Sixty percent of women are overweight and most will remain
that way because they don't have the will power or knowledge
to lose body weight. That's understandable because we live
in a no-fault society that makes it easy not to take responsibility
for anything. It's painless to blame cellulite and an expanding
dress size on genetics, time restraints, stress, birth control
pills, family, or a recent pregnancy. Also, women hear so
much conflicting information about diet and exercise that
it's difficult to know what to do. Obesity is not inevitable-
millions of women face challenges, yet manage to stay lean
Some experts think the obesity epidemic is unsolvable and
that America is destined to drown in its own fat. That's a
copout. We have not always been a nation of fatties, and people
in many countries around the world are still largely lean
and fit. A new spectator sport in some countries is to go
to the airport and count the number of fat Americans getting
off airplanes. Don't be imprisoned by excess fat. Exercise
vigorously and watch what you eat and in six months you will
have a lean, shapely, healthy-looking body that will turn
Much Exercise Do You Need to Lose Weight?
In 1996, the US Surgeon General's office recommended that
people exercise moderately for 30 minutes, preferably every
day of the week. Acceptable activities included mowing the
lawn, waxing the car, walking from the car to the supermarket,
and gardening. This was a far cry from past recommendations
that asked people to exercise 20-60 minutes, 3-5 times a week,
at 60-85 percent of maximum effort.
Why did the Surgeon General's report recommend less intense
exercise than before? They sold out! Only 12 percent of Americans
followed vigorous exercise programs. Rather than tell the
truth about how much exercise people really need, they reduced
the exercise recommendations so that more people would exercise.
They reasoned that getting many people in the country to do
some moderate intensity exercise was better than a small group
of people exercising intensely.
What's happened since the 1996 Surgeon General's exercise
report? Obesity rates skyrocketed and people are no more active
than they were then. In some states obesity rates have climbed
more than 100 percent in only three years. To make matters
worse, people no longer had to feel guilty about exercising
vigorously because the Surgeon General's office told them
it was okay not to. The US National Academy of Sciences and
the World Health Organizations- in separate reports- recognized
that exercising moderately for 30 minutes a day will not help
people lose weight, let alone make them look lean and fit.
So, each group recommended that people exercise 60 minutes
or more per day.
Americans do not want to be fat. The mega sales of books such
as Dr. Atkins Diet Revolution and The South Beach Diet and
our national obsession with fit, lean celebrities like Janet
Jackson, Angelina Jolie, Demi More, and Brittany Spears show
that Americans want to be healthy-looking and have nice looking
bodies. Unfortunately, most of us aren't willing to work hard
enough to achieve these goals. If you are overweight, do you
want to stay that way, or are you willing to do the work it
takes to create a new you?
Myths and New Realities about Exercise Intensity and Weight
Elegant studies by Dr. George Brooks from the University of
California, Berkeley showed that the body uses mainly fats
for fuel at rest and low exercise intensities. Above 65 percent
of maximum effort the body switches abruptly to carbohydrates
and uses much less fat. The rate of fat breakdown in fat cells
also decreases with increasing exercise intensity. The best
method for losing weight through exercise looks like a no-brainer:
train at low exercise intensity because you use fat as fuel.
The studies suggest that the longer you exercise, the more
fat you use as fuel and the more body fat you'll lose. Exercise
equipment manufacturers have taken note of these studies and
have included so-called fat burning zones programmed into
treadmill workouts that have people exercising at 30-60 percent
of maximum effort.
The real answer to the question of how to lose fat through
exercise is not so obvious. True- you use more fat as fuel
when you exercise moderately. But, you lose more body fat
when you exercise intensely during a 24-hour period because
you use more fat for fuel and increase metabolism (increase
calorie use) more after exercise. Also, you burn more calories
during the exercise itself. The total daily energy use is
more important for fat loss than the kinds of fuels used during
You lose fat by using more calories than you take in. You
will burn many more calories training intensely than exercising
slowly. The body does not metabolize fats by themselves. Rather,
fat use is integrated with carbohydrate and protein metabolism.
Even if you used more fat during exercise, fuel storage balances
itself out according to energy balance - calories in versus
calories out. Intense exercise causes you to burn more calories
and fat after the exercise is over. So, when trying to lose
fat, work harder and burn more calories.
Intense exercise builds muscle tissue- particularly if you
include weight training in your program. Muscle uses more
calories than any other tissue in the body. The more muscle
you have, the more calories- and fat- you will use.
Intense exercise increases fat use after the exercise is over.
You use the readily available carbs during intense exercise,
and then switch to fats during recovery. The body uses more
fats as fuel after an intense workout than after an easy one.
Intense exercise increases post-exercise metabolism more than
light exercise does. Run for an hour at 70-80 percent of maximum
effort and you get an extra post-exercise calorie-burning
bonus of nearly 100 calories.
Studies on Exercise Intensity and Fat Loss
Women are much more sophisticated about new weight loss programs
than they used to be. They are less apt to fall for dramatic
weight loss claims made by supermarket tabloids. Exercising
intensely will help you lose fat faster than any other weight
loss plan. This is supported by studies on animals and humans.
The benefits of intense exercise have been supported by a
series of studies conducted for more than 10 years at Laval
University in Canada. These results suggest that women who
train intensely have more muscle and less fat than women who
exercise at lower intensities. People exercising more intensely
lost much more body fat, even though they exercised for less
time than a moderately intensely training group.
Researchers from Duke University- led by Dr. Cris Slentz found
similar results in a study published in January 2004. The
8-month study showed that people could lose weight through
exercise alone without dieting (the average energy intake
was slightly more than 2000 calories per day). People who
exercised intensely lost much more fat than those who trained
moderately. However, even moderate intensity exercise caused
some fat loss.
A notable exception to these findings was a study published
in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association
in September of 2003 by researchers from the University of
Pittsburgh, led by Dr. John Jakicic. They found that exercise
duration or intensity had no effect on weight loss in obese
women. Moderate exercise was just as effective as intense
or long duration exercise. The major problem with the study
was that the workouts were not supervised. Many women- particularly
those who are severely overweight- feel uncomfortable training
intensely unless they are closely supervised. Also, the study
didn't measure changes in body fat- only weight and body mass
index (determines if weight is proportional to height).
You use more fat as fuel when you exercise slowly but you
lose more body fat when exercising intensely. High intensity
training- particularly when using interval training (bouts
of intense exercise interrupted by rest) increases release
of fat from fat cells, fat use for fuel, and metabolic rate
after exercise more than low- or moderate-intensity exercise,
so you lose more body fat. Also, high-intensity exercise decreases
appetite more than moderate or low intensity exercises. You're
interested in the bottom line- does the program help you lose
fat and make you look better in your clothes? Overwhelmingly,
research studies shows that intense exercise is best for losing
Losing Body Fat Through High Intensity Exercise
Train intensely - combining aerobics, interval training, and
weight training- and you will lose weight and keep it off.
Combine your program with a well-balanced diet. Do not follow
a low carbohydrate diet, such as the Atkins or South Beach
diets. They will not provide the carbs you need to train intensely.
With this program, you won't have to worry about excess carbs:
you will metabolize them rapidly during exercise and then
chip away at your body fat for the rest of the day. As with
any exercise program, begin conservatively and progress gradually.
Below are some important principles for getting the most from
an intense workout program.
Do 60-90 minutes of aerobic exercise at 60 to 85 percent of
maximum effort, 3-5 days per week. This will burn about 500-1000
calories a day, which is enough to get rid of about a pound
of fat per week if you train 5 days per week. That doesn't
sound like a lot, but you will lose fat and not muscle. What's
more, you will lose weight and it will stay off. Add a sensible
diet to the equation and you will rid your body of excess
fat before you know it.
Include Interval training in your workout: Interval training
includes intense running (sprinting) interrupted by periods
of rest or light exercise. If training on gym equipment, such
as a treadmill or elliptical trainer, exercise intensely for
one minute at near maximum intensity, rest for one minute,
then repeat 6-20 times (depending on your fitness level).
If training on an outdoor running track, begin by sprinting
the straight-aways and walking the turns. As you increase
fitness, increase the distance of your sprints to 200 meters
and then 400 meters (rest 1-5 minutes between sprints). You
will notice rapid increases in fitness and fat loss with this
kind of training.
Train with weights at least two days per week: Weight training
increases muscle mass that will give you a higher metabolic
rate. More muscle mass means that you burn more calories during
the day. Also, you will look fit if you have more muscle.
Women do not usually build large bulky muscles from lifting
weights, so train hard when you train.
Stretch after you workout, when the muscles are warm: Maintaining
flexibility will help you prevent injury and maintain normal
range of motion in the joints. Stretch after exercise during
the cool-down period rather than before.
Eat a well-balanced diet: Eat a balanced diet containing a
variety of foods. Include wholesome foods, such as fruits,
vegetables, lean meats, whole grains, monounsaturated oils,
nuts, and fish. Avoid simple sugars and saturated and trans
fats. The Atkins type diet- high in protein and fats and low
in carbohydrates- is not appropriate for this kind of exercise
because you need carbs to train intensely. The Atkins diet
works well for people who want to lose weight but are only
Back off if you get injured: Intense training greatly increases
the risk of overuse injuries. People who train intensely ride
a thin edge between peak performance and injury because they
push hard all the time. Back off on the program when your
knees, Achilles tendons, hips, or back hurt. Take a few days
off and then begin again at a lower intensity.
intensely and Lose Weight Fast
You can lose weight and look fit and healthy if you are willing
to pay the price. Losing 10, 20, 30 pounds or more is no problem
if you follow a few basic principles and stick with the program.
More importantly, you can maintain your new weight. If you
start today, one-year from now there will be a new you. You
will be thinner, vibrant, healthier, and look terrific. The
ball is in your court- promise to make fitness and diet a
priority in your life and you will achieve the kind of body
High Intensity Exercise for Fast Fat Loss
(Build up to this program; Begin with walking and light weight
training if you haven't been exercising. Increase the volume
and intensity of your program gradually)
Monday: Aerobics (track or treadmill running, cycling, elliptical
trainer, etc) 60-90 minutes at 60-85 percent of maximum effort.
Tuesday: Weight training (Do 1-3 sets of 10 repetitions for
8-10 exercises, emphasizing the major muscle groups of the
Wednesday: Interval training (Do six 200 meter sprints at
90 percent of maximum effort, resting three minutes between
sprints; or ten one minute sprints on an elliptical trainer,
with one minute rest between intervals); Aerobics, 45 minutes
at 60-85 percent of maximum effort.
Friday: Weight training (Do 1-3 sets of 10 repetitions for
8-10 exercises, emphasizing the major muscle groups of the
body). Aerobics, 45 minutes at 60-85 percent of maximum effort.
Saturday: Interval training (Do six 200 meter sprints at 90
percent of maximum effort, resting three minutes between sprints;
or ten one minute sprints on an elliptical trainer, with one
minute rest between intervals); Aerobics, 45 minutes at 60-85
percent of maximum effort.
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