Last week, we talked about how the body processes calories differently depending on the source of the fuel. Just as calories are different, so is the rate at which they are burned by different types of tissue. The rate at which our bodies burn fuel is called the basal metabolic rate.
When a non-obese person under 50 is at rest, the heart and kidneys burn the most fuel. Then comes the brain, the liver, skeletal muscle, the rest of the body’s functions and. finally, adipose tissue. (If you want to see the study and can understand the hieroglyphics, check it out here.) Did you know what was dead last on that list? Yep, adipose tissue – our old nemesis, FAT. According to this study, muscle tissue requires nearly three times the energy to function than fat does. It burns three times the number of calories. It’s a gas guzzler.
Well, sign me up! Right?
We’ve all heard this before and it’s why people recommend weight-lifting and strength training as part of a weight loss program. When we lift weights, we are activating those muscle cells making them burn more energy. In addition, every time we lift, we damage our muscles the tiniest bit. Our bodies have to repair that damage, using even more energy, making the muscles stronger. Now, ladies, I know that most of us are not wanting to look in the mirror and see L.L. Cool J’s body (across the room, maybe, but not in the mirror.) Lifting weights isn’t going to turn us into muscle-bound men. We will not sprout chest hair or a full beard. Our sex drives may increase, but, I’m pretty sure our partners won’t be complaining about that; so, that one’s a win all the way around.
According to the Mayo Clinic, we increase our metabolic rates by regular aerobic exercise, strength training and lifestyle activities. That means we need to regularly engage in something that gets our heart rates up and makes us breathe hard (I know that you’re back with L.L. Cool J. Stop it.). We need to do some weight lifting and we need to change our lifestyles to move more. Any additional movement is good for us. Park further from the door. Take the stairs. Take our shopping carts all the way back in the store. Although there are many factors that determine our basal metabolic rates, those little things add up.
I would not suggest that we all run out and buy a giant weight set and start pumping iron. I’ve recommended this before and I’ll do it again: this is one place where a personal trainer is really what you need. These people can teach you lift effectively and properly so that you achieve the best results with the least amount of injury. Remember – that’s what they do. That’s their area of expertise. If you cannot afford regular sessions with a trainer, then book just one, explain your situation and ask them to design a plan for you. In about six weeks, your muscles will be yawning at that routine and you’ll need another. Have another session with a trainer.
I’ll admit, time with a trainer isn’t cheap, but the money is probably there in the budget. Take it out of drive-thrus, cigarettes, alcohol, or doctor co-payments. After all, when we eat right and exercise, we don’t darken the doctor’s office door nearly as frequently!
As we age, our bodies slow down, making weight loss and fitness an even greater challenge. We need every little edge we can get and this one is an easy one to get.
Let’s get lifting and turn our bodies into gas guzzlers!