Losing fat is a tricky business. Fat is at the end of the day the body’s energy storage. The very process of storing fat is embedded into every human by evolution, and has been integral to our survival through millennia. That is until very recently.
Never in human history have we had the problem of too much food – until now. This mechanism that once kept us alive now contributes to our demise. Our modern calory rich diets contribute to heart disease, diabetes, and obesity – all of which are insidious killers.
Where is energy stored in the body?
It’s important to know that the body uses both carbohydrates (sugar) and fat for energy storage. Although carbohydrates make up a very small percentage of energy storage in the body, this is important to consider because when this storage is full, any excess carbohydrate is converted to fat.
Carbohydrates are stored in the liver and muscles as glycogen, and to a much smaller extent, in the blood as glucose.
Fat is stored in adipose tissue but also in skeletal muscle as triglycerides. The amount of energy the body stores as fat far exceeds that stored as carbohydrates due to the fact that fat has a much higher energy density than carbohydrates. This is due to the fact that fat, unlike carbohydrates, does not absorb water (think oil to water).
Burning fat and losing weight
So obviously fat is the largest store of energy in the body, and if we could somehow get rid of it all our problems would be solved right? So, we could focus on starving ourselves of calories and let our bodies naturally burn fat through metabolic processes. But that’s super slow, unsustainable and food is of course too good to pass up!
Changing the diet is probably a good start, but the amount of calories taken in through modifying the diet can only get you so far. There is only one way to burn fat fast, and that’s exercise. Of course you knew that. The big question is what type of exercise is best for burning fat?
Exercise for burning fat fast
Fitness regimes can roughly be divided into cardio and strength training.
Cardio – from ‘cardiovascular’ is training that increases the heart rate and that is reliant on oxygen intake. It can take many shapes and forms, including continual training and high intensity interval training (HIIT).
Cardio is not fun – for most normal people that is. It leaves us wheezing and drenched in sweat. It’s repetitive and mind numbing and quite frankly it is not the best type of training for sustained fat burning and weight loss.
Strength training, also sometimes called resistance training, is a broad type of training that incorporates weights as well as bodyweight exercises – focusing on muscular contraction under load. These exercises are designed to increase muscle mass and can be used as a standalone approach to fat burning and weight loss.
Burning fat fast without cardio
Why is strength training so good for burning fat? The reason has to do with metabolism. It’s well documented that muscle burns more calories than fat at rest. This is called resting metabolism – and this is the state that we are in for probably around 99% of our days in our sedentary lifestyles.
Therefore I implore you to consider what is most important in helping you lose weight – the 1% of your week that you spent on exercise, or the 99% of the time you spent at your office blankly staring at your monitor?
Strength training will help you lose weight faster than cardio
Strength training shifts the focus to that 99% of your week that you don’t spend exercising in 3 distinct ways.
1. Strength training burns a significant amount of calories
Strength training burns fat directly at a significant rate – although this is comparable to most types of cardio.
2. Strength training expends more energy post-exercise
Strength training typically causes muscle microtears – a completely normal occurrence that eventually leads to repair and muscle growth. This repair mechanism is highly energy intensive. Furthermore, strength training also leads to a greater production of metabolic by-products such as lactic acid and hydrogen ions, the removal of which is energy intensive as well. Togetehr these factors contribute to more calories being burned post exercise.
3. Muscle burns more calories than fat
Strength training helps build muscle which has a much higher resting metabolism than fat. The more you train, the leaner you get, the more calories you burn in your sleep (quite literally)!
Strength training is the fastest way to lose fat
Losing weight with strength training is faster than with cardio because the calories you lose from cardio are mostly those resulting from the exercise itself. Both cardio and strength training have EPOC, however this is generally greater in strength training due to the repair of muscle fibres and the greater removal of by-products that is required. Strength training harnesses long-term physiological adaptations to help you burn fat and sustain weight loss.
Best strength training for weight loss
Calisthenics is a fantastic way to lose weight through strength training. If you’ve ever seen calisthenics athletes you would know they’re some of the leanest people on planet Earth. The reason for this is because calisthenics incorporates only the most effective body-weight exercises, that are done for higher reps and that have proven results. Check out our awesome calisthenics Youtube channel useful tips on how to get started.
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