Bodybuilding champion gives advice on how to improve health

John Hauck, Staff Writer

On the final day of February, Madison Area Technical College hosted a talk by Brenda Rahe. The professional natural bodybuilder and personal trainer boasts eight championships to her name in the World Natural Bodybuilding Federation competition.

While one may be inclined to think that Rahe was going to broach the finer points of the bicep curl or discuss the best way to exercise to meet one’s personal goals, the focus of her talk was almost solely nutrition. According to Rahe, there is an 80/20 rule regarding fitness,

“Eighty percent of the way you look is because of the food that you eat, and the other 20 percent is what you do, like working out and sleeping,” she said.

Rahe had a number of interesting and useful pieces of information regarding nutrition, and she used the metaphor of a fire to talk about the body’s metabolism. She said that your body consumes food to power you in the same way that a fire consumes wood to fuel it. Something very easy for your body to break down, like the simple sugars of fruit, is comparable to kindling, while good sources of carbohydrates like oatmeal or quinoa are like dry logs that will fuel the metabolic fire for quite some time.

In contrast to these, Rahe said that junk food or processed food like donuts or fast food is comparable to putting wet logs on the fire, they won’t burn very well and they probably won’t be good sources of energy because your body has to expend so much energy to break them down.

After explaining the metaphor of metabolic fire, Rahe went on to talk about how people who want to burn fat usually end up burning their muscle for energy instead of burning fat. She said one of the most common mistakes that people make is not eating before they are going to work out.

People have a misconception that by not eating they are putting themselves further ahead in the war against fat, while in reality they are hurting their progress. Rahe explained that it is much easier for the body to access muscle for energy than fat, so working out on an empty stomach is a terrible idea; it simply leads to the body burning muscle instead of fat as desired.

Another point of emphasis by Rahe was hydration.

“There is a huge number of people that walk around severely dehydrated all the time, but they don’t realize it.” Rahe said.

A person is supposed to drink as many eight ounce glasses of water as a tenth of their body weight according to Rahe, but people usually don’t drink enough because they think that the other fluids they drink provide them with some of that total too. Rahe explained that this is not always the case, and if you take in caffeine it actually dehydrates you. She also said that while this amount of water can be intimidating to drink at first, if you build up slowly it becomes normal and you won’t have to pee all the time.

While Rahe mostly spoke about nutrition and easy ways that the average student could improve, she also fielded some questions about working out from the class. She also noted that even though she still competes, with the way she is careful about her diet, she only works out for about 45 minutes or an hour to do what she needs to do to be in top shape. Rahe is from Sheboygan and will be competing on May 7 in the International Natural Bodybuilding and Fitness Fit Body and Figure Challenge at UW-Sheboygan.