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What is the best way to lose weight by Mary Margaret Tan

Okay we know that the human body is covered in hundreds of muscles from head-to-toe, and we come equipped with body fat as well.  Fat is essential to our well-being and survival; a low body fat percentage can lead to hormonal imbalances and even issues with fertility in females.  Too much of a good thing can mean bad news too.  If our body fat percentage is too high, we run the risk of becoming obese, which effects our physiology and lead to a number of health concerns.  This of course is obvious, so what should an obese individual do to lose body fat (nutrition is the key to fat loss, but in this article I will be discussing about the type of exercise to aid in losing weight.)? Run an unlimited number of miles or pick up a pair of weights and just lift away? Why not do both?

            A successful exercise regimen includes cardio, resistance training, and flexibility (which will be discussed in a future blog). Cardio is mainly for your heart and its health while resistance training is performed to keep your muscles strong and healthy.  There is a common misconception that doing endless amounts of cardio everyday 7 days a week will help to burn off fat and lose weight.  These exercises include running, cycling, swimming etc.  Well yes, cardio does aid in burning off calories and keeping your overall cardiovascular system healthy but is it really the best way for weight loss? Cardio indeed burns off a lot calories in a short amount of time depending on the intensity, and it does raise your metabolism but contrary to popular belief, it alone is not the best method for fat loss.  Resistance training, while only burning so many calories in one hour, in the long run will indeed help to shed that extra weight while keeping your muscles defined and strong.  When this type of training comes to mind, people assume it always has to include a pair of dumbbells.  Yes and no.  Resistance training can be anything from dumbbells, to a sack of potatoes or rice, a box of textbooks, even furniture; any object around home can be used as long as it puts your muscles to work.  The more muscle you put on, the faster your metabolism becomes as muscles are more metabolically active than fat.  Because of this, you are constantly burning more calories throughout the day, even while at rest.  Compare this to the effect cardio has on metabolism with only a raise for the next two hours after finishing. 

            Just because resistance training is the best method of exercise to lose body fat, does not mean you should neglect cardio either.  Doing cardio after a good lifting session can actually help with muscle growth as it helps to repair muscle damage by increasing blood flow and removing metabolic waste for a quicker recovery (all the while burning off extra calories on the side and keeping fat levels down!).  However, too much of a good thing is bad also.  Doing too much cardio can be detrimental to muscle gain as you need a surplus of calories in order for the muscle to grow and cardio burns off a lot of these calories within a short amount of time.  This is especially true if you are not consuming enough food so your body will resort to burning off lean muscle tissue for energy; a loss of muscle tissue will then lead to a slower metabolism, which will then make it difficult to lose body fat and keep it off.  Not doing enough cardio can lead to fat gains, less defined muscles, and possibly even an unhealthy cardiovascular system.  

            A good balance of weight training and cardio is necessary for fat loss and overall health.  In the end, it also depends on your own goals.  Depending on how high your body fat percentage is, such as an obese individual, increasing the amount of cardio will help in shedding weight and will also condition your heart to take on the intensity of resistance training.  The method of exercise you perform combined with a good nutrition is sure to lead to fat loss and successful results in the end.

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