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32 HEALTH TODAY

/health

MONDAY, OCTOBER 1, 2007

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Diet says ‘cardio kills’

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Dieter’s Diary By Abigail Ekue-Smith Special to amNewYork

Thanks to Jim Karas, author of “The Cardio-Free Diet,” you will never find me on a treadmill. Ever. To think, I can lose weight, keep it off and even change my body composition without ever hitting a stairmaster again. Karas, a celebrity trainer, hangs his book on the premise that “cardio kills.” According to him, it breaks down muscle, injures joints and increases appetite without increasing metabolism, thereby leading to weight gain. The diet encourages healthy eating and portion control over the course of three meals and three snacks, all of which are high fiber and promote a healthy balance of carbs and protein. If you like dairy and nuts, this book is for you. The diet is flexible, and no food is off-limits. Karas also advises that we avoid fat-free foods.

The Cardio-Free Diet claims cardiovascular workouts damage the body. By my fifth day on the diet, I was looking forward to my meals. I used some of the recipes in the book and occasionally made my own versions. I mixed fruit with meat, ate yogurt, shrimp, chicken, chocolate-covered nuts and revisited my youth as I played with my string cheese. In his weekly shopping lists, there are a ton of produce, dairy and meat, not what you might expect on a diet. But the fuel is needed for the workouts and to help

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build lean muscle mass. Unfortunately, some of his claims about cardio exercise are a bit totalitarian. When posed with the question, “Should I stretch before or after strength training?” he answers, “Neither.” I do yoga a few times a week. Karas says that yoga is a great complement to strength training, but won’t aid in weight loss. His exercise program requires the SPRI Xertube exercise tubing, which I didn’t have. I used free weights instead. I also didn’t eat right before and after my workouts, which he advises. He also mentions that while he trained Diane Sawyer, they jogged from Times Square Studios to the ABC studios on 66th Street. Call me crazy, but isn’t that cardio? When certain food groups are restricted, human nature makes us crave it. The same held true for me with cardio. I craved a good cardio workout. I want to throw jabs, do squat jumps or speed skate.

(iStockphoto)

Sure I love to lift, and his regimen made me stronger. But for me, the regimen didn’t offer enough variety.

Abigail’s food journal Breakfast: QOatmeal, apples, soymilk, cinnamon

First Snack: Q6 oz. peach yogurt

Lunch: Q8-inch tortilla, chicken breast, salsa, peppers, onions, shredded cheddar cheese

Second Snack: Q12 chocolate covered cashews

Dinner: QMixed greens, shrimp, cranberries, mandarin oranges, tomato, sunflower seeds, raspberry vinaigrette

Third Snack: QCottage cheese, strawberries, blueberries

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Cardio kills, weights rule