Many people believe that an increased cardio exercise routine are the only way to lose weight.
Whilst it is an effective way to lose weight and is important in your weight loss routine when combined with a healthy eating plan, they are absolutely not the only way to trigger weight loss.
In fact, building muscle will help you to lose weight – even though muscle weighs more than fat! Here’s how it works.
In some cases, heavy aerobic exercise coupled with a low calorie diet can actually cause you to lose muscle mass. This is because when you perform heavy exercise, your body burns off more carbohydrates and less body fat. When you run out of carbohydrates, your body will make more carbohydrates out of protein – this is called catabolism, which leads to a loss of muscle mass. Whilst this may mean that you weigh less on the scales, it can cause you to lose your ability to burn calories off efficiently.
The basic premise is, with less muscle, you burn fewer calories at rest. When you have more muscle and you use it often, you still burn off more calories at rest without even having to exercise – in fact, this effect of accelerated calorie burn can last for up to 24 hours after a period of exercise.
If you lose muscle mass, however, you burn off calories less efficiently. This means that if you eat the same amount of food, you could find yourself putting weight on – even if you’re eating less calories than before you started your diet, as you are unable to burn off those calories as efficiently as before.
It can be difficult to build lean muscle, but simply working your muscles will start you on the process to getting a stronger, leaner body. In fact, research has shown that putting on 0.5kg of muscle will allow you to eat 300 extra calories per week without affecting your weight – provided you continue to work that muscle.
So how do you build muscle? Firstly, you need to decide which areas of your body you want to target – legs, arms, stomach, shoulders etc. You can then tailor your workout to these areas. You also need to choose a weight that works your muscles, but that isn’t so heavy you can hardly lift it. If a weight is too light, and you become accustomed to it, you won’t be working out the muscle and it will not get stronger. If a weight is too heavy, you can over strain yourself and you are at risk of injury.
You also need to have 2 or 3 rest days per week where you rest your muscles. Training everyday will not give your muscles chance to repair themselves, and if you work your muscles whilst they are still damaged from the previous day’s exercise, you again run the risk of injury. On the rest days, if you still want to exercise, you can partake in cardio exercise or an exercise that doesn’t target your muscles to give them chance to repair.
Generally, it’s recommended that you perform each movement in your routine, i.e. bicep curls or squats, 10-12 times. You generally want to be doing 8-10 movements within your routine to work your whole body, or you could perform movements such as squats and lunges which work more than one muscle group.
If you need some extra guidance and structure on an exercise routine to follow then try our 28 Day Diet & Exercise Plan that can be done in conjunction with our Healthy Mummy Smoothies.
You should always speak to your doctor or physio before beginning a workout routine post pregnancy