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Q&A with Mike Furci

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QHey Mike!
I was reading your posts on your website about how to lose love handles and I was very interested in your responses. Losing this extra weight around my waist is such a problem for me! Even though I am a very small girl I can’t seem to attain that hourglass figure -- I feel like my midsection looks like a box. I was wondering if you had any advice for me concerning foods, exercises and things I need to eliminate. For instance, does alcohol really make you gain weight? Even when I do drink, I order Bacardi and Diet Coke. Recently I completely eliminated fast food, fried food and soda from my diet. Also, I don’t eat after 10 p.m., ever! But still feel like I see no results. Maybe you could set me up with the right foods to eat and when to eat them. Also what to stay away from and what I should work on at the gym to target this concern of mine. If you could get back to me I'd really appreciate it!

Thanks so much.

First, let me say thanks for taking the time to visit and read my articles. Second, let me assure you, your questions and concerns are not uncommon.

Let’s start where you’ll get the biggest bang for your buck -- food. What should you stay away from? I would like you to read “Everything in moderation, right?” What should you consume on a daily basis? Read: “Daily consumption for optimum health.”

It’s great that you’ve eliminated fast food, fried food and sodas from your diet. Not allowing yourself to eat after 10 p.m. is not necessary. Not eating after a certain time is a myth. It’s what you eat, not when. If you eat grilled chicken and a salad with tomatoes, cucumbers and Italian dressing made with extra virgin olive oil, you could eat it right before you sleep. In fact, I recommend you do so. Eating a quality protein meal before you sleep is great for recovery.

Eating carbs makes you fat, period. Around the world, there is no correlation between protein or fat consumption and obesity. There is a very strong correlation, however, between sugar consumption, obesity and diabetes. It’s no surprise that when scientists perform obesity studies they have to feed the animals carbs in order to get them fat.

In the United States, we’ve gotten heavier each year since 1964. This is when our consumption of carbohydrates started to rise dramatically, especially fructose. As our sugar consumption went up each year, our waistlines got bigger. As a nation we are the heaviest we’ve ever been with no end in sight.

Macronutrients are not created equal. They are metabolized, assimilated, utilized and stored in different ways. Carbohydrates are a good fuel source for the body; however, it is important to understand they are a nonessential nutrient, meaning that unlike protein and fat, we do not have to ingest them to live and be healthy. On the contrary, carbs in the quantities Americans eat them can and will lead to a very unhealthy existence.

Does this mean we should stop eating carbs altogether? No. I am just saying -- warning -- that if you do not watch the amount and type of carbs you eat, you may be kissing your waistline, and especially your health, good bye.

The following are some tips to help you:

1. Prepare your food in advance.
You’re less likely to fall off the wagon if there is quality food already made. A major contributor to eating crap is the convenience. People are just inherently lazy. To combat this, always have an array of food ready to eat. Foods like chicken, beef, rice, cottage cheese, salad, etc. should always be in your fridge.

2. Avoid processed food.
Does this really need an explanation? If it does, you’re a moron. These foods are void of any nutritive value and contain many ingredients that should be avoided at all costs.

3. Eat multiple times per day.
Consume at least four meals per day. Your goal should be six meals. Your body will process food much more efficiently and you’re less likely to eat junk. Eating multiple times per day will also control your insulin, which is the fat storage hormone. The higher your insulin levels, the more fat you will store.

4. Eat protein.
Protein repairs and maintains everything in our bodies, from hormones to muscles. Proteins are made up of building blocks called amino acids. There are eight essential amino acids – “essential” meaning we have to ingest these for survival because our bodies cannot manufacture them. If your protein intake is low, your body will get the essential amino acids it needs from your muscle tissue.

How much protein should you consume? I recommend 1 gram per pound of lean body weight. However, if you train intensely (which is how you should train), you need upwards of 1.5 to 2 grams per pound. Can you possibly do this without getting fat?

Protein, like fat, has little to do with getting fat, in and of itself. You see, not all calories are alike. A calorie of a carbohydrate does not equate to a calorie of protein when being metabolized in our bodies. Protein calories are not likely to be stored as fat when compared to carbs. This is mainly due to the fact that proteins require a lot of energy to metabolize and assimilate. It takes much more energy to process protein than it does carbs. And as an added bonus, protein helps stimulate the secretion of glucagon, which reduces the fat storage effects of insulin. To put it quite simply, if you do not consume enough protein, you will not only put a halt to your efforts to have a leaner more muscular body, you can actually lose some of the muscle you’re working so hard to get.

5. Eat healthy fats.
Only use oils that are labeled “cold pressed,” “expeller pressed” or “extra virgin.” Use coconut oil for cooking or frying. It’s the most stable and by far the most healthy. Use peanut oil, sesame oil or olive oil for cooking if you do not want to use tropical or animal fats. These oils can also be used for one-time frying. Use butter, not margarine. Consume foods high in Omega-3 fatty acids, like wild-caught salmon, sardines, mackerel, herring and trout.

Does alcohol make you gain weight? Depends on how much alcohol you drink.

And as far as exercises for your abs, there is no magical exercise(s) to reduce your waist. Performing ab exercises has nothing to do with attaining washboard abs. It’s all diet. Read “Washboard abs, a comprehensive strategy.”

Make sure you’re training your entire body. The more muscle you have the better the results.


QDear Mr. Furci,
A good friend e-mailed me the link to your online article, “Fitness Myth-Busters.” He did this for adult conversation, but I was focused on one myth -- that of tone.

Personally, I believe that the use of the word “tone” came about for women who wanted to “firm up” using weight resistance exercises, but not give the impression that they were female bodybuilders. It’s a way of saying she is taking care of herself and staying fit while exercising in the gym -- or the “fitness center,” as so many are now called.

That being said, I was interested in having you state what muscle tone really means.

I have twin sons, David and Patrick, age six. They were born two months premature and are in the autistic spectrum. What has been a lifelong physical concern is their lack of muscle tone. It’s never been properly explained to me, whether by doctor or special needs teacher, what this is exactly, as though the meaning of the words “lack of muscle tone” are self-evident. It can be said that, when you look at the boys, you note that they are slight in build. Personally, thinking of myself as a youth, and having info about my father and uncle when they entered the army in WW II, I’d say their build is genetic. For me, I did not fill out until I started weight-resistance training in my early 30s.

But back to muscle tone.

Mr. Furci, you are the first person I have encountered to have explained what muscle tone is, and in so straightforward a manner as to put it in one, simple sentence: “Muscle tone is the amount of tension a muscle exerts at rest.”

I found your article interesting, and I might mention that my boys are studying karate, specifically a Korean art, Soo Bahk Do. I no longer exercise with weights, but I started karate four months after they did. I am 56.

If you have the time and inclination, my experience in starting karate now is in an online article, “Age Is Just a Number,” at Tang Soo Do

Thank you again for your insights regarding common -- and never quite dying out -- myths.


Joseph Gironda

First of all, let me say, you sound like a good guy and a great father.

I thank you for taking the time to visit and for reading my article. I hope you visit our site again. As far as the definition of tone, I -- like you -- never seemed to get a straight answer (or at least one that I could understand and apply) for several years into my strength and conditioning career. About 10 years ago, a well-known strength coach from Canada was giving a lecture at an athletic performance expo I was attending. A person in the audience asked a question about achieving “muscle tone.” He was asking about improving appearance, as most people who refer to leanness. He gave the exact definition of tone that I used in my article. And -- like yourself -- it made such sense and seemed so simple, how could others, including doctors, not be able to explain it?

Anyway, I’m glad I was able to increase your understanding a little. I also want to tell you, your article was really good. I really enjoyed it. I sent it to a few friends.

On a serious note concerning your children being in the autistic spectrum; I have had the opportunity to read mounds of material concerning autism because of my involvement in health and wellness for so many years. I’m convinced that autism is a result of nutritional deficiencies and vaccines. Essential fatty acids, which most are deficient in, are essential for developing brains and nervous systems. Children have had miraculous improvements when their diets have been supplemented with the right foods and nutrients including: Omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D3 and vitamin A. The best natural sources for these essential nutrients are raw dairy and fatty fish like wild salmon, mackerel and herring.

Thanks for the e-mail Joe, and good luck with everything


QHi Mike,
I saw a few of your Q&A articles online, and wondered if you can help answer some of mine.

I’ve heard weightlifting at my age (15) will stunt my growth while other people say it won’t, and I’ll grow taller -- so what is the truth? I’m afraid of stunting my growth because I play rugby and I don’t want to stunt my growth and end up being the smallest there. I regularly bench press and pectoral fly around 20 kgs (if I remember correctly) and am 5-foot-9½ and weigh 11 stone 5 pounds. I am estimated to hit the 6-foot-1 mark when fully grown. Is this too much weight for me at this age, or am I fine to continue on, without retarding my growth plates? Are products like whey supplements beneficial at my age?

Thanks for your time,
Niall Morris

Have no fear Niall, neither weight training nor supplements will stunt your growth. In fact, proper resistance training and supplementation will not only help the strength and integrity of your bones, but other systems of the body also.


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