As the new year dawns, most of us are busy composing the ever-popular list of New Year's resolutions. For many, weight loss tops the list. In an effort to reach this goal, people often employ the tried-and-true tactics of curtailing caloric intake and increasing cardiovascular exercise. While these are two key elements in the dieter's arsenal, many often overlook the importance of weight training as a weight loss weapon. I often hear people say that they will begin a weight training regimen once they have lost most of their weight since they "wouldn't be able to see the muscles underneath the fat anyway."
Before embarking on a weight loss program, it is essential that an individual possess knowledge about the metabolic rate in order to avoid common weight loss pitfalls. The metabolic rate is the speed with which the body burns calories. The body utilizes calories to provide energy for three functions:
This is the amount of calories you burn just by being alive. These calories are utilized to carry out the basic functions of the body such as heart beat, lung function, liver function, etc. BMR accounts for about 60 percent of calories burned.
The 'thermogenic effect' is meal-induced heat production. These are calories burned in the process of eating, digesting, absorbing and utilizing food.
This is the energy used during movement such as house cleaning, typing on a computer and structured exercise workouts. This accounts for approximately 30 percent of calories burned.
You can influence metabolic factors and maximize your rate of burning calories by utilizing all of the following tactics:
1.) Build Muscle
Hit the weights! More muscle means more calories burned. Your body uses about 70 additional calories a day for each pound of muscle gained. Regular weight training boosts basal metabolic rate by about 15%. This is because muscle is 'metabolically active' and burns more calories than other body tissue even when you are not engaged in activity.
Weight training 3 times a week for around 20 minutes is enough to build muscle.
2.) Cardiovascular Exercise
Sustained, high-intensity exercise makes you burn more calories for several hours afterwards. Thirty minutes of heart rate raising exercise, such as vigorous walking, biking, jogging or swimming, 3-4 times a week is most beneficial.
Although the average person burns around 30 percent of calories through daily activity, many sedentary people only burn about 15 percent. Take every opportunity to move to increase the amount of calories you burn. The following is a list of ideas to burn more calories throughout the day:
Spices can raise the metabolic rate by up to 50 percent for up to 3 hours after you've eaten a spicy meal. Drinks containing caffeine also stimulate the metabolism.
Eating 5-6 small meals throughout the day will rev your metabolism. There are two reasons frequent, small meals affect your metabolism. First, levels of thyroid hormones begin to drop within hours of eating a meal and metabolism slows. Second, the thermogenic effect of eating several small meals is slightly higher than eating the same amount of calories all at once. Be sure, however, to eat low-fat, low-sugar meals that are portion-appropriate.