Today’s Physical Activity Notes:
First: I will often use the terms physical activity and workout interchangeably. When I use the terms “working out” & “workout,” I specifically refer to intentional physical activity that is planned for the purpose of being exercise. Working out is deliberately moving for health, fitness –> exercising. Physical activity is anything we do that moves our body and includes working out, exercising as well as other activities we do daily.
Good news: since we wake up in a mode burning our body’s stored fuels, whatever physical activity we do in the morning prior to eating or drinking calories, accelerates our fat burning by using up our muscles’ stores of glycogen (energy stored in muscles). This means that you get to drink or eat a bit more freely after being physically active in the morning. In fact, if you workout vigorously in the morning (if you used up all the glycogen in your muscles), you can add some unprocessed carbs to your meal within approximately 30-60 minutes & your body will put the extra blood sugar (the glucose from digesting the carbs) into your muscles and NOT into fat cells. HOW COOL IS THAT?
Remember, if you eat foods that spike your blood sugar (especially foods like processed carbohydrates including sugars), your insulin will spike and your body will store most of that extra blood sugar in your fat cells! So, your FAT stores will GROW BIGGER…and mostly around your middle. NOT your goal. So, that means if you want to eat/drink that higher carbohydrate food or drink & you don’t want to grow your fat, WORK OUT first! You get the biggest bang for your buck if you are physically active first thing in the morning before you eat or drink any calories (drinking water is better).
Remember, the “physical activity” can be:
1. Low intensity movement for a longer duration – like walking for 30-40+ minutes or an activity that is at a perceived exertion level of 5-7 or heart rate approximately 60% (+/-10%) of your personal maximum heart rate. *see previous blog about perceived exertion and heart rates for more info.
2. Spurts of higher intensity activity for a shorter duration (even 4 minutes counts!). This might mean boosting your perceived exertion closer to 8-10 or 80-90% of your maximum heart rate for very short spurts, no longer than 30-60 seconds, interspersed with 2-5 minutes of lower intensity such as level 5-6. Basically, you go hard for 30 seconds then easy for 2 minutes, & repeat a few times. I like 4 cycles. — Another option, look up the 7 minute workout online.
The key is to deplete or significantly lower your body’s storage of glycogen with exercise and voila! You now have created an empty space (your muscles and liver) where your body will put the extra sugars in your blood (from the carbs &/or sugars you have consumed) & it is NOT going into your fat cells for storage. It is getting burned up in your muscles immediately. If you have eaten protein & fat within a low carb “break-fast,” you will just continue to be burning fat.
Bottom line: If occasionally, you are craving extra berries or a sweetened cup of coffee or tea or other starchy carbohydrate with your breakfast, & you don’t want to worry about it increasing your weight, work out first thing in the morning! It’s a workout bonus!