Change the way you exercise!
HAVE YOU EVER seen a gym at rush hour? Everyone hovers around the treadmills, elliptical trainers, and stationary bikes. Signs warn you of 20-minute maximums so that the next sweat seeker can have his turn. It seems like everyone wants a cardiovascular, aerobic workout. The more you sweat, the more calories you burn, the more weight you lose, right? In a way, yes, the headphone-and-Lycra set is right. Cardiovascular exercise-steady-state endurance exercises, like running, biking, and swimming-burns a lot of calories. In fact, it often burns more than other forms of exercise like strength training or trendier workouts like yoga or Pilates. But when it comes to weight control, aerobic exercise is more overrated than the fall TV lineup. Why? For one reason: Aerobic exercise builds little (if any) muscle- and muscle is the key component of a speedy metabolism. Muscle eats fat; again, add 1 pound of muscle, and your body burns up to an additional 50 calories a day just to keep that muscle alive. Add 6 pounds of muscle, and suddenly you’re burning up to 300 more calories each day just by sitting still.
Here’s the problem with low-intensity aerobic exercise. Just like a car can’t run without wind, a body can’t function without food. Generally, during exercises, your body calls upon glycogen (the stored form of carbohydrate in muscles and the liver), fat, and in some cases protein. When you’re doing low-intensity aerobic exercise like jogging, your body primarily uses fat and glycogen (carbohydrates) for fuel. When it continues at longer periods (20 minutes or more), your body drifts into depletion: You exhaust your first-tier energy sources (your glycogen stores), and your body hunts around for the easiest source of energy it can find-protein. Your body actually begins to eat up muscle tissue, converting the protein stored in your muscles into energy you need to keep going. Once your reaches that plateau, it burns up 5 to 6 grams of protein for every 30 minutes of ongoing exercise. (That’s roughly the amount of protein you’ll find in a hard-boiled egg.) By burning protein, you’re not only missing an opportunity to burn fat but also losing all-important and powerful muscle. So aerobic exercise actually decreases muscle mass. Decreased muscle mass ultimately slows down your metabolism, making it easier for you to gain weight.
Now here’s an even more shocking fact: When early studies compared cardiovascular exercise to weight training, researchers learned that those who engaged in aerobic activities burned more calories during exercise than those who tossed around iron. You’d assume, then, that aerobic exercise was the way to go. But that’s not the end of the story.
It turns out that while lifters didn’t burn as many calories during their workouts as the folks who ran or biked, they burned far more calories over the course of the next several hours. This phenomenon is known as the after burn- the additional calories your body burns off in the hours and days after a workout. When researchers looked at the metabolic increases after exercise, they found that the increased metabolic effect of aerobics lasted only 30 to 60 minutes. The effects of weight training lasted as long as 48 hours. That’s 48 hours during which the body was burning additional fat. Over the long term, both groups lost weight, but those who practiced strength training lost only fat, while the runners and bikers lost muscle mass as well. The message: Aerobic exercise essentially burns only at the time of the workout. Strength training burns calories long after you leave the gym, while you sleep, and maybe all the way until your next workout. Plus, the extra muscle you build through strength training means that in the long term, your body keeps burning calories at rest just to keep that new muscle alive.
Excerpt from The Abs Diet by: David Zinczenko