Tag Archives: fitness - Page 2

Burn Fat With Interval Training And Eating Healthy

This week, Livestrong has more praise for eating healthy, interval training, and metabolic resistance training. First, they make it a point to say that if you eat junk food, there’s no way you’ll lose weight. It’s just impossible for people that have jobs and lives to exercise enough to burn off the just ghastly amount of calories junk food has; for example, you probably need to run for 45 minutes to burn off a slice of pizza or a couple soda or some ice cream cake. One study showed that people who did 300 hours of cardio in a year only lost five pounds, at the rate of 60 hours per pound. That’s ten hours of cardio per day in a week, just to lose one pound. A healthy diet will help that ratio become much more reasonable.

Second, the article emphasizes the right kind of exercise to burn fat. Both interval training and metabolic resistance training have been mentioned before, but the short of it is this:

  • Interval training: get your heart rate way up, then slow it back down to rest, and repeat. If you’re running, sprint then walk and do that for the duration. This burns more fat.
  • Metabolic resistance training: switch up between working out different groups of muscles; upper body and lower body, for example. The body gets used to routines pretty fast and get efficient at it, meaning less calories get burned for doing the same exercise. But if you keep switching what you do, it can’t get efficient at any one thing and therefore burns more calories.

So there you have it: eat smart and exercise smart and the weight will come off.

Via Livestrong

Burn Fat With Weights Instead Of Cardio

We’ve heard before that if you want to be fit, lift free weights instead of — or in addition to — doing cardio like running. Livestrong this week has some more of that advice. Their reasoning:

  • More muscle means higher base metabolic rate. If you sit on the couch all day and you have 10lbs of muscle, you’ll burn less calories than if you have 15lbs of muscle.
  • Doing an hour of cardio means you burn extra calories for that one hour. Doing an hour of weight lifting means you burn extra calories for as long as you have those muscles.
  • When lifting weights, make sure they’re free weights like dumbbells and bars; these will strengthen your big visible muscles and small stabilizer ones. The weight machines in gyms on the other hand, will isolate the big muscles, leaving you more injury prone and moving like the Hulk.
  • Running a lot without having strong enough stabilizer muscles can contribute to running injuries.
  • Women should not be afraid of lifting weights: their low levels of testosterone mean bulky muscles take a LOT of work.

Photo by Fang Guo

 

From Livestrong

Also see Why You Should Quit Your Gym

Working Out Hungry Is Bad For You

A new study tested cyclists who worked out after eating and while fasting. It turns out they burned the same amount of fat either way, but there were two downsides to working out on an empty stomach:

  • About 10% of the burned calories came from protein, not fat, including muscle. So you actually lose more muscle by working out hungry, but you don’t burn more fat.
  • Since you’re hungry and you don’t have fuel to burn, the intensity of the workout and therefore the number of calories burned is lower on an empty stomach.

So if you’re trying to lose fat, eat something good for you before working out. Cliff bars are pretty filling energy bars that are natural and kinda good for you and come in at about 240 calories — just make sure you burn more than that working out.

Photo by Les Chatfield

 

Update: A particularly astute reader pointed out a possible contradiction between this study and another study from last year, which found that working out strenuously in the morning before eating breakfast (i.e., on an empty stomach) led to lower weight gain, more efficient fat burning and less insulin resistance. There are a few differences between the two studies though, namely that in the breakfast one:

  • they fed the healthy subjects a really bad high-fat diet: 50% more fat and 30% more calories than they were consuming before. The breakfast was rich in carbs and they had sports drinks during the workouts. The cyclists in this study on the other hand, were probably on a decent diet.
  • they focused on breakfast. It could be there’s something special going on right after we wake up: e.g., maybe the body has been turning fat into carbs all night to prepare fuel for the morning.
  • all of the subjects gained weight due to the awful diet, but the ones that exercised after breakfast gained a negligible amount. So it could be that they actually lost muscle mass and replaced it with fat, which would actually fit in with the cyclist study’s findings; it found that 10% of calories came from protein, and some unspecified part of that was muscle mass — that still leaves 90% that came from carbs and fat.
  • it didn’t test for hunger. Unless they hadn’t eaten in a long time, many people don’t wake up being hungry right away. In the cycling study, the group had been fasting, so they were presumably pretty hungry. It’s reasonable to assume that the body won’t signal hunger until it’s out of fuel, at which point it starts cannibalizing muscles. Therefore, if the people in the breakfast study weren’t hungry in the morning, it’s also reasonable to assume their bodies didn’t cannibalize muscle.

Perhaps one tell-tale sign is the intensity of the workout. The cyclist study found that the ones fasting didn’t have as intense of a workout. So if in the morning, you feel like you can easily have as intense of a workout before breakfast as after breakfast, then you probably have enough fuel in your system to not worry about burning muscle mass.

From The New York Times, via Lifehacker

More Fitness Advice From The Pros

Livestrong has a couple of good articles that add professional vetting to some of the advice that floats around the fitness ether:

  • The Metabolic Resistance Training (MRT) method is very effective for weight loss; it’s weight training that alternates between upper and lower body. You still have to diet, but MRT test subjects lost 20% more fat than people who dieted and did aerobics, and 30% more than people who just dieted.
  • Lifting weights will not make you bulky, but it will develop definition and tone, as well as keep your bones strong. You have to be pretty deliberate about gaining muscle mass, so just stay away from really heavy weights and Mr. Universe magazines, and there’s little chance you’ll accidentally end up looking like Schwarzenegger. Lifting heavy weights is also not an efficient ways to burn calories.
  • It doesn’t matter when you work out: you won’t burn more calories working out in the morning, for example. Just do it when you feel best, so you have the energy to put into you workout and make it more effective.
  • Slow cardio, meaning aerobic exercise during which you can still talk — like walking, or riding a tiny bike slowly and perhaps ominously — loses effectiveness pretty quickly because your body adapts and becomes more efficient at doing the same activity by burning less calories. How do you beat it? Interval training: shorter periods of intense aerobic exercise with periods of rest in between. And your body continues to burn extra calories for 38 hours after interval training, as opposed to zero hours after slow cardio.
  • Beware of protein powder and bars that have a lot of added sugar and fat. Protein tastes pretty awful, so a lot of manufacturers have been sneaking stuff in to make it palatable– stuff that will make you fat(ter).
  • Dried fruits are pretty bad for you — eat regular fruits instead. They contain water, and no added sugar.

From Livestrong: Fact or Fiction and Does it Make You Fat?

Why You Should Quit Your Gym

Men’s Journal has a very interesting article on how gyms are mostly a money-sucking machine designed to keep people subscribed, but not really using the equipment — equipment which, by the way, doesn’t make you all that fit. At the same time, getting in shape is actually pretty easy to do on your own, for free. If you hire a personal trainer, that’s even worse: his whole job is to make sure he’s indispensable, not to give you the tools to work out on your own.

The article isn’t about losing weight, but rather about getting fit. You could say that one follows the other, and it’s true that getting fit will make you lose weight, but losing weight will not necessarily make you fit. For example, how fit are the starving Somalis, or prisoners in concentration camps? Cardio machines at the gym burn calories, but don’t do much else. The key to being fit is strength. The weight machines in gyms isolate muscles, which prevent injury right away, but actually increase your potential for injury later. Why? Because isolation of the “prime mover” muscles is bad for us: we need to use the whole body in order to also strengthen stabilizing muscles which prevent injury. The imbalance of having strong prime mover muscles and weak stabilizer muscles is like ” trying to fire a cannon from a canoe”. Free weights are excellent for strengthening both types of muscles, and gyms tend to hide these on the periphery.

This is because their business model is based around “new stuff”: new machines, new workouts, new advice on how to not injure yourself. But fitness isn’t rocket science, and pretty much all of the information and free weights have been around for a century. So gyms don’t focus on that. They also don’t focus on fitness fanatics, because they don’t want them crowding the gym working out all the time. So they target the typical office worker who might show up 3 times a week for a month, then quit coming but continue to dutifully pay the membership fee.

The rest of the article talks about advice he got from two people: Rob Shaul, who coaches Special Forces, and Kevin Brown, who fixed injured pro athletes before he died of cancer.

Rob Shaul says lifting weights is pretty much all you need, and only three exercises at that: squat, dead lift and bench press. That, and keep upping the ante: lift more weight the next time.

Even in 2010, picking up heavy things, throwing heavy things up over our heads, and pulling heavy things remain the very best ways to replicate our foundational movement patterns.

The other important thing is to avoid injury, which is done by strengthening stabilizing muscles. Here’s a handy chart:

 

By pressing and dead-lifting on even days, squatting and doing chin-ups on odd days, avoiding all other exercises, and adding a little to the bar each time, you’ll be stronger than you’ve ever been in only a month’s time.

Via Lifehacker from Men’s Journal