Fat Burning and Resistance Training

By: Yuri Elkaim, BPHE, CK, RHN

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Did you know that fat burning can be increased by resistance training? Of course you did!

But here's how it works (at least partially)...

Fat burning, in the simplest terms, is the breaking down of fat for energy . The mechanism by which fat burning acutely increases (after a workout for instance) is thought to be the increased use of carbohydrates to replenish glycogen stores in the muscles.

Glycogen is the stored form of glucose that supplies the muscles with energy during exercise. And since carbohydrates are being restored at a greater rate after exercise than before exercise, the body must utilize fat as a primary source for energy. Pretty neat, eh!

Increases in fat burning may also be attributed to an increase in catecholamines, which results in an increased rate of lipolysis or fat oxidation (fancier names for fat burning).

Several studies have looked at the relationship between resistance training and post-exercise fat burning. In a 2000 study, researchers measured the effects of resistance training on resting metabolic rate and fat burning and discovered a 62% increase in fat burning 16 hours post-exercise!

An earlier study in the Journal of Applied Physiology also found similar results in elderly women. After 16 weeks of resistance training, fat burning at rest had increased by 63%.

Just another reason to add regular resistance training to your fat loss regimen.


Yet Another Reason Why Resistance Training is Essential for Fat Loss

The pursuit of fat loss boils down to 2 main factors: healthy diet and exercise. There’s no way around this fact. Unfortunately, our culture’s dependence on quick weight loss fixes has led people to believe that there are secret fat loss “cheats” (such as pills, magical herbs, etc…) that will promote increased fat burning.

The fact is that this simply isn’t so. At the end of the day, losing weight boils down to creating a negative energy balance (ie. burning more calories than you consume) and burning fat may be even more dependent on your ability to maintain a favourable amount of fat-free mass (or muscle) that will naturally raise your metabolic rate, which in turn will burn more fat – 24 hours a day!

A significant amount of research has dedicated to figuring out the ideal “formula” for exercise that will stimulate a maximum amount of fat loss. The good news is that there isn’t a strict formula for success. Instead, there are numerous exercise approaches that will help you burn fat.

But one fact remains…you need resistance training to burn fat!



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