Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Burning Fat

Fat is one of the three essential sources where we derive our energy, the other two being protein and carbohydrates.  Fat is the most energy dense of the three, packing 9 calories (or units of energy) per gram.  Protein and carbohydrates each have four calories per gram.

In addition to offering a great source of energy, fat also helps promote good health by allowing the body to make use of the fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E & K).  Chylomicrons, which are special fat molecules, help to carry the vitamins into the blood stream after being absorbed into the lymphatic system.  Fat also plays a vital role in the health of the membrane of every cell in our body.

To get your body to burn fat, not only do you need a well balanced diet, but exercise and a proper amount of rest are also important.  As you increase your physical activity, you quickly burn off the carbohydrates in your system and then your body will begin to draw on the fat stores. 

Keep in mind, sleep is just as important as exercise.  Lack of sleep can lead to an increased stress level.  Increased stress will flood the body with a hormone called cortisol, preparing it for what is known as fight-or-flight action.  When cortisol is released, digestion stops and blood pressure rises.  If you maintain a high stress level, your body never has a chance to recuperate and you will not burn fat or lose weight.  A proper amount of sleep, along with adequate exercise is very beneficial. 

The type of exercise you involve yourself in will make a difference in how much fat your body will burn.  When you participate in cardiovascular exercises or fast-paced running, your body reaches first for carbohydrates to fuel the energy fires to keep you going.  Carbs are much easier for the body to convert than are fats.  When you slow the pace, however, the body draws more on the fat than on the carbs.  (Keep in mind though, no matter how much you work out – fast or slow – unless your calorie burn exceeds your calorie intake, you will not lose weight).  A good way to get the best of both worlds exercise-wise is to incorporate a mixture of low, medium and high intensity exercises into your workout. Mix strength moves with some high-energy, short bursts of cardio, and increase calorie burn by as much as 25%.  (a 45 minute workout can blast away about 320 calories.)  In doing so, you will be on your way to losing belly fat and acquiring a flat stomach.

Here’s a good flat stomach exercise:

Abdominal Hold – sit tall on the edge of a sturdy chair, place hands on the edge and point fingers towards the knees.  Tighten your abs raising toes 2-4” off the floor, while you lift your butt off the chair.  Hold position as long as possible, setting a goal of between 5-10 seconds.  Lower to sitting position & repeat.  Continue exercise for 1 minute. 



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