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Can it be done? How hard will it be?
So the challenge (or more accurately, the research) is:
30 Days, 500 calories burnt every day through 1 session of exercise.
Questions I am looking to answer:
- Can it be done?
- What are the positive and negative impacts on health?
- Will I become more tired or more energetic?
- Will my appetite increase?
- How long will burning 500 calories in one go take?
- What is the shortest time I can burn 500 calories in?
- What does it feel like to burn 500 calories in one go?
- Can I do it after my usual workouts? (as a finisher?)
- Could I sustain this for longer than 30 days every day?
I started my research this morning into burning 500 calories a day in one go, every day, no rest days, and here’s how the first session went.
After starting work at 5.15 am this morning, I planned to do my first 500 calories at 7:30 am. I’ll happily admit, my cardio fitness isn’t the greatest. I am much more of a strength and muscle endurance type of person (lot’s of body weight, heavy weights, using pull up bars – anything with interesting and challenging movement).
About 10 minutes in and my mind was telling me “it’s time to give up now, this is going to be too hard”. Which is absolutely crazy! I knew my body had more so there was no way I was going to stop at 10 minutes. So I had to put a real effort to switch my state from giving up to giving it a go!
I could definitely feel the effects of an easter diet, and I’m a little bit…well say we say…shy…at the thought of posting my shirtless photo on day 1 at the moment (I’ll be keeping a visual diary and taking a photo each day before each workout.)
To my surprise it didn’t feel or hurt as much as I thought it would, and it certainly was not outside of my comfort zone, nor my ability. At the moment I definitely feel like I could do this every day – but it’s only day 1 so best not get carried away! Let’s wait til the stress on the legs and mind start to kick in first before I get too cocky!
The outcome of this morning was that I managed to burn 300 calories in under 17 minutes, and burnt 500 calories in 28 minutes and 29 seconds. So that is now my minimum standard and my time to beat tomorrow.
I’ll post my update in the weekly email and keep sending a few of these updates throughout. I’m also keeping a health log (which I use with all my clients) to track my health too (heart rates, blood pressure etc…) I’ll send out the results each week so you can see the effects this research/challenge is having on my whole body.
As for my diet, I will be keeping it clean. Lot’s of vegetables, balanced out with protein, and a small amount of carbs. Personally, I am not a big carb fan anyway – pasta is not a favourite of mine. I’ll be cutting out breads and baking goods, and keeping chocolate consumption under control (maybe a little bit at the weekends – chocolate is my weakness!)
It just made me wonder. Are supplement companies just feeding us these drinks and pills without informing us what is in them? Even worse, are we just taking them without questioning or researching into what these ingredients are? Last week I spoke about how artificial sweeteners can worsen our sugar cravings, and I recently wrote a blog post titled “All Killer, No Filler” where I rant on further about supplements and why I only take supplements suitable and acceptable for Raw Vegans.
Anyway, fat burning myths! Fat is an excellent energy source and good fats are incredibly healthy for you. Sugar (carbs) are good in moderation and like fats are also needed for fuel. But the main difference between sugar and fat is that sugar really has one purpose – to provide fuel for energy.
Fat on the other hand is different. Fats are used by our bodies for insulation, fuel, shock absorption, protection, and form many major cellular and biochemical structures in our body. Hormones are made of fat. If we remove fat from our diet completely then we are hindering of bodies natural signalling system. Nerve tissue (neurons, specifically axons) are covered in myelin sheath, a protective layer which is made of fat. Myelin sheath provides our nerves with the insulation it needs for electrical impulses to quickly reach their destinations (our muscles). I am sure you all know this, but the point I am getting at (before I go into fat myth busters) is this – fats are essential to a healthy life style. Source healthy fats (avocado, coconut, nuts, olive oil), avoid bad fats (trans fats, saturated fats, butters, most cooking oils such as vegetable or seed oils). Keep your hormones in check and give them the nutrients they need. Same goes for the nervous system – you’ll need both systems working as efficiently as possible to help improve your health, and get the most out of your training.
Just think about how much your hormonal and nervous system will benefit from a diet that regularly receives good healthy fats.
Here are my fat burning myths:
1. The body turns off one fuel system and then turns on another
The body uses both fat and carbs at the same time, just in different ratios. Why is this important? Because this is often explained poorly by many who sell fitness programmes. The claim is that there is a fat burning zone. Whilst our bodies do switch primary fuel sources from carbs to fat, both are always at work. Our bodies also need to preserve carbs as we only have a limited supply. When the body knows it needs to preserve carbs, the ratio will change in favour of fat for energy.
2. Low-intensity exercise will burn more fat than high-intensity exercise
Again, looking at the fat to carb fuel ratio, at a low intensity your body will use more fat than carbs, but not will solely burn fat alone. At low intensity our bodies will preserve our carb stores as carbs are required for everyday bodily function. However, the question is how do you define your low-intensity exercise? Would you regard a walk as low intensity? a jog? The important thing here is that low intensity workouts will not burn many calories, high-intensity workouts will. Therefore even though low intensity favours the use of fats in the fat to carb ratio, the overall amount of fat used for fuel will be pretty low (but still more than the carbs used in the low-intensity activity) – want to burn more fat? then burn more calories and perform high-intensity workouts.
3. Exercising for longer than 15-20 minutes burns more fat
This myth boils down to the calories you are actually burning. If you go for a jog for 30-40 minutes then I will surely burn fat (and carbs!). But if I go for a run for 15-20 minutes and perform sprints as part of that workout, I will burn more calories than a 30-40 minute jog (I will most likely have to do a few good sprints though). If I am planning to make fat burning effective for my workout then I need to make sure I am burning more calories during a 20-minute workout than I would for a 40-minute workout. Not easy, but with hard work and dedication it is more than do able. This is why HIIT training and Ta-Ba-Ta training is very effective because it focuses on the calories within a short time frame, not the fuel source.
I’m not saying that we must count calories – we all know when too much is too much. What I am saying is that when it comes to our food, go for the quality of the nutrition and keep the carbs in moderation. In other words make sure the calories you are taking in are high quality calories. When we exercise let’s aim to burn a high number of calories in a shorter amount of time.