How Exercise Helps You Lose Weight Faster
When many people think about eating less in order to gain weight, they often think only about the amount of calories they need to lose weight, while forgetting completely that exercise can be just as helpful in losing weight as their low calorie diet.
Exercise should be an important part of any weight loss program as it has many advantages compared to using diet alone in order to lose weight.
Benefits of exercise in losing weight include the following:
Exercise burns calories
If you only focus on diet for weight loss, you are missing out on the important fact that exercise burns calories so you can afford to eat more. Exercise can be aerobic exercise (like jogging, running, cycling, or swimming) or anaerobic (weight lifting). Both types of exercise will allow you to use your muscles to actually burn calories in the act of exercising, which means you will lose weight faster.
Exercise builds muscles
If you use exercise as a part of your weight loss goal, you will build muscle and will be physically stronger. You may find that, by exercising daily) you are slimming down even if it doesn’t show up on the scale. This is because muscle is heavier than fat but takes up much less space. When you exchange fat for muscles, you are adding something that is much denser than fat. Your body will appear slimmer even though you won’t always see an actual weight loss.
Exercise increases your metabolic rate
Your metabolic rate is amount of calories you burn per hour. The more calories you burn per hour, the more weight you can lose. It turns out that exercise not only increases your metabolic rate during the time you are exercising but that your metabolic rate stays elevated for several hours after the exercise is over with.
This means that a half hour of exercise doesn’t just increase your metabolic rate during that half hour, but you will continue to burn calories at a faster rate in the hours after you have exercised.
Exercise makes you stronger. If you are trying to lose weight with just diet restriction alone, you are essentially starving the body, which can make the body weaker. Exercise will help you be stronger by adding muscle and improving your endurance. A stronger body is a healthy body. You can use this added strength in your day-to-day activities rather than simply being starved and weak.
Types of Exercise for Weight Loss
When trying to lose weight, there are basically two types of activities you should be practicing on a regular basis:
This is what most of your exercising should be unless you are trying to be a body builder. Aerobic exercise is any exercise that gets your heart rate going and increases your respiratory rate. This can involve just about any physical activity you can do. Popular aerobic exercises include things like swimming, brisk walking, and cycling.
Even fun activities like dancing and gardening can count as aerobic exercise as long as it feels like you are pushing yourself and bring up your heart rate and respiratory rate while doing the exercise. Not only does aerobic exercise help you lose weight by burning calories and increasing your metabolic rate, but this type of exercise is good for your heart and lung functioning.
Aerobic activities should make up the bulk of activities you engage in while trying to lose weight. Just a half hour a day on most days of the week (about 4 days of the week) will help build your stamina and will help you lose weight.
Anaerobic exercise involves things like lifting weights and using weight machines to build muscle mass. You’ll burn calories doing anaerobic exercise than you will in doing aerobic exercise.
The goal of anaerobic exercise is to increase your muscle: fat ratio. You don’t have to build big, bulky muscles doing anaerobic exercise. Most people engaging in anaerobic exercise don’t bulk up their muscle but instead tone their muscles and slim down by replacing less dense fatty tissue with denser muscle tissue that takes up less space.
Anaerobic activities can be done as part of your exercise program by doing about 1-2 sessions of anaerobic exercise per week. In total, you should be doing aerobic exercise 4-5 days per week and anaerobic exercise about 1-2 days per week.
If you are trying to lose weight, exercise should be a big part of it. Ideally, you should be spending at least 6 days a week doing aerobic exercise most of the time and anaerobic exercise every so often. The combination will really help your weight loss efforts.
Is Exercise Making You Fat?
How many hours do you spend in the gym? If you exercise for more than one hour and a half at a time or if you are constantly outside your target heart rate zone, you put yourself at risk for over-training. Too much exercise is just as bad as no activity at all. Spending a long time in the gym puts stress on your body, causing fatigue, joint pain, hormonal imbalances, and even weight gain.
The Surprising Reason Why You're Gaining Weight
Some people exercise for hours each day, but keep gaining weight. You can see them running on the treadmill, jogging outside in the morning, and doing a bunch of weight training exercises. Unfortunately, weight loss isn't that simple. Over-training can stall your progress and make it hard to shed pounds.
Excessive exercise, especially steady state cardio, raises the stress hormone cortisol levels. This hormone plays a key role in overall health. The problem is that too much cortisol may lead to weight gain, abdominal obesity, heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, and hormonal imbalances. When your body is exposed to cortisol for prolonged periods of time, it enters the fight-or-flight mode and begins to store fat.
The link between overtraining and cortisol production is well-researched. If you also have problems at work or at school, the stress adds up. When done in moderation, exercise helps relieve stress and calms your mind. However, overtraining can work against you.
Additionally, your body has an amazing ability to adapt to physical stressors, such as long cardio sessions. The more you exercise, the fewer calories you'll burn. For this reason, it's recommended to keep your workout sessions short and intense. A 15-minute HIIT session yields better results than a two-hour workout.
How Cardio Makes You Fat
Cardiovascular training appears to have the biggest impact on cortisol production. Too much cardio can skyrocket your cortisol levels and send your body in a catabolic state. This form of exercise burns both muscle and fat, which slows your metabolism. The less lean muscle mass you have, the fewer calories you burn. Any cardio session longer than 40-45 minutes can trigger muscle loss and decrease your metabolism.
The loss of muscle mass combined with a slow metabolism and high cortisol levels is a recipe for disaster. This combo makes you fat and sick, drains your energy, and affects your ability to shed pounds. You might also experience muscle soreness, tiredness, weakness, fever, chills, and headaches.
Too many of us tend to compare ourselves to the athletes, fitness models and bodybuilders we see on the covers of magazines but you don’t realize is that they take many different approaches to look the way they do. Some of it may not always be healthy.
Their lives revolve around their fitness routine – they take various supplements that promote muscle repair, follow strict diets that include cutting and bulking phases, carb cycling, and scheduled re-feeds. This allows them to work out hard for long periods of time without losing muscle or feeling tired.
However, the average person can not do these things without a proper diet and supplements. Unless you're planning to compete or become a pro, avoid overtraining at all costs. Your weight lifting sessions shouldn’t last longer than 50-60 minutes. For cardio, stick to 40 minutes or less per session.
Always take a long-term approach to weight loss, not a short-term quick fix. You won’t get there faster but by doubling or tripling your workouts. This approach will end up doing more damage to your health – it won’t improve it. Take a realistic approach to exercise and you will see steady, lasting results.