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Well, another day at the gym. I’m looking at the herds of people running on the treadmills, sweating on the elliptical machines, as I dodge individuals sprinting up and down the aisle in an attempt to lose that unwanted fat.

You may have experienced the same scene.

As I contemplate how people manage their routines, I think about my typical routine. It consists of a session of upper-body weights on one day, followed the next day working my lower body, and the third day high-intensity interval training cardio.

Then I wash, rinse, repeat. Due to my busy schedule, I take a day or two off in the week. My typical time in the gym is 40–45 minutes—that’s it.

When I’m done with my workout, I often notice the same people were there when I got there—still running on the treadmill or moving along on the oscillating machines.

Enter Nicole, my former next-door neighbor. As I checked in before my workout, I would see her running on the treadmill sweating up a storm in utter exhaustion from the time I got there until the time I left. She would express her frustration about her inability to “lose weight” although she was working out until exhaustion, and angry for doing so.

As if working out failed her somehow.

Funny, when I asked about her diet, she said she couldn’t give up her carbs and wine. I told her …

You can’t out-train a crappy diet.

In other words, thinking you’re going to combat the fat with excessive exercise—without changing what you eat—is a misperception and ridiculous.

Think about it. Food is the control when losing fat and building muscle. By regulating your blood sugar and the hormone insulin via a low-glycemic (sugar) food plan, you set the stage for losing fat.

Here’s the physiology [an except out of my book Rebuild]

A high-sugar, low-nutrient diet causes high blood sugar levels, which eventually trigger the release of high amounts of insulin to deal with the excess sugar. Insulin—the master hormone of fat storage—acts on a cell much like a key in a lock, causing a gate in the cell to open and allow blood sugar in. In a normal state, when your blood sugar elevates, insulin helps get the sugar into your liver and muscles, where it is stored as an energy source called glycogen; the excess is stored as fat.

However, when your diet contains too much sugar, i.e. unused energy, for your body to handle, your cells eventually reject insulin, a condition known as insulin resistance. This causes excess sugar to remain in the blood, leading to an increase in both subcutaneous fat (under the skin) and visceral fat (surrounding your organs).

Any food that increases insulin has a probability of creating fat.

Here’s the other reason you can’t out-muscle crappy food. Typically most people eat their biggest meal at the end of the day. Most often it consists of some protein and carbs—pasta, white rice, white potato, etc. Let’s not forget the glass of wine—or two. After ingesting this food, your body releases insulin to combat the rise in blood sugar. If the amount you have just eaten exceeds your ability to store the energy as glycogen, your body stores the excess fuel as fat.

Now, under normal circumstances, as soon as you fall asleep your brain releases growth hormone (GH), which stimulates cell growth and activates cellular regeneration. GH helps regulate metabolism, deflates fat cells, helps regulate blood sugar, and promotes protein synthesis in cells.

If you eat high-energy foods at night, even before bed, that burst of blood sugar and insulin causes the brain to release a hormone called somatostatin (growth hormone-inhibiting hormone). Just as it sounds, somatostatin shuts off the production of growth hormone. So, when you eat unhealthful carbs; drink too much alcohol; and/or have a sugary dessert, insulin causes the release of somatostatin, which shuts off the production of growth hormone when you sleep.

Basically, you get fat while you sleep.

Let me point out again that you can’t out-train a crappy diet. If you are exercising until exhaustion, thinking that you can burn off a pizza you ate the night before, you’re sadly mistaken.

Eating a healthful diet, coupled with high-intensity interval training and weight training, is the best strategy to burn fat and get lean. Since lean muscle eats excessive calories and burns fat, creating it or having more of it has a big impact on a healthy body composition.

My recommendation: do a mix of cardio and weights during the week, and eliminate eating junk sugars and refined high-calorie carbs. Wake up eating protein instead of sugar; eat protein with complex carbs throughout the day; and the clinical pearl is … NO carbs at night. In fact, don’t have any big meal at night, including protein. As your body winds down at the end of the day, you shouldn’t be eating as if you’re starting your day. Non-used calories will be stored as fat.

For more information on losing toxic fat and improving your body composition, order your copy of REBUILD at drzembroski.com/rebuild

I hope this helps to rebuild your body and your mind.