Pilates exercises mostly involve strength and flexibility, with a little balance thrown in. A complete workout regimen must include strength, flexibility, balance, and cardiovascular exercise. That means that you should also be doing something like walking, biking, running, jogging, swimming, or some other activity that gets your heart rate up. That's the big time calorie burner, and you're not going to lose a lot of weight if you leave that out. You're also not going to lose much weight if you neglect to eat well and in moderation.
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In essence, it is a diet that causes the body to release ketones into the bloodstream. Most cells prefer to use blood sugar, which comes from carbohydrates, as the body’s main source of energy. In the absence of circulating blood sugar from food, we start breaking down stored fat into molecules called ketone bodies (the process is called ketosis). Once you reach ketosis, most cells will use ketone bodies to generate energy until we start eating carbohydrates again. The shift, from using circulating glucose to breaking down stored fat as a source of energy, usually happens over two to four days of eating fewer than 20 to 50 grams of carbohydrates per day. Keep in mind that this is a highly individualized process, and some people need a more restricted diet to start producing enough ketones.
Cycling, by contrast, is low impact. As well as being a cardiovascular exercise that burns calories, it also strengthens your muscles – particularly your hamstrings, glutes and quads without too much risk of injury. The stronger your muscles are (by the way – your thighs WILL NOT become massive if you cycle – that sort of physique is gained by time in the gym and a lot of protein) the more calories your body burns just existing.
The key to losing weight is to create a calorie deficit, which means burning more calories than you consume. Creating this deficit is typically possible through frequent exercise and healthy choices at mealtime. Because 1 pound of fat is equal to 3,500 calories, a daily deficit of 500 calories will help you lose 1 pound in a week. Tracking your calories burned each day can be challenging, as your body continuously burns calories at various rates. If you want to create a daily calorie deficit through Pilates, practice the exercise frequently and at length. If you're short on spare time, consider supplementing your workout regimen with more vigorous exercises such as jogging and bicycling.
Having worked as a certified fitness trainer for over 23 years, I’ve long since come to the conclusion that if you’re looking for the best exercise to shed a few pounds—and keep them off—nothing beats cycling. Over the years, I’ve seen clients shed half their size and heard from readers who have lost more than 100 pounds by adding cycling to their weight loss arsenal, which, yes, must include a healthy diet. (But you already knew that.)
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