ELLE Feature: Summer special - Dare to bare
What if there was a switch that made you burn more fats? Professor Victor Zammit, head of metabolic and vascular health at Warwick Medical School recently published a study in the Journal of Biological Chemistry on an enzyme that can prompt your body to do just that. The enzyme, CPT1 (carnitine palmitoyltransferase 1A), has a switch responsible for revving up metabolism. But we still rely on other ways to maximise how our body burns fat. Working out might be the old mantra, but the type of workout determines how fast your body burns fat. Los Angeles personal trainer Joe Dowdell, who put Anne Hathaway through her paces in preparation for her role as Catwoman, says, "Slow, measured cardio is out. High-intensity exercise in short intervals with reasonable-yet-brief resting periods is the most efficient way to burn fat. What makes high- intensity interval training so effective is EPOC (excessive post exercise oxygen - you take in more oxygen, which raises your metabolic rate for up to 24 hours after the session), giving you increased caloric burn long after your workout."
Exercise your willpower
Just like your biceps or stomach, your willpower needs exercising too - the mental version of a crunch or a curl. A study published by Roy F Baumeister, Francis Eppes Eminent Scholar at Florida State University and author of the book, Willpower, found that after a person exerts self-control, they are unlikely to have much willpower left to resist the next bout of temptation - self-control needs to be exercised in small doses.
But just like your biceps, you can tone your "willpower muscle" to become stronger. Focusing your willpower on one single thing at a time, rather than several, leaves you more likely to tackle the next goal more successfully.
The thing about self-control
New research also suggests that your level of self-control has a direct relationship with the level of glucose in your system. More glucose means better willpower, and ultimately more self-control and the discipline to stick to your fitness goals.
This doesn't mean the diet is out the window, though - glucose levels can be kept on the up with slow-burning, low-glycemic-index (GI) foods like pulses, lean proteins and lots of green vegetables. The trick is to graze and avoid feeling hungry. Experts agree that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and should ideally combine complex carbs and protein.