Thursday, July 21, 2011

Fitness Advice in a Magazine that Makes Sense: Awesome!

After the absurd advice from our last post, I thought it would be a good idea to follow with actual good advice from the popular women's magazine, Glamour, on how to have a better workout:

The real talent in the magazine industry is how to make the same topics sound like something different every month.


So let's go through point by point and give a bit more background rather than the 2-3 sentence blurb they get.

1) Workout Fat-Burner: Pump up the pace.
Need proof that working up a serious sweat will help you slim down? When women added high-intensity jogs or walks to their weekly exercise routine, they lost about two inches from their waist over four months

While the title of the article is how to burn more fat, which is true in a sense, what you're actually doing for some of the advice they'll be offering is burning more calories in general by doing more intense work.  The more intense our workout is (judging intensity by a percentage of our maximum heart rate), the more we actually use carbohydrates as the fuel source.  The less intense, the more fat is utilized.  This chart gives an idea of the carb:fat ratio for various intensities:

Intensity % MHR% Carbohydrate% Fat
65 to 704060
70 to 755050
75 to 806535
80 to 858020
85 to 909010
90 to 95955

MHR stands for maximum heart rate.  From this chart, one may think that doing low intensity exercise is the key for body fat reduction.  However, bear in mind that a 30-minute low-intensity workout does not burn nearly as many overall calories as a 30-minute high-intensity one.  So if we do a workout that burns 100 calories at 65% MHR, that's 40 calories of carbs and 60 of fat.  (Roughly; protein does play a part, but such a small one it is typically discounted)  However, if we do a workout that burns 200 calories in the same time at 80% MHR, that's 130 from carbs and 70 from fat.

As well, we shouldn't think of using fat as a fuel source as being the only way to lose body fat.  A calorie is a calorie no matter the substrate used.  If you burn carbohydrates to fuel your muscles in a high intensity workout, carbohydrates you take in after that will go towards refilling your muscle stores rather than being converted to fat.  It's just a different path to get to the same end.  The most common idea is that strength training = building / keeping muscle, cardio = fat loss.  In reality both burn calories and both are good for changing our body composition.  In fact, if we JUST do cardio for fat loss, our body tends to use our muscles as a fuel source, reducing the amount used by fat! (In addition to making for a flabby physique!)

A not flabby physique

2)Workout Fat-Burner: Adjust the length of your workout.

It’s a no-brainer that working out longer can help you boost the burn, but how much longer? According to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, women who logged about an hour of moderate activity every day gained little or no weight during a 13-year period.

Well this one doesn't really need explanation.  Exercising longer burns more calories.  Exercising an hour longer burns more calories than exercising 30 minutes longer (assuming intensity stays the same).  In other news, the sky is blue, more on this report at 7.

Accompanying photo to this point on the original article.  I too make intense Oooooo faces while curling 5lb dumbbells on the beach.

3) Workout Fat-Burner: Turn up the tunes

Listening to music during your workout can motivate you to push yourself harder, thus boosting your fat-burning ability. When women underwent a cycling test, they performed better with music than without. And during a strength-training workout, women could perform more repetitions before reaching fatigue while listening to loud music versus soft music or no music.

Very true!  Music is a huge motivator and can make us want to push it further than before.  This is why all group fitness and cycling classes have music to push you (for a dance class like Zumba) or relax you (for classes like Yoga).  Of course, this is a completely subjective point.  Some people like complete silence, and I have a friend who listens to classical music while he lifts.  Different strokes!

4) Workout Fat-Burner: Drink milk.

Moo juice can do more for you than build strong bones. When women drank about four cups of fat-free milk after their strength-training workouts (half immediately after exercising and the other half one hour later), they lost more fat in 12 weeks than women who drank a carbohydrate beverage, according to a study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise

Another very good point.  After a bout of weight training taking in a 4:1 combination of carbohydrates and protein is a very good idea (Hence why milk is a solid choice.).  The carbohydrates helps the protein get absorbed and put to use repairing muscle fibers that tear during training, as well as restores our muscles sources of carbohydrates.  It's best to get this drink in up to an hour after your workout, when your body is most receptive to using the nutrients to restore muscle glycogen.  

(Also a good excuse to drink chocolate milk)

5) Workout Fat-Burner: Try intervals.

Although it can be tough, interval training may torch flab faster than a regular workout. In one study, individuals completed 10 exercise intervals, doing four minutes of super-hard work followed by two minutes of rest. The upshot? Interval training helped them burn more fat

We covered why this is true in the first point, and also brushed on interval training in the last post.  Good to see magazines advocating this now.

6)Workout Fat-Burner: Sip tea.

The next time you need to quench your thirst, slug some green tea. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that men who consumed the equivalent of roughly five cups of green tea during a 24-hour period before doing a 30-minute moderate-intensity workout burned more fat than men who took a placebo

Caffeine before workouts does increase the amount of fat loss because caffeine increases the amount of free fatty acids circulating in the blood and will be used more over carbs / protein.  However the effects of this can and most likely will diminish over time as you keep taking in caffeine.  As well, these are not drastic increases in fat metabolism so don't expect this to be the answer to all your fat-loss woes. 

Hopefully soon I'll put up analysis of another Glamour fitness article from this month's issue as soon as I can get my hands on a copy.  As always, thanks for reading!

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