By Dr. Shaun McGuire
Everyone knows weight management is essential to optimal health. If you struggle with weight gain, you’re not alone. CDC statistics reveal 7 of every 10 adult Americans are overweight or obese. Excessive weight is related to serious diseases, as reported by many health organizations. Did you know that for every 2 pounds of weight gain the body makes 400 miles of new blood vessels! This describes the relationship between high blood pressure and weight gain. The American Cancer Society reports 8% of all cancers are related to excessive body weight. Diabetes mellitus and excessive body weight are related. These relationships should encourage us to take weight management seriously.
Seventy five percent of ingested carbohydrates are stored in muscles. Using the analogy of gas in a car, when we drive the car (strength train) we empty the tank (stored carbohydrates). If we don’t drive the car, the tank remains full. Then when we “refuel” or consume more food, there’s no room in the tank. In cars this causes overflow. In our bodies excess calories are stored as fat. Therefore, healthy weight management strategies must “empty the tank.”
Anaerobic not aerobic exercise is how the body empties our carbohydrate gas tank. Strength or resistance training is “anaerobic.” This term refers to the way the muscles make energy for contraction. Anaerobic energy production lasts approximately 40 seconds and relies solely on glycogen (stored carbohydrates). The body stores approximately 375 grams of carbohydrates in muscle, which translates to 1,500 calories of storage we need to burn.
Anaerobic exercise guidelines are: moderate to maximal exertion up to 40 seconds. Lifting weights at the gym is the stereotype of strength training. Performing 8-10 repetitions at 4-6 seconds each is anaerobic, thus depleting carbohydrate stores or “emptying the tank.” Body weight exercises like the push up, plank, sit up, deep knee bends, and many yoga positions can also fulfill anaerobic guidelines.
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