I have this book called The New Rules of Lifting for Women, that suggests on days you are working out you should be eating around 2300 calories, because your body needs it to fuel the work outs. However, in magazines that you read they suggest you cut back on your calories to 1300-1500 in addition to doing an exercise program to lose weight. So I'm confused as to which way is the healthiest way to lose weight.
I also wanted to know what you think about working out in your target heart rate zone. I have heard that when your heart rate is at a lower level you are burning fat, but that once you go over that level you are into the cardio zone and not really burning the fat. I feel that when I am working out my heart rate goes pretty high and I'm not sure if I should try to keep it lower to lose weight effectively. When I do try to keep it lower, I don't feel like I'm really working out.
Overall, if your goal is to lose weight, should you focus more on cardio or strength training? I know both are good, but is there one better than the other.
Good questions. Don’t subscribe to the magazine hype!
Most women have a resting metabolism that burns somewhere between 2300-2500 calories a day, this is before exercise. The best way to lose weight is at the highest calorie level you can lose weight, because it will have the least effect on your metabolism; which means your weight loss will be maintainable. Low calorie diets are responsible for ruining the resting metabolism and the Yo yo diet syndrome. A healthy maintainable weight loss is about 1% of your body weight each week (for most people that is 1-2 lbs/wk). 3500 hundred calories is equal to 1pound. So you need to be in a 500 calorie deficit each day to lose a pound a week. Let’s say you burn 300 calories a day through exercise, and assume your resting metabolism is 2400 calories~ then your calorie consumption should be 2200 calories.
Strength training is important for keeping your resting metabolism high. Your body needs a lot more calories to maintain muscle cells; so keeping the muscle on your body means you burn more calories when you are sedentary. Cardio is important for burning fat and calories and creating the calorie deficit you need to lose weight.
Your cardio workouts should be varied for the most efficient fat and calorie burn.
Yes working at lower heart rates (65%-75%) burns more calories from stored fat, but less overall calories. Working at between 75-85% will burn a mix of stored fat and carbohydrate, but will burn more calories overall. Working above 85% will burn the most calories, but most of them will come from carbohydrate, and working at this level can only be done for short time periods, and requires a lot of recovery, so as not to create fatigue. So, mix is up; go 2 days long and slow, go 2 days medium hard, for a slightly lesser duration, and do one day of intervals 3 minutes at 85-90%, 2 minutes at 65-75%, repeat 5-6 times.
Consider working with one of our personal trainers for a few sessions. Their knowledge, expertise and encouragement will help provide you with answers and support you need to reach all of your fitness goals.