Body Fat’s worst enemy
When we lose weight (fat) where does it go? It doesn’t just literally fall off our body, rather it is used a fuel when our body is in a caloric intake deficit relative to our caloric expenditure (eat less than our body needs).
Where exactly does this fuel utilization occur in the body? The muscle tissue is where the body will utilize fat a fuel in the presence of oxygen and thus “burn” off fat. This is way we educate our clients that muscle is our metabolism and having concern for muscle in your program is paramount to shedding unwanted fat.
How you leverage this information is a process we call “Hierarchy of Fat Loss” here at My Fitness Kitchen. Basically there is a chain of command when it comes to how certain activities are more efficient than others when it comes to losing fat.
First and foremost is Supportive Nutrition. Very few can out-exercise a lousy diet – more particularly a high caloric diet. High caloric diet means consuming calories above what your body expends per day in calories. There are individuals who eat extremely “healthy” but are also overweight, and then there are individuals who eat mostly junk foods and are at optimal weight. The difference is those who are overweight eat more calories than their body needs and any excess is stored as fat regardless if are healthy or junk calories.
Second in the chain of command are activities that promote a concern for muscle. These exercises or workouts not only burn calories but more importantly maintain or promote muscles mass and elevate metabolism (e.g., resistance and/or metabolic resistance training).
Last in the chain of command are activities that burn calories but don’t necessary maintain muscle or elevate metabolism (e.g., interval cardio and steady-state cardio).
For the purpose of this article, I am going to talk about the second point above – activities that burn calories, build muscle and elevate metabolism. What separates this point and makes it superior from all exercises in the chain of command of fat loss is its impact on MUSCLE.
This is what we like to refer to as the “other 23+ hours” benefit. Meaning if you exercise for 30 minutes or an hour one day, what is your body; more particular, your metabolism doing the rest of the day when you are NOT exercising? Some people don’t realize you actually burn calories all day. This ability to burn calories all day is the key to losing fat. More importantly the type of exercise you do will greatly impact how much (residual) caloric expenditure you will get at rest after a particular workout.
For simplicity there are two types of exercise;
- cardiovascular training which trains your heart (cardiac) muscle tissue
- Strength/resistance training which trains your skeletal muscle tissue.
Your heart (cardiac) muscle is designed to resist fatigue; therefore can be trained every day. Additionally cardio exercise will generate the highest expenditure per unit of time; however this is where the confusion sets in. “If I wanted to lose weight/fat, why wouldn’t I just do just cardio since I will burn more calories per minute than weight training?” When you are exercising, yes cardio exercise will have a greater caloric expenditure per unit of time than weight-training workouts; however the key with weight training exercises is that it takes much longer for your metabolism to get back to resting levels as compared to cardio exercise.
This delay to returning to resting levels is what increases your overall caloric expenditure for the day. This is referred to as EPOC or Exercise Post Oxygen Consumption. EPOC is defined as the recovery of metabolic rate back to pre-exercise or resting levels. This period of time can require several minutes for light steady state cardio to several hours for hard intervals or metabolic resistance training.
It is your skeletal muscles that need rest and recovery. It is during this rest/recovery period of the skeletal musculature that the difference is made with fat loss. However the key to maximizing this “other 23+hours” is that the muscles must fatigue enough that they breakdown the skeletal muscle tissue so that energy (caloric burn) is spent during the non-working hours to repair damage from the resistance training.
NOTE – do not confuse using muscles or having a weight in your hand as weight training. For it to have its impact it must be via a progressive overload while finishing at a momentary muscular fatigue for there to be a demand of skeletal muscle repair and increase EPOC.
Actually there are studies documenting EPOC being elevated some 38 hours post workout. So if for example you would do a metabolic resistance training workout at 7AM on a Monday you’re still burning more calories (above resting levels); without even working out again by time you go to bed at 10PM on Tuesday. This advantage is why proper resistance training only needs 1 to 3 days per week of 15-20 minutes to be effective, unlike its cardio counterpart that requires 4+ days per week of 30+ minutes to become effective with supporting the weight loss process. For those people who say they don’t have enough time what do you say about that for effective time management?
In conclusion, this information is not intended for you to abandon all steady-state cardio (walking, jogging, etc.) exercise. If you have all the time in the world, go ahead and do as much steady state cardio as you would like as it is great for your heart and lungs. Just make sure are also having concern for your muscle that cardio activities can’t provide. However this is for individuals who have been trying to lose weight with steady-state cardio (e.g., walking or jogging on a treadmill or outside) alone and has been frustrated because the results are not happening as fast or as they would like as well as for people who complain they have no time.
Understanding this chain of command of effectiveness is like selecting a knife to cut a steak, both a butter-knife and steak knife can do the job, only difference one is more effective than the other. You can only burn so many calories in an hour from a workout regardless of your fitness level. The difference is how much you are burning the other 23 hours of the day when not able to exercise. Since we are not the victim of our metabolism rather we are the creator of it (see Master Your Metabolism). To best maximize our metabolism it comes to down to how much lean body mass (muscle) you have and how you stimulate it.
If you are serious about achieving a body transformation goal, then you need a program, as any goal without a plan is really only a wish!
For more information, please feel free to schedule a FREE consult with any of the fitness professionals at My Fitness Kitchen®.
This FREE Consult is a strategy session for us to learn your goals, factor in your availability, interests, limitations (if any) and prepare a personalized game plan following our L.E.A.N (Livable Exercise and Nutrition) Lifestyle while empowering you on the “Hierarchy of Fat Loss”.
With ZERO RISK and ZERO OBLIGATION you have nothing to lose by meeting with us other than unwanted body fat!