Did you know that hormones play a vital part in regulating our metabolic rate, and how much and frequent we burn body fat?
When there is an imbalance on this front, fat loss can become near impossible, or a prolonged and laborious process indeed! You are hungry all the time, tired, sluggish and not motivated to do much at all – apart from laying down or sleeping!
I know I’ve been there many times, I’m sure you have as well.
I make a point in stipulating that a proper diet is a key to weight loss, now and for the future. But food alone cannot provide what exercise does. Therefore, when you combine these two powerhouses, you have a match made in heaven. That’s to say; you get leaner, healthier, fitter, and a lot more toned than you ever would with food alone.
Let me drive this point home by explaining how exercise can not only help you lose weight but assist in bringing your hormones back into balance, working in conjunction with diet to help you lose weight fast – and keep it off mind you!
Three ways to become a fat-burning machine
Exercise with intensity (weights or HIIT). There are three hormones which stimulate the nervous system, raising metabolic rate. These are called dopamine, epinephrine and norepinephrine. Their roles are also to initiate fat burning within the fat tissue, and active muscles. These are termed catecholamines, the neurotransmitter, transferring signals back and forth between neurones.
Catecholamines are related to exercise intensity. They are released in large quantities in response to short, maximal intensity exercise efforts in HIIT or weight training. Epinephrine takes a little while longer to activate, whereas norepinephrine is triggered during the mid-point of your maximum intensity.
The intensity in weight training is the constant lifting and releasing of the chosen weight. To increase the effort of this exercise, shorten your rest periods and extend the repetition number. You will quickly become out of breath and sweat a lot!
When it comes to HIIT, the all-out effort is key to triggering this fat-burning response. Make sure when you go all out, you are pushing yourself to your limits. Red-faced and sweaty is the norm.
- The increase of GH (growth hormones) triggers more significant fat-burning potential.
Not only does GH trigger far burning, but it also helps you recover faster from exercise and increase your chances of putting on muscle.
The harder you train, the more GH is released. This is one of the benefits of HIIT because they are critical to fat loss at a faster rate than steady-state cardio.
When you train at a higher intensity, GH release is correlated to higher lactate levels. Lactate is produced during more increased intense bouts when there isn’t enough oxygen present. You will notice the burn you feel in the muscles when you lift weights consecutively in a set, or when you sprint all out. That’s lactate working in your favour! Use this as your trigger to know you’re doing something right – but don’t stop, keep going!
Make it intense again, by minimizing rest periods in both the HIIT session and weight training.
- Increase your capacity for insulin sensitivity to increase your metabolic rate and fat-burning potential.
Many people get quite scared when it comes to cortisol because of its ability to stall fat burning. But not all levels of cortisol are created equal. When it’s balanced, cortisol is readily metabolized following a stressful experience and can be beneficial for body composition because it gives you energy and raises your metabolism.
If you’re in an energy surplus (meaning, you eat more than you burn daily) and experience intense stress on a long term basis, high insulin and cortisol make the body store even more fat. Just be careful of this dangerous combination.
If your lifestyle is quite stressful, make sure you couple your intense training with regular recovery periods. Take rest days when you need them, and use relaxation techniques, such as meditation and yoga regularly. Spend time with friends, family and create a positive environment around you.
3 essential exercises to boost your metabolism
1. Weight training. When you are regularly monitoring your diet, and trying to create a calorie deficit, strength training not only preserves muscle mass, it regularly helps to boost your daily calorie expenditure. Use compound movements such as squats, deadlifts, lunges and bench presses to get the best fat-burning potential.
2. HIIT. High, intense sprints increase fat burning potential, as well as decreasing hunger and building endurance. Use these for a 20–30-minute interval, for the most optimal results. Any longer, and it will increase cortisol towards levels that encourage fat storage.
3. Incidental exercise. It’s essential to move as much as possible during the day. Walk to and from work, on your lunch break, take the stairs instead of the elevator. All these things count and should be used regularly for their fat-burning potential.
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