Seek the path of least resistance. We’ve all heard this piece of sage advice. Everything in nature is designed to perform its objective while expending the least amount of energy. It’s a survival mechanism that has been developed over millions of years. Our bodies are no different. Through time, humans have survived by becoming very efficient in storing and using the energy derived from food. Until very recently in human history, people had to work hard to obtain food. They also had to endure relatively long periods between meals. If the body burned through its fuel source too quickly it would never have the strength to capture or find the next energy supply. We would have died off a long time ago.
Think of calories from food as fuel and our bodies as expandable fuel tanks. Our bodies take in fuel through the food we eat and burn it through our everyday activities. Today, our modern lifestyle allows us to obtain fuel without having to expend a lot of fuel to get it. In other words, we no longer have to hunt or forage for food (fuel), which requires the burning of fuel (consumption of calories) to acquire it. We also do not have to endure frequent periods of fuel deprivation waiting for our next meal. The human body adapted to the need to do more with less. But now that concept has become a detriment to us. One of the main ways the body stores fuel is as fat and long ago these fat stores were called upon to provide the energy needed to survive until the next meal.
Today, with readily available fuel (food) sources, which are packed with a large amount of calories, we end up consuming far more calories than are necessary to survive. Combined with a more sedentary lifestyle, like sitting in a car, sitting at work and sitting in front of the TV, our bodies are storing more of that excess as fat. And, the fuel tank keeps on expanding as long as we’re not burning the unnecessary fuel, thus humans are getting fatter.
Here are some facts sourced from the World Health Organization:
· Worldwide obesity has more than doubled since 1980
· In 2014, more than 1.9 billion adults were overweight. Of these over 600 million were obese
· 39% of adults were overweight in 2014, and 13% were obese
· 42 million children under the age of 5 were overweight or obese in 2013
· Obesity is preventable
How do we stop this cycle of high fuel consumption with low fuel burn? The first step is to start eating foods and beverages that are not processed with sugars, sodium and other additives. The second step is to get more active and burn more calories.
But maybe the best way to defeat this vicious cycle is to train our bodies to be more inefficient. That’s right, we need to swim upstream, so to speak, to create a way to get our bodies to quickly adapt and counteract the ills that our modern rituals cause.
How can this be done? Through more exercise. Specifically, more high intensity exercise that requires use of our body’s anaerobic system for energy as opposed to using our aerobic system. When we perform short bursts of activity like jumping up or a quick sprint our bodies use anaerobic energy. When we perform longer periods of activity like running a few miles we use aerobic energy. Remember the concept of doing more with less? The aerobic system produces more energy with less fuel. The anaerobic system produces less fuel from the same amount of food.
When we force our bodies to be more anaerobic we can become less efficient at producing and storing fuel from the foods we eat. Which means our newly developed anaerobic system will need to draw more fuel from the foods we eat in order to meet the increased energy demands. As a result, less fuel is left over to be stored as fat.
And, here is the final do more with less concept. High intensity workouts are designed to be short, usually no longer than 30 minutes. So when you decrease your fuel input and increase your fuel demands you should experience significant fat loss with a lot less time committed to your fitness regimen.
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