Fitness Quicky: Fat Loss

I want to take a second to teach a principle of how our bodies work with relation to fat loss. A common “intervention” for being overweight is low-intensity, long-duration aerobic activity. While this is not bad…it is actually amazing and you should do it, it is not always the best way to “burn fat” or lose weight. Let me explain:

Weight loss is simple- calorie output must be higher than calorie input, or burn more calories than you eat. That is how it works. *Nerd alert- there are some new theories bouncing around about insulin’s role and high glycemic index foods being different than others…blah blah. Until there is some really good evidence for this, it’s only a guess.*

So, how do you burn more calories? Good question. There’s a couple of things to understand here. The total calories you burn through a day is based off your basal metabolic rate (BMR) and the activity you perform that day. (Basal Metabolic Rate- this is basically the amount of calories you burn to maintain homeostasis…or to make sure you stay alive.)

BMR + Activity= Calories Burned.

You can (and should) increase your activity levels, but how do you affect your BMR? By Building a bigger engine! If you think of your body as a car and your food as the gas, what car burns more gas a Ferrari with 700 horsepower or my 1991 Isuzu Trooper with like 11 horsepower? The Ferrari…barely! To burn more “gas” in your “car” you need to get more “horsepower” or muscle mass.

Lean muscle requires calories to stay in homeostasis, the more you have the higher your BMR is, therefore the more calories you burn just to be alive!

The big take away here is this: if your goal is to lose weight, you should have an aerobic program that integrates strength training. The more muscle you have the easier it will be to burn that fat.

Comment if you have questions!


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