Friday, February 25, 2011

Burn the FAT, not the MUSCLE!

There are many things that can help you lose weight, but have you ever thought about what you’re losing? Many people don’t realize that weight is not equal to fat. Many diet and exercise fads make you lose muscle mass and water weight, as well as body fat. Let’s identify the types of things that WILL burn FAT and stop you from losing muscle mass; building muscle, cardiovascular exercise, and healthy eating habits.

Building muscle is essential for burning fat. One pound of muscle burns 60 calories a day. Imagine if you gained 5lbs of muscle, that’s 300 extra calories burned each day. That is an extra pound of fat burned about every 10 days! Some great ways to build muscle are weight lifting, bodyweight exercise (calisthenics), muscle recovery, and eating enough protein to support your gains. All of these things will help you build muscle, which in turn will help you burn body fat.

Cardiovascular exercise is also necessary for burning fat. For optimal results you want to keep your heart rate in what is called the Fat Burning Zone. The fat burning zone is 220-(your age) x (.75). For example, a 25 year old would take 220-25= 195 x .75= 146. You can have a variance of about 10bmp in either direction and still be in the zone. This means a 25 year old would want to keep their heart rate between 136bpm and 156bpm. Some ways to incorporate cardio into your workouts would be walking, running, biking, swimming, jump rope, kickboxing, high intensity interval training, along with many others. Committing to doing cardiovascular exercise and keeping your heart rate in the fat burning zone will be beneficial to anyone on a quest to burn fat and keep muscle.

Having healthy eating habits is key to building muscle, burning fat, and keeping your body healthy. Eating on a regular schedule throughout the day is very important to increase, and keep your metabolism high. Muscle is fueled by protein. Therefore you should eat enough protein to not only keep the muscle you have now, but fuel the new muscle growth. Unlike carbohydrates and fats, your body is unable to store proteins it does not utilize, so you should increase your protein intake as your muscle mass increases. Great protein sources are poultry, fish, beef, eggs, nuts, beans, and of course protein shakes. You do need more than just protein of course. Carbohydrates are a very important part of your diet. Things such as vegetables, brown rice, oatmeal, whole grains, pasta, sweet potatoes, legumes, etc are staples for many meals. Fruits are a great carbohydrate to eat as a snack between meals. You should also make sure to incorporate some healthy fats, in moderation, into your diet. Healthy fats are necessary for your brain and body to function correctly. Olive oil, fish oil, flax seeds/flax seed oil, nuts, peanut butter, and avocados are easy to add into your diet, and you can even find fish oil and flax seed oils in capsules, which makes it a no brainer way to get your healthy fats. As you can see healthy eating is a big part of building muscle and burning fat and keeping your body healthy overall.

Hopefully you gained some knowledge by reading this article, and are able to incorporate this information into your fat burning regimen.