As we roll into fall weather, most people tend to stop thinking about being fit and start thinking about holiday foods, but not you. You're already thinking ahead to next spring and summer. After all, there's nothing better than the confident feeling of being in good shape, even when the weather's not great.
The problem is that most people fail to really plan to keep that fat-burning fire lit. Why? Well, aside from all the holiday festivities laced with sweets and other treats, it's also usually due to failure to follow these 3 fat-burning tips for fall. Keep these in mind as you dig into the winter workout grind...
1) Regulate Insulin Levels to Help Burn Fat
Increased insulin levels decrease your fat-burning potential, and that's because insulin is a hormone that stores and transports excess energy to fat cells. And it's easy to get into some serious insulin surges during the fall and winter months because of big stomach-stretching meals and many more simple carbohydrates (sugars!) than you're used to. Halloween candy, pies, and other desserts, and whatever other sweet treats are laying around everywhere can add up in a hurry.
And as great as whey protein shakes can be for an immediate protein burst when needed, those are mostly ideal for post-workout recovery or added protein with meals. To regulate insulin spikes, consider using a casein-whey combination protein for in-between meals. Casein is a slow-digesting protein that trickles into your bloodstream over several hours and can blunt the insulin-triggering effects of straight whey, so a combination protein gives you the best of both worlds.
It's also in your best interest to avoid, or at least limit, sugar intake. That's easier said than done over the holiday months, so enjoy your favorites here and there, but think of that warm-weather washboard stomach you're working on.
2) Double-Check Your Calorie Burning
If you use a treadmill, stationary bike, or any other piece of equipment that shows you how many calories you're burning, you should be semi suspicious... If you exercise for half an hour and it shows that you burn 300 calories, that's not 300 extra calories. That number includes what you're burning as part of your basal metabolic rate (BMR), so you'll need to figure that out and subtract. And even then, keep in mind it's all based on estimations and algorithms.
An average 185-pound man would have a BMR of around 80 to 100 calories per hour. So in the above example, he would've only burned an extra 200 calories. Plus, you have to keep in mind that one pound of fat equals 3,500 calories, so it would take a whole lot of that exercise to burn just one pound of fat.
But all hope isn't lost... If you create a 200-calorie deficit each day in your diet, train with weights, and do some form of cardio activity, you can easily lose a couple or a few pounds of fat per week in a healthy manner and on a regular basis. And speaking of weight training for burning fat...
3) Train with Weights to Burn More Fat
But isn't cardio the best way to burn fat and lose weight? Not necessarily, and especially not if you're only using steady-state cardio. Interval cardio is better for fat burning, and training with weights is great! Here's what weight training does to help:
- Increases the production of hormones that help burn fat, like testosterone, growth hormone, and epinephrine
- Builds muscle which kicks up your metabolism. Adding five pounds of muscle can lead to burning an extra 250 to 300 calories per day,” at rest!
- Burns muscle glycogen so the carbs you eat replenish muscle glycogen rather than being stored in fat cells.
- Removes sugar from your bloodstream which helps fat burning immensely, so even 15-20 minutes of low-intensity cardio immediately after your weight workout will burn stored fat, making it the only real efficient way to use steady-state cardio,” immediately after weights!
None of this means you should skip out on holiday treats or that there are any bad forms of exercise (as long as they don't cause injury anyway). Just enjoy the holiday foods in moderation and work hard to fight off the after effects, and learn to exercise efficiently to not only give you the best results possible but to also give you more free time with your family and friends.