Thursday, March 3, 2011

The WRONG way to lose weight...

Perfect conditions for the fat burning flame?
Many people think there isn't a wrong way to lose weight. Their philosophy is if the number on the scale is dropping, the smile on their face is growing. 

But what if you weren't losing fat, but were losing muscle? As we age, muscle helps to reduce injury, improve balance, maintain bone density, increase metabolism, and give your friends something to look at and be jealous of.

Now there have been some pretty strange methods of losing weight (i.e. the Hotdog diet).  But there have also been some methods that had the potential for success, but from a practical standpoint, weren't great for losing fat. One of them was recently written about by a graduate classmate of mine in the Strength & Conditioning Journal.

Brad Schoenfeld wrote a review article titled "Does cardio after an overnight fast maximize fat loss?" In it, Schoenfeld describes the idea behind the technique. Basically the thought is that after an overnight fast, the body will shift from carbohydrate energy source to using fat as the primary energy source during steady state (constant speed and incline) cardio.

Schoenfeld first points out that looking only at the amount of fat burned during exercise is quite short sighted because there are still 23 hours left in the day where our body has an energy demand. In addition, he cites recent studies showing that interval training results in much greater fat loss over the course of days and weeks.

He also cites research showing that a pre-workout meal of protein + carbohydrate actually increases post-exercise energy consumption, and that energy is primarily fat. Another key point that Schoenfeld makes is the fact that in a fasted state, the body will begin to breakdown muscle tissue. The effects of this are slowing of metabolism which actually INCREASES fat storage!! 

Burning nothing but time...and maybe some muscle.
In summary, this article really highlights the arguments for and against early morning cardio on fat loss. Overwhelmingly, the results are that steady state cardio without eating prior to exercise is a BAD idea. Heck, for fat loss, steady state cardio isn't very successful AT ALL!!!

So what does this mean for you? 

Well if you're going to exercise you MUST eat or drink something prior to working out. Otherwise you risk burning muscle for fuel!!But you're not a morning breakfast person? Have some juice mixed with protein powder. This will absorb faster and prevent muscle breakdown as well as increase your fat burning potential AFTER your workout, where it really matters.

Have a great weekend!!

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