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By Stuart Turner, Jul 25 2017 07:50AM

When it comes to weight loss or fat loss there is tendency among some of us to view the body in simple terms of calories in vs calories out. “If you want to lose weight - cut your calories”. To a point that is true, and it will work. But at what cost?

Imagine this scenario, you decide it’s time to lose weight so you go on a diet. You have intentions to exercise and decide to join the gym and do cardio for an hour every day. You stick to the plan and weight gradually starts to come off, but then after a while, it stops and no matter what you do the scales don’t budge any further.

Now what? You can’t cut calories further as you’re only on 1200 a day as it is. So you add a bit more exercise – 2 hours walking a day or perhaps an hour on the elliptical thingy at the gym. Yes that’s got it, weight loss again – success. Now let’s fast forward 3 months after the diet is over, what’s happened? The weight is back on plus a little bit more and we’re back to the beginning of the cycle.

Sound familiar? So looking at the above example what is actually happening to your body?

At the start you reduce calories which means your body will burn some of the excess fat it has as fuel. Perfect. However it soon gets used to only having 1200 kcal per day and starts to become more efficient both at rest and during your cardio workouts. You may have heard of something called metabolism, this is the term for all the chemical reactions in your body sometimes referred to as your base metabolic rate or BMR.

Having cut your calorie intake the body also cuts back on some of its energy expenditure, this reduces your metabolism, which at this point isn’t noticeable but as the weight loss slows or stops altogether it becomes very important.

At the end of your diet you may have lost a stone but you’ve also dropped your metabolism through the floor. This is the reason that so many of those that diet and lose weight will also put it back on again a few months after dieting.

What can we do about it?

There are certain things that affect your metabolism that you can’t change such as gender, genetics and age. But there are some ways we can increase your metabolism. Here are a few.

1. Eat plenty of protein with every meal – protein takes more energy for your body to break down and so increases your BMR.

2. Train with heavy weights – Training with weights has been proven to increase your metabolism way after the session has ended. But train heavy or there is little to be gained.

3. Do HIIT training - similar to the above HIIT training has been proven to increase metabolism way after the session has finished. The key word however is intensity. Pick 3 or 4 big exercises and create a circuit. 40 seconds of each exercise then 40 seconds rest. Repeat 8 times.

4. Eat plenty of veg – vegetables contain fibre, and fibres need higher amounts of enzymes to process. This increases metabolism.

5. Don’t eat processed food. – Its crap and bad for you and does nothing to help with metabolism. In fact it slows it down.

6. Drink green tea – or take green tea supplements as the antioxidants in green tea have been proven to raise energy expenditure and promote fat loss.

Calories are important but without some attention to your metabolism your effort and determination may be in vain.

Metabolism Booster - Green Tea
Metabolism Booster - Green Tea

By Stuart Turner, Apr 14 2015 09:04PM

Tabata Workout

It's been all the rage in the fitness industry for a few years now. It's great for fitness, it can be good for fat loss, it's brilliant for busy people, and it only take 4 minutes.

But what really is Tabata? Well Tabata is a workout method originating in the mysterious world of Japanese speed skating, it became mainstream after the research of Professor Izumi Tabata et al. in 1996. He looked at whether cardiovascular endurance (aerobic fitness) and muscular endurance (anaerobic capacity) would improve using a 4 minute exercise protocol. To cut to the chase, yes it did! Anaerobic capacity improved by 28% with just 4 minutes of exercise 5 x a week for 6 weeks. Brilliant, only 4 minutes, we can all do that, thank you very much Mr Tabata.

The method is very easy and if you have done any fitness classes or personal training in the last 10 -15 years you may have already come across it. Do 20 seconds of high intensity exercise followed by 10 seconds rest, repeat 8 times. That's 4 minutes of exercise job done.

What's not to like? Well this is the bit that no one really mentions. During his experiment the group doing the Tabata method, worked at 170% of their maximal aerobic capacity (VO2 max). That means after 4 minutes you should feel like crying, throwing up, and unable to walk at all let alone in a straight line. If you're not working at this intensity then unfortunately its not tabata, its just a scaled down intervals workout.

So the intensity needs to be really high but the benefits speak for themselves and I think we are all aware that if you want to make progress with your fitness then there is going to need to be an element of hard work. As a note of caution here however, if you're pregnant, have high BP or a preexisting heart condition then you should avoid, but if you're fit and healthy you can dive straight in.

170% of max aerobic capacity sounds a bit "sports sciency" so an easier way to measure if you're working hard enough is to track your heart rate. You want to be working at max HR by set 4 and maintain this till the end. Bodyweight exercises that are often used such as lunges and press ups probably won't cut it, squats and planks definitely not and isolation work is out too.

Burpees would work well for beginners but beware as you get fitter they will become a little bit too easy. Sled pushes and Tyre pulls are great as are rowing machine sprints and bike sprints (this is what was used in the original research) you can also try hill sprints either outside or on a treadmill. if you have the strength and technique front squats and hang cleans would work quite well too.

As I said its not for novices but if you want to push your fitness on a level then give it a go.