Archive for the tag - fat burn

Does Exercising Before Breakfast Burn More Fat?

morning-exercise-fat-burnThe annoying thing about research articles is that they sometimes contradict each other. It doesn’t happen often – but when it does, the discrepancies tend to be pretty frustrating.

A few years back, I came across a study published in Strength and Conditioning which concluded that the body burns the same amount of fat regardless of hunger. Moreover, the report also found that you’re more likely to lose muscle when exercising in a depleted state. In other words, exercising before breakfast after a full night of fasting isn’t beneficial.

Today, I came across a study that has concluded just the opposite. According to researchers from Northumbria University, exercisers can burn 20% more fat when exercising before breakfast on an empty stomach. One researcher noted:

Exercise increases the total amount of energy we expend and a greater proportion of this energy comes from existing fat if the exercise is performed after an overnight fast.

So who are we to believe?

Personally, I’ve found that exercising on an empty stomach limits my performance. If I’m hungry and feeling depleted, I’m not able to push myself in the same way – and thus the intensity of my exercise suffers. Even if exercising on an empty stomach provides a slight advantage in terms of fat burned, I’m quite certain this benefit is outweighed by my lackluster performance.

I know that contradictory research can be a point of frustration. But let’s remember that there are some things about which everyone is in agreement – like that regular exercise is necessary for a healthy lifestyle. My advice would be to not get too caught up in the tiny details. Whether you exercise before breakfast, after breakfast or anytime thereafter, what really matters is that you are exercising.

Period.

What is High Intensity Interval Training?

Ho, ho, ho – the holidays are here!

For most people, the holidays have a negative impact on their efforts to live a healthy lifestyle. For one, it means lots and lots of unhealthy foods, buffets and alcohol. Secondly, it means that all of us have a little less time in our already busy schedules to hit the gym. As a result, many of us tend to gain weight during the holidays.

But here’s a quick fix that not only prevent holiday weight gain – but actually cause you to lose weight. Yes, lose weight during the holidays. It’s called high intensity interval training – and it will absolutely rock your world.

Consider this: A recent study led by Jason Talanian in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that subjects who completed just seven sessions of high intensity interval training over the course of two weeks boosted their aerobic capacity by 13 percent and increased fat burning capacity by 36 percent. In a separate study that followed participants for 15 weeks, researchers discovered that the high intensity interval training group experienced 9 times as much fat loss as those performing regular cardio.

While regular cardio burns calories during the exercise, high intensity interval training actually boosts your metabolism and causes more calories to be burned all day long. Even while you’re watching TV. Or standing in line at the buffet.

I bet I have your attention now!

With a typical cardio program, participants run at a set speed and intensity for the duration of their workout. We’ve all seen people spending 30 minutes (or even more!) walking endlessly on the treadmill or peddling on the bike. While it’s better than sitting on the couch, the benefits for this type of cardio training (called endurance training) are fairly limited – especially when compared to high intensity interval training.

High intensity interval training sessions are much shorter. In essence, it involves alternating very intense exercise with moderate intensity exercise or active rest. While it can come in a variety of forms, I prefer performing my intervals on the treadmill. I sprint as fast as I can for 60 seconds, and then jog for 90 seconds. I do this for 15 minutes, and it absolutely kicks my butt. You can do it on the bike, elliptical – or even at home without any equipment. Try doing some vigorous bodyweight exercises like burpees or push-ups for 30 seconds followed by 15 seconds of rest. Keep repeating this for 10 or 15 minutes.

So why isn’t high intensity interval training more popular than it is? Well, it’s because most people don’t understand how effective it is. It’s got to be the best kept fitness secret ever. Moreover, it’s challenging. It’s easy to walk on a treadmill for 45 minutes; the same can’t be said for 15 minutes of high intensity interval training. It’s hard work! But it’s totally worth it.

High intensity interval training is great for the holidays because it’s such a fast workout. Though we’re all strapped for time during the holidays, all of us can set aside 10 minutes for a good, quick and effective workout. Give it a try – and let me know what you think!