April Fools… Fitness Myths!

In the spirit of April fool’s day, I thought I would focus on four popular fitness myths that keep us from fitting back in our “skinny jeans”. These many misconceptions that revolve around exercise, diet and weight loss are nothing more than cruel April fool’s jokes.

April Fools Fit Myth #1…The Fat Burning Zone

Exercising in The Fat Burning Zone can be very tempting especially since that is exactly what we want to get rid of…FAT. While there is some truth behind this idea of The Fat Burning Zone, it is incredibly misleading.

True, exercising at a lower intensity, or in The Fat Burning Zone, forces our body to use more calories from fat to fuel our workout, in proportion to glucose, than high intensity workouts.

That is the misleading part. Exercising at a high intensity for 30 minutes will burn far more calories than exercising at a lower intensity for the same amount of time. Also, while you do use more calories from fat in proportion to glucose when exercising at lower intensities, you will ultimately use more TOTAL calories from fat when exercising at higher intensities.

In other words, exercise for 30 minutes at a low “fat burning” intensity (3 or 4 RPE) ) and you will burn approximately 200 calories with about 125 calories coming from fat. Pick it up and walk at a high intensity (6 or 7 RPE) to burn about 400 calories with about 140 coming from fat. Notice you burned twice the number of calories!

The key is to burn more calories than you consume…calories in vs. calories out. The bigger the caloric deficit the more fat you lose. Remember, one pound of fat equals 3500 calories!

Added bonus: Working out at a higher intensity will boost your metabolism for up to 24 hours and, in turn, burns even more calories!

So resist that urge to select the “fat burning” option on the treadmill. The total number of calories you burn is what really matters!

Kick Butt Cardio

April Fools Fit Myth #2... Lifting weights cause women to bulk

I know who you are. You refuse to lift weight out of fear…you don’t want to get bulky.

Rest assured moms. It just isn’t possible. We don’t have enough testosterone which is directly related to the increase in size and mass of muscles. More specifically, we have about 1/10th the testosterone that men produce.

Yes, some of us have the ability to build more muscle than others due to genetics, but we don’t have enough testosterone to look like the male and female body builders you are picturing. There is much more to looking like that than just lifting.

Bottom Line: No matter how hard you lift, you will never have arms like The Hulk. So, fear the muscle no more! There are far too many benefits for women.

More on Strength Training

April Fools myth #3…Calorie restriction is the key to weight loss

While nutrition is more than half the weight loss battle, drastic caloric restriction is not the way to win the war. By dropping your caloric intake below 1200, you run the risk of slowing down your metabolism. As a result, your body will use your hard earned muscle for energy instead of fat.

In addition, extremely low calorie restrictive diets are hard to stick to, leave you feeling deprived, and usually end in disappointment. If that isn’t enough, when calorie consumption is too low you lack the energy to power through your workouts and chase your little ball of energy around.

Having said that, you would be surprised how fast the calories add up. So, find your magic number , keep a food journal and stick to your target calorie number.

More on Fit Nutrition!

April Fools Myth #4…Steady pace cardio is the best cardio for burning calories

I know, I know. Many people think that steady-paced cardio of 30, 45, or even 60 minutes is the key to weight loss. That is where we are wrong! Our bodies actually adapt to long sessions of steady pace cardio in an effort to conserve energy. As a result, we burn fewer calories.

Interval training is the best cardio for burning calories and getting back into those “skinny jeans”. By intervals, I mean regular bursts of intensity followed by periods of recovery. Your body won't be able to adjust and you'll burn more calories.

Added Bonus: The high-intensity intervals create an "after burn" - not only do you melt more calories during but also for many hours following your workout.

Want even more bang for your buck? Combine cardio and strength training for a heart pumping circuit training session.

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