In my eyes, this is the perfect time of year for an article with this title. Everyone is fresh off some well-deserved holidays celebrating Christmas and new years. There may not be a harder time to keep on top of your nutrition than the ‘season to be jolly’ (tralalalala). Where everything from chocolates, cakes, processed foods and of course alcohol are quite the norm in December and let’s face it, hard to resist. It’s quite normal for gyms and leisure centres to fill up a lot more now that it’s January. People are looking to lose the ‘holiday weight’ and fulfilling their new year’s resolutions.
In this blog I will provide some insight into the most effective training types and the bodies mechanisms for weight loss. We will associate weight loss with losing body fat. To me ‘weights’ refers to strength training or resistance training and ‘cardio’ (cardiovascular fitness) refers to Energy Systems Development (ESD).
Benefits of strength training and ESD for weight loss:
By increasing your lean muscle, you can increase your Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) and effectively burn more calories at rest. Muscle mass alone contributes to around 22% to RMR the rest is accounted for by bone, connective and organ tissue. Strength training can preserve lean muscle mass when people cut calories to reduce fat (which I will explain briefly later but is probably the most essential component to effective weight loss)
Continual Calories Burnt After Activity Completed.
EPOC (Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption) After exercise individuals burn more energy which is primarily used for muscle recovery and glycogen replacement in the muscle. Many studies show that during a period of EPOC, fat oxidation (fatty acids burned for energy) rates increase. EPOC is particularly elevated after eccentric strength training due to additional cellular repair & protein synthesis needs of the muscle cells.
Trained Muscle Can Enhance Fat Usage:
Trained individuals improve the muscle’s ability to take up and use fatty acids. Regular strength training will improve both the amount of lean muscle mass in your body and the quality of function of that muscle.
Intense exercise increases baseline levels of catecholamine hormones: epinephrine and norepinephrine which result in an increase in carbohydrate and fat burning which raises RMR.
Growth hormone has numerous physiologic effects, one of which can drive metabolism toward fat utilisation.
Strength training can restore insulin sensitivity. This prevents the effect of your blood sugar not being effectively used by the body which leads to the body storing fat and decreasing energy levels as muscle cells aren’t getting the energy they need.
Pain Management & Alleviation
By improving your strength, you decrease the likelihood of injury to your body which will have an effect on your availability for regular exercise as well as psychological wellbeing.
Energy Systems Development:
The most efficient energy system for burning fat is your Anaerobic Lactic/Non-Oxidative (91-96% of your maximum speed for 20-120sec) this type of training (when done correctly) is extremely efficient for providing your body with total calorie expenditure over time compared to long periods of low intensity work. This is where the effects of EPOC (explained above) also carry over into your ESD training.
Interval training preserves lean muscle mass and trains the muscles to effectively burn energy at rest (RMR). It is also time efficient, increases heart and lung strength, improves metabolic efficiency, promotes better body composition and is more interactive than long steady state work.
Improved Mitochondrial Density
An important adaptation to exercise training is increased mitochondrial density. Increasing mitochondrial density would improve the availability of fatty acids to the muscle and mitochondria and increase fatty acid oxidation. Interval training has also been shown to result in similar fat burning adaptations while requiring fewer workouts and less total time commitment.
Immune System Function
This can occur from both forms of training be it strength, ESD or any other form of physical activity. It may help reduce your chances of a cold, flu, or other illness. It also slows down the release of stress hormones which can protect against stress related illnesses. Aerobic training is excellent system to support the immune system and allow for faster recovery from high intensity activity. By decreasing your excess body fat, you can improve the immune system’s ability to protect the body from germs, viruses and other invaders.
The effective combination of both strength and ESD training will have the greatest effect provided the quality (technique & intensity) and quantity (volume & duration) are both accounted for. This is where exercise professionals can provide the right training program and guide for you to reach your goals.
Nutrition & Sleep
With the information above hopefully giving you some more insight into the mechanisms of fat loss. It’s important to note that without looking at your nutrition practises you will find it very difficult to affect your body’s ability to lose body fat. Having a diet rich in nutrient dense, anti-inflammatory whole foods as well as adequate hydration is key.
Sleep is another major component of healthy lifestyle and effective weight management. Having good sleep habits improves mental performance, increases muscle growth, hormone regulation and decreases body fat.
Happy New Year.