Burn Fat With Less Exercise
17 January 2012
If you want to burn body fat the recipe for success is eat less and do more cardiovascular exercise. For decades this has been exactly what the scientists and health experts have been telling us but according to research at a Scottish university it could be doing less exercise will help you to burn more fat.
According to the study at the University of Glasgow, the rate at which body fat is burned can be significantly increased during a subsequent walking session if we do a few press-ups and squats first.
This is a breakthrough for both sedentary people and fit people, says Dr Niall MacFarlane, one of the authors study. We have found that if exercisers include a short session of resistance training prior to going for a walk or run, then the fat burning benefits will be two to three times greater than without the resistance session.
In fact, because the resistance training helps to switch on the body's fat oxidation (burning) processes much quicker than normal, it also means that people will be able to endure longer subsequent aerobic exercise.
Until now, anyone exercising aerobically, say walking or running, has been required to do so for at least an hour to see any significant fat or calorie burn. At the start of an exercise session, the body of an untrained person will rely mainly on carbohydrates to maintain energy expenditure. This quickly leads to depletion of muscle glycogen and subsequent muscle fatigue.
If the exerciser kept on walking, they would then start to burn fat. But most will ease up as they become tired, or give up and go home.
According to the research, however, a 20-minute bout of resistance training - which could be repeatedly lifting light weights or using the body's own weight as resistance such as during squat, press-ups and lunges - kickstarts the body's ability to use fat as an energy fuel much sooner.
The body will start to burn fat right from the start, and throughout, the subsequent aerobic, or cardiovascular, exercise.
And because the body is using this fat to fuel the muscles instead of carbohydrate then the muscles do not tire so quickly and the person can endure longer fitness sessions, says MacFarlane, a senior sports science lecturer.
This is especially good news for the sedentary person or the very overweight. They will see weight benefits much sooner than with traditional fitness programmes and the heavier they weigh in the first place the quicker they'll shape up.
MacFarlane believes that three one-hour sessions a week should be adequate. But I'm not talking about doing anything strenuous, he says. Typically to experience fat burn, people might do 20 minutes of quite easy resistance training, followed by 40 minutes of walking. They will be surprised to find how briskly they can walk.
The fat burning potential of this hour will be the equivalent of about two hours running quite hard.
But not everyone is convinced the research is revolutionary. We've always known that resistance training is a good thing in terms of fitness, says another expert Mike Johnston.
Even if an unfit person was doing only resistance training you would expect to see fat burn. Anything that makes you move quickly, such as sit ups and press ups, will help you lose weight.
The more muscles a person has, compared to fat, the more efficient the body is at burning fat and calories, even while resting.
I still believe in the traditional premise that we should all be exercising more often, especially aerobically, and for longer periods to improve general fitness.
MacFarlane does not disagree with Johnston but says that it's the combination in the one session that is the new key to greater fat burn.
Others may worry that by telling people that they can do less but still lose fat there will be a negative impact mentally.
Yes we are saying to people that exercise could be easier than they thought, says MacFarlane. But if this gets people up and exercising in the first place then that has to be a good thing. Hopefully they will then stick at it and increase the intensity.
There are benefits, too, for those who already exercise a few times a week.
Instead of spending an hour in the gym slogging it on the treadmill and then lifting weights, people will find enhanced benefits from a low-level resistance session followed by an easier run on the treadmill.
The more resistance training and aerobic exercise that they do the better the fat burning benefits will be and the greater their endurance, adds MacFarlane. If they are able to do more then that's good, but what we're saying is you don't have to kill yourself to see fat loss.
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