Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Cardio vs. Weight Training

Among the fitness questions we receive, some are perennial favorites. Like this one: Which is better for scorching up calories: cardio workouts or weight training?

The short answer is you need to do both. Quit your groaning. It's not as hard as it seems. The calorie-burning debate gets complicated quickly. You are probably burning more calories when you are actually moving a heavy weight than when you are doing aerobic exercise. But you are taking breaks, so over 30 minutes the actual number of calories burned doing strength training will be less.

Time factors into the contest another way, too. You are limited in the amount of strength training you can do. Experts will advise you weight-training no more than two to three times per week, to give the body time to repair microscopic muscle tears produced by training that are key to gaining strength. But you can do cardiovascular exercise every day. Ideally, you want a combination of moderate to vigorous aerobic exercise and moderate-intensity strength training. But if vigorous aerobic exercise and vigorous weight training went head-to-head for calories burned, vigorous aerobic exercise would win. A guide is used by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, among other august authorities, to classify hundreds of physical activities by energy expenditure. The expenditure is measured in METs, or metabolic equivalents. The more METs an activity requires, the harder the activity and the more calories burned. Doing circuit training (a series of exercises using different muscle groups, with minimal rest in between) requires eight METs, the same as running at a speed of 5 mph. To increase to 6 mph (a 10-minute-mile pace), you need 10 METs. Heavy weight lifting, by contrast, requires only six METs; light weight lifting, three. In other words, you have to work very hard at a non-cardiovascular exercise such as weight lifting to get to the same MET level reached by less-intense cardiovascular exercise. And only cardio will take you into the highest calorie-burning realm.
However, the cardio-vs.-strength debate overlooks two factors that are a key to weight loss and weight maintenance. One is calorie intake. You can burn as many calories as you like with exercise, but if you eat them back, you won't lose weight. Most people will eat to compensate for calories burned unless they are very careful. The second factor is that all movement matters. It is the total volume of exercise over the day that is most important. Both planned exercise and lifestyle activities count. So you can't take just one dose of exercise and do whatever you want for the other 23 hours. To combine cardio and strength training, you can either look at your week or your workout as a place to mix it up. If you exercise six days a week, you could use three days for 60-minute cardio workouts and three days for 30 minutes of cardio plus 30 minutes of strength training. Or you could order the combo platter.

If a new client wanting to lose weight came, he would recommend "circuit-style strength training" because it keeps the heart rate elevated, increases caloric afterburn and builds muscle. The exercises can be all strength exercises (switching muscle groups from chest to back or arms to legs) or a combination of strength and cardio exercises (a set of pull-downs followed by a lap around the track or three minutes on a bike). To burn more calories during exercise, you need to increase oxygen consumption [another measure of energy expenditure], which means you have to work harder.

So the debate is over. Shake hands, people. It's a tie. Cardiovascular exercise and strength training can go have a small, low-fat, low-sugar, moderate-protein smoothie together and chuckle about the days when they were adversaries competing for our attention.

Sleep to lose weight

Making sure that you get enough sleep is often overlooked. Recent research has shown that sleep plays an important role in weight management. People who sleep enough have lower BMI indexes than people who don't. The data also suggests that sleep deprivation can cause weight gain. Let’s take a look at some of the contributing factors that link sleep with weight loss:

Leptin and Ghrelin
Sleep affects the levels of several hormones in your body. Two hormones that play an important role in stimulating and suppressing your appetite are leptin and ghrelin. Leptin is produced by your body’s fat cells and is responsible for suppressing hunger. Ghrelin is released by your stomach, and stimulates your appetite. Lack of sleep lowers the levels of leptin in your blood and heightens the levels of ghrelin, which results in an increase of appetite. The reverse is also true: getting enough sleep decreases hunger and will therefore help you lose weight.

Growth Hormone
During sleep, your pituitary gland secretes more growth hormones than during your waking hours. Growth hormones stimulate cell regeneration, reproduction and growth. These hormones are also known to aid you in building muscles. This is why higher levels of growth hormones means a heightened metabolism. With a higher metabolism, you burn energy much faster which leads to easier weight loss.

Getting eight hours of sleep at night helps you lower the cortisol levels in your blood, while lack of sleep raises your cortisol levels. Higher levels of cortisol lead to a lower metabolism. Breaking protein down into glucose is stimulated by cortisol. If you have too much glucose in your body, it will get stored as fat. On top of this, cortisol interferes with your body’s ability to build muscle mass. If you are trying to lose weight, you want to make sure that you have low cortisol levels in your blood. Getting enough sleep helps you do just that.

Rest and Recovery
Exercising regularly is a great way to improve your fitness and shed some pounds. When you exercise, you tire your body and actually inflict small injuries to your muscles. To improve your performance, you have to allow your body to heal. During sleep, your body recuperates the quickest. When you do not sleep enough, you will stay fatigued and your performance level will drop. Sleeping enough will allow your body to rest, recover and grow stronger.

Sleep is a crucial factor in losing weight. Sleep suppresses your appetite and raises your metabolism, while allowing your body to rest and recover. So aside from leading an active lifestyle and maintaining a balanced diet, you should also make sure that you get your full eight hours of shuteye every night.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Low carb diet VS low fat diet

A low carb diet or a low fat diet?
Which of these two diets can help you get rid of those love handles and achieve that perfect body?

In recent years, there has been a great deal of debate and discussion around this topic. However, it’s still unclear which one is more effective for losing weight or which one is healthier or even safer for that matter.

For some people who went through a difficult journey of experimentation, both diets have worked at some point of time. There are also those who haven’t benefited from either of the diets. The truth is that each person’s body reacts in a different manner to the food we consume. For example, one may be able to consume food rich in fat and still stay slim while the other person may have a tendency to gain weight by consuming even fat-free foods.

Similarly, different people react differently to various diets. It also depends on how the body processes and metabolizes fats and carbohydrates.

A low fat diet replaces fats with carbohydrate rich foods. In most cases, the carbohydrates we eat are highly processed and are thus quickly digested by the body making us hungry sooner than expected. Also, such a diet lacks flavor and quickly loses its appeal.

A low carbohydrate diet on the other hand focuses on eating fats and proteins instead of carbohydrates. This is based on the theory that consuming processed carbohydrates increases blood sugar in the body which results in a surge of insulin from the pancreas. Basically, this lowers the blood sugar and causes hunger. On the other hand, consuming proteins and fats instead of carbs will ease the hunger for a longer duration.

While both diets are known for enabling weight loss at first, the body tends to adapt to these changes in diet and return to as it was functioning earlier and thus slowing down the weight loss process.

So which one should you opt or should you opt none at all?

The key lies in having a balanced diet, something that we read about at school long ago but never paid heed to. The human body is designed in such a manner that it requires both fat and carbohydrates for proper functioning. It is therefore important to choose healthy fats as well as non-processed carbohydrates in a balanced manner and in moderation.