Principles of Weight-Loss

By Ken Babal, C.N.
Originally published in DRUM! Magazine’s August 2007 Issue.

You’ve heard the statistics before. Two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese. And it doesn’t appear to be getting any better. Scientists predict that within the next few years 40 percent of Americans will be obese. Being overweight is not just a cosmetic issue. It’s a serious health matter. An overweight person is more at risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, and some types of cancer.

Most of us take in too many calories for the amount of energy expended. But what better way to burn calories than drumming? I can’t think of a better exercise routine than loading drums, carrying them to the stage, and playing for several hours. After a high-energy show, it’s not uncommon to drop five to ten pounds.

If you are an active player but still have a weight problem, chances are you have to take a hard look at your diet. I suggest you keep a diet diary for several days to spot eating patterns that you may not be conscious of. Most diet books can be condensed into several basic, universal rules:

1) Divide daily calories into three meals plus one or two snacks keeping each meal within 300–500 calories, snacks 100–200. Never go more than four or five hours without eating. Eat just enough to sustain you to your next meal – no more, no less.

2) Have some lean protein with each meal. A serving size of meat or poultry is 3 to 4 oz. (about what can fit in the palm of your hand). Fish servings can be slightly larger. You may also have up to three eggs, 6–8 oz. of low-fat cottage cheese, a veggie burger, or protein shake.

3) Include some healthy, essential fats with meals. For example, a few olives, nuts, seeds, a quarter avocado, salad dressing (1 tablespoon), or a teaspoon of olive oil.

4) Always include vegetables and fruits with meals. Avoid refined sugars and carbohydrates such as cookies, pies, cakes, candy, soda pop, and sugary breakfast cereals. Dilute fruit juices with water. Favor high-fiber whole grains like oats and brown rice. Limit starchy carbs (bread, potatoes, rice, pasta, cereals) according to how much fat you are storing. To jump start your weight-loss, eliminate all starchy carbs and alcohol for two weeks.

5) Don’t eat a large meal within three hours of bedtime. If hungry, a small protein snack is okay.


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  • Great article. Maintaining a healthy diet is key to peak performance behind the kit.

  • Here are four keys for me. 1) Mental Health - I realize that some of you [okay most of you] are odd birds but having a positive state of mind goes a long way. Not to go all new age on you but the better you are the less likely you’ll ingest those eating because I’m frustrated calories. 2) Sleep - I know your gigs go late but study after study have suggested that shorting yourself on sleep will lead to easy weight gain.

  • 3) Fitness - If you’re short on time go for something short and intense. Look up Tabata or find yourself a CrossFit gym. 4) Diet - this is key. Stay away from as much processed food as you can. Look up Paleo Diet. Keep a journal or if you’re a gadget/dashboard geek like me get a service or iPhone apps such as LiveStrong’s Daily Plate or Lose It that help track your meal and does the math for you.

  • 5) Bonus - Tell someone. Being accountable, even if it’s just in a casual way goes a long way. Even better, don’t go it alone. Find a partner to share and motivate each other.