Turning your body into a 24/7 fat burning furnace
Burning fat is a 24/7 endeavour. To keep the fires hot, you need to eat every 2-3 hours throughout the day. Not only that, but you must choose the right foods in the right amounts to keep your metabolism revved up so you burn fat without losing muscle. The way we see it, there are a number of fundamentals – laws, if you will – that are all you need to shed excess body fat from your midsection and elsewhere. Food as we will see not only supplies the body with energy, building blocks and essential nutrients it also has a significant effect on our hormonal system which in turn can dramatically affect our ability to lose weight and replace lean tissue. Food also plays a major role in our ability to exercise and recuperate properly from training.
Stored Triglycerides – Body Fat We Want to LOSE
While all cells contain some fat, it is mainly stored in muscle (intramuscular triglycerides) and in adipose tissue (body fat). Adipose tissue is the body’s main fat storage site and the fat we all want to lose.
Adipose tissue is divided into individual cells called adiposytes. These adipocytes hold stored triglyceride (1 glycerol molecule bonded to 3 fatty acids) droplets, which serve as a source of energy for the body. These droplets make up 95% of adipocytes’ volume. In order for this storage of potential energy (60,000-100,000 kcal) to be used and to LOSE BODYFAT (everyone’s goal), it must be mobilized through lipolysis (the breakdown of triglycerides).
Lipolysis involves splitting the triglycerides into a glycerol molecule and 3 separate fatty acids (FFA). Once the fatty acids diffuse (exit) from the adipocytes, they bind to plasma albumin (a protein in the blood) in order to be transported to active tissues such as muscle where they can be burned as an energy source.
Keep the Lean
The biggest enemy of fat is muscle. People who tend to be over fat tend to be under muscled. Why? Every pound of muscle lost will actually slow down your metabolism by around 60 calories per day. For most people a combination of life style and genetics attributes to 5 to 10 pounds of muscle being stripped from the body every decade. This slows down the metabolism by 300 to 600 calories per day making it more difficult to stay lean. The primary biomarker of aging is muscle atrophy (wastage) and it not only has a negative effect on your metabolism it can also have a negative effect on the Endocrine (hormonal system) which has a major part to play in your body’s ability to maintain a healthy physical condition.
Train with intensity but don’t over train
It’s the age-old question: What type of exercise is most effective for burning fat and maintaining our physical condition. There is no definitive answer to this. Both Aerobic and resistance exercise (weight training) have their benefits. However if you are over 30 and want to maintain or develop a healthy Basal Metabolic Rate(the amount of calories it takes to keep you body going at rest over 24 hours) resistance exercise done correctly is imperative. It’s the only form of exercise which can significantly aid in replacing muscle lost from ageing and poor lifestyle while burning significant amounts of fat at the same time. By redeveloping muscle it speeds our BMR 24hours per day 7 days per week making it easier to burn fat and also stay lean.
But what is the best way of doing it. How many sets, how many exercises, how many repetitions do you need, and how much time should you spend in the gym each day? The answer is Intensity and not duration.
Resistance exercise is anaerobic by nature meaning the working muscles derive energy primarily from ATPand glycogen without oxygen. This depletes glycogen stores rapidly so the average individual only has around 20 minutes of stored glycogen available for anaerobic exercise when burning fat is the primary goal, it is imperative that you don’t train for too long and not to the point where you’re flattened and thoroughly exhausted. That type of over training may seem the way to go, but it does nothing for your anabolic (recovery) hormones.
Serious fat loss requires you to retain muscle mass, the body’s primary metabolic driver. If you go over 30 minutes in the gym your body starts running out of glycogen and starts breaking down muscle. Testosterone and Growth Hormone (fat liberating hormones) go into free fall and your metabolism follows suit.
Go ahead, train as intensely as we can, just don’t go longer than 30 minutes in any one workout. Do as many sets and reps as we can during this time, using shorter rest periods and precise exercise technique. This generates enough muscular and cardio vascular overload to stimulate the nervous system to enhance a positive hormonal and metabolic response. You become leaner lighter fitter and stronger all at the same time.
Cortisol is a stress hormone; it is the enemy of muscle and a friend of fat. It is released by the adrenal glands and is essential to good health but when over produced it has 3 negative effects on your body’s physiology.
- It activates the body to breakdown muscle and connective tissue and convert them into Glucose, in turn it can make the body glucose intolerant. This will lead to cravings for fast acting carbohydrates driving up blood sugars and insulin making the body susceptible to storing fat.
- It impedes the Thyroid Gland converting T3 into the active Thyroxin T4 which can severely inhibit metabolism and energy levels.
- It also interferes with the hypothalamus pituitary axis inhibiting Growth Hormone release, slowing down the metabolism while hampering recovery rate and tissue repair.
As we get older our testosterone levels tend to drop leaving us more susceptible to the over production of Cortisol. Hence as we age we need to be vigilant in controlling Cortisol if we want to stay in good physical condition. Endurance type aerobic exercise is effective at burning fat but the down side is it kicks up too much Cortiso damaging the metabolism. This in turn makes it difficult to burn fat and stay lean.
However there is a way around this.
High Intensity Interval Training or HIIT is training where you alternate between intervals of high-intensity and low-intensity exercise. Example 15 seconds all out followed by 45 seconds of low-intensity cardio. Repeat 10 to 15 times.
This type of cardio is less stressful and more effective than conventional cardio sessions performed at low intensity for long durations. Conventional cardio can produce high levels of cortisol which can slow your resting metabolism as we have explained, so even though you’re burning calories on one side you’re losing on the other. Also the metabolism returns back to normal very quickly after low intensity cardio sessions. HIIT training actually helps to minimise cortisol levels and can keep the metabolism high for nearly 12 to 18 hours after training.
Do (HIIT) Cardio at the right time to help burn stubborn fat.
If you are doing Cardio on your own be aware that it exerts two benefits: it burns calories and affects hormone levels in the body. Specifically, cardio helps raise levels of norepinephrine(NE) Yet when you do cardio makes a big difference to how your body handles the hormonal changes. Cardio on an empty stomach allows (NE) to readily target fat cells, which triggers maximal fat-burning. On the flip side, if you eat before doing cardio, and particularly if you eat fast carbohydrates, the fat-blocking hormone insulin rises, making your body less effective at burning fat.
We learned that NE activates the receptors that stimulate lipolysis (fat breakdown). Research shows that NE secretion increases with exercise intensity. In addition, as cardio duration increases fat utilization increases while carbohydrate utilization decreases. So we need to perform high-intensity cardio for a long duration of time to maximize fat burning. The only problem is one cannot maintain high-intensity cardio for a long duration. So how can we overcome this while maximizing fat loss? By doing the following: Example 10-15 minutes of HIIT followed by 10-15 minutes of Low-Intensity Cardio.
Eat more frequently
Meal frequency, or how many times you eat each day, affects your overall metabolism. Every time you eat, the body’s calorie-burning engine, also known as metabolism, slightly increases. This is especially true for meals that contain protein. So if you eat five times a day, you’ll experience five metabolic surges a day, rather than just three if you eat only three times a day. And, of course, eating six times per day would be even better than five. This is the only way to lean out without having to drastically reduce calories. Frequent feedings tend to increase the chance that what you eat will be utilized by the body rather than being packed away as body fat.
Eating habits can have a detrimental effect on your metabolism. Eating very little for breakfast and lunch followed by a surge of calories in the evening triggers the body to overcompensate and put away calories in the form of fat in case you starve yourself again tomorrow .You teach your body to become very efficient at storing calories rather than utilizing them. This will not only add to your fat deposits, it’s also bad for your health and will drag down your energy and vitality.
Eat 5 small meals per day, spaced 2-3 hours apart. Don’t go longer than three hours without eating – your body will go into starvation mode, increasing stress levels which in turn will trigger the adrenal cortex to release excessive levels of cortisol which in turn breaks down muscle fibre slowing your metabolism and increasing fat storage and making it more likely that you’ll overeat at your next meal. Speaking of overeating, just because you’re consuming more meals do.
Prioritize Post Workout Meal
After you train, you’re metabolism is fired up. Why? Depleted, broken-down muscles soak up both protein and carbohydrates for recovery. If you eat too little at this time, you may actually set yourself back by impeding recovery; supporting recovery actually increases metabolism while impeding it slows the metabolism. In terms of spurring recovery and muscle density, just about the most counterproductive thing you can do after a hard workout is to starve yourself.
Eat within half an hour after you train including both protein and complex carbohydrates to ensure maximum recovery and stimulation to your metabolism.
Recuperation – Keep the carbohydrates low before bed
Once again, it’s about hormones. At night your insulin sensitivity decreases, meaning your body must release more insulin than usual to put any carbohydrates you eat at night to use in the body. And by now you know that higher insulin levels can decrease fat-burning and enhance fat storage. In addition, the body naturally produces a fat-liberating hormone called growth hormone (GH) within the initial 90 minutes of sleep.
GH not only increases fat-burning but it is required to build lean tissue and strengthen the immune system. Simple fast acting carbohydrates inhibit GH release, so it’s ideal to go to bed under one of two scenarios: on an empty stomach or, even better, having consumed only protein and small amounts of complex carbohydrates. This allows blood glucose – the high-tech name for digested carbohydrates circulating in the blood – to remain low, which facilitates the rise in nocturnal GH production.
Eat your last meal no later than 1 to 2 hours before bed maintaining your protein and complex carbohydrate balance .White fish, vegetables and whole grain grown basmati rice. These combinations will ensure you have ough carbohydrates not to feel irritable so you can’t sleep properly but not so much that you will inhibit GH release.