Getting stronger is a beautiful thing. Its what helps you see more definition and build more metabolism-boosting muscle. But according to new research in Current Biology, it also causes you to burn fewer calories during each workout.
For the study, researchers examined 300 men and women, specifically their levels of physical activity and the number of calories they burned each day. They found that while moderately active people burned about 200 more calories per day than the most sedentary participants, the most physically active people didnt burn any more calories than those who were only moderately active.
If you're logging miles on the treadmill and hours in cycling class in the hopes of torching more calories, that's seriously sucky news.
Here's how your body makes up for the major calories you torch at the gym: As you get used to your workouts, you might not burn more calorieseven if you're consistently active, says California-based trainer Mike Donavanik, C.S.C.S., Think about your job. When you first started, there were some learning curves, it took more energy and more time, but you became more efficient, he says. Exercise works the same way. Your body adapts to a specific demand. So you naturally become more efficient, and use less energy [a.k.a. calories] to meet that demand."
But thats no reason to forgo exercise in the name of weight loss or, more importantly, fat loss. After all, you want to lose fat, not muscle. Right? One obesity study of 439 women found that those who ate healthy and exercised lost considerably more body fat than those who stuck with dieting alone.
So how do you make sure every sweat session helps you burn more? Follow these five rules of exercising for weight loss. (If you're ready to add more sweaty variety to your exercise routine, check out Women's Health's Ignite program, designed by our Next Fitness Star, Nikki Metzger.)
Prioritize Clean Eating
Pick Up Some Weights
Dont Forget to Fuel
That explains why recent research published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism found that downing coffee(or any caffeine) an hour before your workout can boost your post-workout caloric burn by 15 percent. After your workout, Donavanik recommends eating a meal thats about 40 percent carbs, 40 percent protein, and 20 percent fat. The combination will help your muscles recover, get your energy levels up, and have you burning more calories as your body repairsand, yes, adapts.
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