Basal metabolism: The minimal energy expended to maintain respiration, circulation, peristalsis, muscle tonus, body temperature, glandular activity, and the other vegetative functions of the body.
zzzzzzz snork. What did that just say? In Fun and Fit translated style, that says, “If you want to burn kcals at a faster rate (helps with weight loss and maintenance), speed up your basal metabolic rate.”
There are 11 variables that affect your metabolic rate. According to the Oct. 2012 issue of ACE Certified News, “exercise is easily the most adjustable variable (of these 11) in total daily energy expenditure.” Current research indicates that High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is the most effective method for raising your metabolic rate and losing weight, so we’ll be super thoughtful and define it. Essentially, it means alternating your workout into two speeds – very intense, and rest. The intervals can vary, such as 60 seconds work/ 60 seconds rest, or the very popular Tabata style: 20 seconds work/ 10 seconds rest, which our colleague Tamara Grand explains in this Tabata Training radio episode.
By the way, standard bodybuilding won’t work for your goals, as it doesn’t burn enough calories or have the required after-effects. What DOES work is sprinting, biking, boot-camp moves such as burpees, stair-climbing, weight-lifting, and many other moves where you can push yourself to a 9 or 10 level of intensity on a 1-10 scale. High intensity doesn’t have to be high impact, though, in case you’re not into “jumpy” moves. You could do spiderman push-ups, which are very low impact.
We were once asked about “amping up my old ass metabolism” by a reader, so you might like to read what we told her (hint: we didn’t call her “old”). In addition to HIIT, you definitely want a weight training component. Our post about the caloric benefits from the metabolic spike explains the advantages of combining cardio and weight training, but in case you’re too exhausted to click the link, it essentially says that “with cardio, you can burn 10-12 kcals a minute; with weight training it’s only 8-10 kcals per minute. But due to a magical thing called the metabolic spike (not a volleyball term), you will continue to burn kcals efficiently for about an hour after you finish working out, even if you’re sitting on your
old ass donkey doing nothing.
As to your digestion…the word “metabolism” specifically refers to the breakdown of food and its subsequent transformation into energy your body needs. The best way to make sure you are breaking down and using the kcals/ energy from your food is to do two things: 1) eat food that’s a good balance of protein, complex carbs and healthy fats; and 2) eat at regular intervals. An abrupt calorie-reduction or starvation diet can severely reduce (i.e., slow down) your basal metabolic rate (BMR) by up to 30%, and a restrictive, low-calorie diet can decrease it by as much as 20%.
Basically, we just said, “Don’t skip meals. Don’t eat crap.” You’re welcome for that memorable translation!
We hope we’ve answered your question. If we have, go do 10 spiderman push-ups! If we haven’t, go do 20!
Readers: What high intensity, low impact moves have you discovered that we can share with other readers , especially
me those with bad knees?
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Burn at least 12 kcals twitching your fingers to subscribe to our YouTube channel and blog. And another 13 when you follow us on Twitter: AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit. Please also follow us on Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit. Or click on the icons in the sidebar. Really, it’s all about helping you!
Citation for diet stats: http://www.disabled-world.com/fitness/metabolism/#ixzz2DfacauSZ
Memory & Learning:
One very important benefit of proper sleep is the help it gives you with learning and memory. Whether you’re 60 and trying to navigate the intricacies of Facebook (the fastest growing segment of Facebook users in the past 2 years has been females aged 48-64), or a 20 year old college student trying to study for an exam, getting some sleep after going through the material will help you master the information.
In a 2010 Harvard study, volunteers learned a complex maze. Some of them then took a 90 minute nap. The only people who increased their performance on a second attempt at the maze were those who dreamed about it during their naps. The researchers concluded that the brain was reactivating and reorganizing the recently learned material during the nap.
But let’s face it – few people have 90 minutes in the day for a nap. If we did, we’d probably just get the 8-9 hours (20 year olds need 9-10) of sleep that our bodies actually need each night. Good news – a German study found that a short, six-minute nap helped participants recall a list of 30 words they had memorized earlier.
In our recent post about the 3 stealth saboteurs of weight loss, we mentioned how less than 6 hours of sleep can be correlated with weight gain. According to research from the University of Michigan, an extra hour of sleep each night can help you drop 14 pounds per year. Maybe because you are sleeping instead of snacking! Also, hormones are a tricky thing, and being awake so much can rev up your appetite! And in a study that just came out today (Oct. 25, 2012), a review of 15 years of research “indicate an effect of partial sleep deprivation on body weight management.” Partial sleep deprivation, an energy imbalance, and weight gain prevention and weight loss promotion are all linked! More than 35 percent of American adults are obese and more than 28 percent sleep less than six hours a night, and the study authors found these two to be correlated.
The Harvard study also discovered that those whose naps were long enough to enter REM sleep did 40% better on a test of creativity than nappers who didn’t get any REM sleep and non-nappers. That REM sleep gave the brain time and the ability to work creatively on the problems that had been posed for the test.
So forget the caffeine and alcohol; forget the all-nighters; and forget whatever it is you forgot because you’re overtired! Acting like “an adult” is just making us overweight, grumpy and dull. Better to act like a kindergartener and take a nap!
Stay awake long enough for your twitchy finger to press the subscription buttons for our YouTube channel and blog. Follow us on Twitter: AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit. Please also follow us on Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit. Or click on the icons in the right sidebar.
We love your name; it means “wonderful” and “peace.” We’re going to tell you right up front that we are NOT fans of “cheat days” for a whole bunch of reasons. We shall now do our best to talk you out of eating this way.
* Just the name implies you’re a cheater. Who wants to feel that kind of shame and have that label? It’s all negative. We hate the whole concept of looking at food as good or bad. Food isn’t moral; it’s fuel.Food is not moral; it's fuel. Shift away from bad & good thinking in order to lose weight,… Click To Tweet
*Also, what do most people (and probably you) eat on those 3600 calorie days? Salad? Roasted veggies? Fruit with yogurt? Suuuuuuuure. More like ice cream, candy, chips and all kinds of high fat foods. Sadly, that fat makes its way to your brain, telling it to ignore the “I’m full” signals that those lovely hormone regulators – leptin and insulin – are trying to send. Think of them as your parents, yelling “Put the spoon down,” and the fat as earbuds that you stuck in your ears so you wouldn’t have to listen. It’s not good to become resistant to leptin and insulin because they are your BFFs, and want to help you.
* This “fat high” can last for up to three days, which means you will spend half of the next week wondering why you’re extra hungry, especially for those high-fat foods. Basically, it’s a short-lived addiction, and willpower cannot overcome addictions.
* Math has an uncomfortable way of butting in to your weight loss business. If you reduce your caloric intake by 500 calories a day, you’ll lose about a pound in a week – 500 X 7 = 3500. Everyone is different, but these numbers are a great place to start. You say you normally eat about 1750 calories per day – 1750 – 500 = 1250 (the low number on your diet plan). It will take more than a week to lose a pound of weight if you are at the higher, 1350 amount. But on that 3600 calorie “cheat day,” kowabunga – you just got yourself an extra 1850 calories (3600 – 1750 = 1850). So in 6 days you reduced your intake by 3000 calories, but on that seventh day you took in an extra 1850 (3000 -1850 = 1150). So for the entire week, you had a total reduction of 1150 calories, which means you’re losing less than half a pound a week.
* If you jogged in place during the above math lesson, you might have burned some extra calories! If you hate math, that section just above said, “Cheat Day = Bad Idea.”
* You also asked about metabolism, so let’s go over some weird “opposite day” type of stuff – When you eat less, you expend calories at a slower rates – meaning your metabolism slows down. It has a fancy name – diet induced adaptive thermogenesis. If you want to speed up your metabolism, you should ditch the cheat day AND the diet and just go for 4 or 5 small meals/ snacks a day. Mostly choose healthy food, yet leave space for a few of the treats that you were saving for cheat day. Moderation beats the Restriction – Overindulgence cycle you’re in.
* And we wouldn’t be exercise experts if we didn’t ask, “Mina, are you also exercising?” You had better say, “ kyllä.” That’s fancy talk for “heck yeah.”
Alexandra Williams, MA
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
Mamma mia. What are we to do if we want to get more fit? Are you confuzzled yet? I know I get overwhelmed by the barrage of seemingly conflicting advice.
Just the other day an email arrived in our Fun and Fit inbox entitled: “Newsflash: Cardio is Dead.” As a longtime fitness pro and proponent of aerobic exercise, I was bothered by this announcement in a cranky, “oh, great, now people will exercise even less” kind of way.
Is cardio really “dead?” Or are we going to be soon if we stop doing aerobic exercise and drop even more activity from our lives? For years we’ve been told to work out aerobically 5-6 days per week. Now we’re told to forego it. What fitness tips should we follow and what is hype we can safely ignore? How can you know what actions to take (aside from reading our blog and sending us your questions to address)?
One trick is to check definitions and terms before accepting the headline or sound bite. What is really being touted? In this example, the article discussed the difference between long, slow, steady state endurance exercise compared with intervals of high and mid-intensity cardio. The gist of the argument was that long duration, low intensity cardio doesn’t train the heart to build resistance to stress. To reduce the risk of heart disease, we need to alternate intense exertion with active recovery periods.
Now we’re getting somewhere. We are really comparing Steady State Cardio to High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) relative to stress resistance. Two considerably different types of workouts. The low and slow cardio approach was once crowned queen of all “Fat Burning Zones,” which has been rightly sent to the “Dying Myth Zone.” Certainly a ton of studies and headlines have courted the new ruler, HIIT. (HI)It’s alive! But is the former type really “dead?” Or as the participants in our group fitness classes say “just tell me what I am supposed to do. Is low intensity cardio out and high intensity now in?”
Which brings me to the second key question we need to pose when faced with bold, exciting, eye catching, sparkly-flashy headlines:
Sticking with this example, why do you do cardio workouts in the first place? To lose weight? To reduce menopause symptoms? To complete a marathon? To avoid those darn heart attacks that run in your family? To climb to the top of the Eiffel Tower … and back down… after swimming there from New York and across the English Channel?
Your particular, personal, prioritized goals will guide you through the maze of confusing headlines. Let’s say your top goal is to lose weight for an upcoming trip. Then high intensity cardio might be your best choice and the low, slow cardio needs to retire before you do. But what if a high priority is to stay cognitively aware and sharp as long as possible? Then low intensity cardio is NOT dead and may be what keeps you sharp as you live longer and smarter. For brain boosting, casual cardio rules! Love live cardio! For the pounds-away program, long live the other cardio! Can you see why you have to be willing to spend a little time and attention when faced with the latest and faddiest media bites?
Tempting as it is to believe headlines, the juicy bits are in the details: what’s really being discussed (definition of terms) and who is this news really for (goal dependent)? Option three is also good:
That’s why we write this blog — to help solve your workout dilemmas and answer your fitness questions. By the way, if you want to really rock out at sorting through information overload flotsam and jetsam, read Understanding Studies from our friend and fellow FitFluential Ambassador, Tamara Grand.
So hail to the queens of cardio (well, yes, I do mean my sister and me, and YOU too!) Play well and work out successfully in the cardio court that is right for you.
Stay lively when you subscribe to our YouTube channel and our blog. Follow us on Twitter: AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit. Please also follow us on Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit. Or click on the icons in the right sidebar ——–> Having you join us makes us happy.
Alexandra: Before we talk about clocks and buckets, it would probably be a good idea to explain what neutral spine is. No, it’s not the border of Switzerland! No, it’s not center position on a stick shift in the “Shaguar” that Mike Myers drove in “Austin Powers” either. We wish we had one of those, as we’d surely find a way to include it in the video.
One very technical research article defines it as “ the region of minimal stiffness or maximal compliance of a spinal motion segment,” or “that part of the range of physiological intervertebral motion, measured from the neutral position, within which the spinal motion is produced with a minimal internal resistance.” We think the following definition is the easiest to understand though: “The position of an individual’s spine where every joint is held in an optimal position to allow an equal distribution of force through the entire structure.” In other words, hard to describe, but you know it when you see it. Like porn, but not!
Kymberly: When you sit, stand, lie down, or move with your vertebrae stacked in natural curvature, you get the benefit of shock absorption and musculoskeletal comfort. So the first thing is to ditch the phrase and goal of “flat” or “straight back.” Dancers might want to achieve that position for a performance. “Why grandma, what a flat back you have. The better to impress you with my dear.” But we fitness sorts usually want to embrace and hug the curves (in our Shaguar, apparently). That means focusing on the position of the pelvis and moving up the spine from there. The spine gently curves in at the lower back, out at the upper back, then back in again at the neck. If you haven’t watched our video yet, now is the time.
Readers: What tips or tricks do you use to achieve neutral spine? Or do you need constant reminders?
For those of you hate push-ups, why? Because someone said you had to do long lever (toe) or not at all? Because they’re hard? Because (for you women) you were told you’d look too “manly” in the chest?
If you do them correctly, they are fun, fun, fun! Believe it!
Correct form means:
So, are you a push-up hater or lover? For more on short vs long lever (knee vs toe) push-ups, take a look at our post with a dedicated video, Push-Ups: Knees to Toes
Clickety click on these links. Lower yourself into a push-up, then use your nose to subscribe to our YouTube channel. Or our blog. Follow us on Twitter: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit. Please also follow us on Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit. You can also find us via the icons to your right —–>
Kymberly Williams-Evans, Ma and Alexandra Williams, MA
Nutrition, diet, and weight loss professor Dr. Holly Wyatt tackled that steamy hot, fashionable question at the recent Fitness Health Bloggers Conference we attended.
Guess what? After analyzing data galore, comparing famous and popular diets point by point, looking at short and long term weight loss rates, it comes down to …….
The best diet is the one you will actually stick with. The one you will do, do, or die. Well, not die, but diet. Apparently the actual macronutrient composition of a diet plan is NOT key to weight loss. That is, it almost does not matter whether you choose low carb, low sugar, high protein, Paleo, gluten free, dairy-free, taste-free, food combining, all organic, or any other “THE LATEST ONE WAY” out there. What matters when it comes to succeeding with weight loss is being consistent with reduced intake over the time needed to drop pounds. Remember, that for weight loss, you are looking at a calorie restricted diet with a specific duration and end point.
As well, the diet or nutrient composition that might work wonders for one person could be a failure for another. More and more, researchers are finding that weight loss diets need to be tailored to each individual. No single book, theory, method or fad will be right for the masses. You could be the one person who succeeds on high protein whereas your best friend needs to go high carb. Wouldn’t it be great to be the person whose body and genes respond to a chocolate diet?
Check out Dr. Wyatt’s chart tracking the results of diets varying in fat/protein/ carbo composition. Notice that at 6 months all dieters lost weight at about the same rates. And at 2 years, all dieters were still averaging similar results regardless of food make-up. Comparing the Zone, Atkins, Learn, Ornish diets reveals… envelope please… all diets had people who lost and people who gained. The key was ADHERENCE. (As opposed to say, book sales that have to have the latest gimmick to attract buyers).
Dr Wyatt also compared low calorie to very low calorie diets to assess success with losing weight. Another surprise — while the very low calories dieters initially lost more weight, at the one year mark both sets of dieters ended up at the same place. Why? Because a very low cal diet is tough to sustain. Some of you have been there, yes? To put that Fit Fact another way, a greater rate of initial weight loss does not yield a better result at end of the year.
Which brings us to the next question:
And the answer is “yes.” Not “yes, go on a diet that involves you feeling like you’re fighting against your food,” but “yes, eat foods that are good for you and eat fewer calories than you are now.” Of course, you could go on a crazy cookie diet and cut out 500 calories from your daily intake, but really? As exercise professionals and happy workout people, we were very curious how the exercise vs. diet results broke down. The last 20 years have seen percentages all over the place: 50/50 diet/ exercise; 90/10; 70/30. You get the picture. We were rooting for the exercise side of the equation as we know the benefits of an active life. Plus we like having people in our group fitness classes.
But DANG IT if current thought is saying loudly and clearly: To LOSE weight, it’s all about calorie reduction. Moving enough to achieve energy imbalance takes a lot of activity. A lot. As in, if you liked exercising and moving that much, you probably would not be needing to lose weight in the first place. As Dr. Wyatt and her colleagues point out, most people find it easier to cut out 500 calories a day than to exercise for the hour needed to burn that same number. What do you find easier – cutting out one baked good or after-dinner snack per day oooorrrr hitting the gym for an hour?
The rest of your life. Moving as long as you want to stay lower weight. Because at some point, you will achieve your weight loss goals. Then you have a lifetime ahead of you to maintain. Now we are talking EXERCISE.
Yes, physical activity is ultimately the MAGIC PILL to weight maintenance and a lifelong healthy weight. More than anything else, MOVE if you want to keep weight off. More specifically, chalk up (or the modern equivalent – Add up on your phone app) your daily activity minutes. To maintain weight loss, the minimum recommendation is 60-90 minutes of low to moderate intensity aerobic exercise most days of week. That was kind of key so to repeat:
We never said a lifetime of low weight, health and fitness was easy. We did say it could be fun though! And it can be. Check out prior posts that address the BEST workout, and how exercise, even when it sucks, can make you happier. Then get busy! (Did you click any of those links? Come on now. Do it if you want to lose or keep off weight).
Readers: What weight loss or weight maintenance tips do you have to share?
Interested to lose weight? Stay fit? Learn and Laugh with us a bit? Subscribe to our YouTube channel. Subscribe to our blog. Follow us on Twitter: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit. Please also follow us on Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit. We put all sorts of handy icons in the right sidebar for you to click on too.
Disclosure: Refuel with Chocolate Milk provided us with a scholarship for the conference registration: FitFluential made it possible for us to be session speakers and panel moderators. Yes, we LOVE sponsors who help us get accurate, timely, good info to you!
Slides credit: Dr Holly Wyatt of the University of Colorado, Denver Anschutz Health and Wellness Center
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
Having just attended the Fitness Health Bloggers Conference at the Anschutz Health and Wellness Center (part of the University of Colorado Denver Medical Campus), we had the privilege to hear directly from professors on the front lines of weight loss, obesity, diet, and exercise research.
A presentation on weight loss versus weight management from Dr. Holly Wyatt caught our well-toned ears in particular. One thing we knew before hearing her talk: the advice out there is confusing, overwhelming, seemingly contradictory, and — judging by the ever-rising obesity rates — not actually working. Yet, as Dr. Wyatt asserts, “people have the education and information they need to meet weight loss goals. It’s the motivation to get started and stick with it over time that is so challenging.”
Whatzzat? We know what to do but we just don’t do it? Well, wave your hands in the air as if you just DO care, because we distilled the absolute most cutting edge, verified, helpful highlights on diet and exercise to say sayonara to extra weight once and for all.
First, define whether you are in loss or management mode.
Apparently past strategies have not distinguished between these two phases, which spells doom worse than the last place finisher in a spelling bee. (Alexandra beat Kymberly in the famous North School 4th Grade Twin Challenge Spell Off. All for the lack of a vowel in the word “vacuum.” No Kymberly is not bitter about it. Still. After all these years. Vacuums suck suck suck).
Ok, so you have put yourself in the correct phase of your journey. Now what? Well, you have to wait for the Cliff Hanger Notes in our next post as this post is getting rather long. Bazinga neener neener. However, we’ll leave you with a few tantalizing tidbits and memorable quotes to tide you over.
Come back next time to hear, ya hear?
Readers: Which phase are you in? Weight Loss? Weight Maintenance? Weight Gain? Fat Gain? (Yes, people with those last two goals do exist. Somewhere.) Are you thinking, “This is all very research-y and so on, but I just want to lose 10 pounds in 4 weeks?” Or possibly you’re nowhere near maintenance, and have a weight loss goal to lose 100 pounds before you consider anything that comes after that. Let us know.
Disclosure: Refuel with Chocolate Milk provided us with a scholarship for the conference registration: FitFluential made it possible for us to be session speakers and panel moderators. All opinions are our own though we are free about sharing them!
Get edu-tained on your way to better fitness. Subscribe to our YouTube channel. Subscribe to our blog. Follow us on Twitter: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit. Please also follow us on Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit.
Photo credit for kitty: Cheezburger
Slides credit: Dr. Holly Wyatt
As our parents (and grandparents) age, they tend to lose a lot of their strength, mobility and balance. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Sarcopenia (progressive decline in skeletal muscle mass…that may lead to decreased strength and functionality) is common among older adults, but exercise can help prevent muscle wasting (yup, the article in the link is by OUR Alexandra).
In honor of Father’s Day, and all fathers (mothers can do this workout too) who need more strength and mobility, we have created a functional, achievable mini-workout. Have your favorite fairly inactive older adult try it and let us know how it goes![youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ordMc5oBDM[/youtube]
Cardio: 10 minutes
* Lower body – foot movement
* Upper body – arms and torso movement
If you use music, 150-160 bpm is ideal for really working up a sweat in this seated workout
* Sit to Stand – 10 reps – leg & core strength
* Wall Push-ups – 10-15 reps – upper body & core strength
* One- arm reach and rotate – 10 on each side – core strength, flexibility and balance
Heck, why not try it out yourself? It’s effective! May all our dads be around to enjoy good health for many years!
Clothing: Top by YMX Yellowman
Workout pants by Nike
Hiking/ Running shoes by Vasque Footwear
We are asked a LOT by our students and readers if soy is a good pre- or post-workout food. It’s a protein, and if you click to read the link you’ll discover
a picture of donuts and coffee that carbs and protein are your best choice after a workout. Soy has been controversial (The only food that isn’t controversial is dark chocolate – right?), so we try to stay up on the latest so we can give you our informed answer of “it depends.”
Alexandra: My son was allergic to soy when he was young, yet I can eat a gi-mantic bowl of edamame and feel nothing but full. So when we were offered the chance to write about some new research that just came out about the benefits of soy protein in combination with whey and casein, I was right in front,
shoving my colleagues out of the way raising my hand. Because I’m a vegetarian, I’m always interested in finding ways to get a good balance of omega-3 and omega-6 in my diet, especially as I’m not fond of fish oil (who is, I want to know? And who’s keeping anchovies on the pizza menus? Gag).
Kymberly: I am fond of fish oil that comes in fish. I like fish.
Without going in-depth about the research (we’d enjoy it, but you might start to glaze over and drool a bit), the bottom line is that soy (in combo with whey & casein) has been found to prolong muscle building and recovery after exercise. The study was done with college-aged subjects, yet the implications for helping older adults deal with sarcopenia (muscle wasting) are really exciting to me (not because we’re old; because we plan to BECOME old)!
Before you say in all caps, ‘FOLLOW THE MONEY,” we’ll tell you right out that the research was funded by Solae LLC (they develop soy-based ingredients). We didn’t have to follow that hard; it’s listed on the abstract! But, we kept following and found out that Solae has also been recognized for 3 years in a row as a world leader in ethics.
Alexandra: So I’m going to do what I have been doing all along – eat a balanced diet that has all kinds of organic choices, in moderation, which includes soy and soy-based foods. Heck, the Japanese have been eating tofu, bean paste and edamame for centuries and they’re healthier than we who eat a western diet! However, I will NOT be eating natto. That stuff looks, smells and tastes like a science project gone mutant. I tried it at the National Products Expo so you wouldn’t have to! It’s tied with Marmite for nastiest food in the universe as far as I’m concerned.
What about you? Are you more interested in post-exercise muscle building and recovery, or the possibilities for preventing sarcopenia in older age? Me, I’m off to figure out why our dachshund likes to eat empty edamame pods.
Are you on Twitter? There is a Twitter chat about soy protein on Wednesday, May 23, 9 PM EST/ 6 PM PST, hashtag #SoyProtein. Join the chat. Bring your questions. Do your workout first!
FitFluential LLC compensated me for this campaign. All opinions are my own.