Burning the right calories can slim you down. Do you burn a lot of calories during a hard workout and still can’t get rid of your excess body fat? How can you burn the right calories during exercise; fat calories? Have you restricted your calories and still can’t lose the “stubborn” or “sticky” weight?
Burning the right calories can slim you down
My mentor, Dr. Phil Maffetone, DC, says, “We call devices that measure heart rate “heart-rate monitors,” but you could also call them “fat-burning monitors” since monitoring your pulse rate during exercise is the best way to promote fat-burning both during and after your workout.”
In my experience most moms that use heart-rate monitors do so incorrectly — to push themselves even harder, which can actually cause fat storage. Many moms are also focused only on a “calories-in, calories-out” weight loss approach, which has proven ineffective as reflected in the high rates of people who are overweight, or as Dr. Maffetone calls, “over fat.”
Social engineers that are in the business of selling you stuff to lose weight get you to focus on the wrong problem: what the scale says. Most people really don’t want to lose weight — they want to reduce body fat because too much makes us bigger and less healthy.
Not long ago you could tell by looking at a women’s slim build that she exercised regularly. That’s all changed. We are now in the midst of an over fat epidemic that once only affected sedentary people. Now those who regularly work out are over fat. The result has been increased fat in the bodies of runners, walkers, swimmers and those spending untold hours in the gym or working outdoors. The problem has become so common that some call it normal.
According to Dr. Maffetone, “This story is common. Despite burning a lot of calories during a hard workout, many still can’t get rid of their excess body fat. While too much stored fat takes up more space, increasing waist and other clothing sizes, it also adds weight. In addition, increased body fat, especially around the belly, is associated with chronic inflammation. This may be an early manifestation of various diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s and heart disease, not to mention tendinitis, fasciitis, and other “itis” injuries. Burning off excess body fat goes beyond being slim — it’s a priority for optimal health and improved fitness, even helping competitive athletes get faster.”
The Calorie Game
The problem faced by millions of women who burn a bunch of exercise calories but still have too much body fat is simple: they are burning the wrong calories. You don’t want to just burn calories, you really want to burn fat calories.
How do you do that? You have to train the metabolism to burn more fat and less sugar all day and night.
As I’ve learned from Dr. Maffetone, “The human body has duel fuel sources — we burn both fat and sugar (glucose) for energy. The big question is how much of each do we use? This depends on each individual’s metabolism. Some people burn high amounts of fat, rely less on sugar, and are slim. Today, more people have impaired fat-burning, resulting in lower energy and higher body fat.”
Most people, and sadly most fitness professionals, think that harder, high-heart-rate workouts lead to a metabolism that burns more fat calories. Wrong!!! The “no pain, no gain” approach burns more sugar and less fat calories. The goal is to to train your metabolism to burn more fat 24 hours a day.
What Stops Fat-Burning
Your fat-burning metabolism is influenced by three key lifestyle factors — exercise, food and stress.
Truth 1: Lower-intensity exercise can improve metabolism to burn more fat, increase energy and reduce fat storage.
Truth 3: A heart-rate monitor can help you find the optimal training intensity as discussed below.
Truth 4: Refined carbohydrates, including sugar, impair fat-burning.
Truth 5: Healthy fats, found in avocados, eggs, butter, coconut and olive oils, and meats, can promote fat-burning.
Truth 6: If you really want to burn off more body fat, eliminating sugar and other refined carbohydrates and eating healthy fats is important.
Excess stress can also impair fat-burning. High-intensity training is stressful as well as other forms of stress, such as chemical (diet) and mental (and emotional) can reduce fat-burning too. Managing stress levels, including your exercise program, is another key to fat-burning.
Just by reducing their workout intensity and dietary stress, most people can be burning more body fat in just a few hours.
How Fat-Burning (Heart Rate) Monitors Help
According to Dr. Maffetone, “A heart-rate monitor is a basic biofeedback device. With correct use, it can help regulate physical stress during workouts to maintain an intensity that encourages more fat-burning. This can improve metabolism during the workout and for the next 24 hours or more, even during sleep.
A heart monitor informs you when your workout intensity gets too high so you can slow down. You can monitor walking, running, cycling, group workouts or any exercise (except for strength training, which is usually high-intensity).”
I’ve followed Dr. Maffetone’s heart rate formula for over 9 years with great results in fat burning and improved health. What heart rate is best for you? It varies with the individual’s level of both health and fitness. The 180-Formula (click here for a detailed description) can help determine your best fat-burning level. Dr. Maffetone developed this formula using scientific data to calculate the actual percentages of fat-burning during various intensity levels of exercise.
According to Dr. Maffetone, “A heart monitor can also help evaluate whether you are indeed on the right track. Why wait weeks or months only to find body fat has not changed much? A simple test can tell us. As we burn more body fat, aerobic muscle function improves and you will be able to walk, run, bike or otherwise go faster at the same heart rate. This is especially important for competitive athletes [or working moms]. I call this developing Maximum Aerobic Function, or MAF. The MAF Test helps take the guesswork out of training [and a busy mom’s exercise].”
The MAF test is easy. You do a sustained exercise that can be measured at your aerobic heart rate such as running, rowing or cycling. You do the test about once a month. Let’s use running as an example. You run 3 to 5 miles on a treadmill at your aerobic heart rate and measure how long it takes. Over time as your body begins to burn more fat and gains added health it will take you less time to run that same distance. On the other hand, if it takes you longer to run, that is a sign your body is under more stress and you’re not burning fat as efficiently.
If your body fat is too high, stop counting workout calories, slow down and burn fat, and use a heart monitor to ensure your success.