbers may actually increase, but you’ll look hotter than ever). Third, try HIIT, High Intensity Interval Training.

Recent studies have shown that interval training is very beneficial for women. What you do is exercise at a steady pace for two minutes, then increase intensity to as quickly as you can go for one. Then return to walking for two and repeat this process for up to 30 minutes.

Remember to keep switching up your routine every four to six weeks so that your body never becomes accustomed to a routine. That way, you’ll achieve the weight loss, or rather “fat” loss, and look amazing.

Keep fit,

Eat more often for weight loss

A friend of mine recently told me that I should start eating six times a day if I want to lose weight. Is she crazy?


Hey Tina,

Well, popular opinion is yes, you should ideally be eating six smaller meals a day instead of three, but people aren’t certain what a “smaller meal” actually consists of and . Dietitians however, recommend that you eat only when you are hungry and never avoid breakfast, as it is the most important meal of the day.

Signs of hunger include an empty-feeling stomach and feeling faint. The tip for success, however, is that when you do eat, you should make healthy choices and avoid eating to the point where you cannot breathe and regret having eaten. Keep in mind that it takes the stomach 20 minutes to send the signal to the brain that it is full. If weight loss is what you desire, these steps will help you.

The “eating 6 times a day” philosophy usually lends itself to people who work out quite frequently and have very little body fat. You would be better off eating when you’re hungry, making healthy food choices and eating slowly so that you know when you’re full.


Ephedrine for weight loss

I know that ephedrine is illegal but I have a friend who was taking it and experienced dramatic weight loss. I want to start taking it but am afraid of long-term problems. Are there any studies that show potential complications?

Want the Weight Loss

Hello Want,

While there have been no studies that prove that ephedrine does cause long-term complications (I know that there were headlines of deaths due to ephedrine-use but it was likely because the individuals took more than the recommended dosage), I do think that the weight loss will only be temporary.

Ephedrine is known to cause an elevated heart beat and decrease appetite, which means that your resting heart rate will rise so that you are consistently burning more calories than you normally would, hence the weight loss.

In 8 weeks though, when the ephedrine stops working (which is when most supplements stop being effective), your heart rate will return to its normal rate and so will your appetite. As a result, your metabolism will slow down and you will ultimately regain your weight. So I recommend strength training strength training, cardio exercise cardio exercise and a balanced diet if you want to lose weight.

Good luck,

Caffeine pills for weight loss

Dear Diane,

I recently purchased caffeine pills because I was told that they will help me reach my fat-burning goals. But before I take them, I want to make sure I’m doing the right thing. Is this a good idea?


Hi Darlene,

In my opinion, the only safe and effective way to lose weight is via a healthy diet and exercise, and while caffeine pills may work temporarily, what do you think will happen once you stop taking them?

Of course, the decision is up to you, but there are some distinct disadvantages to taking caffeine pills, so before taking them, consider this:

1- Caffeine is a diuretic, so you’ll need to drink plenty of water throughout the day.
2- Caffeine increases unsightly cellulite cellulite
3- Taking caffeine pills late in the day will keep you up all night, so you shouldn’t take any after 3 p.m.
4- Because caffeine causes the body to avoid using its calcium stores, you’ll also need to take a 5- calcium supplement.
6- You can’t stop taking them in one shot because you’ll experience withdrawal symptoms such as headaches and fatigue, so you’ll need to ease off of them slowly.
7- An increased dose of caffeine may make you nervous and agitated.

If you still think that taking them is a good idea, make sure to test your resting heart rate beforehand and during your time on them. Also, I strongly recommend you visit a doctor before you try these pills.

Good luck,

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