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Fat Burning Studies

In: Exercises

4 Oct 2009

BabyBump Mom Fitness 096You always hear me go on about high intensity interval training, resistance training and short burst resistance training. I blog frequently about how this is the superior form of exercise for fat loss. I wrote a post a few days ago about fitness misconceptions and put my reasons why long slow cardio doesn’t work. Everyone has different opinions about what is superior fat burning exercise. In the gym culture most people think cardio is the way to go. My opinions are glarring and they are educated opinions. Read for yourself just a couple of the thousands of studies done about superior fat burning exercise. I borrowed the below italic information from Alwyn Cosgroves article, a professional fitness researcher, writer and trainer.

I have lived these studies as in university I was often a paid guinea pig for graduate students. I was paid a small sum to alter my diet, work to exhaustion and get muscle biopsies taken. This is a labour of love and not for everyone, but I know first hand that high intensity resistance training is the superior form of fat loss exercise.


 High Intensity Anaerobic Interval Training

The second key “ingredient” in fat loss programming is high intensity interval training (HIIT).  It burns more calories than steady state and elevates metabolism significantly more than other forms of cardio.

The landmark study in interval training was from Tremblay:

Tremblay A, Simoneau JA, Bouchard C.

Impact of exercise intensity on body fatness and skeletal muscle metabolism.
Metabolism. 1994 Jul;43(7):814-8

This study pitted 20 weeks of endurance training against 15 weeks of interval training:

Energy cost of endurance training = 28661 calories.
Energy cost of interval training = 13614 calories (less than half)

The interval training group showed a nine times greater loss in subcutaneous fat than the endurance group (when corrected for energy cost).

Read that again. Calorie for calorie, the interval training group lost nine times more fat overall. Why? Maybe it’s EPOC, an upregulation of fat burning enzyme activity, or straight up G-Flux.  If the interval training group had lost the same fat as the endurance group, we’d get the same results in less time. That means interval trainingis a better tool in your fat loss arsenal.

 High Intensity Aerobic Interval Training

The next tool we’ll pull out is essentially a lower intensity interval method where we use aerobic intervals.

Talanian, Galloway et al

Two weeks of High-Intensity Aerobic Interval Training increases the capacity for fat oxidation during exercise in women.
J Appl Physiol (December 14, 2006). doi:10.1152/japplphysiol.01098.2006

This study looked at high-intensity aerobic intervaltraining and its influence on fat oxidation. In summary, seven sessions of HIIT over two weeks induced marked increases in whole body and skeletal muscle capacity for fatty acid oxidation during exercise in moderately active women. In layman’s terms, the interval work appeared to “upregulate” fat burning enzymes.

Basically this means we can burn more fat in other activities as a result of this inclusion. In other words, we get some more bang for our buck.

A quick disclaimer though: my colleague Alan Aragon once said, “Caring about how much fat is burned during exercise is equivalent to worrying about how much muscle is built during exercise.” In other words, substrate utilization during exercise isn’t really an important variable in the big picture of fat loss — total calories burned overall is.


You can grab a free busy mom fat burning program designed from the research above by signing up for my free newsletter in the sidebar.

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