In last month's newsletter edition, "A Calorie is a Calorie," I advised our readers to stop testing fad diets and to instead pay attention to what their bodies need and what they want. In this month's newsletter, I will discuss the most effective ways to burn calories. Most don't realize it, but just because "a calorie is a calorie," doesn't mean that "a mile is a mile."
I met Betsy in December of 2001 when she joined one of my Spinning classes. She had just begun to workout as part of her daily routine and was very eager to begin seeing results. Six months later, not only had she not lost a pound, but she had gained 10! She was truly disappointed and couldn't understand why all of her hard work was actually causing her to gain weight. Most of you are thinking, "Everyone knows that muscle weighs more than fat!" You are correct in that muscle does, in fact, weigh more, but this doesn't account for even 10% of the reason for Betsy's counter-productivity. Betsy's weight gain was the result of working out too hard!
How does one so-called "workout
I will make the very lengthy scientific explanation to this puzzling case simple for interpretation. Carbohydrates give us energy and they fuel our bodies for the next activity. Fats are also a fuel source, although not the best one. Both of these are burned during aerobic activity. Proteins, which feed our muscles and help us look lean, are burned only during anaerobic activity. Our bodies burn calories effective for weight loss in the following order: first, carbohydrates, then fats, and last, proteins.
When we exercise, we risk altering this sequence, and when we alter this sequence, we may see adverse effects from exercising. Anaerobic and aerobic are the terms used to distinguish the effectiveness (for the purposes of this newsletter) of a workout. Anaerobic means that while exercising, we exceeded our body's target heart rate, also known as its fat burning zone. Aerobic means that we stayed in our fat burning zone.
Betsy gained weight because she worked in her anaerobic zone each time she exercised. While it is okay to enter the anaerobic zone once each week, it is not effective to do this daily. Anaerobic activity uses protein calories for fuel, and since proteins are what make our muscles show, we want to keep these calories. Weight loss results are best achieved when we focus on aerobic exercise, burning carbohydrate calories and fat calories while maintaining our protein levels.
How can I make sure that I am burning the right kind of calories?
Our heart rates dictate the caloric burn sequence of each exercise session. As mentioned above, in order to lose weight, we should make sure that we are using carbohydrates for fuel first. The most obvious indicator (for those of us who do not want to purchase a heart rate monitor) that we have crossed our Anaerobic threshold is that we cannot breathe enough to talk during exercise. When our heart rates are between 65% and 85% of our target heart rate, we are burning carbohydrate calories and fat calories. Thus we should be able to breathe enough to talk. For most of us, exceeding 90% would mean that we are using protein calories for fuel and depleting our body's sugar supply. Use the target heart rate chart to find out what your heart rate should be during exercise to ensure that you are staying in your fat burning zone.
Betsy made all of the efforts in the world to get to the gym every day, eat better and stretch properly. Her mistake was something she would've never believed was possible. Every time she exercised, she burned substantial amounts of her body's sugar supply, so she always left the gym feeling tired and famished, craving the nearest sugar fix. Feeling this way caused her metabolism to slow, her energy levels to decrease and her eating habits to suffer. Her body felt starved after exercise, causing it to "hold on" to the food when she ate. The story does have a happy ending though. By December of 2002, Betsy had reached her goal weight and continues exercising effectively. Today, she still maintains her 115 pound goal on her 5'3" frame.
Thank you for reading the SignatureForum lifestyle newsletter this month. Next month, discover how mothers of all ages are looking their best through "mommy makeovers." Meanwhile, be sure to check out SignatureForum's network of consumer friendly websites that will give you the resources you need to look and feel your very best.
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