Weight Loss and How Exercise Really Helps

Weight Loss and How Exercise Really Helps


Weight loss and exercise go hand in hand, together they produce a greater weight loss affect than either alone can do, but why?

It is often believed that exercise is a good method to use for weight loss, it’s not.


As humans we have evolved to be seriously efficient energy savers. Our ancestors could survive for extended durations with low to zero food intake and only by being energy conserving could they manage this.


If we burned hundreds of calories every time we performed a few minutes of exercise then we would have soon died out as a species. Be thankful your body does NOT burn large amounts of calories each exercise session….you’re here because of that!


So if we burn very few calories during exercise what is the point in exercising if weight loss is your goal?


Glad you asked because it is often misunderstood and applied poorly.


When you restrict your calorie intake and your body mass reduces, it is not just fat mass that we lose, we also lose lean tissue (muscle). This is a bad thing as lean tissue is the main element of our metabolic rate that we can control (the more we have, the more calories we burn).


So it would be sensible to hold onto or build as much muscle mass as we can when dieting. THIS is where exercise comes into it’s own…especially anaerobic exercise.


When we spend time in an anaerobic state we are sending a strong signal to the body to either build or maintain muscle mass. Muscle not only helps keep our metabolism as high as possible but also gives us a nice curvy shape and keeps us strong and performing well! 



In short…muscle is mega!


Muscle is Metabolic!

Muscle is Metabolic!


What is an anaerobic state?


Traditionally people have used running machines, bikes, rowers and cross trainers in the gym to burn calories and they use to do this at a steady pace for 45 minutes or more at a time.

That is not anaerobic and really is a poor way to hold onto muscle mass in the gym. That is aerobic and requires very little muscular effort. Cardiovascular and mental effort, yes but not skeletal muscular effort.


If health, athleticism, muscularity and strength are your goals then do not confuse cardiovascular effort with skeletal muscular effort.

If skinny fat and wobbly bits are your goal then that’s fine.


Anaerobic exercise is achieved through high effort muscular contractions that you’d experience when you change pace from a jog to a sprint, for example.

When a muscle has to contract against a force, be it an external weight or your own body weight, to such a degree where it is forced to use it’s own internal fuel supply (high effort contractions constrict the capillaries and prevent the blood flow and thus oxygen supply), then it is anaerobic and working hard. Wins all around.


Anaerobic exercise....

Anaerobic exercise….


It is this level of effort that is required, repeatedly, to send a signal to maintain or build muscle during a calorie restricted weight loss diet.


A helpful guideline to remember is that if you can continue an exercise for more than about 2 minutes it is highly unlikely to be anaerobic in nature.

Anaerobic exercise will usually come to end when local muscular pain or exhaustion temporarily stops you and not a lack of breath….


A few good examples or anaerobic exercise are as follows:


  • Sprinting
  • Heavy Kettlebell swings
  • Squats
  • Jumping
  • Chinups
  • Boxing
  • Olympic lifting
  • Strongman training


The list is just an example of a few simple exercises that will ensure you are working hard and anaerobically.


Cardio is aerobic...and leaves many...skinny fat

Cardio is aerobic…and leaves many…skinny fat


The take home message here is that when you are restricting calories for a weight loss diet (which you must) and you have included an exercise programme (which is a smart move) it would be a sensible choice to choose anaerobic exercise to prevent muscle wasting and a skinny fat physique.


We here at Hams Fitness, Epsom & Surrey Personal Training know how to apply exercise in a most effective way to assist a diet with a weight loss goal.


Remember: exercise builds a better body and diet reveals that body from beneath the fat


If you have a problem and no one else can fix it…..you know who to call ;) No, not the A-Team…..ME!