Overall health and well-being is achieved by maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Elements of this should include regular exercise and a well-balanced diet that ensures you get all the protein, carbs, fats and energy that your body needs.
Weight loss is best achieved in moderation over a long period of time for several reasons. Sudden considerable weight loss can have negative consequence on your health, which can result in illness and injury. For this reason, if your aim is to lose weight or lower your calorie intake, you are best doing so over a comfortable time span, setting realistic targets for yourself that you can achieve while maintaining a well-balanced diet with a gradually lowering calorie consumption.
There are times, however, where your lifestyle or particular health goals will mean that you want to burn extra calories with not much time to do it. An example being that maybe you were on track but, after a week of dinner invites and changes to your routine, there’s a chance you’ll have consumed more calories than usual, without having the time to exercise to burn them off.
What are calories?
Calories are the measure of energy in the fuel we consume – in other words, food and drink. An average man needs around 2,500 kcal (10,500 kJ) a day to maintain a healthy body weight. An average woman needs around 2,000 kcal (8,400 kJ) a day. These figures will vary depending on the amount you exercise and the kind of exercise you do on a daily basis. Whether you’re s a sportsperson, gym-goer or for general health, it’s important to find a balance between calorie consumption and the amount of physical activity you do that uses up this energy.
Calories shouldn’t be thought of as a negative, but as fuel. Your body needs them, and your workout depends on them.
So, if you’ve been consuming more calories than you’ve been able to burn off lately, how can you shift them on short notice?
An increase in energy expenditure is your aim. If you’re used to lower intensity exercise, then stepping this up a gear (relative to your capabilities) will do the trick.
If you have a good general foundation of regular exercise including cardiovascular training and weight lifting, high intensity exercise is the answer to burning a high amount of calories in a shorter amount of time.
The aim with high intensity interval training (HIIT) is to get your heart rate up to 90 per cent for 30 seconds. This means sprinting as opposed to jogging, or the equivalent depending on your exercise of choice. The key is to get your heart rate up and maintain it for the duration – that’s why they call it intense.
This kind of workout is most effective when you put maximum energy in followed by low intensity, low energy usage on the same exercise. Using the example of running again, that would look like 40 seconds of full-on sprinting followed by 20 seconds or easy, slow jogging or walking, in which you are relaxing your muscles and slowing your breathing.
A maximum workout length of 20-30 minutes is recommended – perfect if you don’t have much time to burn those calories.
Calorie Burning Exercises
Here are a few quick calorie-burning exercises for you to consider:
✓ Sprints. Work for 12 minutes. Sprint for 40 seconds, followed by a 20 second slow jog, repeat for the duration.
✓ Jumping Jacks. This will channel another group of muscles, working the arms, legs and torso in a different way than sprinting did. Variety and an all over workout are important in high intensity training so that you’re not just hammering the same muscles over and over. For this, aim for 3 minutes. 30 seconds intense, 30 seconds relaxed and slow.
✓ Burpees. As with the Jumping Jacks, burpees provide overall coverage. These will work the body harder than the Jumping Jacks, thus increasing intensity again. Aim for two minutes. 40 seconds intense, 20 seconds standing still.
✓ Sit-ups with a plank rest. To finish you off, do three sets of sit-ups for 60 seconds, ending with a 30 second plank. See how many you can do.
Remember, burning calories isn’t about not consuming them in the first place. High intensity workouts require energy. Fuel that ambition!