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Study #1: Get out of the zone.
Exercisers often stay within 60 to 70 percent of their maximum heart rate – also known as the “fat-burning zone” – in order to burn a higher percentage of calories from fat. Problem is, your calorie-burn total will be lower than if you were to up your intensity – and when it comes to fat loss, the quantity of calories burned is more important than the type.
Case in point: when Australian scientists manipulated the genes of mice to only burn fat (the goal of staying within the fat-burning zone), unused carbohydrates were stored as fat – basically reversing their efforts altogether.
Study #2: Take in a protein/carb mix.
Want to run or cycle for longer? Drink a protein and carb supplement as you move. Researchers from the University of Texas at Austin found that women cyclists who drank a protein and carb concoction during their ride showed greater endurance than when they consumed a carbohydrate-only drink, even though the protein-carbohydrate drink contained 50 percent fewer carbs.
For best results, look for a carb to protein ratio of 2.5:1 – the ratio used in the study – and drink it in increments throughout your workout.
Study #3: Dumbbells help you keep it off.
Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham tracked the exercise and nutrition habits of 94 women for one year and concluded that for women who lost weight, resistance training was better than aerobic training or no training at all when it came to conserving muscle mass, resting energy expenditure and strength. Strength training is just as important of a component of your fat-loss plan as cardio.
Study #4: Time your intervals wisely.
You know that interval training can burn more calories than steady-state exercise, but should you opt for longer or shorter work periods? A study published in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research found that doing 30-second intervals at a slightly less than all-out intensity (about 90 percent of the maximum) allowed cyclists to perform longer while increasing the amount of oxygen their bodies used.
Try working hard for 30 seconds, then dialing it back to recover for 30 seconds to a minute, and repeat for your entire workout.