Many moms gain a lot of weight during pregnancy and have a hard time loosing this weight post pregnancy. Life becomes so busy for parents that they begin to feel that exercise is a luxury. Some parents begin to feel that shedding the weight gained through the years is impossible. This is not true; there are many things you can do to stay in shape that do not require a lot of time.
Diet and exercise when used properly are effective tools for a lean and healthy body. Weight is not a measure of health; by this I mean because someone weighs less than you do, do not mean they are healthier.
Body fat is a better measure of health because too much fat vs lean muscle means less metabolism and thus poor health. While the proper balance of fat and lean muscle leads to good metabolism. Muscle burns more calories than fat does (mayo clinic health letter, 2010).
Don’t get me wrong, fat is very important in the body; it is used for the production of hormones that are very important for normal bodily functions, it is the by-product of many metabolic processes in the body and it is a very good insulator/cushion. However, too much fat is unhealthy because it can deposit on your blood vessels and narrow them. This can lead to a multitude of health problems ranging from arteriosclerosis to stroke!
What is Basal Metabolic rate (BMR)
Basal metabolic rate is the rate at which your body burns calories when you are resting. These calories are burned to carry out the chemical reactions in our bodies that are required for our survival. These reactions are those involved in respiration, digestion, osmosis and many more. BMR is responsible for 60% to 70% of the total daily calorie consumption.
When you exercise regularly, it helps you loss fat and build lean muscle which might make you gain some weight instead of loosing it since muscle weighs more than fat. However, the muscle you build, will increase your basal metabolic rate. If your basal metabolic rate increases, you will burn more fat which is usually located around the waist and belly. The effect is a lean waist and flat abs.
How do you increase your BMR?
People make the mistake of targeting just specific groups of muscles when they exercise. This type of exercise has it’s uses but is not very effective at burning calories; a total body work out is much more effective. With total body work out, every muscle is worked and this increases the amount of calorie burned in a workout.
The intensity of the work out is also very important. Low intensity workouts burn less calories and the after burn is also less. After burn is the amount of energy you continue to burn after the end of the actual exercise. Moderate to high intensity exercise is required to burn larger amount of calories during and after exercise.
When you workout vigorously, your body consume oxygen at a fast rate. At some point, your muscles begin to function without oxygen (anaerobic respiration) because the muscle has exhausted its oxygen content. During intense exercise, lactic acid accumulates in the muscle, ATP (the body’s energy currency) is expended very fast, there is some wear and tear and many other changes occurring in the body. It’s as if the body is placed out of balance.
After exercise, the body works hard to restore balance and it in turns burns a lot of energy to achieve this. Muscle and tissue repair occurs, lactic acid is converted to pyruvic acid and hormones are balanced. All these processes require a lot of oxygen and energy. You only have to exercise intensely for a short time (about 20 minute) to achieve this.It is also very important to vary your kind of exercise. The body is very resilient and adapts to exercise routines fast.
We have talked about exercise, now lets talk diet. Many people blame their weight gain on a slow metabolism but that is hardly the case. Foods that we eat, load our bodies with calories that needs to be use or it becomes stored in the body as fat.
If you only eat what you need for energy in a day then you will hardly gain any weight because no extra energy will be stored in the form of fat. Eating healthy is very important for everyone and even more so for new moms. Weight gain is a complicated process but for many people, eating healthy and exercising regularly keeps them in shape.
A good rule to follow in order to avoid consuming high calorie foods will be to:
- Avoid foods with artificial sweeteners and ingredients with names you can’t say (they are usually artificial).
- Eat foods high in fiber to improve on digestion.
- Eat colorful foods like fruits and vegetables.
- Eat natural and fresh as much as you can.
- Avoid foods loaded with fats and high fructose corn syrup.
- Don’t depend on dietary supplements, it is better to get your nutrients from food.
- Eat foods balanced in protein, cabohydrate and fat; with a little more protein because the body uses more energy to digest protein than it uses to digest carbohydrates and fats.
Mayo Clinic Health Letter (English Ed.) [Mayo Clin Health Lett] 2010 Feb; Vol. 28 (2), pp. 8..
Brain Structure & Function [Brain Struct Funct] 2014 Sep; Vol. 219 (5), pp. 1841-68. Date of Electronic Publication: 2013 Jul 06..
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