Ask a health and fitness specialist

This column features health, fitness, and nutrition questions from students that are answered by a person specializing in that field. Many of us have health and fitness questions that we just never get around to asking. Here is your opportunity to get some answers.


Jonathan is a personal fitness trainer and consultant. He played football at Valley City State University in North Dakota and finished his eligibility at the University of Manitoba, leading the league in kick-off return average his senior year. He graduated from the University of Manitoba in 2008 with a bachelor of Kinesiology and Recreation Studies.

This week’s questions come from a 25-year-old female Education student:

Student: What is the best way to ensure weight loss in “problem areas?”

Jonathan McLaren: The best way to ensure weight loss in problem areas is to be well-rounded in nutrition, resistance training, and cardiovascular training as these three specific areas are equally important and vital to losing weight. To lose weight in a healthy fashion, one should implement a meal plan in conjunction with exercise. Cutting down on starches such as bread, pasta, and rice is an excellent way to decrease fat in problem areas as these complex carbohydrates tend to give you excess weight that you don’t want. One may completely eliminate starches from their diet, or cut it down to a minimum and measure the portion size of carbohydrates with each meal; for example one-half cup brown rice. Cardiovascular and resistance training should be done at least three times a week to burn calories and lose fat.

Student: What are some good ways to boost your metabolism and burn more calories?

J.M.: One’s metabolism is the body’s ability to chemically change food so that it can be used to store or use energy and make the proteins, fats, and sugars needed by the body. “Calorie” is the unit of measurement used to scale the amount energy available from food that is digested. A good way to boost your metabolism is to ensure that you are eating your breakfast. This is vital because in the morning after an eight-hour sleep the stomach is empty and needs food to metabolize or burn for energy. If there is no food available in the stomach then the body has nothing to metabolize and becomes less efficient at burning food for energy which is necessary to lose weight. A good way to burn more calories is to choose exercises that require more energy such as a the squat, which targets a big muscle group as opposed to targeting a smaller muscle group such as a bicep curl.

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