How to lose fat on afterburners.
Way back when I was in Flight School with the Marines, we had to take some classes on jet engines (Go figure). One of the things we learned about jet engines was how some of them used afterburners. Did you know that with an afterburner you add fuel back into the exhaust of an engine in order to get additional thrust? You get about an increase of 50% of thrust, but you burn about 150% more fuel. When you see this up close it is impressive. The aperture where the exhaust comes out of the jet has petals that open, and you can see, hear, feel the extra power down in your bones. See the picture of the NASA SR-71 for a little glimpse.
(Courtesy NASA – https://www.nasa.gov/centers/dryden/history/pastprojects/SR71/index.html)
Ok, so what does this have to do with weight loss?
There are essentially two ways that we use to create an afterburner effect. First, we want to do things that will cause our body to continue to burn calories after a workout. Ie burn caloreis after we are done! Second, we want our body to create the right signals to our body that we want it to grow muscle which will cause us to continue to burn calories all day long by increasing our basal metabolic rate (BMR). If we can do both of these things…Big Bonus.
Workouts that cause our body to continue to burn calories after the workout create an effect called EPOC (Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption). Our body is using extra oxygen to continue to replenish energy. When you do steady-state workouts (long cardio, running, biking, etc) the calorie burn stops almost as soon as you do. Heavy loads, short rest intervals, high heart rates, and high intensity are characteristics of workouts associated with higher EPOC and higher post-exercise calorie burn. They are also characteristics of workouts that create high signaling for our body to grow muscle (….technically a high neuroendocrine response). In fact, high-intensity workouts typically burn calories at a rate 3x steady-state cardio in the hours immediately after a workout. Additionally, when they incorporate weights, they create a powerful hormonal response that mimics the response seen with external hormone augmentation.
The combination of high EPOC and high neuroendocrine response is the afterburner.
For many folks just running the engine is going to burn enough fuel to see fat loss. If you want to engage your afterburners you need to do high-intensity work at least 2-4 times per week. High intensity is very rewarding and often uncomfortable. It isn’t for everyone and there are other factors to keep in mind (rest, recovery, age, prior training experience, injury history etc) so, it is smart to start with a coach.
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