Americans are at war!
Not the type of war your thinking about, this is a war with obesity. The US finds itself as one of the most overweight countries in the world. Last numbers I saw one-third of American’s are obese and three-quarters are overweight. A person is considered obese when their BMI is 30 or higher. A person is classified as overweight with a BMI that falls between 25 and 30.
With all the late-night infomercials, get fit quick, and a whole host of misinformation on the internet it is easy to see how we have gotten this way as a country. American’s are bombarded almost daily with the latest and greatest training or dieting methods but the one constant in the fitness industry is the principles of how our bodies burn excess body fat.
To truly transform your body and reach your desired body composition, you need to first understand your metabolism.
Or how your body uses and burns the calories you consume. Metabolism is the process your body goes through to convert the calories you eat into energy in order to maintain life.
Your metabolism has three distinct parts: basal metabolic rate, physical activity, and the thermic effect of food.
Let’s take a closer look at each of these parts.
The basal metabolic rate or BMR makes up the biggest portion of your metabolism. Your BMR is the amount of calories your body utilizes to perform basic processes to maintain life. Some of these processes are breathing, maintaining body temp, and blood circulation. Your BMR is responsible for 70% of your total metabolism.
The thermic effect of food is the next portion of your metabolism making up 10-20% of your total metabolism. Basically, the thermic effect of food is the energy your body utilizes to process and break down the food you eat. Each macronutrient (protein, carbs, fats) produces a different response with protein causing the largest thermic effect of food response.
Your daily physical activity is the last portion of your metabolism which makes up anywhere between 20-30% of your total metabolism. This portion of your metabolism is the amount of energy your body goes through during activity whether that is cleaning the house, mowing the lawn, or doing purposeful exercise.
Now, this is where many people make a HUGE mistake and follow the saying “calories in vs. calories out”. While it is true that you need to be in a calorie deficit for weight loss to happen, there is more to it than just simply calories in and calories out. This is when people decrease their calories to a generic total (which typically seems to be 1200 calories). This will induce weight loss but it can also be detrimental, you see eating a large calorie deficit will actually decrease your metabolic process causing your body to actually burn less calories which will lead to failure in the long scheme of things.
So, rather than just simply cutting back on calories, we need to increase the biggest portion of our metabolism. That is our BMR!
The secret to doing this is by increasing the amount of lean muscle tissue we carry on our frames and this requires the proper amount of protein and resistance training (and for the female readers out there, resistance training will not make you look like a male).
There are other days to increase your calorie deficiency such as adjusting the frequency of your meals and even by manipulating your macronutrients. The biggest key to reaching your goals is by burning the highest amount of calories while keeping your calorie intake as high as possible. To do this, you need to utilize stored body fat as energy by following a proper exercise program.
An example would be resistance training on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
These sessions should challenge you. Coupled with a proper diet, these sessions will ensure that you maintain or increase your lean muscle tissue. This will increase your BMR, which in turn increases how many calories you burn daily. Burning more calories each day makes it easier to maintain a lean body.
On Tuesdays and Thursdays utilize anaerobic exercise, my favorites are a HIIT session or even Tabata.
These types of workouts ensure you melt stored body fat. HIIT or High-Intensity Interval Training is one of my favorite types of workouts. HIIT is a style of workout that is performed with repeated rounds of a high-intensity movement for a short duration followed by rounds of lower intensity of active recovery. On a scale of 1-10, the high-intensity rounds should be performed at a level of 7. If you prefer to gauge your intensity level by using your heart rate, high-intensity would be considered anything over 80% of your maximum heart rate. To find your maximum heart rate simply take 220 minus your age.
HIIT gives you the best bang for your buck because of the afterburn effect. This is known as excessive post-exercise oxygen consumption or EPOC. EPOC increases the rate of oxygen intake after you engage in a high-intensity workout in order to help decrease the oxygen deficit within the body. Studies have shown that this can increase the resting metabolic rate in the body for 16-24 hours post-workout. This increase in your metabolic rate will lead to an increase of calories burned, which can lead to an increase in the amount of body fat burned.
Imagine how much more body fat you could potentially burn if you utilize HIIT style training 2-3 times per week!