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How many times a week do I hear a thin, fit person harp on about the benefits of exercise and that all fat people are fat because they don’t do enough? It must be at least once a week and often more. Then there are the people who you see in the gym every week hammering themselves on the running machine or pounding away on the step master machine hoping that being out of breath is going to really make a difference to the ever disappearing waistline.
The belief that exercise per se will make a difference is probably the most wicked of all messages ever handed out. Watching the overweight making themselves sweaty running, while feeling uncomfortable, is painful but knowing that they think the sweaty exercise it is actually helping them lose fat is heart breaking.
I have no idea where this myth about running around came from but there is no doubt about the science which was recently covered in a study published in The British Journal of Sports Medicine.
So if you want to use exercise as a tool in your fat loss programme then you need to know that:-
• Burning calories does not mean fat burn.
• The most effective heart rate for fat burn is 60 – 80% of maximum heart rate which means that you are often better doing lower impact sports.
• The key to using the body as a fat burn tool is metabolic rate and that is determined as much by the amount of muscle you have.
• Building muscle can get your heart rate up to the right fat burning level and then at the same time you can improve your metabolic rate.
Having said all this you still need to know that the fundamental key to burning fat is diet and most diets actually don’t discriminate between fat and muscle so whilst the pounds come off you could be losing the very tissue (muscle) that you need to burn the fat. What is also not often understood is that fat weighs less than muscle so measuring your progress by your weight loss can be very deceptive.
The very intelligent way to use exercise is to understand what it is really doing for you.

14 December 2009

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