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Steve Reeves An Expert on Nutrition and Training

 This is a small piece of information taken out of our Steve Reeves book "Powerwalking" written by Steve.


Despite the fact that I have been an ardent practitioner of physical fitness since I was a teenager, there have been times in my life when I have been faced with the necessity of “winning the losing battle.” During my days as a movie actor, I frequently had to assume different body proportions from one role to the next. When I played the title role in Hercules, for instance, the movie’s producer wanted me to weigh a muscular 210 pounds. For the role of a cowboy in the movie A Long Ride from Hell, I was required to reduce my weight to 190 pounds in order to fit the director’s concept of how a cowboy should look. I soon discovered that the only way to lose those pounds was to combine an exercise program with a sound diet.

   The value of this approach was re-emphasized to me two years ago when I had a shoulder operation. I was laid up for almost six weeks afterward, during which time I gained a few unwanted pounds. Fortunately, I soon was able to resume Powerwalking. By watching my diet closely and exercising regularly, I was able to lose weight. This approach will also work for you. You don’t need magic pills, newly discovered diets from the geographical social centers of the United States, or Spartan eating habits to control your weight. What will work for you is what worked for me: a program based on equal parts of exercise, proper nutrition, and common sense.

   Controlling your body weight begins and ends with food and drink. When you eat too much, you gain weight. When you eat less than you need, you lose weight. And if you eat within the limits of your needs once your weight is normal, your weight will remain fairly stable.
   There is absolutely nothing magical or mystical about winning the battle to lose weight. The key is a rigid adherence to one approach —COMMON SENSE. Basically all weight change can be viewed as the end result of a weight-control continuum, as shown here:             

In my book the "Steve Reeves Hercules Cookbook" I told of my observation and a couple stories I have here. Steve learned from his mother, Ed Yarick (Steve’s trainer), publications of various types, and others in his field to become an expert on diet and nutrition himself. He used his body as his laboratory for what was needed to stay healthy and support his bodybuilding efforts. When Steve saw results from his training and the foods he was eating, he would incorporate those foods and training techniques into his bodybuilding programs. If something wasn’t working for him then he would eliminate it. He understood the relationship between what he was eating and the effects it had on his body. If he wanted to have strong bones and healthy teeth, he would incorporate vitamin D into his food group to support those areas. If he wanted muscle, he would eat lean meats which put the protein into his diet. I was once told by the late bodybuilding trainer Vince Gironda that he believed that bodybuilding was 80 percent nutrition and 20 percent training, not withstanding the percentages, I got the message about the importance of nutrition in bodybuilding.

Steve was an avid reader with great retention and would read everything he could. He had a small but great collection of books at his ranch.  Subjects such as diet and nutrition, bodybuilding, fitness training, ranching, horses and cattle were all there. Whatever he was interested in, he would read and do the research and become the expert.


One story comes to mind when I think about what perceptions people have about Steve’s passions or interests. When talking with a group of equestrian people they would tell you that Steve was much more interested in the equestrian field then any other area in his life. People interested in the film industry would say that he liked the film industry more, and bodybuilders would say it was the bodybuilding that Steve truly loved. The truth is that Steve was the master of everything he undertook no matter what it was and enjoyed them all. When he talked to each group they could see his passion for what they were interested in and they knew they were talking with an expert who loved the subject. This is why I believe they thought that Steve was most passionate about their particular field. The one thing that really supported all of those activities was his nutrition and diet knowledge. Without good health he would not have been able to do any of those activities that he undertook. That’s why he always placed diet and nutrition at the forefront of any activity no matter what he was doing.

Another thing I can tell you about Steve was one of his beliefs about “Everything”. He told me one day while I was at the ranch: “Be passionate for what you do but, don’t become fanatical, and you will enjoy your life much more”. When looking at his advice as it relates to food Steve would occasionally eat a particular food he was craving even if it wasn’t the healthiest on the planet, he just didn’t over due it. Case in point was coffee or something sweet. The first time I saw Steve drink a cup of coffee I just about fell off my chair. Then again he felt like a cup of coffee. This also related to other foods or a glass of wine or a beer. From my extensive research and being around Steve for many years, I believe he eat healthy 98 percent of the time. He would change his diet and eating habits from time to time depending on what he was doing. Bodybuilding takes a higher caloric intake because of the energy you need to do extreme levels of exercise. Each activity has a different level of how many calories you’re going to be using. Steve would make adjustments to those levels by adjusting his diet and intake.


(Food You Eat)  


(Calories Expended)

If the level of food you eat (energy-in) exceeds your expenditure of calories (energy-out), you’ll gain weight. If the amount of food you eat is less than your energy expenditure, you’ll lose weight. If you want to control your weight, all you have to do is develop an understanding of the factors that affect each end of the continuum and then adopt a “common sense” approach to achieving your personal objectives. 

Most physicians recommend that the maximum amount of weight to lose in any given week without strict medical super vision is 2 pounds. Since there are approximately 3500 calories in a pound of body weight, this means that if you want to lose 2 pounds in a week, you’ll have to achieve a negative energy balance of 7000 calories (3500 x 2 pounds). In other words, the amount of energy you expend during the week has to be 7000 calories greater than the amount of food you eat. 

   In theory, maintaining a negative energy balance (more “out” than “in”) is a relatively simple task. Obviously, it’s important to know how many calories are in the foods you eat and how many calories are expended by the activities you typically do. The table that follows lists the approximate caloric values of selected foods. On the other end of the scale, a second table presents the amount of energy expended by selected activities. 

   As you can see by the energy expenditure table, the number of calories you burn up in a given activity ranges from 80 per hour for sleeping to approximately 900 per hour for activities in which most of your body’s musculature is involved (for example, jogging, swimming, and PowerWalking). In general, the more muscles involved, the greater the energy expenditure. As the figures indicate, no activity will allow you to use more calories than PowerWalking. As an added bonus, no activity is    better than PowerWalking for developing total fitness in the safest, quickest way. 

   “Winning the losing game” involves more than merely being aware of the calorie-energy continuum, however. In order to lose weight safely and keep it off permanently, you must do at least two things: eat a nutritionally balanced diet and retrain your eating habits. Above all, your efforts must be guided by COMMON SENSE. 


 The keys to “winning the losing game” are common sense and motivation. No magic pills or magic diets will produce the weight loss you are seeking. There is no magic route to follow. If you’re overweight, it’s because you ate more calories than you expended as energy. The only way you can lose weight is to change your eating- habits and control what you eat.

As for motivation, the moment you started to read this chapter, you took the first step toward losing weight. By your interest, you are admitting to yourself that you want to rid yourself of those “extra” pounds. This is a critical factor. You must make a firm commitment to losing weight if you want to “win the losing game” The tools and techniques that are necessary for you to be a winner have been presented in this chapter. PowerWalking can help. But only you can make the commitment. And remember, “the pounds you lose will be yours”




Copyright Steve Reeves International 2017 

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