If you are eating well, the next step in creating the new you is getting active. Why, if you can lose as much weight with diet alone as you can with diet plus exercise, should you bother with the exercise? To answer this question I’m going to use some graphs courtesy of Peter Mackreth.
First of all, losing fat should not be the primary goal here. If you think about the reasons you want to lose fat: to look better, to fit in better, to feel healthy and more confident, they all boil down to one major motivating factor- your desire to lead a happy life. There is no point in losing weight if it doesn’t make you feel any better within yourself, be it psychologically or physically. This is where exercise comes in. As far as the physical aspect of your health goes, it is far better for you, in terms of your chances of dying due to heart disease, to be obese but fit. As you can see from the graph, you are much less likely to die because of a cardiovascular disease when you are obese and fit than you would be if you were lean but unfit.
What good is losing all of the weight if the end result is that you are still unhealthy, and aren’t able to live your life to the fullest?
Now if you’re not convinced by the trivial concept of your survival, let’s get into the really serious stuff: how you look.
As you can see from the graphs below, exercise WILL help you look good in the mirror. As you can see in graph A, the chances of you maintaining the fat loss you have achieved are greatly increased when you are exercising alongside your diet. This study is based on fat loss maintenance after 12 weeks, so if you want to get skinny and stay skinny, get on your bike. In addition to this, with diet plus exercise, a higher percentage of the weight you lose will be fat. As you can see in graph B the percentage of fat free mass you lose is much lower when exercise is added to healthy diet. Fat free mass is anything from muscle to water. So the goal is to lose weight, while keeping the fat free mass loss to a minimum.
Your exercise choices
While I am a massive believer in weight training for fat loss, muscle gain and improved lifestyle, it can be expensive and time consuming to join a gym or purchase your own weights. To get the ball rolling, cardiovascular and bodyweight training is free and easily scalable to your fitness levels. From complete beginners to professional athletes there is a progression for you. What you are about to read are three basic frameworks with examples. One may be more suitable for you than the others, depending on your specific situation (fitness level, illness, knowledge of exercise) however all can be equally effective when used properly.
First up is Interval training. This is an extremely good ’more bang for your buck’ form of exercise. In much shorter bursts of high intensity exercise you are able to fit your workouts into less intrusive time slots, and receive better, faster results.
This graph shows that in the same overall amount of time (40 minutes) you are more active and lose more weight when exercising using short bouts of exercise.
Interval training is extremely effective for fat loss while preserving muscle and can easily be adjusted to be sport specific.
Examples (easiest getting harder)-
Jogging a fast mile then a slow mile or a fast 5 minutes and a slow 5 minutes, the lamp post game (changing from jogging/sprinting/jogging/walking at every lamp post), sprinting a distance and walking back to the start, hill sprints.
Steady state cardio
Steady state cardio should not be discounted. Walking, jogging and cycling are all excellent, relatively low impact forms of exercise, and while you need to do it for longer for it to be as effective as interval training it is easy to keep the exercise fresh as you go to different places and explore your local area.
Steady state cardio is excellent for increasing metabolism while fasted (before breakfast), and because it is easily scalable, people with cardiac and joint problems can find exercise that is suitable to them.
Morning walks, jogging, swimming cycling. Change pace and distance to scale the exercise.
It’s getting cold outside, and the majority of people would rather stay in their nice warm house than brave the icy winds. This is the time of year that getting acquainted with body weight circuit training really pays off. You require a greater knowledge of individual exercises to progress interval training than you do for the others, but it can be extremely effective to just stick to the basics. Circuit training using body weight exercises does not require a huge amount of space, the space for you to lie flat plus some is usually sufficient. Like interval training it can be completed in a very short amount of time, and it travels well as you can make up a quick circuit in your hotel room.
From press ups and sit ups before bed to full half hour fat loss circuits, you can look up tabatta principles or pyramid training.
20s of burpees and 10s of rest 8 times provides you with a lung busting workout that only lasts 4 minutes.
Increased daily activity
Gym/cardio work is a tiny portion of your day, although there will be a marked improvement in your health by getting up and exercising, to make drastic changes you need to increase your levels of activity in the other 23 hours. The more you are moving, the more calories you are burning without realising it. You will experience less psychological hunger that would be triggered by structured exercise, but still find yourself burning more calories than you thought you could.
Walk instead of taking the short car rides, getting up and moving about in advert brakes, sitting on exercise balls, standing desks, get off the bus a stop early and walk, cycle to work, get up and talk to someone rather than sending an email.
If you increase your daily activity alongside a healthy diet and some very basic exercise you will see results faster than you ever believed. No tricks, no magic pills, just hard work.
Thanks for reading! I hope this helps.
George Studd Fitness Training