It is very common to hear people talk about losing weight, but is weight loss really our goal or is it fat loss? Most often, the answer is both, but fat loss is really the primary goal. Here’s why: You’ve probably heard comments all the time about muscle weighing more than fat. What this really means is that muscle is denser than fat, so it takes of less space than the equivalent weight of fat. So, if you are building muscle, you may not see the number on the scale decrease, despite the fact that you are tonight, losing body fat, and losing inches.
Just like every other health goal, our diet is an important part of fat loss. You want to focus on a healthy diet that incorporates protein, veggies, and healthy fats at every meal. And, you want to focus the majority of your carb intake around your workout time. However, nutrition is only a part of the fat loss package. Activity and exercise play an important role as well. Here are some tips to using your physical activity to increase your fat loss:
1) GET UP!– Yup, sitting is hazardous to your health! More and more research is finding associations between excessive time sitting and decreased fat burning as well as increases in all cardiovascular diseases. Conversely, NEAT (Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis), which is basically a fancy way to say “all our movement that is not exercise” can burn up to 450 calories a day! So stand up more- pace while you talk on the phone, walk over to someone’s office instead of calling them, park further away, take the stairs, walk whenever possible. These efforts will add up significantly over time.
2) Choose Resistance Training over Cardio– Research has found that fat oxidation is much higher after resistance training due to the release of epinephrine and norepinephrine. In addition, you have the added benefit of putting muscle on your body! Muscle is active tissue, which means it is always burning energy. This is quite different from fat, which just sits there and takes up space! So, the more muscle you have on your body, the more active your body is, even at rest.
3) If you do cardio, HIIT it!– HIIT is short for High-Intensity Interval Training. That means short bouts of intensive exercise followed by recover bouts of mild to moderate exercise. Imagine sprinting as fast as you can for 30 seconds and then walking for a minute and repeating- this is HIIT. HIIT can be done with any type of cardio- running, biking, elliptical, rower, you name it. Best of all- HIIT is MUCH more effective than steady state cardio. Because it taps into your anaerobic system (meaning without oxygen) HIIT training burns more fat and continues burning it for up to 24 hours after you exercise. And as a bonus, sprint workouts are much quicker, so you don’t need to spend all that extra time running!