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[ Research fitness ] -[ The therapist] -[ Fat loss]

You may feel you need to lose 10 pounds, but you may not have 10 pounds of body fat to lose. The excess weight might be retained water or flab, which is untoned muscle that needs to be firmed up through exercise. As people get older, their stomach muscles weaken. The first step is to determine if what you have is fat, flab or retained water. A body-composition analysis using bioelectric impedance, administered by a bariatrics physician can help you choose an appropriate course of action.

Assuming your excess poundage is fat, the most the most important thing you can do is to change your eating behavior. Fail to do so, and no matter how much you exercise, you won't lose an inch.

If in turns out that you have flab, the solution is to perform concentrated ab exercises. You can do aerobics until you pass out, but your stomach won't flatten unless you do some special exercises to tone up your abdominal muscles.

Finally, if you're holding water, the way to get rid of it, is to drink more water. The more you drink, the more you flush out. The less you drink, the more you retain. It's also important to avoid eating foods that retain water. Any food that gets bigger when it cooks is going to retain water. Pasta, bread, pop- corn and rice all enlarege when they cook, because they are porous and spongy. If you pour water over a fruit, it bounces right off. Butt if you pour water over cookies, cake or bread, it soaks right in.

By Howard Flacks, M.D