There are a lot of myths and fads out there when it comes to weight loss. Some say that you need to diet hard to reduce your calorie intake. Some say that diet is not important, as long as you maintain stringent weight loss exercise programs. Some take the middle road, and say that you should have a healthy diet and do some sort of exercise program.
While it is well established that a healthy diet is important, what a lot of people fail to address is what sort of exercise is the best to promote long term weight loss. Do the wrong sort of exercise and you might be wasting your time, or even working against yourself in the long run.
It has been a long held view that low intensity training is the best to burn fat. The reason put forward was that training in the low intensity zone allows the body to use oxygen and fat to fuel the exercise. (The low intensity zone is where your heart rate is at approximately 65% of your maximum heart rate threshold while exercising. Maximum heart rate is approximately 220 heart beats per minute less your age.)
Exercising in this zone for 30 minutes burns approximately 300 calories (depending on your weight) which has been established as the amount you need to burn to control weight.
The problem with this approach is that burning fat with low intensity training, while dieting, also burns protein, which is the building block of muscle. Burning muscle as well as fat to lose weight is not a desired result, as your metabolism will slow down. Research has shown that building and toning muscle is important to increase your metabolism. Why is that important? Well, if you increase your metabolism, which is the speed which your body processes food, you speed up fat burning and weight loss.
Studies at the University of New South Wales in Australia has shown that combining low intensity training with bursts of high intensity training promotes faster weight loss as well as the toning and building of muscle. This style of exercise is called interval training. The studies claim that it is possible to burn up to six times the fat than that under normal low intensity cardio training.
The training involves high intensity exercise for 8 seconds, followed by a recovery period of 12 seconds. This is repeated for 20 minutes. Make sure you warm up well. It is important to assess your fitness level before you start any interval training program, and increase the recovery periods if needed. Always check with your doctor before starting any exercise program.
The most effective methods for interval training are jogging, using a bike or a stationary exercise bike.
Losing fat and preventing muscle loss is critical to keeping the weight off permanently. It is common for weight to be put on quickly after a diet is finished, or stopping a cardio weight loss exercise program if muscle has been lost, because as muscle tone returns, protein is replaced and weight increases. That is why people sometimes experience a see-sawing effect of losing weight and putting it back on when the weight loss exercise program is stopped.
The most effective way to stop this see-sawing effect of losing weight only to regain it, and maybe even more, is to maintain muscle mass, keep your metabolism high, and target only losing that stubborn fat with weight loss exercise programs that incorporate interval training.