As far as diets go, we've pretty much seen it all. We've gone from low carb, to low fat. From strict vegan to paleo, and even fasted for days on end with nothing more than some maple syrup and cayenne pepper to sustain us. So what is the answer to long-term weight loss that doesn't leave us wanting to gnaw our cubicle neighbor's arm off at 3:00 p.m. in the afternoon?
The simple answer is, there is no simple answer. These diets all have one thing in common. They focus on the reduction and elimination of food, as opposed to enhancing our metabolism. Any effective diet plan will focus on both aspects of weight loss.
Of course we all know that exercise will allow us to burn more calories right? But we have gross misconceptions of how much we need to exercise to actually make a difference in our body composition. You know that favourite spinning class of yours, the one you come out of drenched in sweat? Well, that takes care of about one side order of french fries.
Then there's the other camp who rely solely on stimulants like caffeine, ephedrine and dangerous concoctions found in popular energy drinks to take their metabolic wheel.
Let's try focusing on maximizing the time that we are exercising, as well as boost our basal (resting) metabolism naturally.
One of the little known ways of doing this is through music.
In February of 2009, The Journal of Exercise Physiology conducted a study that showed people exercising with fast tempo music had a higher heart rate, increased body temperature and increased respiratory rate (all of this equals more calories burned) than those who exercised to slow, or no music. An example of the fast tempo song that was actually used for the study was FloRida's Low.
Music also has the ability to release endorphins. Endorphins are the "feel good" hormone that is released after prolonged exercise, dancing, laughter, excitement and stress. These endorphins have been shown to greatly reduce appetite and mobilizing energy stores ie: burning fat.
Music can even have the ability to "spot reduce" fat stores specifically in the abdomen. For many of us, excess abdominal fat is a result of poor food choices, limited exercise and stress. The reason stressed-out individuals carry much of their weight in their abdominal region is because stress releases a hormone called cortisol. This is a long-term stress hormone that causes the storage of fat around the vital organs of our midsection. The good news is, music can actually reduce cortisol levels, discouraging this process from taking place altogether!
In times of high psychological stress, the brain demands extra energy from the body to satisfy its increased needs. Music counteracts this by decreasing stress and decreasing cravings for simple carbohydrates.
Music therapies are not a substitute for a balanced diet high in phytonutrients combined with regular exercise, but it doesn't hurt to have a little help along the way.
Music is another tool to add to your arsenal. It has the ability to aid in sleep and anxiety, balance hormones and burn some extra fat along the way.