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Monday, December 28, 2009

WHY DO KETTLEBELLS MAKE YOU LOSE WEIGHT?

I was always a skinny kid, actually, a better way to say it is that I was small, skinny, and scrawny. I’ve never really had a problem with being overweight, until I turned twenty-seven.


When I could no longer see my belt, panic struck. I was not going to let this continue! I had let myself go for a couple of years and not working out turned what little muscle I had been able to put on, into fat. My arms were skinny and tube-like, my belly was inflated, and my cheeks were round. Not a pretty sight in the mirror after a shower.


I had always worked out to put on muscle, and naturally reverted back to that. I was bench-pressing, and squatting, doing bicep curls and crunches. My arms got their shape back, but my belly hadn’t gone down and my cheeks were still round.


I kept at it, hoping that things would turn around, but they didn’t. My arms were about the only thing that had definition, but I wanted a six-pack. You know, I wanted to take my shirt off and feel confident.


Later I would realize that I had been going about it all wrong. All those exercises weren’t supposed to melt fat off of my body, they were supposed to pack muscle on, and I was getting bigger, not smaller. I gave up… and with that came more weight.


A year later, I started working with Kettlebells. I had heard all about how they are supposed to melt fat off your body, and, of course, I was skeptical. I was skeptical until I noticed I was losing weight.


Losing weight is a complicated process, but simple at its root. It all comes down to energy in vs. energy out. If I eat more energy than I use, I gain weight. If I use more energy than I eat, I lose weight. Read that again. See, that simple, just like 1+2=3.


But even that simple equation can be turned into (8+x)+(5-y)=3. In the same manner that a simple mathematical equation, like 1+2=3, can be turned into a complicated algebraic problem, like (8+x)+(5-y)=3, so too can weight-loss be turned into a confusing mess.


Energy in vs. energy out can be turned into no carbohydrates after six but only if they’re complex carbs plus supplement A, B, and C, in the morning and supplements D and E after a workout and supplements F, G, and H, before you go to bed, unless you eat nitrogen rich protein sources… aaaahhhhhhh!!!!!!!!


So how do Kettlebells fit into this? Energy out, that’s how they fit into it. It is really hard to waste a small amount of energy with a Kettlebell, you have to use a lot of energy because you have to use your entire body to lift them.


That’s the secret, finding exercises where you are using your entire body instead of one individual muscle, because using your entire body burns more calories; and weight-loss is about burning more calories than you’re eating.


Now wait a minute, lifting Kettlebells doesn’t get you into your “fat-burning zone” for thirty or sixty minutes, right? Right! But I am sorry to say that that is a marketing myth. Our body uses two types of fuel, sugar and fat.


Guess when your body is using the most percentage of fat as fuel…? Are you ready for this? When you are sleeping! That’s right, at total rest.


The problem there is not that you are burning most of your fuel from fat, but that you’re not using a lot of fuel because you are sleeping… meaning you are not burning a lot of calories. If there was only a way to get you to burn more calories when you are sleeping so that you burn more fat?!?


Wait another minute… there is!


It’s called EPOC. Ok, I’m going to get fancy here. EPOC stands for Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption. In English, that means that when you work out, for about six hours afterwards, your body is burning more calories than normal. Why, because it is trying to recover from that exercise by repairing all that muscle tissue that was broken down.


(Side note here: When you exercise you are not building muscle, you are actually destroying muscle… when you rest, your body repairs that muscle to be stronger than it was before so that it doesn’t get destroyed again, and that costs you energy in the form of calories…EPOC!)


Some, of you may be asking now, does that mean I should exercise right before I go to bed? Yes and no. That is only one way of getting you to burn more fat than normal, and there are others. A very effective strategy is to actually workout twice a day. Once in the morning so you are burning more overall calories throughout the day, and once at night so that you are burning more calories from fat at rest.


This is can be effectively used to get yourself down to the weight you want to be, and once you are there, you back off and workout less. But that doesn’t mean didely-squat if your eating a horse every day, because, remember, weight-loss is about burning more calories than you are eating, energy in vs. energy out.


That brings me to the next point, calories in. You can be working out twice a day and still not lose weight because you forgot the other side of the equation… energy in. That is, you eat too much!


So for those of you that go on three-hour marathon spinning or aerobics classes and are not losing weight… you probably forgot about the energy in part of the equation.


Put simply, that means eating less. But you’re REALLY HUNGRY, right? You just burned a lot of calories and your body, in its infinite wisdom, wants to get those back for you to do another marathon tomorrow. It’s a survival mechanism. Your body knows it is going to need those calories, so it sends hunger signals, and then stores those calories for your workout tomorrow.


Guess how the body stores those calories? You guessed it! FAT!


So how do we get around that survival mechanism? By giving your body the fuel it needs… when it needs it. Ah, nutrition! But this isn’t about nutrition; this is about how Kettlebells make you lose weight. (You’re going to have to wait for Part 2, “HOW NUTRITION MAKES YOU LOSE WEIGHT”)


So Kettlebells make you lose weight because they make you burn more calories. They make you burn more calories because they require you to use your whole body, thereby making more energy leave your body than if you just did a shoulder press or bicep curl.


Truth be told, it doesn’t matter if it is a Kettlebell or a Dumbbell, or Pushups. What matters is that you’re burning more calories than you’re eating.


That means you could get away with doing nothing but bicep curls and calf-raises and still lose weight if you’re not eating, because your burning more calories than you are eating. However, I, and I don’t know about you, but I, put health before physique; and that is not healthy.


You need to eat a minimum amount of food each day to be healthy, and that means you need to find a way to burn more energy than that minimum amount of food you should be eating. Kettlebells will do just that because they will burn the most amount of energy in the least amount of time.

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