Exercise Explained - The What and When Matters
Context: This is with insulin resistance, weight loss and diabetes management in mind
What is Exercise?
In general, exercise can be broadly grouped into three categories:
- Aerobic - Literally "with air" hence aero. This refers to exercise that can be sustained for over 30 mins and generally increases heart rate moderately. Examples include walking, brisk walking, swimming, rowing, moderate cycling. During this exercise, if you are still able to conduct a conversation, this is considered aerobic. Aerobic exercise generally encourages fat burning.
- Anaerobic - Literally "without air" hence anae. These activities will cause you to breath more heavily and unlikely to be able to conduct a conversation during the activity. Examples include running, tennis, football etc. Anaerobic exercise generally uses glycogen which is stored in the muscle. This is why after running one can feel famished as the body seeks to replenish this supply. Sadly, this can result in binge eating and counter productive for weight loss.
- High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) - These will bring the heart rate to near maximum. In general, you will be unable to sustain these activities for more than a few minutes. If you are able to sustain this for longer, it is likely anaerobic or aerobic. Examples include sprinting, burpees, heavy weight lifting etc. HIIT encourages Growth Hormone which builds muscle.
HIIT and anaerobic exercise can be dangerous. DO NOT perform such exercises if you have NOT exercised for a long time, have heart conditions or various injuries. ALWAYS build up slowly and listen to your body. If it hurts or feels wrong STOP!!!
When to Exercise?
In general, the best time to exercise is first thing in the morning BEFORE breakfast. Why? After having fasted the night before, this will force to body to burn fat especially if combined with the right exercise.
Before exercising, drink some water. This is especially important after fasting overnight.
When to Eat?
Ideally eat within a specific window. See this for an explanation of restricted time eating. If you are a breakfast person, eat about at least two to three hours after exercise. Why? Allows Growth Hormone and metabolism to do additional work to get rid of fat.
What to Eat?
Ideally, eliminate sugar. Minimize carbohydrates. Eat more vegetables, eggs and fish.
In summary, do aerobic exercises, first thing in the morning e.g. 30 to 90 minutes of brisk walking. Finish up with HIIT, example sprinting up stairs/ slope. If possible wait two to three hours after exercise before eating. Eat more protein, reduce carbohydrates.
There are various studies that have shown the following benefits of restricted time eating and exercise:
- Weight loss
- Reversal of insulin resistance
- Reduction in blood triglycerides
- Better general health due to better circulation
- Better mental health
The good news is that it is these are all within grasp and can be easily done. The key is to get started and increase gradually. You do not need a gym membership. Just a pair of comfortable walking shoes to get going.
"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." - Edmund Burke