You’re doing your 60 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days, but the scale hasn’t budged in weeks. The solution? Don’t do more exercise – just change how you do it.
The amount of fat you burn during exercise is determined by your weight, age, gender and the amount of muscle mass you have, says Catherine Viljoen, a biokineticist at Virgin Active SA. So there’s no one-size-fits-all approach that’s guaranteed to work, but a few adjustments will go a long way.
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a great way to jolt your metabolism into action. “By alternating between high- and low-intensity training, you burn more kilojoules,” explains Viljoen. “An example of a cardio interval would be one minute of step-ups or star jumps interspersed with two minutes of brisk walking. Ensure you build up a good sweat and increase your breathing and heart rate.”
Another way to up your burn: introduce strength training. A kilo of muscle burns more energy than a kilo of fat, meaning muscular people typically have a higher resting metabolic rate. So if you’ve lost muscle mass as you dropped kilos, it’s time to start rebuilding.
According to Gina Fourie, who has a BSc in dietetics, postgraduate in dietetics and BSc medical honours in exercise science, you should only eat before a high-energy workout, not a medium one. If your workout’s going to be intense, you’ll need the extra energy to sustain you, but if you’re not pushing yourself to the edge of endurance, you don’t need the extra kilojoules – especially if you want to metabolise fat.
Recovering muscles need fuel and protein. Prepare a healthy meal or snack, such as a banana with a little peanut butter, to have straight after the workout – this will also prevent you from grabbing a takeaway on your way home.
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