3 Ways to Burn More Calories in the New Year

Out with the old and in with the new. Looking to make 2021 the year that you change the way you look and feel? For that to really happen, you may just need a bit more dedication. Let’s take a look at how your body can burn additional calories each day.

Your body continually expends calories, every minute of every hour of every day. Even while you’re sitting reading this.

You will be happy to know that we burn calories even while we sleep. In one study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, two groups of overweight non-smokers were followed for a two-week period. One group slept 8.5 hours a night and a second group slept 5.5 hours while both groups ate about 1,500 calories a day. After two weeks, the people who slept more lost more fat than the group who slept less. Even more amazing was the fact that subjects who slept less lost more muscle (60 percent more muscle was lost by the sleep-deprived group). Those three hours of lost sleep caused a shift in metabolism that made the body want to preserve fat at the expense of lean muscle.

This same study showed that test subjects burned on average 400 more calories by sleeping 3 more hours – that’s an additional 2,800 calories burned for just one week. Think of sleeping as an extra calorie burning bonus. Here are three additional ways your body can expend more calories each day:

1. Building More Muscle Increases your Resting Metabolic Rate. 

2. Performing Higher Intensity Workouts will Increase your EPOC.

3. Adding More “Movement” will Increase your NEAT level.

“Lack of activity destroys the good condition of every human being, while movement and methodical physical exercise save it and preserve it.”  

Plato

Build More Muscle

Regular strength training sessions (3x/week) will overload your muscles and the stress (overload) placed on your muscles will eventually adapt and become stronger. As strength increases, the body can handle heavier loads and over time you will experience an increase in lean muscle, as long as you get adequate sleep and nutrition. Research has demonstrated that for every three pounds of muscle you add, your resting metabolic rate increases by about 6-7 percent. An elevated metabolism means you burn calories at a faster rate at rest and during activity.

Benefits of EPOC

Supplementing high intensity strength and cardio sessions into your weekly exercise routine will not only burn more calories during a workout but post workout as well. This is commonly referred to as the after-burn or in scientific research circles as EPOC or excess post oxygen consumption. If the intensity is high enough you have the potential to expend a few hundred calories up to about 24 hours post workout. EPOC depends on the intensity and duration of the exercise session; as they increase so does EPOC.

Take Advantage of NEAT

A study published in Science by Dr. James Levine took 20 “couch potatoes” (10 lean and 10 mildly obese) and recorded their bodily movements every half second for 10 days. He discovered that leaner subjects burned about 350 more calories a day through NEAT or non-exercise activity thermogenesis or about 33 pounds a year.

In a second NEAT study, Levine recruited 16 volunteers and for 8 weeks had them eat 1,000 calories a day over what they needed to maintain their weight. You might expect that all of the subjects put on weight—with 1,000 extra calories a day. But at the end of the study, the gain per individual ranged from less than 1 pound to greater than 9 pounds. And the variation, according to Levine, was explained by the amount of NEAT. A highly active person can expend three times more calories than an inactive person and NEAT levels can vary up to 2000 calories between individuals.

If you’re not seeing changes in body composition with your current program, take a look first at how you’re fueling your body. Secondly, increase your intensity with your cardio sessions and start building more muscle. Lastly, increase your daily movement and some NEAT things will begin to happen.

Use Jefit to Track Your Progress

Do what millions of others have already done, use Jefit as their workout log app. This in turn, will help you meet your fitness goals. By providing an extensive exercise library, you can pick and choose your workouts according to your goals. You can also join our members-only Facebook group where you can connect and interact with your fellow Jefit members. Share your successes, stories, advice, and tips so you learn and grow together. Stay Strong!

Reference

Nedeltcheva AV, Kilkus JM, Imperial J, Schoeller DA, and Penev PD (2010). Insufficient Sleep Undermines Dietary Efforts to Reduce Adiposity. Annals of Internal Medicine 153(7):435-441.

What’s More Important for Weight Loss: Exercise or Diet?

Have you ever wondered about the value of exercise and diet as it relates to weight loss? Which do you think is more important, exercise or diet? If you’re looking to losing weight, both diet and exercise are critical pieces of the puzzle. Many people, though, place more focus on the diet aspect. If you’re looking to maintain a healthy, sustainable lifestyle then you need to consistently monitor both. Remember, you can’t manage something if you don’t measure it. Finally, if the goal is simply to build lean muscle mass, then strength training and diet are paramount. The goal in this scenario is to create a surplus of calories each day. Weight gain and ultimately adding more muscle mass can not occur if this does not happen.

National Weight Control Registry (NWCR)

One of the best research-based organizations that looks at the weight loss question is the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR). The NWCR is the brain-child of Rena Wing, PhD, from Brown University Medical School. The NWCR “provides information about the strategies used by successful weight loss maintainers to achieve and maintain long-term weight loss.” The NWCR is currently tracking over 10,000 individuals who have lost significant amounts of weight and, more importantly, have kept it off for long periods of time.

Main Outcome from NWCR

NWCR members have lost an average of 73 pounds and maintained the loss for more than 5 years. “To maintain their weight loss, members report high levels of physical activity (≈1 h/day/walking), eating a low-calorie, low-fat diet, eating breakfast regularly, self-monitoring weight, and maintaining a consistent eating pattern across weekdays and weekends.”

What should help clear up this debate is the fact that only 1 percent of the NWCR database (>10,000 subjects) have been successful at keeping their weight off with exercise alone. About 10 percent of the subjects have been successful with weight loss maintenance by focusing on diet alone. More than 89 percent of the subjects have been successful because of BOTH diet and exercise modifications.

NWCR

Finally, maintaining an active lifestyle throughout the week and especially on the weekend is important no matter what the goal. Focus on eating clean, healthy foods, avoid highly processed foods and finally, watch the added sugar in everything you eat. Lastly, sticking to a healthy diet and getting regular exercise will always be good choices when it comes to weight-loss.

Workout with Jefit

Take advantage of Jefit’s 1400 exercise database for your strength workouts. Jefit is a fitness app that comes equipped with a customizable workout planner, training log, and ability to track data. There is also a members-only Facebook group. Connect with like-minded people, share tips, and advice to help get closer to reaching your fitness goals. Stay strong with Jefit.

Amazing Health Benefits of Exercise During This Unprecedented Time

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What can you do to keep you and your family safe during this extremely stressful time? We now know wearing a mask, hand washing and social distancing improves our chances of staying healthy. The health benefits of exercise coupled with the above advice may be just the answer. We have been looking to put a dent in this pandemic as a CV-19 resurgence is brewing. This might be just the one two punch needed to knock this pandemic out for good.

The following is a look at just a few of the many health benefits of exercise. Many of us are sadly experiencing more stress since March 11, 2020. The cumulative effect of all this stress is obviously not healthy for the body. A recent study showed younger people are not exercising at a rate as pre-pandemic. One group, however, that is not part of this inactive group, are individuals sixty-five and older. They are finding time to exercise in record number. How about the rest of us?

Take Advantage of the Many Health Benefits of Exercise

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Exercise Improves Mood and Mental Health

During each exercise session, the body releases chemicals like endorphins and dopamine that improve our mood and make us feel more relaxed. Another chemical you may not have heard much about is brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). It may be the most important chemical released during exercise since it fosters long-term brain health. BDNF acts not only as a growth factor, it also promotes the formation of new connections between nerve cells. As a result, regular exercise helps you manage stress better and reduce your risk of depression.

“People suffering from depression are 2.5 times more likely to have experienced stressful life events. Exercise appears to help buffer these negative life events,” according to the authors of the book, Exercise for Mood and Anxiety.

Regular Exercise Will Improve Sleep

As I’m sure any physician or exercise expert will tell you, sleep is a critical component for mind and body restoration. With an inadequate amount of sleep, the body will eventually have issues with the recovery and building processes from that days workout. It has a lot to do with your central nervous system (CNS). When the body goes away from getting optimal amount of sleep – no matter what the reasons – the CNS does not get time to fully “recharge” or recover. Why is this even important? Because your CNS is responsible for reaction time and initiating muscle contractions and much more. As a result, the body becomes slower and will feel weaker in workouts.

Health Benefits of Exercise: Studies Demonstrate if You “Do It” You Live Longer

Author Dan Beuttner of the Blue Zones has spent most of his career studying populations that live longer. The different “blue zones” that he studies are areas from around the world where people were 3 times more likely to reach 100 years old who followed a series of strategies. Two of the more important were the types of food someone ate on a regular basis and daily activity.

Walking more is associated with longer life. Adults who walked 8,000 steps per day had a 51 percent lower risk of all-cause mortality, compared to those who walked 4,000 steps a day as reported by researchers in a JAMA study. Not into walking but you like to run? A study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine reported any amount of running, even once a week, was associated with a 27 percent lower risk of all-cause mortality.

Regular Strength Training Keeps You Healthy

One of the first things you think of when strength training comes to mind is muscle. When done correctly, strength training builds additional muscle mass. This in turn keeps someone healthier and more functional, especially as they age. The health benefits of exercise – especially strength training – include increased bone strength as well. Remember, that tendons connect muscle to bone. As we lift weights, the resistance creates a “pulling” effect on the tendon that consequently pulls on the bones making them stronger over time.

Data from a 2017 study looking at more than 28,000 women from the Women’s Health Study showed “a moderate amount (≈1–145 minutes/week) of strength training was associated with lower risk of all‐cause mortality compared with 0 minutes/week, independent of aerobic activity.” In a second systematic review study of 1430 studies, showed resistance training was associated with a 21 percent lower all-cause mortality and that number more than doubles when aerobic exercise is added. According to the authors, “resistance training is associated with lower mortality and appears to have an additive effect when combined with aerobic exercise.”

There probably has not been a more important time to either start or maintain your exercise routine. The benefit of reducing stress alone should be enough to make you exercise most days of the week. Try using the Jefit app to help make your life a bit easier as well. The award-winning app will help you plan, record and track your strength training sessions. Stay strong especially during these stressful times!

How to Return Safely to the Gym Following Time Off

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Just about everyone has felt like their life has been turned upside down over the last six months resulting from the pandemic. Moreover, everyone is now looking for ways to get back to their regular routine and that includes exercise. We all want to get back at it and we want to return safely to the gym. If there was ever a time to reap the psychological and physiological benefits of aerobic exercise and strength training it would be now!

This article will address how to return safely to the gym from an exercise standpoint rather than from a gym safety pandemic point of view.

How Quickly Does the Body Begin Detraining?

The body begins to lose cardio and strength gains made at the gym in as little as 2-3 weeks. The good news, though, is any gains lost due to time off can be redeveloped quickly. As long as you’ve been healthy. You can typically maintain strength levels for 3-4 week after a hiatus. Where you really begin to see the effects of missing workouts though is with the loss of muscle mass. This can occur in as fast as 3 weeks. The key is to always listen to your body before/during/after workouts. If you need to back off on the weight or mileage during a workout because you don’t feel 100 percent, then do so. If you experience any stiffness, tightness or pain, that’s your bodies way of telling you to back off and watch out.

Gradually Increase Workout Volume

When starting out or coming back from a hiatus, strive for 20-60 minutes of moderate intensity exercise according to the American College of Sports Medicine guidelines. On the strength side, aim for 1-2 sets of an exercise using 12-15 repetitions with moderate resistance. As time moves forward, slowly decrease the amount of repetitions while increasing the amount of resistance and the number of sets. Increase the amount of resistance each week by about 10 percent for lower body and 5 percent for upper body exercises once you’re able to reach 12 repetitions. Begin with bodyweight exercises like push-ups, squats, lunges and split squats before moving to machines or free weights. In both instances, 3 days a week is plenty, eventually progressing that to 4-5 days if and when needed.

Pay Special Attention to Recovery

On the off days you’re not strength training focus more on stretching and mobility. In addition, spend time on your foam roller to release any tight muscles and connective tissue. Also try using a recovery product like Hyperice to help in that area. In fact, think about adding a few days of either yoga, stretching or a mobility class to your weekly routine. If you like to run, closely monitor your weekly mileage building it back up slowly.

Document Your Workouts

A valuable tool is documenting how your time is spent in the gym or at home during each workout session. Monitoring training volume (sets x reps. x load) on a daily and weekly basis will help prevent overtraining and you’ll get better gains. Research has shown that you’re 2-3 times more likely to stick to a new habit when a plan is in place and a record is kept. To help you plan, log and track your strength training workouts, download the award-winning Jefit app. One of the great training tools featured on the Jefit app is the ability to record 1-RM for each exercise. In fact, if you come back after time off, choose a lighter percentage of your 1-RM initially before building back up slowly. This will help keep overtraining type injuries at bay. Stay Strong!

Understanding the Impact of Biomarkers

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First, what are biomarkers? They include hundreds of different metrics that basically offer insight into how your body is managing the aging process. A few examples include, blood pressure, muscle mass, aerobic capacity, heart rate, blood profile, and different genetic tests. In fact, these metrics, or biological markers, can be broken down into various categories.

Let’s look at a few of the suggested markers from the book, Biomarkers: The 10 Determinants of Aging You Can Control by Bill Evans, PhD and Irwin Rosenberg, MD. They focus their research on ten biological markers that would be interesting to individuals like you who exercise. The following list includes three of the ten biomarkers discussed in their book.

Muscle Mass: A Very Important Biomarker

This is at the top of their list for good reason, maintaining muscle mass as you age is critical for functionality. This first and second biomarker go hand-in-hand and you know the importance of both (beyond just looking good). Let a month go by without strength training and see what happens to that mass mass and strength level of yours. Our body, sadly, begins to detrain in as little as a few weeks.

If you don’t strength train on a regular basis you’re basically an accident waiting to happen. Further, you will become part of the statistical group that loses approximately 5-8 pounds of metabolically active lean muscle mass each decade starting around age 35. Researchers Evans and Rosenberg have said “the first biomarker, muscle mass, is responsible for the vitality of your whole body.”

Maintaining Strength

It’s important to understand that maintaining both muscle and strength as you age is really important. When someone strength trains for the rest of their life they end up maintaining or improving many of the other biological markers. When muscle mass and strength decrease, so will other biological markers.

With the loss of muscle mass comes the loss of strength and power. Strength appears to peak between ages 25 and 35 and maintained (or decreases slightly) between ages of 40 and 59. Strength levels declines by 12-14 percent per decade after 50 years of age, according to research. The good news is that if you engage in regular strength training, you can preserve both strength and muscle mass, as shown in the photo below of the 40 and 70-year old athletes (hint: they have roughly the same amount of muscle mass 30-years apart).

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Basal Metabolic Rate

The third biomarker, basal metabolic rate or BMR, is interrelated with the first two metrics on the list. Basal and resting metabolic rates (also known as BMR and RMR) are basically an estimate of the amount of calories your body needs to function properly while at rest. It represents the minimum amount of energy (calories) needed for your heart to beat, for your lungs to function properly and to maintain a normal body temperature. Metabolic rate is typically 6-10 percent lower in women compared to men. Metabolic rate is also affected by age, exercise, stress, temperature, hydration, high altitude, sleep and frequency of meals. Regular exercise, especially strength training, has been shown to slow down the natural decrease of metabolism with age.

These are just three of the of the many hundreds of biological markers available to monitor. Regular strength training will have short and long-term impacts on each of these biomarkers. Just a few more reasons to stay strong!

The Health Benefits of Strength Training

bench press elite

Many younger people engage in strength training for reasons of vanity rather than possible health benefits. Some people probably also believe that aerobic exercise trumps strength training when it comes to those health benefits. Well, both are important, and need to be performed regularly to receive any of the benefit we’re about to discuss. The best exercise though is the one that you end up doing most often.

How Many Days a Week Should I Be Strength Training?

The sweet spot is 2-3 sessions a week to obtain all the health benefits of strength training. One strength session a week is enough to maintain the strength that you have. An individual can experience gains in about 4 to 6 weeks if new to strength training.

What are the Health Benefits of Strength Training?

Helps Preserve Muscle Tissue. As you reach your fourth decade you experience hormonal changes that result in loss of lean muscle tissue. The loss of muscle tissue is even more pronounced after age 75. Other factors like stress and lack of sleep can disrupt the body even more. When this occurs, your body produces more cortisol, a stress hormone. The best way to offset this loss is to engage in a regular strength training program, 2-3 times a week. Strength training, if used properly, is like a magic pill. Researchers at Wake Forest University studied overweight adults who were in their 60’s. The study showed participants who lost weight and engaged in strength training lost less lean muscle mass than those who shed pounds through aerobic training.

Increases Strength. As you age, you lose strength, its that simple like taxes and death! Your strength levels peaks between 25-30 years old. Following that, it’s a downhill battle for most to hang on to that strength. Research studies have shown that strength can be reduced up to 40% by the time a person reaches age 70. By the time you hit age 75, you have about half of the muscle mass you had in your twenties.

In physically inactive people, there is a loss of about 3-5% of muscle mass per decade and a parallel decline in muscle strength, after age 30. As a result, the average person will lose 1/2 pound of muscle per year between age 30-60. This equates to about a loss of 15 pounds of muscle!

Builds Strong Bones. Strength training has been shown to increase bone mineral density. As weights are lifted, the tendons that are connected to bone, get “pulled-on” in the process. This constant pulling, over time, is what builds strong bones. This is a good thing because after age 40, you start to lose 1% of your bone density per year.

Helps Control Body Fat. A study in the journal Obesity reported that strength training helped adults become slimmer. Losing muscle reduces your metabolic rate. You feel like you’re not eating at times but still have difficulty losing weight. In turn, you see an increase in body fat. Regular bouts of strength training will preserve muscle mass and and to some extent, metabolic rate, and this with proper intake, will prevent body fat levels from rising out of control.

Hopefully, some of these statistics opened up your eyes a bit more regarding the benefits of strength training. Strength training a few times a week, is something you can do for yourself that always pays back strong dividends. Try the Functional Strength program featured on the Jefit app to help you build muscle mass. Stay Strong!