Body Wise – The More You Know

Calorie Busters
High-intensity workouts help you burn calories.

You may have heard the age-old weight-loss adage eat less; exercise more. There is some truth to it, but it needs some clarification. More exercise does not always equal more weight loss. It’s about creating a calorie deficit. In fact, this is simple grade-school math: to lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you consume.

If you want to shed unwanted pounds, take an honest look at your fitness regimen and consider bumping up the intensity of at least a couple of your workouts each week. High-intensity workouts elevate your heart rate, make you sweat, and burn a lot more calories than a lower-intensity workout. Because your body needs time to recover, be sure that you alternate these workouts with lower-intensity days—one or two high-intensity sessions per week is plenty to start.

The following are a few proven calorie burners you may want to try.

  • Jump rope. Have you picked up a jump rope lately? You may be surprised at how challenging it is. Jumping rope burns about 780 calories per hour—that’s 130 calories in just 10 minutes.
  • Kickboxing. Kickboxing is a calorie-burning, high-intensity, full-body workout. Your heart rate will soar while you burn about 800 calories in an hour. That’s a lot of bang for your buck. One class per week will set that calorie deficit in motion.
  • Zumba. Who said fitness had to be drudgery? Head to a Zumba class for an hour of action-packed Latin dance moves that will have you sweating and grooving to the rhythm. Zumba incorporates interval training, resistance moves, and dance for a fun and challenging workout. Expect to burn about 500 calories as you let the rhythm move you.
  • Biking. Cycling is an excellent way to burn calories while having fun. You can ride the real thing or attend a spin class at a gym. The key is to maintain a solid pace—riding 14 to 16 miles per hour will burn up to 700 calories in an hour.

The Wonders of Raw Chocolate

Go cuckoo for cacao.

There’s something powerful about chocolate. In fact, some people equate chocolate with love or joy. Research has shown that dark chocolate triggers the release of “happy brain” chemicals. But not all chocolate is created equal. Nutritionists and foodies alike have begun turning to raw chocolate—or raw cacao—to get their chocolate fix.

What Is Raw Cacao?

Raw cacao (“kuh-cow”) is the pure, unadulterated, whole-food source of chocolate. It is derived from the seeds of the fruits of the Theobroma cacao tree, which translates literally to “food of the gods.” Raw cacao is unrefined and unprocessed, and in this natural state it is loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

Benefits of Raw Cacao

No longer is chocolate just a decadent treat—it’s actually a nutritious food with many healing properties, including magnesium, chromium, B vitamins, antioxidants, and the “feel good” chemicals theobromine, phenylethylamine, and anandamide (the chemicals the brain releases when we feel happy or in love).

Using Raw Cacao

Raw cacao is easy to use and is becoming more widely available as it grows in popularity. It is available in several forms: whole cacao beans, cacao nibs, cacao butter, and cacao powder. Probably the most versatile form, cacao powder has a slightly more bitter taste than the Dutch-processed cocoa powders on the market, so many people use agave, yacón , or other natural sweeteners in combination with it. Store cacao powder in an airtight jar at room temperature. Cacao butter should be stored in the refrigerator and can be used to make decadent chocolate desserts.

put fitness on the calendar

For best results schedule your workouts like any other appointment.

We all know that we should make exercise a nonnegotiable part of our schedule, but which is better—morning or evening exercise? The answer? Well, maybe both.

Researchers have long studied the physiological and psychological benefits of morning versus evening exercise. Here are a few factors to consider.

  • Morning exercisers are more consistent. It’s easier to schedule exercise in the morning—you can wake up earlier to get it done, and other obligations are less likely to interfere with your routine. Furthermore, morning exercise will provide a physical and mental boost that will last throughout much of the day.
  • Afternoon/evening exercise can help regulate evening food intake. People who exercise after work tend to eat smaller portions at dinner and also report an added stress relief to ending the day with some physical exertion.
  • Evening exercise may interfere with sleep. There is some evidence that evening exercise can make it difficult to unwind and fall asleep. Experts recommend allowing at least three hours to unwind after exercise before going to bed.
  • Morning exercise may help with weight loss. Raising your heart rate and metabolism first thing in the morning will help you burn more calories throughout the day. If you want to burn body fat, morning exercise may be your friend.

The Reality of Scheduling Exercise

Face it: not all of us have the luxury of scheduling our exercise at the optimal time for our bodies. Most experts will tell you that the best time to exercise is the time that feels best to you. If you are naturally a morning person, get out early; if you’re a night owl, make evening your time. Experiment with different exercise periods to find the time when you feel most strong and energetic. Although elite athletes may benefit from scheduling their exercise to coincide with optimal muscle strength, the rest of us will probably not notice much of a difference. Ultimately, choose an exercise time that you can maintain consistently. When we exercise doesn’t matter nearly so much as whether we exercise. Get moving!