Posts tagged ‘high intensity’

Do you want to burn calories?

ex-bike-screenA lot of women love the idea that if they are on the treadmill or exercise bike for an hour or more they can burn 400 – 500 calories, and that makes them feel good. The immediate feedback of seeing the readout on the screen telling you how many calories you have burned is very gratifying, and mitigates any guilt you may feel about the chocolate bar or double deluxe bacon burger you ate last night!

The screen readout showing 500 calories burned looks impressive, but the bad news is that the high calorie burn you got from your hour(s) on the treadmill or exercise bike disappears quite quickly. Your body goes back to “normal” shortly after the cardio session ends. Because it has such a short lived effect, this does not make a big difference on your body’s ability to lose fat.

In fact, long sessions of cardio can actually work against your fat loss goals. Muscle is the foundation of your calorie burn – the more lean muscle you have the more calories you burn, all day long (not just when you are exercising). However, the more cardio you do the more you put your body at risk of taking energy from or burning lean muscle. If your lean muscle mass is reduced, your calorie burning capacity is reduced, so your fat loss is slowed. Long sessions of cardio work against your fat loss goals.

As your body becomes more accustomed to the level of cardio you do, ie as your fitness level increases, you will find that you end up having to do more and more cardio to achieve the same amount of calorie burning. It seems that you are working increasingly harder just to maintain a body that you are not really happy with any way!

It can leave you feeling like nothing works. You may think that there is no other option, but to keep increasing the length of your cardio session.

My suggestion is interval training.

Intervals are a type of “cardio” workout where you alternate brief, high intensity periods of exercise (where you are working flat out) with active recovery periods (where you slow down just long enough to catch your breath). High intensity cardio intervals are much more effective than ‘normal’ low intensity cardiovascular exercise – especially in terms of fat loss.

When intervals are performed at an intense level, your body will spend the rest of the day expending energy to recover from the challenge you have given it. This is referred to as EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption) and it means that you consume a great deal more oxygen recovering from the exercise bout than you would have if you’d just done a steady-state workout – this in turn allows you to burn more fat and calories for the rest of the day.

Short and sweet is the way to go. 10-15 minutes of high intensity cardio performed 3 or 4 times per week is all you need to shed fat and “tone up”.

Interval training can provide all of the following fitness benefits:

* dramatically boosted metabolism – both during AND after exercise
* faster rate of body fat-to-energy conversion
* preserves lean muscle (muscle is your metabolism – you do not what to lose this!)
* significant increase in aerobic capacity (Max VO2) = increased endurance and stamina

How to “Do” Intervals:
Example: Walking on the Treadmill

Start with a three to five minute warm-up then go right into your first interval: 30 seconds of brisk walking (or jogging). At the end of 30 seconds, you should be winded and ready to slow down. This will be your active recovery period, slowing your walking down for the next 2 minutes. Then repeat by increasing the intensity of your speed for 30 seconds.

3-5 minute warm up
30-60 sec. “high”
30-90 sec “low”
Repeat this pattern for 4 to 8 complete Intervals (a total of 10 to 15 minutes) and finish with a cool down. You will find that a mere 8 minutes feels quite long and intense.

The wonderful thing about interval training is that it is so time effective. Remember that your 15 minute investment gives you a bonus effect. Your metabolism is revved up and you will be burning fat all day long – not just when you are exercising.

More good news: You actually do not need any special equipment for an effective intervals workout. All you need is your own body! Moves such as jumping jacks, jump rope and running in place provide just the intensity you need for a great interval workout.

So do yourself a favour – reduce the time you spend doing cardio by adopting high intensity interval training, and burn more calories!


April 11, 2009 at 2:21 pm Leave a comment

5 tips for fast fat loss

flat-loss-girlFast fat loss tip number one: Calorie Intake

Be sure that your calorie intake reduction is not too extreme. This is the old “less is more” idea. Think about it. Put yourself on a starvation diet and you are just asking for a rebound binge. Sure, you may have great will power and will be able to stick at it for a few days, but you will feel deprived, cave in and when you do, chances are you’ll eat a vast quantity of food in response to starving for so long. This is where low GI eating comes into its own – it means you won’t be starving yourself and you keep your metabolism kicking along. You can really eat well with low GI foods.If your caloric intake is too low to begin with, then where will you go when you hit a plateau? For example, a male will be far more successful starting with 2800 calories and dropping 200 calories every 2 weeks as he evaluates his progress instead of starting at 2000 calories and only having one direction to go – starvation, which will ultimately turn off his metabolism and stall his fat loss progress.

Fast fat loss tip number two: Gradual Progression

Keep in mind your current “nutrition level.” Make the changes slowly to ensure success. If you begin with a meal plan that is too extreme then you will not be able to follow it. One of the best fat loss tips I read about was for a client who was eating two double cheese burgers a day to start eating one double cheese burger! Why wasn’t a steamed chicken breast recommended instead since that is the superior choice? It would be too much of a change. He wouldn’t be able to stick with it and would eventually fail. Don’t set youself up for failure. Make a gradual transition to low GI foods by substituting one food at a time until you have transformed your eating habits to something you can maintain for life.

Fast fat loss tip number three: Celebrate With a Victory Meal

It is good to incorporate a “victory meal” to reflect your accomplishment and progress. If you have gone well for a few weeks and are dropping consistently then kick back and have a beer or do something that is “rewarding”. You won’t sabotage weeks of good eating with one “victory meal” as long as you don’t adopt a mindset that this celebration represents an ending. The key is to use this as a reward, refocus and prepare for another 4-8 weeks of hard training and good food choices. It makes it easier to stick with healthy food choices when you know that a reward is coming up.

Fast fat loss tip number four: Exercise Smart

Take care when selecting your exercise program. Too much cardio can actually hinder your results. Three weight training sessions a week and some high intensity cardio should get you seeing results. If you are having to do hours a day in order to just lose a kilo, something is off with either your diet (most likely) or your exercuse program. Also, don’t do the same old exercises, or you will get the same old results! Your body becomes accustomed to whatever you do. Shock it by doing something different – a different activity, different intensity, different exercise pattern, different frequency. Work smarter, not harder.

Fast fat loss tip number five: Clear The Clutter

Before starting any diet program, you should rid the house of any foods that could be problematic. When at home, if you don’t have it you can’t eat it. Consider your home a “haven”. You control what is coming in and out. You may occasionaly have slip ups outside of your home where you do not always have the choices you would prefer, but sabotaging your fat loss success in your own home is not smart. By clearing out the problem foods before you start, you overcome a huge obstacle already. Replace these ‘bad’ foods with ones that are much healthier and will still taste good, so when you do get hungry, you have only good choices available, rather than the old foods which caused your fat gain in the first place. The rest of the family will not only survive but thrive without the junk foods as well.

April 10, 2009 at 2:52 am Leave a comment

Lose that belly fat!

When it comes to losing fat, most of us focus on the excess fat we are carrying in the belly region. It is that “spare tyre” which we would most like to get rid of. The belly can be one of the most stubborn areas to remove fat from. Why is that? Two reasons:

* It is where we store body fat first

* It is where body fat is needed the most – to protect the internal organs.

Unfortunately, it was oh so easy to put on (happened while you weren’t looking, didn’t it), but it is also the hardest to take off. If you persist, it WILL come off, but it is going to take some work and it may not be the first place on your body that responds to your fat loss efforts.

To give it your best shot, this is what you should do.

First – hit the weights. Weight training is brilliant for burning off fat, and the good news is that if you push yourself hard you stimulate muscle growth. This keeps the fat burning happening for hours after you have actually finished your exercise.

Second – focus on high intensity intervals (see my blog entitled “Maximum results, Minimum time”) when you do cardio and follow this up with some longer steady state cardio. The high intensity intervals will release the fatty acids from the tissue and the steady state cardio will then burn them off.

Third – monitor what you are eating (and what you are drinking). Is your diet Low GI? Are you drinking excessive calories without realising it? Are you eating to satisfy hunger, or emotions?

Pay attention to these three areas and you are well on your way to getting rid of that stubborn belly fat. It won’t happen over night though – you need to persist with it!

February 18, 2009 at 1:10 pm Leave a comment

Maximum results – minimum time

Think you have to do LOTS of cardio to speed up your fat loss? Think again!

Tell me, have you noticed anything about those people you see at the gym on the exercise bike or on the treadmill doing hours of cardio (usually with their headphones on)? Do they look the same today as they did last week, last month (last year)? If fat loss is what you want, then long slow and steady sessions of cardio work are not going to do it for you. Traditional cardio does little to boost your metabolism. In fact during a long cardio session your body begins to become more efficient by breaking down muscle for fuel. You DON’T want to lose muscle!

My tip – try Tabatas. Tabatas are short burst, high intensity interval training, so called because they are named after their creator, Izumi Tabata, PhD, a former researcher at Japan’s National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Kanoya.

You will get greater fat loss and more improvement in your fitness level from a four minute exercise session using Tabatas than from 60 minutes of steady state aerobics!  Intervals are the perfect solution! The shorter, more-intense your session, the more calories you burn. You also preserve lean muscle, which will make you look tight and lean as you reach your body shaping goals. In addition, the shorter, more intense sessions will have a more profound effect on the calories you continue to burn 24 hours after completing your interval session.

It’s not about time… IT’S ABOUT INTENSITY! Great news for those of us who don’t really have time to exercise!!! Can you find 4 minutes per day??? Then you can do TABATAS.

It is recommended that you do a 5-minute warm-up before you start, but if you are short of time this is optional and you can skip it. Note: in later years (40+), the warm up and stretching then a post-workout cool down and stretching again becomes more important.

This is how the TABATA session goes:
– You will alternate between 20 seconds of work and 10 seconds of rest
– You will perform this 30 second interval 8 times, taking a total of 4 total minutes

Sounds easy, doesn’t it? During the high intensity 20 seconds you need to be working at MAXIMUM EFFORT. You will be amazed at how hard it is to keep going at high intensity for 20 seconds. You will really get your heart pumping and you will get a sweat up over the 4 minutes, believe me. Tabatas are challenging!

You can do any mode of cardio exercise that you like (eg outdoor/treadmill running, cycling, etc). You can also use exercises like jumping jacks and squats.

Here is a link to a site where you can see a video of someone doing TABATAS using various exercises.

Here is a link to a site where you can download a TABATAS MP3 file which you can use for yourself at home. It is very helpful to have someone telling you when to go and when to stop. Saves messing around with a stop watch.

Have a go at TABATAS. Email me if or leave me a comment on this blog and let me know how you go with it.

Here’s to your success.

February 8, 2009 at 12:24 pm Leave a comment

10 reasons you can’t lose weight

The longer you have been over weight the more difficult it can be to lose unwanted body fat. The problem is in reality quite complex, as multiple factors interact to catch you in a cycle of weight gain. I don’t want to oversimplify it or trivialise the difficulties you may be experiencing. However, have a look at the lists below to see if you can identify something which will help you.

10 reasons you can’t lose weight:

1. You are an emotional eater
2. You skip meals and only eat one large meal a day
3. You have a sedentary job and don’t exercise
4. You engage in negative self talk
5. You don’t plan your food intake
6. You drink your calories in carbonated drinks, juices or fancy coffees
7. You eat energy-dense, nutrient-poor foods
8. You try diet after diet and your weight yo-yos up and down
9. Most of what you eat comes out of a packet
10.You are doing long sessions of cardio

If you want different results, you need to do something different. Here are some suggestions:

1. You need to reframe what food means to you – food is fuel for your body
2. You need to eat small frequent meals to boost your metabolism
3. You need to increase your activity level by doing something you enjoy
4. You need to speak encouragingly to yourself and use positive affirmations
5. You need to plan ahead to treat yourself to your favourite food or sweet treat
6. You need to drink mainly water
7. You need to substitute high GI foods like jasmine rice and white bread with low GI alternatives like basmati rice and multigrain bread
8. You need to adopt a lifestyle of eating Low GI foods
9. You need to observe the rule “if it grows – eat it, if it doesn’t grow – don’t eat it. Choose mainly fresh fruits and vegetables, lean protein, legumes, nuts and whole grains.
10.You need to switch to high intensity exercise and add in some weight training

Other things you can do:

Take responsibility for yourself and your decisions by acknowledging that you have a choice. Realise that INTENTIONS equal RESULTS. If you are not getting any results, it could be that you have a hidden agenda which is sabotaging your efforts. Counselling may help. Strengthen your WHY so you can make good choices when temptation comes.

Make yourself accountable to someone for your results, reporting to them on a weekly basis. Focus on fat reduction, not weight loss – throw away the scales and get out the tape measure. Adopt a healthy lifestyle and the fat reduction will be a natural by-product.

If you are following all the suggestions above and still retaining excessive amounts of body fat, a visit to your GP is in order. You may be one of the small percentage of people who have a thyroid problem, liver problem or hormonal imbalance that interferes with your body’s normal functioning.

Be proactive in working for better health, you have the power to change – don’t accept the status quo.

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January 30, 2009 at 3:52 am Leave a comment

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