There is no excuse for not moving. Often, people say they have no time for physical activity, but maintaining your body weight is critical for your health. And losing weight the right way is just as important.

Being overweight

Being overweight or clinically obese is when you have a high calorie intake and low energy expenditure. To lose weight, you can either reduce your calorie intake, or do regular exercise and reduce calorie intake at the same time. Doing exercise too is always more beneficial.

Many people don’t exercise correctly

Many people don’t exercise correctly when they want to lose weight. They think if they do a high-impact cardio workout or work out for very long periods of time, they’ll lose weight quicker and keep it off. But actually it’s not effective this way. It’s important not to exert too much stress on the body, as you would actually be losing the benefit of the workout overall. It’s therefore important to choose activities on a daily basis that are not going to put unnecessary stress on the body.

Gradual and regular exercise

Gradual, regular physical activity and a healthy diet is crucial for losing weight, keeping it off and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. A well-balanced programme of exercises must include both strength exercises and aerobic exercises. Strength exercises are important for increasing muscle mass, as it’s the muscles that burn the most calories from your diet. Aerobic activities such as walking, running, swimming, cycling, and in general all the activities that use large muscle groups are great for losing weight and toning up.

Regular physical activity reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and being obese and can actually help you to look and feel younger for longer.

The right amount of exercise is important

In extreme cases, excess physical activity can have negative effects on weight loss. Under normal conditions, cortisol – known as the stress hormone acts to help the body overcome stressful situations such as prolonged fasting. Higher and more prolonged levels of cortisol in the bloodstream have been shown to have negative effects on the body and actually deposit fat especially the abdomen.

Exercising on an empty stomach

It’s common for dieters to lose weight by exercising on an empty stomach. It does have its advantages, but can also be risky to your health. The recommended duration of aerobic exercise on an empty stomach is about 40 minutes; over this period and you may be at risk of using protein as your energy supply resulting in muscle catabolism – the destruction of muscle mass.

Burn calories even when you’re resting

It’s natural to reduce the amount you eat to reduce calorie intake. But by adopting drastic measures, such as diets based only on eating fruits and vegetables or eliminating certain foods altogether will only result in a loss of weight due to fluid loss and muscle mass. This is not achievable or healthy to maintain over a long period of time. Just by moving, you’re burning calories therefore muscle mass needs to be maintained because muscles have a high basal metabolic rate (BMR) and this affects the rate you burn calories and ultimately whether you maintain, gain, or lose weight. Your basal metabolic rate accounts for about 60 to 75% of the calories you burn every day.

Physical activity and nutrition are two complementary elements. If you want to lose weight in a smart way, you need to combine the right amount of physical activity with the right diet.

Often people who want to achieve their weight goal adopt restrictive and drastic diets to get immediate results. Diets that are about losing weight fast are actually very harmful to your health.

Steady physical activity is important

To lose weight effectively and safely you need to be patient and follow a healthy and balanced diet, coupled with a programme of steady physical activity; increasing in duration. This way, you’ll lose weight but not your health. And to get good results in the long term, you should also get advice from a doctor, a nutritionist or a dietician who will recommend the right diet; taking into account the right calorie intake depending on the exercise programme you want to do and your specific goals.

Daily physical activity

In order to benefit from exercising, you have to gradually increase the intensity and frequency of training. This is key for overall weight loss. Physical activity should be done every day or at least five times a week. To lose weight, it’s ideal to train for 6-7 days a week for 40-50 minutes, rather than train three times a week for two hours. Even just 30 minutes of daily physical exercises broken into three sessions of 10 minutes every day may be sufficient to increase your basal metabolic rate (BMR).

What the Basal Metabolic Rate is

The basal metabolic rate affects the rate that you burn calories and ultimately whether you maintain, gain, or lose weight. Your basal metabolic rate accounts for about 60 to 75% of the calories you burn every day.

When you start exercising, you consume more or less in equal parts carbohydrates and lipids, especially if you work at a low intensity and for a limited time. After about an hour of activity up to 80% of lipids are required for energy, and only 20% of glucose and / or glycogen. As the intensity of exercise increases - the use of fatty acids and glucose increases. Therefore physical activity and nutrition are two complementary elements.

Nutrition for effective weight loss

The easiest solution might be to eat less, eliminating some particular foods from your diet, but this actually limits the supply of nutrients essential for the body. The goal is to consume more calories but reduce your calorie intake by limiting (not eliminating) foods that contain too many calories and empty calories.

If you do aerobic activity long-term, you’ll need large quantities of carbohydrates to avoid an energy crash due to lack of sugar. If you’re more of a body builder, you’ll require high amounts of protein.

By reducing the intake of protein weight loss occurs at the expense of muscle mass and proteins that make up the organs such as the heart and kidneys. Diets low in carbohydrates and rich in protein instead can be harmful especially for bones, kidneys and cholesterol. All diets based on the consumption of large amounts of certain foods are harmful not only physically, but also psychologically.

Your body needs energy to perform

The correct amount of nutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, fats, water, vitamins and minerals) will vary according to the individual’s lifestyle. Carbohydrates should cover about 60% of your needs, the remainder being 25% fat and 15% protein. The time between eating and starting physical activity, can greatly improve performance.

It is recommended, before exercise, to eat a meal consisting of carbohydrates. While carbohydrate-containing foods such as yogurt, fruit and cereal takes one to two hours to be digested, foods high in fat will take more than four hours and is not ideal. Maintain a steady diet and physical activity that reduces body fat without affecting lean muscle mass.

Training on an empty stomach

Training on an empty stomach can increase the risk of seizures from lack of sugar, characterised by sweating, a feeling of faintness, paleness and dizziness. If you feel like this, eat foods immediately that contain a lot of sugar like chocolate, honey or sugary drinks, or even better eat a meal rich in carbohydrates.Trying to lose weight through diet alone can be very restrictive, not always effective and difficult to maintain over a long period of time. It’s better to mix a healthy balanced diet with physical activity.

Main things to remember:

  • Be patient. Do not be in a hurry to lose weight
  • Eat a bit of everything in moderation
  • Have five small meals a day: your metabolism is maintained by eating moderately several times a day rather than over-eating during mealtimes. A snack mid-morning and mid-afternoon leads to eating a little less for lunch or dinner
  • Drink at least two litres of water a day for proper bodily hydration
  • Do regular physical activities even for just 30 minutes a day
  • Don’t forget to also relax and get some rest.

Being overweight increases your risk of long-term health problems that could shorten your life, like diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Preventing these serious illnesses is often the main health reason for losing weight.

Reduce your risk of disease

Reducing your risk of serious life-threatening illnesses is an important health benefit. Many people may feel that the best reward for losing weight is feeling healthier and seeing an improvement. One of things you might notice is having more energy and an increase in your fitness.

Just 30 minutes a day

Even just 30 minutes of daily physical exercises broken into three sessions of 10 minutes of physical activity every day may be sufficient to increase the basal metabolic rate (BMR) and this affects the rate that you burn calories and ultimately whether you maintain, gain, or lose weight. Your basal metabolic rate accounts for about 60 to 75% of the calories you burn every day.

To feel the benefits of exercising, you have to gradually increase the intensity and frequency of training. This is key for overall weight loss. So you should do physical activity every day or at least five times a week.

The importance of Body Mass Index (BMI)

In general, body composition is divided into fat mass, and lean mass and can be measured by height, weight, circumferences and skinfold thickness.

Two approaches are commonly used to determine if people are overweight: the body mass index (BMI) and waist measurement. The BMI helps to determine how much you weigh in relation to your height. Waist measurements give you an idea of how fat is distributed in your body.

The BMI is the most common way to try to work out if you’re overweight or very overweight (obese). It measures the relationship between weight and height. People who have a BMI over 30 are considered to be obese. Being obese is a greater risk to health than being overweight. People who have a BMI between 25 and 30 are usually considered to be overweight. Being overweight alone does not necessarily cause health problems, but it could be a problem if the person already has certain illnesses, such as type 2 diabetes.

Although useful and simple to calculate, BMI doesn’t take into account the physique and muscle mass of the person.

Predicting risk of obesity

Measuring the circumference of the body is more accurate for predicting the risk of obesity. The distribution of body fat is an important predictor of the risk of obesity. The circumference of the arm, waist, hips, thigh is taken into account to obtain an estimate of body composition.

You can get a better idea of how fat is distributed in your body by looking at the relationship between your waist and your hips. If you have a relatively big amount of belly fat, your risk of disease is higher. The waist / hip ratio, waist / thigh, waist circumference or neck measurements provide information on the level of risk of hypertension, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, dyslipidemia, coronary artery disorders and premature death.

The overall benefits of losing weight:

  • An increase in lean body mass and reduction in fat mass
  • An increase in the efficiency of the use of fats and carbohydrates in food
  • An increased metabolism and energy expenditure even while resting
  • An improvement in cardiovascular efficiency
  • Lower blood pressure
  • A reduction in the risk of developing cardiovascular problems and metabolic diseases
  • A reduction in LDL cholesterol (harmful cholesterol), triglycerides and fat accumulated and deposited on a visceral level.

If you do regular physical activity, it will be easier for you to lose weight than people who have a more sedentary lifestyle. To really benefit from losing weight, a complete physical activity programme must include both strength and aerobic exercises to increase muscles and tone the body, as muscles are important to burn off calories and promote weight loss.

From understanding what metabolism means and how it can help with weight loss to finding out if exercising on an empty stomach is really a good thing – discover all the answers to your questions.

What is metabolism?

Metabolism can be defined as the speed at which the body burns calories to meet the energy demands of the body. Metabolism is the process by which your body converts what you eat and drink into energy. During this complex biochemical process, calories in food and drinks are combined with oxygen to release the energy your body needs to function.

Which factors influence metabolism?

Metabolism is influenced by physical activity, diet and the basal metabolic rate (BMR). BMR is the energy needed in rest conditions to maintain vital functions such as breathing, your heart beating and your organs working. In someone with a sedentary lifestyle, the BMR will be less than that of someone who’s physically active. Physical activity can increase energy expenditure at rest because a greater amount of muscle mass has greater metabolic demands therefore they use up more calories.

How do you speed up metabolism?

It is recommended that mixed activity which consists of high intensity exercises, toning with weights or machines and aerobic activity such as running, swimming, as well as walking and cycling. This promotes an increase in muscle mass with an increase in metabolism even during rest and a reduction of fat mass. Good muscle tone helps to burn more calories both during exercise and after it. Strength and endurance exercises also maintain a high energy expenditure for several hours after the end of the training session.

What is the correct workout intensity for weight loss?

The ideal intensity of physical activity for weight loss is by exercising with a workload and maintaining a heart rate of 60-70% compared to the maximum one. Knowing your Maximum Heart Rate (MHR) allows you to set more accurate heart rate training zones for the highest level of effectiveness, enjoyment and weight loss. It can also show improvement over time, giving you critical feedback on your fitness level.

How do you work out the MHR?

The MHR can be calculated different ways. The simplest way is to subtract your age from 220. 85% Intensity: (220 − (age = 40)) × 0.85 → 153 bpm. The Karvonen method factors in resting heart rate (HRrest) to calculate target heart rate (THR), using a range of 50–85% intensity: THR = ((HRmax − HRrest) × % intensity) + HR. This will give you the value frequency to maintain during exercise in order to burn fat and lose weight.

Is it effective exercising on an empty stomach?

Exercising on an empty stomach definitely has advantages because it increases the use of lipids due to the reduced blood sugar level that you have in the morning. It’s ideal not to do too much exercise on an empty stomach – anything up to about 30 minutes doesn’t pose a threat to your health, but longer than this can cause muscle catabolism, where the muscle proteins are used to obtain energy resulting in muscle shrinkage.

It is best to work with weights before doing aerobic exercises?

It depends on the person and their specific weight goal. Generally it’s ideal to do some weights first in strength training to use up carbohydrates and then do some aerobic exercises.

What is the right amount of nutrients for moderate activity?

The energy derived from the three major macro-nutrients – carbohydrates, fats and proteins varies according to your lifestyle. To cover energy needs, you must have the correct amount of nutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, fats, water, vitamins and minerals). Carbohydrates should cover about 60% of individual needs, the remainder being 25% fat and 15% protein.


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