Burning the Fat
By Matthew Rhea, PhD
The most common goal among exercisers is weight loss…actually fat loss, but that’s semantics. Gaining body fat seems way to easy and losing way to difficult. Combine our inactive lifestyles with calorie dense foods in our society and that’s a recipe for obesity.
Unfortunately, once the body stores fat, it is a challenge to get rid of it. Because the body has several different energy systems, each with a specific function for fuel supply, we have to create the right environment for fat to be used for energy. And, since there is a lot of energy in stored fat, we have to do a lot of the right amount of exercise to burn it off.
Diet is important in this process because we have to prevent excessive calories from entering the body in order to tap into the fat stores instead. So limiting calories, preventing too much fat intake, and staying consistent with your diet is a must! Once calorie intake is lowered, and once activity levels are increased, we start to see consistent negative caloric balances…meaning we are burning more calories than we take in each day. That’s the key to weight reduction.
We can do several things to increase the effectiveness of our exercise routine toward fat utilization, and although it is rather small effect, over time it will add up. First, incline training has been shown to increase the amount of fat being utilized by the body due to a slower pace but a higher intensity from the incline. This requires a large amount of muscle tissue, which burns more calories than flat ground walking, but the pace is slower than running so the body can use more fat for energy. Incorporate incline walking into your exercise routine 2-4 days per week for 45-60 minutes.
Next, avoid drinking sports drinks during exercise. You’ll quickly drink as many calories as you burn during a workout resulting in little weight loss. Also, try and avoid eating food for 90 minute post-workout. As you use the energy stored in the bloodstream, liver, and the muscle tissue, the body will need to restore that energy. If you eat after a workout, blood sugar will go up and the liver and muscle will simply use that to restock energy. But if you don’t eat anything, the body will open up fat stores instead. So wait a while after a workout before you eat something.
Get that diet figured out….use incline walking…and avoid sabotaging your exercise by drinking calories or eating right after a workout. Follow these tips and your exercise efforts will contribute much more to your weight loss goals.