Any discussion on fat loss would be incomplete without considering the influence of exercise. You can eat a perfectly clean diet, avoid emotional eating, and eliminate toxins from your life, but if you don’t include exercise, you aren’t going to get the best results.
Remember, exercise doesn’t have to mean you go sweat it out at the gym every night. Incorporating more activity into your daily life is a great way to gradually increase the number of calories you burn during the day, as well as increasing your resting metabolic rate. And this is where the real benefits come in.
I discussed this a bit in a previous post, but it bears repeating: 60% of your caloric expenditure is while you are at rest. When you exercise, you increase your metabolic rate and burn more calories. But studies have shown that even after exercise, your metabolic rate stays elevated. The more intense the workout, the longer the effects last. Exercising at 80%-90% of your total capacity for 45 to 50 minutes increases your metabolic rate for almost 24 hours post workout. So even when you go home and collapse on the couch afterwards, you’re still burning more calories than you normally would. You may not be able to exercise at that high of an intensity for that long, and thats ok. Athletes train to be able to achieve that level of fitness. What this tells us is that high intensity workouts affect your metabolic rate significantly.
Researchers have performed studies to compare high and low intensity exercise routines and their impact on weight loss. The first group in the study exercised more frequently and for longer periods of time, but at a lower intensity. The second group exercised less frequently and for shorter periods of time, but at high intensity. The results? Both groups lost weight. But the high intensity group lost more weight than the low intensity group, even though they exercised less frequently and for shorter periods of time. Very encouraging for those of us with busy schedules! The researchers attributed this to the fact that the high intensity group had more of an elevation of their resting metabolic rate and were burning more calories even when they weren’t working out.
So, if high intensity with less frequency is better, what about high intensity with high frequency? In this case, its important to know your limits. If you overdo it at the gym, you’re gonna take a hit. If you push your body too hard, its going to have a stress response. Your adrenals will start releasing cortisol, and that will counteract your efforts. Cortisol leads to increased fat deposition in the abdomen, feeds the cycle of chronic inflammation, and can even weaken your immune system. So don’t overdo it. Be patient, know your limits, and the results will come.
Make sure you do something you enjoy when you exercise, and you’ll stick with it longer. If there isn’t any kind of exercise you currently enjoy, try something new. Take a class, call up some friends to join you, or get outside and enjoy the scenery. You may find yourself actually looking foward to your workout.
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