Tuesday, November 27, 2012

What's Best for Losing Belly Fat: Aerobic or Anaerobic Training?

Lose belly fat fast and improve your health by doing strength training and high-intensity intervals. Compelling research shows that the BEST way to get rid of the belly fat is to train with hard but short bursts of exercise, a style that taps into the anaerobic energy system more than the aerobic.

There is overwhelming evidence that belly fat loss is best achieved when exercise is with a high, but varied intensity, and a relatively large volume. However, this does not mean you have to spend hours and hours a day killing yourself in the gym. Less than an hour a few days a week can produce dramatic fat loss if you do it right.

This article will tell you why you burn more fat when you favor anaerobic-style training and gives you eight reasons to favor this style of training by lifting weights and doing sprints rather than spending hours on aerobic exercise. This is what we incorporate at our boot camp in North Vancouver.

#1: Burn More Belly Fat with Sprint Intervals
D cranking out Shoulder to Overhead in an interval couplet

A large number of convincing studies show that high-intensity interval training is the best conditioning strategy for losing belly fat. In contrast, one research group that has conducted a number of experiments comparing aerobic and anaerobic training for belly fat loss write, “Disappointingly, aerobic exercise protocols have led to negligible fat loss.”

The reason anaerobic interval training works so much better is that it requires the body to adapt metabolically—your body is forced to burn fat to sustain the level of intensity being asked of it. It also elevates energy use for more than 24 hours post-workout, which has a dramatic effect on belly fat loss.

For example, a 2008 showed that a 6-week program increased the amount of fat burned during exercise by 12 percent and decreased the oxidation of carbohydrates—obviously, a favorable result for losing fat.  More impressive, a 2007 study showed that in as little as 2 weeks, active women who performed interval training experienced a 36 percent increase in the use of fat for fuel during exercise.

Interval training is so effective for fat loss because it taps into different energy pathways than aerobic exercise. Simply, aerobic exercise tends to burn carbohydrates first and activates pathways that are degrading to muscle, whereas high-intensity exercise such as weight lifting and sprinting will burn a greater percentage of fat, enhance the body’s production of enzymes involved in fat breakdown, and activate pathways that lead to muscle development.

The other reason anaerobic intervals are superior for belly fat loss is that they increase excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) a huge amount. A 2006 review showed that protocols that are more anaerobic in nature produce higher EPOC values than steady-state aerobic training because the trained muscle cells must rest and restore physiological factors in the cells, which translates to a lot of energy expenditure.

#2: Lose Belly Fat With Sprint Intervals: The Proof
Kate doing a great job on the Overhead Squat...a great core and fat loss exercise.

The following are examples of the superiority of anaerobic interval training for belly fat loss from the research:
•    A 12-week high-intensity interval training program produced a 17 percent decrease in belly fat in overweight young men. Subjects lost 1.5 kg of belly fat and 2 kg of total fat, while building 1 kg of muscle. Fat burning was increased by 13 percent due to the 3-day a week program of 20-minutes of cycling in which the subjects sprinted for 8 seconds and then did 12 seconds of recovery, repeating these intervals for a total of 60 sprints.
•    The same 20-minute cycling interval program produced 2.5 kg of fat loss in young women in 15 weeks, and the majority of the fat loss come from the legs and abdominal area. The sprint intervals were compared to a steady-state aerobic program that produced no fat loss.
•    A 16-week study had trained athletes perform either a sprint interval protocol or steady-state running four days a week. The sprint interval protocol varied each day, but an example of one of the workouts used was 10 intervals of 30-sec sprints with 90 seconds rest. The sprint interval group lost 16 percent or 1 kg of visceral fat as well as 2 kg of total fat, compared to the endurance group that lost no belly fat, but did lose 1.4 kg of lean mass. The belly fat loss appears to be small, but be aware that subjects were lean, trained athletes to begin with and had less belly fat to lose than overweight subjects.
•    An 8-week interval program using both high- and moderate-intensity intervals decreased belly fat by 44 percent in middle-aged men with type 2 diabetes. Subjects increased quad muscle size by 24 percent and improved insulin sensitivity by 58 percent—a dramatic improvement that highlights the other mechanisms involved in belly fat loss (muscle building, insulin health & blood sugar management).

#3: Sprints Take Less Time than Aerobic Exercise
Ardy doing an awesome job on the Front Squat...good form Ardy!

Not only do sprints help you lose MORE belly fat, they help you lose it FASTER and with LESS training time. Repeatedly, studies show that more fat loss is achieved in high-intensity programs that use 20 to 25 minutes of training time than those that use 45 or 50 minutes of aerobic training time.

Scientists write that anaerobic intervals are overwhelmingly preferable to aerobics for producing belly fat loss, and that the estimated optimal dose of aerobic exercise necessary to lose belly fat appears to be 3,780 calories expended per week. This is an enormous volume of exercise that would require 1 hour of moderate intensity aerobic cycling 7 days a week to burn 550 calories a day so that you could lose even a pound a week!

In less than half the time you can get better results with anaerobic training. A 1994 study is indicative of this: Participants did either 20 weeks of aerobic training or 15 weeks of intervals (15 sprints for 30 seconds each) and lost nine times more body fat and 12 percent more visceral belly fat than the aerobic group.

What is so interesting about this study is that the energy cost of the aerobic program over the whole study period was 28,661 calories, whereas for intervals it was less than half, at 13,614 calories. In less time, the interval group lost much more weight—nine times more weight. How do researchers explain it?

Aside from greater fat oxidation and higher EPOC, hormone response plays a major role…

#4: Sprints Improve Hormone Response for More Belly Fat Loss
All smiles from Kate on the Floor Wipers...gotta like the core work on this exercise.

Sprint intervals and anaerobic exercise in general improve your entire endocrine system. Both training modes enhance the cells’ sensitivity to insulin, making anaerobic training a successful treatment for diabetes.

Perhaps most important, anaerobic exercise also elevates growth hormone (GH) —a powerful fat burning hormone that helps restore tissue and build muscle—much more than aerobic training. GH is released by the body in greater quantities in response to physical stress above the lactate threshold, which is the reason heavy, sprints are so effective.

Another hormone called adiponectin that is released from fat tissue during exercise also helps burn fat. Emerging scientific evidence shows that any time you perform forceful muscle contractions, adiponectin is released, and then your body produces a substance called PGC1 that is like a “master switch” that enhances muscle and metabolic functions, thereby burning belly fat. Naturally, anaerobic training is most effective for increasing adiponectin and PGC1 to burn fat since sprints and especially weight lifting require extremely forceful muscle contractions.

#5: Strength Train to Lose Belly Fat
D doing a smashin' job on the Front Squat!  Good job D.

To get a lean, trim your midsection and lose belly fat, you need to strength train with a high volume, using large muscle groups, and short rest periods. This metabolically intense type of training is fantastic for increasing GH and aiding belly fat loss. This doesn’t mean you have to spend hours and hours a day killing yourself in the gym!

You will get results from a resistance training program that includes the following components:
•    Multi-joint lifts such as squats, deadlifts, lunges, split squats, step-ups, chin-ups, and chest presses in every training session. Add isolation exercises only if you have extra time.
•    Train with a higher volume—work up to more than 4 sets per exercise. Shoot for 24 to 32 total sets per training session.
•    Train with a higher intensity—include some training in the 70 to 85 percent of the 1RM range.
•    Include short rest periods (30 to 60 seconds) and always train a “finisher” that requires near maximal effort for more GH response (25 reps of squats or 2 minutes of leg presses, for example).
•    Count tempo for every lift so that you apply a specific amount of tension to the muscles. In general, opt for longer (4 second) eccentric tempos and short or explosive concentric tempos.
•    Shoot for 3 to 4 hours of total training time per week, which includes resistance training and a few short sprint sessions.

#6: Anaerobic Training Produces Less Cortisol For More Belly Fat Loss
Alain doesn't like high cortisol levels so he strength trains ;)

Cortisol is the stress hormone that is elevated when you are under both physical and psychological stress. Research shows cortisol is chronically higher in endurance athletes—one study found that aerobic athletes had significantly higher evidence of cumulative cortisol secretion in their hair than controls.

In addition, cortisol is generally elevated more following aerobic training than anaerobic training. Part of this has to do with the fact that strength training and intervals do elevate cortisol, but they also elevate anabolic hormones such as GH and testosterone that counter the negative effects of cortisol.

If GH and testosterone are not elevated, cortisol overwhelms tissue, having a catabolic effect that leads to gradual muscle loss and fat gain. By doing aerobic training without strength training, you will lose muscle, lower your metabolic rate and gain fat.  Worst of all, high cortisol causes chronic inflammation, which lead to belly fat gain over time—all-around bad news!

#7: Anaerobic Training Is More Fun & Less Boring than Aerobic Exercise
All smiles after a good workout at The Maker's Body Boot Camp

Intervals and strength training take less time and provide much more variety than aerobic training. Not only are you doing many different exercises in a strength training session, but you are pushing yourself to reach new personal bests. When you see how it can transform a fat belly into a lean, cut midsection, you will be that much more motivated to continue!

In addition, although sprint interval training can be mentally challenging, it only requires a short workout and many trainees find intervals less boring than endurance exercise. Plus, most people enjoy feeling powerful and fast from going all out. Get a training partner to help push you through the hard parts and know that by working hard but smart, you will reach your fat loss goal.

#8: Mix It Up with Modified Strongman, Varied Strength Protocols & Sprints
Martine mixes it up by using Misty as additional load...good job Martine!

A few more anaerobic training suggestions include the following:
•    Try modified strongman training: Do sled training, tire flips, and a heavy farmer’s walk to lose belly fat fast.
•    Mix up strength training protocols with circuit training and supersets that use very short rest periods. For example, do supersets with 10 seconds rest when switching from the agonist to the antagonist exercise and 60 seconds between sets. Or, do a “death circuit” of heavy, high volume deadlifts followed by split squats followed by lighter high volume squats with 10 seconds rest between exercises.
•    Try a sprint training workout in which you do 20 second all-out sprints with 10 seconds rest in 4 sets of 4 intervals. Rest 3 to 4 minutes between sets.
•    Try hill or stair running in which you sprint up as fast as possible and jog down—repeat immediately. Do 8 to 16 reps.
•    Try a sprint-endurance workout with six to eight 200-meter sprints (about 30 seconds each) with a 3 to 4 minute recovery.

Charles Poliquin is one of the most accomplished strength coaches in the world. He has designed workouts for Olympic medalists in 17 different sports, world record holders in 10 different sports, and professional athletes in the NBA, NFL, NHL, MLB, and UK Premier League. He has lectured or consulted for a variety of high-profile organizations such as the US Secret Service, Walt Disney Corporation and the World Swimming Congress. More info visit his website at http://www.charlespoliquin.com.

Irving, B., Davis, C., et al. Effect of Exercise Training Intensity on Abdominal Visceral Fat and Body Composition. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 2008. 40(11), 1863-1872.

Boudou, P., Sobnngwi, E., et al. Absence of Exercise-Induced Variations in Adiponectin Levels Despite Decreased abdominal Adiposity and Improved Insulin sensitivity in Type 2 Diabetic Men. European Journal of Endocrinology. 2003. 149(5), 421-424.

Macpherson, R., Hazell, T., et al. Run Sprint Interval Training Improves Aerobic Performance but Not Maximal Cardiac Output. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 2011. 43(1), 115-121.

Strasser, B., Arvandi, M., et al. Resistance training, Visceral Obesity and Inflammatory Response: A Review of the Evidence. Obesity Reviews. 2012. Published Ahead of Print.

Ismail, I., Keating, S., et al. A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of the Effect of Aerobic Vs. Resistance Exercise Training on Visceral Fat. Obesity Reviews. 2012. 13, 68-91.

Heydari, M., Freud, J., et al. The Effect of High-Intensity Intermittent Exercise on Body Composition of Overweight Young Males. Journal of Obesity. 2012. Published Ahead of Print. Boutcher, Stephen. High-Intensity Intermittent Exercise and Fat Loss. Journal of Obesity. 2011. Published Ahead of Print.

Kraemer, W., Volek, J., et al. Influence of Exercise Training on Physiological and Performance Changes with Weight Loss in Men. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 1999. 31(9), 1320-1329.

Schuenke, M., Mikat, R., et al. Effect of an Acute Period of Resistance Exercise on EPOC Implications for Body Mass Management. 2002. 86, 411-417.

Hottenrott, K., Sebastian, L., et al. Effects of High-Intensity Training and Continuous Endurance Training on Aerobic Capacity and Body Composition in Recreationally Active Runners. Journal of Sports Science and Medicine. 2012. 11, 483-488.

Tremblay, A., Simoneau, J., et al. Impact of Exercise Intensity on Body Fatness and Skeletal Muscle Metabolism. Metabolism. 1994. 43(7), 814-818.

Trapp, E., Chisholm, D., et al. The Effects of High-Intensity Intermittent Exercise Training on Fat Loss and Fasting Insulin Levels of Young Women. International Journal of Obesity. 2008. 32(4), 684-691.

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Monday, November 12, 2012

Top Ten Foods for Fat Loss & Body Composition - North Vancouver Boot Camp

Use these ten foods in your diet to support fat loss and get the physique you desire. Assuming you are training regularly, including these foods in a high-protein, relatively low-carb whole food diet will help you get and stay lean, while feeling energized and motivated throughout the day.

These ten foods will help you lose fat because they support your body to do one or more of these five things:
•    Increase the body’s use of fat for energy, shifting it to burn fat instead of carbohydrates.
•    Decrease chronic inflammation and improve the sensitivity of cells to insulin so that blood sugar from carbohydrates is used for energy or stored as muscle glycogen and doesn’t turn into fat.
•    Improve the body’s internal detoxification system to enhance elimination of waste products and toxins that slow the metabolism.
•    Support tissue repair and increase the body’s resting metabolic rate so that more energy is burned when food is broken down.
•    Improve the endocrine response to food—there are many effects of this, including lower insulin and cortisol, better elimination of excess estrogen, and higher leptin, which blunts feelings of hunger.

#1: Cold Water Fish: Salmon, Whitefish, Mackerel, Sardines & Anchovies
These cold water fish are high in the omega-3 fats that improve insulin sensitivity and decrease inflammation. The effect is of getting the majority of dietary fat from omega-3 fats is fat loss and improved body composition. For instance, a recent study of healthy adults showed that taking 4 grams of omega-3s a day for 6 weeks significantly increased lean mass and decreased body fat. Other studies have shown an association of a better body composition in people who eat more than 5 servings of cold water fish a week.

Take Away: Get the majority of your dietary fats from foods that are high in omega-3 fats. Cold water fish is a great place to start, and grass-fed and wild meats can increase your intake. Eat a serving of one of these high-protein sources at every meal.

[A product that I use that provides high quality omega-3 fats is IsaOmega Supreme by Isagenix. I take 2 capules per day that come in their Ageless Essentials with Product B packs (you can also get IsaOmega seperately on its own). For more info on Ageless Essentials with Product B click here and for info on IsaOmega Supreme click here.]

#2: Nuts: Walnuts & Almonds
Nuts are high in antioxidants, protein, fiber, and healthy fats, and research shows that supplementing the diet with them can significantly improve body composition. They not only increase the metabolic response to eating, but they increase feelings of satiety and blunt hunger—the hormone leptin has been found to be higher in people who eat nuts daily.

Walnuts may be the healthiest nuts because they are typically eaten raw with the skin on, which increases their antioxidant content. Almonds also top the list of fat burning nuts because of their high protein and fiber content, and they contain a lot of vitamin E that supports detoxification.

Take Away: Eating a serving of nuts a day in conjunction with a high-protein, low-carb diet can produce significant fat loss and help you feel satisfied.

#3: Whey Protein
Whey protein, which can be found in dairy products and taken as a supplement [as in a meal replacement], is a super food for body composition because it enables the body to repair tissue and burn fat. It also enhances the body’s internal antioxidant system by increasing something called glutathione.

Research shows that exercise performance and fat loss are enhanced when the body’s glutathione levels are higher during strength training. For example, in one study that had men take 22 grams of whey protein daily in conjunction with a strength training program had them lose more body fat than a group that only strength trained and didn’t supplement with whey.

Take Away: Supplement with whey protein daily to increase your metabolic rate, antioxidant status, and support tissue repair.

[The whey protein that I use is IsaPro by Isagenix. I will either take it plain with water or add a scoop of it to my IsaLean Meal Replacement to increase the protein content.  For more info on IsaPro click here. For more info on IsaLean Shakes click here.]

#4: Berries: Blueberries, Strawberries & Raspberries
Besides being delicious, berries are great for fat loss because they contain fiber, antioxidants, and have been shown to blunt the amount of insulin the body produces in response to eating them with high-carbohydrate foods. Raspberries, in particular, contain a unique antioxidant called ellagitannins that have been shown to improve the brain’s sensitivity to leptin, making you feel less hungry.

Take Away: Get multiple servings of berries daily. Throw in a serving of the superfruits mango, pomegranate, and tart cherries for variety—all three convey similar benefits as berries and food scientists have called them all “anti-obesity” fruits.

#5: Avocados
A recent review of foods that can treat obesity and prevent diabetes wrote that the “avocado has tremendous antioxidant capacity,” and has been shown to completely eradicate chronic inflammation related to high body fat in mice. Adding avocados and pomegranates to the diet of the mice allowed for them to lose fat and have better insulin sensitivity over time.

Take Away: Selectively include avocados in your diet. Depending on other fat intake, eat them a few days a week. One avocado contains 250 calories, 10 g of fiber, 15 g of monounsaturated fat, 4 g of protein, and 20 essential nutrients.

#6: Broccoli & Cruciferous Vegetables
The cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower help the body clear excess estrogen—both naturally occurring and chemical estrogens such as BPA. By a variety of mechanisms, compounds in these veggies can interact with the genes involved in estrogen binding, while clearing estrogen from the body.

In addition, research shows that the high fiber content of these veggies will delay carbohydrate absorption, favorably modifying the glucose response. Their inherent high fiber brings about a very moderate insulin response, thus making them an ideal fat loss food. Dark green vegetables usually have a large antioxidant content as well such as chard, kale, collard greens, mustard greens, spinach, etc.

Take Away: Shoot for multiple servings of cruciferous vegetables daily. Broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy, kale, collards, arugula, radish can be eaten raw, added to salads, or steamed. Raw food are better for fat loss, but the key is to eat them daily, so if cooked is more palatable, go for it.

#7: Eggs
Eggs are an excellent protein source and they also provide a nice dose of choline, which protects the liver from accumulating fat and is the precursor to the energizing neurotransmitter, acetylcholine. Increasing acetylcholine levels can increase growth hormone, which is a potent fat burner. Plus, eggs are very filling, and you get a nice boost in metabolism on account of the thermic effect of  their high protein content.

Incorrectly feared due to their cholesterol content, eggs haven’t been found to elevate serum cholesterol. The body actually uses the cholesterol to produce testosterone and other androgenic hormones, and it improves the integrity of muscle cell membranes. One study showed that eating 12 eggs a week didn’t increase LDL cholesterol at all, and when exercise was done, the high egg intake improved the participants’ ratio of good to bad cholesterol to the same degree as a group that ate no eggs.

Take Away: Eat eggs a few days a week to increase your protein and choline intake. Avoid eating them daily because this has been shown to cause intolerances to eggs.

#8: Coffee & Green Coffee Extract
There is compelling evidence that coffee increases your metabolic rate so that you burn more calories, and it can help shift the body to burn fat rather than glucose for energy. In addition, we know coffee enhances the body’s defenses against reactive oxygen species, can help modulate blood sugar, and may even reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

The fat loss effect of coffee drinking hasn’t been studied extensively, but one study showed drinking 500 ml of coffee daily for 4 weeks produced 2.5 kg weight loss in overweight subjects. Perhaps more effective, green coffee extract, which comes from the bean before roasting and can be added to any beverage, has been shown to produce significant fat loss: One study compared the effect of giving participants a high-dose green coffee extract (1050 mg), a low-dose (700 mg), or a placebo for 6 weeks and found that the large dose resulted in an average 8 kg loss in body weight and a 4.4 percent drop in body fat—very impressive. The low dose and placebo produced no changes in body composition.

Take Away: Using green coffee extract and drinking coffee can help you lose fat in conjunction with a healthy diet. They aren’t a weight loss solution, but a nice addition to a complete fat loss diet. Green tea provides similar benefits as coffee if it is your beverage of choice.

#9: Kimchi
Kimchi, a fermented Korean food made from napa cabbage, onions, garlic, and fiber, has been shown to aid digestion, improve insulin sensitivity, and produce fat loss. A recent study showed that overweight subjects who ate 100 grams of kimchi at every meal for 4 weeks produced significant fat loss and decreased body fat by 1.5 percent. Blood pressure and blood sugar control were both lower by the end of the study.

Take Away: Include kimchi and other fermented foods [sauerkraut, pickles, olives, kombucha tea, kvass, etc.] in your diet daily for better health and fat loss. Get kimchi at an Asian food store or Whole Foods. Make sure there is no MSG in the ingredients though.

#10: Vinegar
Vinegar aids the body in storing carbohydrates as muscle glycogen rather than storing them as fat. In addition, studies show eating vinegar as a seasoning with meals can improve pancreatic function, and lower the insulin response to carbs. Even if you just add vinegar to your salad or cruciferous vegetables, it can lower the insulin response to your whole meal, leading to a more moderate elevation in blood sugar.

Take Away: Balsamic and white wine vinegar are some of the most delicious vinegars, but you can add any kind to your meal daily and get the fat loss benefits.

Charles Poliquin is one of the most accomplished strength coaches in the world. He has designed workouts for Olympic medalists in 17 different sports, world record holders in 10 different sports, and professional athletes in the NBA, NFL, NHL, MLB, and UK Premier League. He has lectured or consulted for a variety of high-profile organizations such as the US Secret Service, Walt Disney Corporation and the World Swimming Congress. More info visit his website at http://www.charlespoliquin.com.

My additions in brackets.


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Onakpova, I., Terry, R., et al. The Use of Green Coffee Extract as a Weight Loss Supplement: a Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Clinical Trials. Gastroenterology Research and Practice. 2011.

Kotyczky, C., Boettler, U., et al. Dark Roast Coffee is More Effective than Light Roast Coffee in Reducing Body Weight and Restoring Red Blood Cell Vitamin E and Glutathione Concentrations in Healthy Volunteers. Molecular Nutrition and Food Research. 2011. 55 (10), 1582-1586.

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Sheikholeslami Vatani, D., Golzar, F. Changes in Antioxidant Status and Cardiovascular Risk Factors of Overweight Young Men after Six Weeks Supplementation of Whey Protein Isolate and Resistance Training. Appetite. 2012. 59, 673-678.

Devalaraja, S., Jain, S., Yaday, H. Exotic Fruits as Therapeutic Complements for Diabetes, Obesity, and Metabolic Syndrome. Food Research International. August 2011. 44(7), 1856-1865.

Johnston, C., Steplewska, I., et al. Examination of the Antiglycemic Properties of Vinegar in Healthy Adults. Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism. 2010. 56(1), 74-79.

Vislocky, L., Pikosky, M., et al. Habitual Consumption of Eggs Does not Alter the Beneficial Effect of Endurance Training on Plasma Lipids and Lipoprotein Metabolism in Untrained Men and Women. Journal of Nutrition and Biochemistry. 2009. 20(1), 26-34.

Vadivel, V., Kunyanga, C., et al. Health Benefits of Nut Consumption with Special Reference to Body Weight Control. Nutrition. Tweet This