Weight loss is not only important for how you look and how you feel; but is also crucial for reducing your risk of many chronic diseases including Type 2 Diabetes, heart disease and many cancers.
A common misconception is that exercise is the biggest contributor to losing weight. Did you know however that 60% of your energy use daily comes from your body simply working to stay alive?
And did you know that only 15-30% of your energy use comes from exercise? (Assuming you are attending the gym regularly!)
As such, you need to consider several factors in your lifestyle so you can successfully lose fat and keep it off.
How to Lose Weight and Keep it Off
You can achieve weight loss by making healthy changes to your lifestyle that you can maintain in the longer term. A long-term approach is necessary so you lose the weight and then you can keep it off!
Getting momentum at the start is vital for long term success. Making lifestyle changes and staying strong to these in the first 30 days is vital to create the new behaviors and habits you will require. This period of 30 days has shown to be a powerful time-frame to create habits.
You need to incorporate several lifestyle changes for you to get optimal results for your fat loss.
The lifestyle factors you to consider include the types of exercises being done to burn fat, type and quality of your food intake, sleeping patterns to ensure your body is recovering; and the amount of incidental activity your undertake on a daily basis. (read – you cant out train a sedentary lifestyle)
Types of Exercise for Weight Loss
Weight training is used for weight loss with the idea that when we perform resistance training, we promote muscle hypertrophy (growth). This means you have more active tissue on your body and therefore increase your basal metabolic rate (energy use at rest).
Muscle unlike fat is highly active tissue. Just like the organs and bones of the human body this means it requires oxygen and energy consumption to maintain its size and function. A higher level of muscle tissue on your body contributes to a higher metabolic rate; and more energy consumed at rest.
When you begin weight training you will experience greater muscular growth and adaptation in the areas of your body that are underdeveloped. As you continue to develop muscle in these areas you might experience what is known as diminishing returns in muscular growth. This simply means it becomes increasingly difficult to create adaptations of muscle tissue.
Therefore, when you undertake weight training it is important for you to consider all the areas of the body not only for functional improvements but for optimal weight loss as well. Regularly changing your weight training program is necessary to ensure your challenging your body differently – creating ongoing adaptations in your muscle tissue.
Cardiovascular training is also important for weight loss. One of the biggest benefits of cardiovascular training is increasing daily energy levels. When we undertake cardiovascular exercise, we test our bodies’ ability to breathe in oxygen and supply it to our working muscles. The muscles use this oxygen supply to create energy.
When we consume oxygen, the body can either breakdown fat or carbohydrate for energy. Whilst fat provides more energy per gram compared to carbohydrate – the problem is that fat requires a considerably more volume of oxygen to breakdown compared with carbohydrate. Therefore, our body will prefer to use carbohydrate as an energy source.
The more developed our cardiovascular system the better our body is at utilising stored body fat for energy. Your body can utilise a higher percentage of the oxygen breathed in on each breath and therefore doesn’t require as many breaths to complete the same task.
By improving your cardiovascular system through regular exercise, you increase your capacity to supply an increased volume of oxygen to your body. Subsequently you increase the amount of fat your burn during activity – and thus increase your weight loss.
Lifestyle Factors to Lose Weight
Diet plays an important role in weight loss and will influences the benefits of your cardiovascular training.
For example, if your diet is considerably high in fast digesting carbohydrates you can expect to see less results from your cardiovascular training. Although the cardiovascular system gets better at utilising fat, if there is a consistent supply of carbohydrate to the body as fuel the body will always use carbohydrate as the main source for energy. This reduces the weight loss results achieved from cardiovascular training.
The type of carbohydrates you consume is another factor you must consider for weight loss. Carbohydrates differ in terms of slow digesting and fast digesting. Fast digesting carbohydrates are foods that are high in sugar content or have been processed and can be considered having a high glycaemic index (high GI).
These types of carbohydrate sources are fast acting as they are already processed and broken down to simpler forms of carbohydrate than the original form. These simple carbohydrates enter the blood stream quickly and can either be used at that moment as energy for activity or converted into stored energy commonly referred to as fat and adipose tissue.
Since fast digesting carbohydrates foods are usually eaten during social or recreational times and not as a pre exercise energy boost, the body will store it as adipose tissue on the body and this is how weight gain occurs.
Sleep is important for both your mental and physical recover. Like your muscles, your brain requires rest to recover and maintain proper function throughout the day.
The consequences of poor sleep can include poor decision making relating to exercise and your diet. The internal consequences of poor sleep include slowed metabolism and impaired function of muscles all of which can significantly impact on weight loss.
Successful weight loss requires a holistic approach to your lifestyle. You will achieve greater weight loss results with the support and assistance of a health professional such as an Exercise Physiologist or Personal Trainer. Making lifestyle changes can be challenging at the start. With support and guidance, you will know your on the right track.