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Fat Loss - Part Two

 

Exercise for fat loss

In the second part of this fat loss blog, we’re going to look at some of the most common questions relating to exercise and fat loss. But first, it is important to remember that exercise is only one part, without the right nutrition plan in place it is often difficult to get the results your efforts deserve. Remember, it is much harder to burn a few hundred calories compared to how easy it is to eat a few hundred.  If you missed it, don’t forget to have a look at Part one of the fat loss blog.

HIIT vs Steady State Exercise

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is something that has been around for a long time but has seen a surge in popularity over the last few years. By promising better results in less time it is easy to see why so many have been championing HIIT as the best type of exercise for fat loss. If you have not come across HIIT before, a typical session could be something like intervals of 30 seconds flat out sprinting on a stationary gym bike with a few minutes recovery in between. Six intervals only results in 3 minutes of ‘effort’ but research has shown that this is enough to produce a number of health benefits such as weight loss and increase insulin sensitivity1. However, when it comes to weight loss, the jury is still out on whether it is more effective than steady state type endurance exercise.

 

To date, there is little scientific data to show that HIIT is any better than steady state, moderate intensity exercise. In fact a review in paper in 2013 concluded that, ‘there is little conclusive evidence for more favorable effects with high-intensity training than with continuous moderate-intensity exercise on body weight or fat mass loss’. To look at this from the other side, HIIT has been shown to be just as effective as steady state endurance exercise.

 

 

Fed vs Fasted

Fasted cardio is one method that has been used for a long time by people who are looking to shift weight. The theory behind it is that because the body will have low amounts of stored carbohydrate after fasting, it will use more fat to fuel the exercise. And this has been found to be the case. However, we lose weight over the course of days, weeks and months – not minutes and hours. There is evidence showing that when we use more fat for fuel during fasted training, it is compensated by a greater carbohydrate utilization later in the day2. Another study comparing fasted and fed cardio exercise found no difference in weight loss when a calorie deficit was maintained. Again, to look at this from the other side, fasted exercise has not been shown to result in worse outcomes than fed exercise – except maybe with resistance training. When it comes to building muscles, training in a fed state is more likely to be beneficial in slowing down muscle protein breakdown and increase muscle protein synthesis.

The best exercise for fat loss

So, if you prefer steady state running over going all out during sprint intervals then don’t be put off by all of the HIIT hype. In the same way, if you find it hard to exercise in the morning before breakfast then don’t think that a small meal is going to balance out your exercise efforts. Hopefully these two points have highlighted to you though that the best exercise for weight loss (much like with diet) is not the one that is being shouted about by a trainer at the gym or a headline on a magazine. The best one is actually the one that you will stick with. If you can’t see yourself still going to the gym in a few months time then it will not help you in the long term. Exercise is hard, so making it as enjoyable as possible is important in making sure you stick at it in the long run. Exercise for fat loss doesn’t have to take the traditional form either. Countless numbers of people flock to the gym or hit the pavements in the New Year even though they don’t necessarily enjoy it. Why not try taking up a new sport or going back to a sport you used to play? One study has found that playing 5-a-side football 2 or 3 times a week led to more weight loss in untrained men than going for a few runs3. Make exercise a part of your lifestyle, and one that you enjoy, not just something that is a means to an end in order to lose weight.

 

References:

1) Kilpatrick, M. W., Jung, M. E., & Little, J. P. (2014). High-intensity interval training: a review of physiological and psychological responses. ACSM's Health & Fitness Journal18(5), 11-16.

2) Verboeket-Van de Venne, W. P. H. G., & Wcslertcrp, K. R. (1991). Influence of the feeding frequency on nutrient utilization in man: consequences for energy metabolism. Pattern of food intake, diet composition and human energy metabolism, 17.

3) Krustrup, P., Nielsen, J. J., Krustrup, B. R., Christensen, J. F., Pedersen, H., Randers, M. B., & Bangsbo, J. (2009). Recreational soccer is an effective health-promoting activity for untrained men. British journal of sports medicine,43(11), 825-831.