Why Traditional Weight Loss Methods Don’t Work

In my last post Weight Loss Vs Fat Loss – Losing Fat Without Losing Muscle, I discussed the difference between weight loss and fat loss and the key points to consider when looking to lose fat. In this post I will delve a little deeper into why traditional weight loss methods don’t work and what changes need to occur in the body to make sure you get the fat loss results you are after.

When many people start out on their fat loss journey they go on long walks, run around the neighbourhood, and spend a long time pacing it on the treadmill (I call this steady state aerobic exercise). I applaud these people for taking this step. However it is not long after they start this new active lifestyle that it becomes harder to shed unwanted weight, and they have to spend even more time walking or running to maintain the same weight loss effects. However this is the wrong approach. So why do people do it?

Steady state aerobic exercise (low to moderate intensity) has historically been recommended as a fat loss method because as exercise intensity increases, the percentage of fat used for energy decreases, and the percentage of carbohydrates used increases. However this recommendation ignores two important considerations – what happens to your metabolism while you’re at rest (basal metabolic rate), and what happens to your body during your post-exercise recovery (excess post-exercise oxygen uptake).

Basal metabolic rate (BMR)

BMR is the amount of energy you expend while at rest. Studies have shown that steady state aerobic exercise does not have an effect on BMR. However exercise which increases your muscle mass does, which means you will burn more calories while you are at rest.

Therefore any exercise that does not stimulate an increase in muscle mass, or at least maintain muscle mass, will not achieve continued weight loss in the long-term.

Excess post-exercise oxygen uptake (EPOC)

During and just after strenuous exercise (such as anaerobic interval training), the body needs a higher rate of oxygen. This sustained oxygen consumption is known as EPOC. EPOC helps the body return to a resting state, and adapt to the exercise you’ve just undertaken. EPOC is accompanied by an elevated level of fuel consumption – which means you’re burning calories and breaking down fat stores at an elevated rate. EPOC effects are greatest straight after exercise, however studies have shown that the effects of EPOC can last up to 38 hours after exercise.

In summary

The take out from all of this, is that the key to successful fat loss is the ability to expend more energy throughout the day, not just during the relatively short periods of time that you are actually exercising. By increasing your exercise intensity and increasing your muscle mass, you are better equipped to losing that unwanted fat.

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Comments (2)

  1. Megan

    This is really helpful…

    So, is the best option a mix of interval style training, high intensity cardio and weights/resistance?


  2. Em,

    You’re right – bursts of high intensity cardio (which can be through intervals) along with a resistance workout that also has a good intensity is definitely the way to go.

    I’ll post a couple of good workouts you can try over the coming weeks.

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