domingo, 22 de octubre de 2017


Are you going to the gym regularly but still not losing weight? Here's how to use insights from new weight-loss research to help you peel off the pounds fast and efficiently.

It's an old chestnut of the fitness industry, the notion that for every 3,500 calories you burn you'll lose a pound of fat. As a personal trainer, though, I often see guys slogging through week after week of running, walking, lifting, whatever -- workouts designed specifically to reach that 3,500-calorie-per-week mark -- only to weigh exactly the same when it's over. What gives?

The problem with that old weight-loss formula, researchers now say, is that it doesn't take into account what goes on when you're not exercising: the calories you would have burned anyway, the calories you'll add from overeating after overtraining, and the ones you won't burn the next day because you're too sore to move. The old weight-loss math assumed that your body was like a block of marble and that by systematically chiseling away at it with exercise you could gradually get rid of the undesirable stuff and end up with Michelangelo abs. But your body's not a block of marble; it's in a constant tug-of-war between consuming and burning calories, whether you're eating, sleeping, reading, or watching TV. So the calculus for getting rid of that pound is far more complex than just subtracting the "calories burned" number from your weekly goal at the end of each workout. "The 3,500-calorie figure is theoretically correct," says Ralph La Forge, the managing director of Duke University Medical Center's Lipid and Disease Management Preceptorship Program. That is, if you burn that fat in a closed container under laboratory conditions.

La Forge's work points to a number of reasons why you can sweat your ass off on a daily basis and yet still end up with the same size ass. And they all go back to a failure to understand the way the body really burns calories. For starters, you may overestimate the number of calories your workout effectively expends. For the average 180-pound guy, walking slowly for an hour uses approximately 200 calories. Trouble is, you can't just take that 200 and subtract it from your 3,500-calorie goal. You also have to consider the calories you would have gone through during that hour even if you were sitting on the couch. A 180-pound guy burns around 90 calories per hour just by being awake, so during your one-hour walk you will have burned just 110 more calories than if you weren't exercising at all. That number -- what La Forge calls the "net energy cost" -- is the important one. It's how many extra calories you've actually used.

You may also be building muscle while you lose fat, particularly if you've started a new program or if you're lifting weights. This is a nice problem to have; the more muscle you add the more readily your body will burn calories. But if you aren't keeping track of your body-fat percentage, the lack of results on the scale can be a demoralizing kick in the gut at the end of a rigorous week of training.

You might also be sabotaging your weight loss goals by training too hard. Burning 700 calories on a hard bike ride is good, but if you're so dead afterward that you spend the rest of the day on the couch, you have to consider the calories that you won't use because you're too tired to walk the dog. Plus, overtraining can lead to an increased appetite. If you're so hungry after your bike ride that you eat an extra cheeseburger (310 calories), the net calorie burn for your workout drops from 700 to 390.

The bottom line: You've got to exercise more than you thought. But the best way to be sure your workout results in weight loss is different for every sport. That's why we've analyzed four of the most popular activities -- running, swimming, cycling, and weight training -- to help you shed pounds the right way.

Your Sport-Specific Plan

A number of factors determine how much weight you lose from exercise. Make those variables work for you.


A five-mile run at 5 mph burns about 600 net calories. At 8 mph (a 7.5-minute-mile pace), your net rises only modestly to 670. Still, try to pick up the pace. You'll burn more calories in about two-thirds the time.

Running outside or on an indoor track uses approximately 5 percent more calories than running on a treadmill. And be warned: Those "calories burned" readouts tend to overestimate by 10-15 percent.

If you're a new runner or if you've recently added hills to your routine, you may be adding muscle while you're melting fat, which can offset any loss come weigh-in time. Don't worry: You'll soon shed pounds.

Run outdoors whenever possible. Don't avoid hills; attack them. And go faster. At 8 mph you'll burn more calories in less time.


The caloric difference between moderate and intense swimming isn't great, but a long, slow swim tends to increase your appetite more than a short, intense one, making you more likely to replace calories by overeating.

Open-water swimming is far more challenging than pool swimming, in which you get to turn around after every lap and give yourself a big push-off. Not so in a lake or in the ocean.

Once your swimming is strong, take it up a notch by switching to a more challenging stroke, like the butterfly. You'll burn almost 100 more calories an hour than when you were doing the breaststroke.

Swim at an intensity higher than 60 percent of your max heart rate. Use more challenging strokes, like the butterfly.


Fifteen miles at 11 mph burns around 590 net calories. At 17 mph that jumps to around 840. Of course, not everyone can sustain a high speed for 15 miles, so get a speedometer and work up slowly.

Cycling in the real world can burn up to 90 more calories per hour, but a stationary bike is safer than riding in rain or snow and delivers less impact to the joints. Tip: At the gym, sit up straight as you ride.

Because biking is a non-weight-bearing exercise, it can be easy to overdo it; remember, if you fry your legs and end up couchbound, you'll miss out on everyday caloric burn from, say, raking leaves.

Ride faster outdoors, but stay safe and use the stationary bike on rainy or snowy days. The day after a hard ride, take an easy spin.


Intense lifting -- sets of 6-8 reps with heavy weight -- adds size (and weight). You, on the other hand, want to do sets of 10-15 reps with moderate weight; you'll burn calories and build muscle by going longer.

Weight machines are great for isolating muscles and helping beginners learn proper technique, but lifting with free weights lets you incorporate more muscle groups and expend more calories.

For a 180-pound guy, an hour of moderate lifting burns a modest 350 or so calories. That said, lifting is almost mandatory if you want to lose weight. Adding lean muscle increases caloric burn throughout the day.

Use free weights, not machines. Lift moderate weight in sets of 10-15 reps. Emphasize big muscle groups, like those in the legs.

By: Steve Steinberg

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