How To Use Exercise To Boost Fat Loss
Let me start this first by stating that diet is the most important factor in achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight. That being said, exercise can be a great way to help you reach your weight loss goal faster and to help sculpt the body you want.
Below lists how to use exercise to boost fat loss:
Add high intensity intervals
High intensity interval training (aka HIIT) means you are doing short bursts of exercise followed by short periods of rest. HIIT has shown to be the most effective form of exercise because it helps you to build muscle and burn more calories even after the workout is done..
You can use interval training with virtually any type of exercise. I prefer and recommend exercises that use as many muscle groups as possible. These include exercises such as with using the elliptical (make sure you are using the arm handles), the treadmill for running or walking, the row machine, or just using your own body weight and doing burpees or plank exercises. The key is to try and use your upper and lower body together as much as possible to maximize the calorie burn and muscle gain.
Bonus! It’s also a time saver
Not only is interval training more effective, it is also a super time saver. Only have 30 minutes to workout in the morning? No problem! This is definitely enough time for a great workout when you incorporate intervals. Also, being pressed for time can be a good thing because it forces you to be focused on your workout.
Build and maintain muscle
You want to have at least some muscle for a few different reasons. Number one, muscle is what gives you that “toned” look every woman wants, and prevents the dreaded skinny fat. Second, muscle is your metabolically active tissue, meaning the more muscle you have, the more calories you will burn at any given time.
The most efficient and effective muscle building workouts are those that use the entire body to lengthen and tone lean long muscles. My favorite muscle building and toning exercises include yoga, pilates, and circuit training using free weights or kettlebells.
Real Life Example
I had two female patients one day. The first was 130 lbs and had 18% body fat (meaning she was mostly muscle) and her resting metabolic rate was 1450 (resting metabolic rate is the bare minimum amount of calories you will burn in a day). The second patient was 170 lbs and had 47% body fat (meaning about half of her body was fat) and her resting metabolic rate was 1150. This means that even though the 130 lbs patient weighed 40 lbs LESS, she still burned about 300 calories more per day than the patient with almost 50% fat. To put this in perspective, to burn 300 calories it would take about 40 minutes of vigorous exercise. This is a prime example of why you want to build and preserve muscle mass.
Limit steady-state cardio
This type of exercise is really a waste of time in terms of fat loss. It is inefficient because it leads to muscle wasting rather than muscle building and you really don’t burn many calories from it. With steady-state cardio you also stop burning calories once you stop the exercise – this is unlike high intensity interval training or strength training which causes you to continue burning calories for hours after the workout.
Increase your movement
This means you are moving around more so than sitting, those little movements everyday will add up to you burning more calories. Even just standing rather than sitting will activate more muscles and cause you to burn more calories. Aim to get up and move around at least once an hour, if you subtract 8 hours of sleep, this means you have 16 hours to move. Consider biking to work or the gym or to run local errands. Increase walks throughout the day by walking 10 minutes around the block before work, walking at least 10 minutes at lunch time, and walking after dinner for at least 10 minutes – walking after eating also helps with digestion, another added benefit!
Make sleep a priority
It may sound strange, but sleep is an important part of your fitness routine. Sleep is so important because it is when your body rebuilds broken down muscle. Contrary to popular thought, exercise itself is not what builds muscle – exercise actually breaks down muscle tissue. The time period after exercise is when muscle is able to rebuild and become stronger, and the prime time for muscle rebuilding is during sleep.
An individual who is exercising regularly will need more sleep than someone who does not exercise – good excuse to sleep in right!
Mix up your workout routine
Varying the type of exercise you do keeps your body guessing, meaning your body is never able to fully adapt to a workout. We want to keep our body guessing because this means our body will continue to burn lots of calories and build muscle. Once a workout stops being challenging, the body will also stop burning as many calories doing the workout. To prevent this from happening, avoid doing the exact same exercise everyday and mix it up. This could mean increasing the speed of your run or trying out a new workout class.
Give your body at least one day off from exercise per week, it needs this rest time to heal and rebuild muscle. Also too much exercise will cause high levels of cortisol in your body. High levels of cortisol in your body favors fat accumulation and muscle wasting – not a good combo!
On your rest day you still want to walk and keep yourself moving throughout the day, and even a light yoga session can be beneficial.
Main take aways…
Both diet and exercise are important for helping your reach your weight loss goal and to get the body you want. It starts with having a good diet, and exercise should be seen as an adjunct to accelerate results.
About the author: Sarah-Kate Rems is an Ivy-league trained Board-Certified Family Nurse Practitioner licensed in California with an expertise in women’s health and preventative healthcare. She considers nutrition and exercise to be the basis of well-being and is a strong advocate for daily physical activity and maintaining a healthy diet. Sarah-Kate is also a co-founder of The Mindful Tech Lab
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