Most of us eat too much and drink too much across the Christmas period. It's compounded for many by the lack of exercise thanks to too many films and parties! But help is at hand.
With all the food and drink available over the next few weeks, you might be wondering how you burn those Christmas calories away come January? The key to understanding how you can burn the calories and therefore shift the pounds (whether it's after Christmas or any other time of the year) starts with an understanding of how the body functions.
We all know that exercise can help you lose weight. But did you know that different types of exercise have different effects on the way in which your body burns calories? Therefore, the secret to burning the "Christmas calories" lies in knowing which types of exercise are most effective at zapping the fat.
Different effects on actual fat loss lies in the effect that certain exercise has on your metabolism. Your body gets the energy it requires from food via metabolism. It's a number of chemical reactions within the body cells that ensure food is converted into energy. The rate of your metabolism will influence the speed at which you burn calories, so the faster your metabolism, the more calories you burn.
There are two components to understanding your metabolism and how that helps burn the calories. The first is what exercise you undertaking and how many calories that actually requires. The second is how the exercise affects your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR).
Your BMR is a measure of the calories you burn simply staying alive - whatever your activity levels! It turns out that some forms of exercise will elevate your BMR more than others, meaning you burn more calories.
The best forms of exercise for increasing the BMR are strength training and interval training. Let's look at each and see how they affect the BMR.
Strength training boosts your BMR in two ways. Firstly, hard strength training increases the body's output of HGH Human Growth Hormone. HGH has two key effects on the body building muscle and burning fat, both of which help with weight loss. Secondly, when you train hard in this way you will add some muscle mass again, this is good, because muscles burn calories. Adding just five pounds of muscle can help you to burn up to 150 extra calories per day.
Hard workouts not only burn more calories while you are doing them, but keep your BMR elevated for hours afterwards.
The other form of training that influences the BMR in this way is interval training where you alternate hard and easy intervals of between 30 and ninety seconds. Interval training can be done during almost any form of aerobic exercise, such as running, swimming, or on cardio machines.
Like strength training, interval training increases the body's output of HGH, and it too keeps your BMR elevated for hours afterwards.
Both of these are hard workouts, but research is increasingly showing that tough workouts produce many more benefits than easy ones. So if you want to keep the weight off over the holidays, make sure that strength training and intervals are part of your program.
For strength training you will usually involve a gym, although it's not compulsory. Using weight machines is great for beginners or if you're training on your own. Make sure you know how to use the machines in order to keep your form. Working out will include "chest press machine", "leg press", "leg curl", "shoulder press" and then some "back exercises".
Many of these exercise can also be carried out with free weights including dumbbells and barbells. If you are more experienced, you can also Resistance bands in place of the free weights.
Interval training is, for want of another explanation, high intensity cardio workout. This can be running, cycling or even swimming. After a short body warm up, you will then workout for a short period of time where you push yourself at maximum exertion for a set period of time - for example one minute. Following this you then jog or walk for recovery for a period no longer than you have just worked out for, then repeat either the same exercise.
For example for running :
100m / 100m walk / 200m / 200m walk / 300m / 300m walk
This should only be undertaken by those with a few weeks basic fitness behind them, you must also be very careful to warm up the muscle groups properly.
Do more exercise across the Christmas period so you burn the calories your eat or drink! No seriously, if you are looking to burn those calories at any time of the year, you need to look at the strength work and interval training to help increase your BMR and therefore burn off more calories for the same amount of exercise time.
If you couple this with healthier eating, cutting out excessive fats and sugars, you should see some good results within just a few weeks.