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Your Health & Wellness, Issue #011 -- Find out how to burn the right calories to target fat stores
September 15, 2007

(Guide to a Healthy Lifestyle)

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Week of September 16, 2007

Table of Contents

* Lose Weight By Targeting the Right Calories *

Lose Weight By Targeting the Right Calories

Anyone attempting to lose weight has to be calorie-conscious. The only way to drop those unwanted pounds is to restrict your food intake or to exercise, or a combination of the two. Your food regimen involves calorie restriction and exercise involves calorie burning.

The entire world is experiencing a health crisis on an enormous scale. Levels of overweight and obesity are continuing to rise. This destructive pattern doesn't just affect adults, but children too. And there seems to be no end in sight.

Although it doesn't take any effort at all to gain fat weight, it takes a dedicated and conscious effort to take it off. This is because our bodies are designed to survive through fat storage. If food is not readily available, the body will automatically tap its fat stores for energy. In order for it to be able to do that, it has to have fat available.

In the United States and in most western nations, and in many other countries around the world, food is available in abundance. It wasn't always like that. Back in the pre-modern world, food had to be hunted. Animals and game weren't prepackaged, just waiting to be purchased. The hunter did not always come home with food for his family. He had to survive these starvation periods with the fat that his body stored for just an occasion such as that.

Today's availability of food, especially snack, junk, and fast foods, makes getting fat very easy. Coupled with a sedentary world population, fat cells grow and multiply like rabbits. Fat is easy to accumulate, but just try to get rid of it. Your body will literally fight you tooth and nail.

This is the reason that diets fail. Many diets attempt to burn fat by fooling the body. What do I mean by that? Diets such as low-calorie, low-fat, or low-carbohydrate all work against the body. They all fail to supply the entire range of nutrients--protein, carbohydrate, fat--that is needed on a daily basis. Hence they attempt to fool or trick the body.

That is why these diets are doomed to failure--and why they do fail in the long term. Your body is too intelligent and well designed to fall into those traps. A change in lifestyle however does not shortchange your body in terms of nutrition as diets do.

Okay, assuming that you are getting adequate nutrition and are exercising, how do you get the body to burn fat? First of all you want to do more than just burn calories. You want to burn the right calories. Remember, carbohydrates, protein, and fat all yield calories when metabolized. However, all you desire to get rid of are the calories from fat. These are excess calories beyond what your body needs.

The diets I mentioned earlier will guarantee you a loss of calories temporarily. They all do. But it will be protein calories from your muscle that will be sacrificed. You don't want to lose your lean body mass (muscle.) That will result in a slower metabolism which means it will be easier to store fat than it will be to burn it.

As far as nutrition is concerned, in order to lose weight you need to create a calorie deficit. That is, you must take in fewer calories than you need to maintain your present weight (See...)

Your body's preferred source of energy is glycogen. This is glucose (blood sugar) which is stored in your liver and in your muscles. Only when your glycogen stores are almost empty will the body switch to its fat stores for energy. This is true of high intensity exercise such as running. Low intensity exercise such as walking will tap your fat reserves.

There is a caveat though. Walking will only burn minimal amounts of fat. And your body will not burn additional fat calories in the hours following your walk.

A much more effective way to lose weight is to weight train, and then follow that with cardio. Lifting weights will build your lean body mass which will burn fat in order to maintain itself. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn. And these are fat calories. Muscles are constantly burning calories!

Never do cardio and then follow that with weight training. The cardio will deplete your glycogen stores. Here's the science behind it. You can only burn fat in the presence of oxygen--it's called 'aerobics.' Weight training is an anaerobic activity--there is no oxygen present. It takes approximately 20 minutes in order for fat to be mobilized. It is taken from storage and travels through the blood to be available for your muscle.

You will never use your fat stores to lift weights. After a session of cardio you have no muscle glycogen to fuel your weight training. You have wasted your time.

Lift weights first. Your muscles will tap into your muscle's glycogen stores for energy. By the time you are finished, your muscles have been effectively depleted of glycogen. You are now ready for your cardio session. Your body is now primed to burn fat.

Have you ever paid attention to the physiques of a marathon runner and a sprinter? The marathon runner is extremely lean, and viturally emaciated. The sprinter on the other hand is also extremely lean, but muscular. That's due to their opposing sports. The marathon runner's concern is long distance. The sprinter is concerned with a much shorter distance and an all out burst of speed.

The marathon athlete runs until he depletes his glycogen stores. When that happens, he continues to run. The energy from metabolized fat is not enough to supply him with energy. In order to make up for that shortfall, his body taps into his lean body mass--in other words, he starts burning muscle for energy. His body goes into starvation mode. It hoards stored fat.

The sprinter on the other hand runs all out for an extremely short period of time. He too taps his glycogen stores. By the time he has exhausted his glycogen, the race is over. The body then replenishes the used glycogen. This process of glycogen depletion and restoration can continue for 20 to 40 minutes. Once past this point, the sprinter's body burns more fat than carbs.

The sprinter's training regimen and competition builds muscle. Like weight training, it is anaerobic. Being muscular, the sprinter continues to burn fat with his high metabolism. The marathon runner on the other hand has a slow metabolism due to a lack of muscle.

In order to burn fat, you must couple exercise with sound nutrition. And be aware that your body adapts to a certain exercise routine quickly. In order to further reduce your fat stores, change up your routine every couple of months or so. And as you adapt to your walking or jogging, always strive to push yourself.

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