If you want to burn fat, you need to turn on your fat-burning switch. Intensity is the key! If you’ve heard of burst training, or interval training, you may think it’s just a fad. Maybe not. Here’s why. When you start an activity, you burn through stored sugars first, then switch over to burning fat. When you’re walking or jogging, you’re in the fat-burning zone. When you’re done, you go back to burning sugars, which means you will either crave carb-heavy foods, or you will break down your muscles for energy. The intensity of this activity changes your hormones so you continue to burn fat for 36 hours after you leave the gym. After a session of burst training, your growth hormone increases, you remain in fat-burning mode, and you maintain your muscle mass.
How to burst train: Do 3 or 4 sets of 30-60 second periods of high-intensity exercise, followed by a few minutes of rest. The intensity level is high enough if it is difficult for you to talk during activity. If you are well-conditioned, you may need to rest only 1 minute. If you are less conditioned, you may need to rest 5 minutes. Each session of burst training should take you 10-15 minutes. Do this 3 times per week. If you do it more often, you will interrupt your body’s recovery and decrease your growth hormone, which takes you out of fat-burning mode.
You can do any activity you want: running, climbing steps, using a treadmill or elliptical machine. At home, you can do squats and push-ups. If you need to take things slower, you may be setting your treadmill on a 7% incline at 3 mph. Or, you may just climb two flights of stairs. If you’re in good condition, try burpees. Jump up as high as you can with your arms overhead, then do a push-up. Bring your feet forward to meet your hands, and jump straight up again. For more intensity, jump both feet together to switch positions.
Exercising with intensity strengthens your heart and helps you burn fat. It also takes less time out of your schedule. Can you carve out 45 minutes a week to stay in your fat-burning zone?
About the author: Dr. Barbara Kaiser, DC, CCWP, is a wellness-certified family chiropractor at Vital Life Chiropractic in Eagan, Minnesota.