Tag: cardio

Seven Tips to Get Beach Ready Fast

Seven Tips to Get Beach Ready Fast

by Cyrus Peikari, M.D.

Warning:  I don’t like using tricks like these to lose weight fast. I’d much rather have you stay lean and “beach ready” year round. Why? Because when you look good on the outside, you are healthy on the inside.

Think logically: when you have a lean, strong, sexy body, you are less likely to get diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Often, you can “cure” those diseases by losing just 10 pounds of belly fat.

The following tips won’t reverse years of bad habits. However, they can give you a quick “tune up” and give you confidence at the beach. I want you to take that confidence and nurture it: let it inspire you to make positive, long lasting changes to your diet and health routine.

Tip 1: Cut salt

Excess sodium causes fluid retention. This fluid retention makes you look big and bloated. Try to cut salt at least 3 to 5 days before hitting the beach. Be careful, because salt sneaks into most foods these days. Examples of salty foods include: cold cuts and cured meats, chips, pizza, processed chicken, soups, cheese, sauces, and most junk food.

Tip 2: Skip one cheat day

If you are following my version of the slow carb diet (see my free slow carb diet articles or videos), you use Saturday as your “dieters gone wild” day. Unfortunately, the fast carbs (like bread, pasta, and chips) cause fluid retention for several days. I recommend skipping one weekly cheat day before your trip to the beach. You’ll be amazed at how much tighter you look in the mirror. However, don’t skip your cheat day for too many weeks in a row; it’s a mistake I’ve made many times. Regular cheat days are essential for maintaining your hormone levels, particularly thyroid, leptin and testosterone.

Tip 3: Do some light resistance exercise

Just a few minutes of resistance exercise gives you that muscle “pump” that looks so good in photos. You don’t need a gym: pushups, squats, and planks are my favorite. You can even add a few calf raises to make those calves really pop!

Tip 4: Choose your supplements

I don’t use many supplements, but a few are helpful. I take a multivitamin a few times a week to help with skin clarity. Nearly every day I’ll have a protein shake: this helps to preserve muscle when losing weight. And when I’m trying to drop weight a bit faster, I’ll take a Slim Cut Pro® tablet at breakfast and lunch to help with metabolism and hunger.

Tip 5: Tan

Tanning is a massive lever for looking good in a hurry. I feel that a mild amount of natural sunlight is good for most people. However, if you don’t want the extra radiation, consider a spray tan instead. It’s worth it.

Tip 6: Modulate your diet

Ok, this is an advanced technique. I really don’t recommend it unless you are very experienced. With this technique, you temporarily INCREASE calories to drop weight. That’s right, if you’ve been dieting hard for a long time, eating more may cause weight to drop temporarily.

For example, one of my athletic patients was stuck at 205 pounds, and he could not get his weight down to his goal of 199 pounds, despite months of hard exercise and severe calorie restriction. I told him to DOUBLE his daily calories. He was convinced that I had lost my mind! But when the patient came back the following week, his weight had dropped to 199 pounds. What happened? By increasing his calories to maintenance level, he took the stress of his body, and his cortisol levels dropped. So the weight he lost was water weight. (As I describe in my YouTube videos, high cortisol from stress causes water and belly fat retention).

Tip 7: Be confident

You don’t need any of the above tricks…you’re already hot! Have confidence in yourself. Stand straight and project your positive energy to others.


These are some tricks to get you looking good for the beach fast. But don’t stop here. Keep getting lean, strong and sexy: it’s the best way to prevent chronic diseases. Don’t you want to be healthy, so that you can better serve humanity?

There’s no magic bullet for achieving a lean body year round. But luckily, it’s not as hard as you think. I eat French fries and chocolate every day, and my only cardio is walking.  I’m doing it, and you can, too! Your first step is to spread the positive energy. Please take a moment to share this article with someone you love.


Why I gave up cardio

Why I gave up cardio

by Cyrus Peikari, M.D.

I did cardio for over 30 years, but it only made me fatter. I now realize that long, mindless cardio is like accumulating credit card debt on your “adrenal glands”: eventually, your body repays it with metabolic interest.

Cardio isn’t evil. Some people thrive on it. In fact, used sparingly it can relieve mental stress. However, any form of excessive exercise (even resistance exercise) can work against you.

The adrenal glands are small, pyramid-shaped organs that sit on top of your kidneys. They produce multiple hormones that keep you alive and healthy, including sex hormones and stress hormones. One of the stress hormones that your adrenal glands produces is “cortisol”, a cousin to the drug that doctors give you, for example, during a poison ivy reaction (such as Prednisone tablets, or cortisone shots).

I’ll bash cortisol in a minute, but first let me praise it. Cortisol is necessary for survival. In fact, if your adrenals stopped producing cortisol, you would die. I’ve seen this in patients who have autoimmune disorders that shut down their adrenal glands: if they don’t take cortisone pills every day, they sicken and die.

President John F. Kennedy suffered from an autoimmune syndrome known as Addison ’s disease, which attacks the adrenal glands. Addison’s disease is extreme “adrenal insufficiency,” and it’s rare. However, there is a common form of adrenal insufficiency known as “adrenal fatigue.” The main symptoms of adrenal fatigue are chronic fatigue, muscle weakness, loss of appetite, muscle loss, and abdominal pain. (Athletes can suffer a flavor of this known as exercise burnout, or “overtraining”).

Other symptoms of adrenal fatigue are nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, irritability and depression, craving salty foods, low blood sugar, headache, sweating, low libido, and in women irregular or absent menstrual periods.

Patients with adrenal fatigue are among the most complex medical challenges, and for this reason many physicians refuse to see them. (Usually it’s not the doctor’s fault: medical managers routinely yell at employed physicians who spend more than five minutes per patient…one of the main reasons I fled “factory” medicine and started a private practice).

Adrenal fatigue from exercise often happens like this: You want to lose weight, so you get on the cardio machines at the gym. Great news! You’ve lost some weight, but you hit a plateau. The answer? More cardio! OK, great, you’ve lost a few more pounds, but after a few months you hit another plateau. Guess what? You decide to increase the cardio further. Your good intentions are paving the road to metabolic Hell.

This excessive cardio is stressful to the body. In fact, any kind of excessive exercise causes stress. That includes overindulging in resistance exercise such as yoga or weight lifting. I’m picking on cardio simply because it’s the most abused. In the short run, it may seem great, but months (or years) later you’ll pay the price for overdoing it.

The result of all this stress: your adrenal glands respond by increasing cortisol output. To dramatize the negative effects of cortisol, let’s examine the “opposite” of Addison’s disease: a situation where the adrenals produce excess cortisol, known as “Cushing’s syndrome”

Symptoms of Cushing’s syndrome include high blood pressure, abdominal fat (with thin arms and legs), a round “chipmunk” face, a fatty neck, weak muscles, weak bones, acne, and thin skin. Women may have excess body hair and have irregular menstruation. Other symptoms include mood changes, headache, and chronic tiredness. Cushing’s syndrome results from too much cortisol-like medication (such as prednisone), or by a tumor that results in excessive cortisol (known as Cushing’s disease).

When you overindulge in cardio long term, the stress casts a mild shadow of Cushing’s syndrome. You retain belly fat, and you struggle to build muscle.

Another notorious effect of cortisol: your appetite may increase, particularly for junk food.

What happens if you get injured or stop exercising due to burnout? Unfortunately, you’re in a worse situation. Because of elevated cortisol levels, the weight gain returns with a vengeance: it’s far worse than before you started cardio.

As bleak as that sounds, it gets worse. Now that you are frustrated over lack of progress, you might commit the ultimate sin: you cut your calories. It’s a sin I’ve committed many times.

Why is cutting calories so sinister? On the one hand, lowering calories stresses the body, which causes your adrenals to produce more cortisol: the same cortisol that, in long term excess, burns muscle and creates belly fat. Isn’t that the exact opposite of what you’re trying to achieve?

Cutting calories is a big mistake for another reason: it puts your metabolism into “starvation” mode. Your body slows down. Your “basal metabolic rate” decreases. It seems like you are gaining weight again, though you have stopped eating. Welcome to Hell!

Now that we’ve reviewed the science, how do we escape this mess? We said that long, mindless cardio is like accumulating credit card debt that your body has to pay back with metabolic interest. (By the time I see someone in my office, they are deep into years of “metabolic debt.”)

You can start to “pay down” those metabolic credit cards with a number of positive steps. Look to reduce stressors in your life. Most of the time, one of your biggest stressors will be a family member or close friend:  a co-dependent relationship. They are stressing you out, which makes you feed back into their stress, creating an endless loop of dysfunction. Instead of a person, it may be an activity (such as needless work stress). A professional counselor helps.

Another way to pay off your metabolic credit cards is by eating more. That’s correct: you may need to eat more. Strategically raising your calorie intake may break through a fat loss plateau.

A third and powerful adjustment to your metabolic portfolio is to re-evaluate your exercise regimen. I usually slash a patient’s workout volume by 50—75%. With less exercise, stress goes down, you’re less hungry, and you burn fat more efficiently. It’s not the quantity, but the quality. Pick the right exercises for your body. That’s why I take my patients to the gym and give them a custom regimen.

Some of you might think, “I don’t exercise at all. How can you cut that down for me?” The answer is that you have exercised in the past, but you got frustrated seeing little or no progress. Since the definition of insanity is to keep doing something that doesn’t work, you did the “sane” thing, and gave up on exercise altogether.

For most, the problem is too much cardio. The solution? Find a good trainer or mentor to coach you on short, low-volume routines.

Just remember to pick someone who doesn’t stress you out.


Holiday Overeating Fix

Holiday Overeating Fix

Q: What if I overeat during the holidays? What should I do?

A: Don’t worry. Enjoy it and move on. The extra calories were good for you. Your leptin levels are up, and your metabolism is ready to burn fat  faster.

If, accidentally, you eat 5,000 calories in one day, you probably won’t gain a full pound of fat.

Forget the guilt! Tell yourself that you deserved it. The worst thing you can do is to fall into a shame cycle. This is why many people start extreme diets and exercise binges after the holidays.

I know, because I’ve made the same mistake many times. I’ve tried the crash diets and the cardio binges.  You may see short term improvement, but then you hit a plateau, and the weight gain comes crashing back with a vengeance.

Weight loss is like a marathon, not like a sprint. Slow, smart, incremental changes in diet and exercise win in the long run. Listen to your brain, rather than your emotions.

Please post your questions below, and share this with a loved one who struggles with food guilt.

Cyrus Peikari, M.D.