New Year cardio is a proven strategy for those chasing a leaner physique – after all, you’ll burn a lot more calories on the treadmill than you will pumping iron. But there’s a smart, biological reason not to stray too far from the weights rack this January, as epidemiologists at Harvard have demonstrated.
They analysed data gathered from 10,500 middle-aged men over the course of 12 years, hoping to discover how different types of physical activity affect waist measurements as we age. The participants’ waists grew by an average of 6.6cm during the study period, but that increase was halved by regular weight training, regardless of aerobic activity levels. The researchers calculated that if the group had swapped 30 minutes of daily cardio training for resistance work, they would have trimmed even more from the final waist measurement.
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The results might seem illogical, until you consider the effect that muscle has on your base metabolic rate (BMR) – the number of calories your body burns to keep it functioning at rest over a day – which is around 1,800kcal for the average man. Extra muscle mass increases the figure considerably. Every kilo of muscle burns more calories at rest than a kilo of fat, too. Set against this number, the 300kcal that your 5K burns pale into insignificance. That’s why pumping up your BMR in the weights room is the smart way to lift your fat-burning potential in the long term. No icy morning runs required.
Master Your Metabolism
Rev up your fat-burning efforts with these science-backed tips that’ll help you keep calories under control.
Vitamin D will supplement bone health in winter and osteocalcin, produced inside your bones, helps to metabolise sugar and fat. University of Montreal.
Drinking 500ml of water when you wake up increases your metabolic rate by almost a third for an hour. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism
Consuming 1g of chilli powder with food helps to raise your metabolic rate and suppresses your appetite, keeping snacking at bay. PloS One.
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