Does Weight Training Burn Fat?

We used to think that to shrink our fat cells we needed a brisk walk, run or cycle to burn up the excess calories. But the thinking has shifted. Working with weights may be an even better option for getting rid of unwanted fat.

Cardiovascular exercise will always be essential part of getting and staying fit. Amongst other benefits it strengthens your heart and reduces your blood pressure.

Our muscles need attention too. Including two sessions of resistance or strength training per week will increase muscle mass and strength and improve bone density. Evidence indicates that weight training can help us avoid an early death, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and obesity, and reduce our risk of cognitive decline and injury. It can also help with weight and fat loss.


What is resistance exercise?

Resistance training is when you make your muscles work against a weight or force. It involves using weight machines, exercise bands, hand-held weights or your own body weight (such as push-ups, sit-ups or planking) to provide your muscles with enough resistance that they can grow and get stronger.

The link between muscles and fat

Resistance training increases the size and tone of your muscles. This doesn’t just look good, it also helps you control your weight in the long term. That’s because muscle size is important in determining your resting metabolic rate (RMR), which is how many calories your body needs to function at rest. Studies show that weight training is more effective than aerobic exercise at increasing RMR.

Other studies have found weight workouts increased energy expenditure and fat burning for at least 24 hours afterwards. Even people who occasionally lift weights are far less likely to become obese that those who don’t.

In a process called mechanical loading, muscles get stressed through lifting, pushing, or pulling. In response to this, cells in the muscles release a substance that sends instructions to fat cells, prompting them to start the fat-burning process, explained study co-author Dr John McCarthy, associate professor of physiology at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine.

“We think this adds a new dimension to the understanding of how skeletal muscle communicates with other tissues,” said Dr McCarthy. The results remind us, he said, that muscle mass is vitally important for metabolic health.


Resistance training for beginners

  1. Warm up first. Do some light aerobic exercise such as walking, cycling or rowing for about five minutes.
  2. Use proper technique to avoid injuries. You can learn this from a registered exercise professional. Many gyms offer experienced personal trainers, or your could see a physiotherapist or exercise physiologist.
  3. Start slowly. New to weights? Then you may be able to lift only a few kilograms. As your body gets more used to the exercises you can start to progress. Once you can easily do 12 repetitions with a particular weight, gradually increase the weight.
  4. Use your breath. Breathe out when you are lifting or pushing; breathe in as you slowly release the load or weight. Never hold your breath while straining.
  5. Be sensible. Don’t be so eager to see results that you risk injury by exercising too long or choosing too heavy a weight.
  6. Rest. Rest muscles for at least 48 hours between strength training sessions. If you have been sick, don’t return to training until one or two days after you have recovered.

"That Was a Near Miss!”

You are walking down the hallway, and find yourself slipping on a patch of water which had not been cleaned up. As you slip, you are thinking, “oh no, I’m going to break an arm which means an LTI (lost time injury) for my department, and time and expense for me”.

But you are OK. You manage to stop your fall with the wall, and after catching your breath, you go on your merry way.

Should you report it? Nothing happened.

The clear answer is yes. A near miss is a reportable incident. Even if “nothing happened”.

By definition, a near miss is an occurrence that might have led to an injury or illness, danger to someone’s health, and/or damage to property or the environment.

A dangerous incident, according to the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, is “a workplace that exposes a worker or any other person to a serious risk to a person’s health or safety emanating from an immediate or imminent exposure”.

However, reporting near misses can be a bit… hit and miss.

Without appropriate training and encouragement, employees can sometimes be hesitant to report a near miss for fear of getting into trouble or “ruining the stats”.

In an organisation with a strong safety culture, employees report near misses in order to reduce actual injuries. It’s part of a continuous process to identify and rectify issues.

A near miss indicates there is a problem: a lapse or a hazard in the safety measures. If you ignore a near miss, the problem still exists. By encouraging near-miss reporting, you are encouraging a healthy, proactive safety culture that prioritises people over statistics.

Why We Crave Chocolate

Whether it is dark, milk or white, in the shape of a bunny or an egg, many of us will be enjoying chocolate this Easter. And even if you do not celebrate Easter, chocolate is still a favourite for many people.

What is not to love? It tastes good, smells good, and that creamy, melt-in-your-mouth consistency stimulates feelings of pleasure on the tongue. It is the most commonly craved food in the world, and science may be able to explain why.

The whole experience of eating chocolate results in feel-good neurotransmitters, mainly dopamine, being released in the brain, says Amy Jo Stavnezer, a professor of psychology and neuroscience.

Dopamine is released when you experience anything that you enjoy – sex, laughing, or watching your TV show. Dopamine helps you to remember positive experiences, explains professor Stavnezer, and will give you a little surge of anticipation when you see, smell, or even just imagine chocolate.

Scientists originally thought that the compounds chocolate contains, such as theobromine and caffeine, could activate the dopamine system directly, like cigarettes and cocaine do. But experiments have shown that it’s a combination of all the components of chocolate – the mouth-feel, the taste, the sugar and fat ratio, plus the effects of the many different chemicals – that drives the craving.

Now you know you are biologically driven to eat that chocolate, take your time with it. Choose quality chocolate, eat it slowly and do not feel guilty.

3 Common Myths About Bloating

Your clothes fit in the morning, but by lunchtime you have to let your belt out a notch or two, Is this bloating? And is it something you need to fix?

Bloating is that feeling of increased pressure in your intestines. Do you need to worry about it? Here we set you straight on three myths about bloating:


Myth 1. Bloating is not normal. “Occasional bloating is totally normal, especially after a big meal or extra fibre,” says Dr Megan Rossi, an Australian dietitian with a London-based practice specialising in gut health and author of Eat More, Live Well.

“In fact, a bit of bloating after a high-fibre meal is good – it’s a sign of well-fed gut microbes (including good bacteria) just doing their thing. Continuous bloating, which is when you’re always bloated with no fluctuations over the day, is less common and best reviewed by your doctor first.”

Canadian dietitian Abby Langer agrees.

“The wellness industry tries to make us believe that all bloating is a problem, but it’s unrealistic to believe that your stomach should be flat all the time,” she says. “Just eating a regular-sized meal can distend your stomach which may lead to complaints of bloating, when what you’re really experiencing is a stomach full of food.”

Myth 2. There’s a simple cause. There are many different triggers for bloating, says Rossi. These include the volume of food and fluid you’ve eaten, a backlog of poop in the case of constipation, or simply the gas produced by your own gut microbiota.

Eating foods containing sugar alcohols (sugar replacements like sorbitol and xylitol) such as chewing gum will also contribute to bloating, as can wearing tight clothes all day and lack of movement.

Stress can also have very real effects on our gut, says Langer, including the feeling of bloating. The gut and brain are connected via nerves in what’s called the gut-brain axis. When we are stressed the brain sends signals to the gut to slow down digestion in the ‘fight or flight’ response, which can trigger gut discomfort.

Rossi points out that whether you feel the bloating or not can be down to your intestine’s sensitivity and how efficient your body is at absorbing the gas produced by your unique gut microbiome.

Myth 3. You can fix bloating by cutting out unhealthy food. Don’t cut out foods that are perfectly good for you before getting advice from a nutrition professional such as an Accredited Practising Dietitian.

There are many diet and lifestyle strategies that can help bloating, including checking for common food intolerances, splitting your food intake into smaller meals, and chewing well.

Unnecessarily restricting your diet can make your gut more sensitive, warns Rossi. That’s because your gut bacteria adapt to the food that you eat, and when you feed it a diverse range of whole foods (including carbs) the gut microbiome can produce enzymes that break down all the fibres found in plants.

If you overly restrict your diet, you’ll have a less diverse gut microbes and lack many of the microbes needed to digest plant fibres efficiently. This can trigger gut symptoms such as bloating and excessive gas – the very things you want to avoid.

If your bloating is frequent and comes with pain and discomfort, speak to a dietitian or doctor for help.