Fat Facts!

You are probably "drowning" in suggestions and programs for weight management! Put simply, weight management programs should include three basic components:

(1) an exercise plan that includes both cardiovascular and resistance training to increase the number of calories you expend and to keep up muscle mass;

(2) a lifestyle and dietary approach that stresses balanced nutrition and a decrease in the number of calories you take in daily

(3) a strategy for adapting your behaviour in order to support your new exercise and lifestyle changes

Energy Balance Basics

A calorie (scientifically known as a kilocalorie) is a unit of energy. Since science tells us that energy is neither created nor destroyed, the calories you eat will either be stored somewhere in your body (potentially as fat) or used for fuel in your daily activities, job, and exercise. Although theory states that you will gain weight if you eat more than you need, and lose weight if you eat less than you need, you may have experienced that this simple concept of caloric balance does not work in the same way with each person.

Weight loss on the scales is not very helpful in telling us whether or not we have lost excess body fat. Weight loss as measured on the scales may come from three body sources: water, fat and lean muscle tissue. The goal of a weight loss plan should be to lose fat while preserving or increasing lean muscle mass.

Is Low-Intensity Exercise Better for Fat Burning?

You have probably heard the claim that the "best" type of cardiovascular training for burning fat is lower-intensity exercise, which keeps the exerciser in the so-called "fat-burning zone" (an standardized zone that does not exist!). For weight loss plans, your fitness professional will focus on designing an exercise program that allows you to burn the greatest number of calories for your specific body composition.

It is understood that not every client can exercise the same way as a very fit individual. If you are someone who is currently not very active, or if you have bone or joint issues or cardiac or other health conditions, higher intensity exercise may not be suitable for you. In these instances, weight loss exercise plans will include low- to moderate-intensity exercise that should be performed gradually for longer and longer lengths of time.

In fact, since most people could not continually do high-intensity exercise on a daily basis, without the risk of overtraining or experiencing overuse injuries, the best strategy might be to combine and balance your workouts. For optimal fat-calorie burning, it may be necessary to alternate low- to moderate-intensity and longer workouts, with higher intensity workouts.

* Modified from Fat Facts Quit debating! To burn more fat, work harder or longer—or both by Len Kravitz, PhD IdeaFit, Sept, 2007.