Can Certain Types of Exercise Be Counterproductive?
You’ve heard it a million times—if you want to lose weight, you need to start working out, burning those calories. The common perception is that, by ensuring that you’re using more calories than you’re taking in, the pounds will just melt away. The common wisdom also holds that, to maximize your potential weight loss, you want to focus on aerobic workouts, where you’ll get your heart rate up. Logically, then, it would seem that the harder you exercise, the more you can get your heartrate into that aerobic zone, the faster and more effectively you’ll slim down.
Certain Types of Exercise May Be Interfere with Long-Term Weight Loss and Management
There’s a longstanding myth about exercise and weight loss that’s commonly referred to as the “fat burning heart rate zone,” which suggests that, to effectively burn stores of fat in your body, you need to get your heart rate above a certain level (into the zone) and keep it there as long as possible. It’s simply not true.
Here’s how your body works. Most of the energy you need comes from a combination of fat and carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are like a pine fire, burning hot and fast. They are less dense than fats, so they break down much easier. When you need sudden bursts of energy, your body turns to its store of carbohydrates. Fat, on the other hand, is like a good hardwood fire, burning long and steady. For endurance athletics, you’ll rely more on your intake of or your body’s stored fats.
So what does that mean with respect to the relationship between exercise and weight loss/management? Well, if you’re constantly working to keep your heart rate at or above a certain threshold, your body will naturally turn to a source of fuel that is more readily available—carbohydrates. To effectively lose and maintain weight, you want to burn off stored fat. The best way to do that is with diet and mindset. If you want to exercise, a leisurely walk or an easy bike ride can put you in the real zone for burning fat.
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