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Is low intensity endurance training the best intensity for weight loss?

Fact or Fable?

Many people who want to lose weight often perform long cardiovascular workouts at a low intensity. Many cardio machines also provide guidelines wherein exercise on lower intensities is often named weight loss or fat burning zone. (Usually around 60-70% of Maximum Heart Rate). But is it the most effective training intensity for weight loss?

Metabolism Booster: Barbell Circuit

The training for todayBarbell Circuit: A barbell circuit with super effective but surprisingly simple exercises. The exercises in this barbell circuit are excellent to lose weight, burn fat, improve endurance and the ability to deliver force quickly. This does not mean that technique is not important. If you are unfamiliar with one or more of these exercises, practice them with an unloaded bar or even a stick. Otherwise use a barbell with weights with which you can do all exercises for the given amount of repetitions. So do not change the weights between exercises because continueing with the training is the key to succes. If you have access to more than one barbell you can use different weights so for example the leg exercises can be done at a higher weight and therefore intensity. 

High Intensity Bodyweight Workout

This is a bodyweight workout which improves strength and endurance and that can be done anywhere. Because of the high intensity, it is very effective in promoting weight loss and fat loss as well. You don’t need any training material or exercise equipment for workout.

Training on an empty stomach for weight loss

(12-14-2014) To succesfully lose weightRunning the combination of a healthy diet with caloric restriction combined with training is more effective than using a diet or training alone. The last few years quite some research has been performed on endurance training on an empty stomach. These studies showed that fat metabolism was increased directly after fasted exercise compared with regular fed exercise. In addition fasted exercise improved insulin sensitivity and lead to a better glucose tolerance. These adaptations should in theory help weight and fat loss. To test this hypothesis, scientists performed a study to answer whether training on an empty stomach is more effective for weight loss.

Weight loss after pregnancy using videogames

(02-25-2014) Losing weight after pregnancyFitness gaming can be quite difficult and the gained weight often remains where it is. Different studies have shown that physical activity and fitness exercise are effective ways to make the additional pregnancy pounds disappear. Many young mothers however find it difficult to keep up regular exercise because the young baby requires a lot of attention and leaving the house to exercise is often difficult. Certrain computer games require people to exercise to play. Researchers from Japan performed a study on the effectiveness of playing these active computer games on weight loss after pregnancy. 

Dangers of too much belly fat

Dangers of too much belly fat

More than 60% of adults are currentlyToo much visceral fat overweight and the number of people who suffer from lifestyle related disorders such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and is rising rapidly. To make matters worse, in the western world these diseases are among the leading causes of death. Being overweight or obese is often a central factor in developing diabetes, high blood pressure or cardiovascular disease and both body mass index (BMI) and body composition give a good indication to the risk of developing these disorders. In fact the BMI norms were originally developed based on research that found a connection between body weight relative to body height and risk of developing disease.

Weight loss or improving body composition?

Many people wanting to improve their looks or their health seek to lose weight achieve this goal by dieting, a dedicated training plan or both. Often they set goals to lose a certain amount of weight. Others don’t use the scale to measure their progress, but look towards body fat calipers or other methods to assess their body composition. So the important question is: Which is better focussing on weight loss or improving body composition?

The advantage of setting a weight loss goal is that it is easy to measure weight. However, the weight lost can be caused by loss of fat mass, muscle mass, water or a combination of these. Measuring body composition allows to keep track of changes in the relative amount of fat during diets and weight loss training programs. Changes in body fat percentage better represent changes in someone’s health and fitness. As stated above, weight loss can also be caused by a loss of muscle tissue. This not only makes a person weaker and less fit, resting metabolism decreases as well. This makes retaining weight loss much harder.

Consider the following example:

Subject 1 and Subject 2 before weight loss:

Table 1 Subject 1 and Subject 2
Age 25 years
Length 182cm/6′
Weight 90kg/200lbs
BMI 27.2 (overweight)
Fat Percentage 25%
Fat Mass 22,5kg/50lbs
Fat Free Mass 67,5kg/150lbs

Subject 1 and Subject 2 followed different weight loss programs and the results are:

Table 2 Subject 1 Subject 2
Weight 82kg/182lbs (-8kg/-17.8lbs) 88kg/196lbs (-2kg/-4.4lbs)
BMI 24.8 (Healthy) 26.6 (Overweight)
Fat Percentage 23% (-2%) (Overweight) 18% (-7%) (Healthy)
Fat Mass 18.9kg/42lbs (-3.6kg/8lbs) 15.8kg/35.1lbs (-6.7kg/14.9lbs)
Fat Free Mass 63.1kg/140.2lbs (-4,4kg/9.8lbs) 72.1kg/160.2lbs (+4.7kg/10.4lbs)

In this example we can see several interesting things. First, Subject 1 lost more weight in total and therefore was no longer overweight according to the BMI. However, his fat percentage did not decrease as much and he is still considered overweight in this respect. This means that, although he did manage to lose some body fat, most of the lost weight was not fat, but muscles and water instead.

Subject 2 on the other hand did not lose as much weight, but did manage to bring down his fat percentage by a considerable amount. Enough to be classified as healthy when looking at fat percentage. The BMI in contrast, which depends only on weight and length, still classifies him as being overweight, even though the health risk as a result of too much fat has decreased considerably. Subject 2 managed to lose a lot of fat and actually gain some muscle mass. Not only does this make him look a lot better than Subject 1, he is healthier as well.

This example serves to illustrate that it is better to improve body composition, than to just focus on losing weight. Someone who gains muscle mass and burns fat mass at the same time, will look healthier and lighter than they actually are. Muscle tissue density is much higher than fat tissue density, meaning that in the example above Subject 2 looks a lot slimmer than Subject 1 despite being heavier.

See also:

-Is Cardio Training the Best Way to Lose Weight?

-Strength Training for Weight Loss

-Cardio Training for Weight Loss

Cardio training for weight loss

Cardio training has classically been the training cardio training for weight lossform most used to achieve weight loss and improvements in body composition. And not without reason. Cardio training can be done in many different ways and is a very effective component of training for weight loss. Here are the reasons why cardio training for weight loss is a good idea:

Cardio training burns a lot of calories

The most well known reason why many people perform cardio training is because it allows burning a lot of calories in a relatively short amount of time. Your energy consumption can easily increase five fold and for up to ten fold when the duration of training is not too long. And a higher metabolism means more burned calories and more weight lost.

Cardio training increases metabolism

Due to the prolonged stress on the body, after training the body needs to recover and adapt. This process requires a lot of energy, which can increase energy requirements above base resting metabolism. A phenomenon also known as excess post exercise oxygen consumption or EPOC This means that more calories are burned when the body is at rest, which makes it easier to lose weight. This advantage is especially pronounced after high intensity interval training.

Cardio training increases fat metabolism capacity

One of the more important adaptations to cardio training is that the aerobic system will improve its efficiency. Since this is the system responsible for our fat metabolism, this is one of the most important benefits of cardio training. This means the body is better able to provide energy for lower intensity activities in daily live by burning fat. When the aerobic system is not as efficient, the body will have to burn carbohydrates instead, making weight loss much harder.

Training tips

Cardio training is a very important part of your training when striving for weight loss. To maximize its effectiveness keep the following in mind:

-Perform cardio training on a machine of your choice. Examples are treadmill, stationary bicycle, cross trainer, stair master or rowing machine.

-For maximum training adaptation train at high intensities. This means well above the intensity when talking during exercise gets difficult.

-Perform interval training rather than continuous cardio training at one intensity.

-Interval training should be done for at least 10 minutes and up to 30 minutes. If you can go on after that, you should have trained at a higher intensity.

See also:

-Strength training for weight loss

-Fact or Fable: Fat matabolism starts after 20 minutes of exercise

 

Strength training for weight loss

Although more often considered a training to
Strength training for weight lossincrease the size and strength of your muscles, strength training for weight loss is an often overlooked form of training when it comes to losing weight and burning fat. There are however several important reasons why strength training is very important for weight loss.

Strength training costs a lot of energy

Strength training requires moving of heavy weights and therefore requires quite a bit of energy, which is the prime requisite of weight loss. The energy needed to activate the muscles and move the weights is generated by the anaerobic system. This metabolic system delivers energy very quickly, however it produces many byproducts that need to be cleaned up which costs energy as well. Lower intensity cardio exercise, relies more on aerobic systems which are far more efficient and even clean up these ‘waste’ products. In other words high intensity strength training requires the body to spend energy recovering, while lower intensity exercise requires constant work for it to be effective.

Strength training increases metabolism

Strength training, when done right, damages muscle fibers slightly which need repair afterwards. In addition, adaptations to the muscle are necessary after training such as increasing strength. Recovering from training and adapting to it cost energy and therefore raise metabolism above resting levels for up to a few days. Moreover, since muscle tissue needs a constant supply of energy, even when it is inactive, increasing muscle mass helps burn more energy everyday and therefore is a great help while losing weight.

Strength training stimulates fat metabolism

Not only does strength training increase metabolism, after training it will stimulate the body to generate energy by burning fat in favor of carbohydrates. As said above, the high intensity of strength training requires the anaerobic systems to generate a lot of energy using several sources among which carbohydrates. By doing this, in essence the body receives a signal that sometimes large amounts of carbohydrates are necessary for a short period. This signal will cause the muscle to save the carbohydrates for when they are necessary for high intensity work and ‘choose’ to burn fat instead.

Strength training prevents weight regain after weight loss

Although weight loss can be realized in multiple ways, adding strength training prevents the loss of muscle mass that often causes the weight loss during dieting. Since muscle tissue needs constant energy, maintaining or even increasing the amount of muscle mass you have will help keep the lost weight of and prevent the yo-yo effect.

Strength training makes the body look athletic

Most people want to lose weight to improve their appearance and looks. Strength training helps shape the regions of the body that become visible when you lose weight. Losing weight by dieting and losing muscle mass will only reveal loose skin, veins and bone underneath. Training the muscles and stimulating them to at least maintain their size, will reveal healthy muscles and yield a healthy and athletic look desired by many.

Training tips

As you can see, strength training is vital in a healthy weight loss program that yields long lasting results. To maximize the effectiveness of your training keep in mind the following:

-Train all muscle groups during each session

-Perform two to three sets per exercise of 8-12 repetitions each at maximum weight

-Don’t rest too long between series (30-60 seconds)

See also:

-Weight Loss: What Works and What Doesn’t?

-Strength Training makes women large and bulky

Weight loss: what works and what doesn’t?

Every year, losing weight is the number one New Year’s resolutionWeight loss. And just before the summer, a lot of people try and lose weight or get in shape to look their best at the beach. A lot of different methods are used to achieve this. From diets, training regimens, fat burners, sauna belts and power plates. To help people lose the pounds, we present a list with the most effective and ineffective or even unhealthy methods to lose weight and fat.

The things that work:

  1. Healthy Nutrition

Many people think that they eat healthy, only a few really do. The body needs the right amount of nutrients to function properly and sufficient calories of course. The fact remains that, in order to lose weight, you have to burn more calories than you take in, but it is more important to get the right amount of vitamins, minerals and proteins. This makes sure your body functions optimally and can therefore burn more fat. In addition you tend to lose less to no muscle mass while eating a healthy amount of protein.

  1. A combination of resistance and cardiotraining.

Wheight loss occurs when more energy is used up than taken in. Training increases the amount of calories used, but we also optimise energy systems in our body, and therefore the capacity to burn fat. This last effect even helps us lose weight, while not working out. Additionally, resistance training makes sure no muscle mass is lost during weight loss, therefore preventing the well known yoyo effect.

  1. Exercising regularly and often

Aside from training, regular physical activity such as walking or riding a bicycle, is very important. This will activate the body, increase the amount of calories used and therefore help in losing weight. It will help the body in recovering from a training and reduce stress hormone levels as an added bonus.

  1. Rest and sleep

Although everyone focusses on nutrition and training while losing weight. Resting and especially enough sleep are very important for health and weight loss. When you don’t sleep enough, the body can’t recuperate enough, stress hormone levels will rise and you will lose muscle tissue sooner.

What doesn’t work or is bad for your health?

  1. Diets

Diets are at best a temporary solution to lose weight. When you stop with the diet and eat what you are used to eating, the lost weight comes back often accompanied by a few extra pounds. The worst diets make you lose muscle mass as well, increasing the chances of the yoyo effect.

  1. Long cardio workouts

Although it is not difficult to lose weight by performing a lot of cardio training and endurance improves as well, too much cardio training can increase muscle breakdown. One of the primary reasons is that stress hormones keep building up. A combination with some form of diet often increases this effect. Furthermore cardio training hinders recovery from training for as long as the training takes. It is better to perform high intensity cardio training for shorter periods. This is more effective and the time you save can be spent on recovery.

  1. Fat burners

There are some fat burning substances that are proven to be effective and safe. However the effects are generally small, and could be used in combination with healthy nutrition and training. Green tea extract is a good and safe example. The fat burners that are effective on their own, are potentially dangerous and illegal in most countries. Among these is Ephedra.

  1. Sauna belt

There are several weight loss programs which incorporate a heated belt tied around the waist during training. The heat from the belt, softens up the fat so the body can burn it more easily, or so they claim. No research can back these claims up however. The body determines the location of fat loss, not your clothing. At best the heat from the belt decreases the amount of water around that location for a short time. When someone loses weight using this method, it can be attributed to the training performed while wearing the belt, not the belt itself.

  1. Power Plates

A lot of research has been performed investigating the effects of the power plate in rehabilitation and weight loss. For weight loss, it is just as effective as the sauna belt. It does not add anything. In other words, how much weight and fat you lose depends on how you train with it. On the other hand, if you enjoy training on it, it can’t harm either.

Conclusion:

Unfortunately there are no miracle cures. When you want to lose weight you have to work for it. The most effective method is to perform both resistance and cardiovascular exercise, and combine this with healthy nutrition. In addition make sure you walk or cycle regularly an sleep sufficiently.

Waist Circumference

Waist circumference is a measurement that gives an indication of fat related health risk. Although your body composition is an important indication as well. Not everyone has access to a reliable device to measure body composition such as an MRI-scan or DEXA scan or to someone skilled with a skin fold caliper. To measure waist circumference only a flexible measurement tape is needed so it is accessible to practically everyone and not complicated. In addition, body fat is not distributed in the same way for everyone. Two persons with the same relative amount of body fat can store their fat on different locations such as hips or inside the abdomen. Since internal abdominal fat (see also visceral fat) greatly increases risk of developing cardiovascular disease and diabetes mellitus type 2 and more visceral fat corresponds with an increased waistline, this measurement can help indicate whether or not you are at increased risk for developing these disorders.

How to measure waist circumference

Take a flexible measurement tape and put it around your waist. The tape measure should be held above the navel but below the lowest ribs at the narrowest point of the torso. Make sure the tape measure is completely horizontal and that the one who is measured stands upright and relaxed and before measurement breathes out normally. Compare the value with those in Table 1 below to get an indication of developing cardiovascular disease or other fat related conditions.

Waist circumference norms (in centimetres and inches)
Men Women Risk category
Less than 94cm (37 inch) Less than 80cm (inch) Low
94-102cm (37-40 inch) 80-88cm ( inch) High
Greater than 102cm (40 inch) Greater than 88cm ( inch) Very high

Table 1: Waist circumference norms

Note: these norms apply to Caucasian adults and Asian women. Currently not enough data on other ethnic groups is available.

Risk category:

Low: You are not at increased risk of developing lifestyle related diseases such as cardiovascular disease. You can maintain your current lifestyle, although it does not hurt to improve it further.

High: You are at increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease or other lifestyle related diseases. Either improving your diet, decreasing your energy intake or starting strength and endurance training will help losing weight and abdominal fat.

Very high: You are at very high risk of developing lifestyle related diseases. Large changes in lifestyle in multiple areas are necessary to improve your health. Improve your diet, decrease your energy intake, start training to increase muscle mass and improve cardiovascular endurance and exercise more every day.

References:

-Bushman, B. (2011). Assesing Personal Fitness. Complete Guide to Fitness & Health. First Edition. USA Human Kinetics.

-Clinical Guidelines on the Identification, Evaluation, and Treatment of Overweight and Obesity in Adults. 2007.

Obesity

Obesity or adiposity,Obesity6 is a medical condition which is characterized by a large amount of excess weight due to fat mass. Obesity is defined as a Body Mass Index larger than 30. A BMI of 40 or more is also known as morbid obesity.

EPOC

EPOC or Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption is the amount of oxygen a body takes in above the normal oxygen needs following exercise. It is often seen as an oxygen debt, built up during intense exercise which could not be sustained by the aerobic system alone. However there are other mechanisms that increase EPOC as well.

BMI

The Body Mass Index (BMI) is a measure which gives an indication whether someone has a healthy bodyweight, underweight, overweight or obese. The BMI can be calculated with the following formulae:BMI_formula_EnglishBMI formula metric The number that is calculated from one of these formulae can be looked up in the table below and determines if someone has a healthy weight or is nderweight, overweight or even obese.

Body Composition

The body composition or  fat percentage is the relative amount of bodyfat. Although the fat percentage is more difficult to assess than for exmaple the BMI, it does give a more information about someone’s bodycomposition and wheter this person has a healthy weight or is over- or underweight.