Sherpas and other permanent residents of high-altitude are inherently thinner and contain less overall body mass than sea-level residents. The fact is that through a proper hypoxic exercise regimen, IHT program, or a combination of the two, individuals can lose weight quickly and efficiently while maintaining safety and overall health.
The scientific mechanisms behind weight-loss through hypoxic training are two-fold. The basis behind these effects is the creation of a hypoxic state within the body, measured by arterial oxygen saturation (Sa02). As described in the general section, hypoxic exercise or IHT can bring the Sa02 down to 80-85%, rather than only about 95% with conventional normoxic exercise. As a result of this lack of oxygen, which is more severe in hypoxic exercise, the skeletal muscle is forced to turn to anaerobic metabolism for energy production.
Thus, the body will burn calories in the form of fat stores in order to produce energy during exercise. Also, this method results in increased damage of myofibrils, experienced as soreness after a workout. The body will then burn even more calories after the workout in an attempt to rebuild and fortify these muscles, thus protecting them for future workouts.
This is how weight-lifters build muscle and the specific reason for why they can consume so much food. Moreover, a hypoxic workout can promote the burning of 3 times as many calories as a normoxic workout, as calories continue to be burned for up to 15 hours after the workout.
The second mechanism for weight-loss ties in with the science in the wellness section. Such extreme reduction of Sa02 (80-85%) promotes a rejuvenation of the cell’s mitochondria. The destruction of old dysfunctional mitochondria is coupled with stimulated production of new healthy ones. These healthy mitochondria contain genes for fat metabolism that the old mitochondria have lost via oxidative damage of mitochondrial DNA. In turn, the proliferation of new mitochondria provides a vehicle for increased fat metabolism in energy production and thus, increased weight-loss.
The beauty of hypoxic training for weight-loss is its convenience. Hypoxic workouts are more effective than regular workouts even when performed at moderate intensity for half the duration. In addition, IHT programs can promote weight-loss for an individual in a sedentary and completely relaxed state.
Individuals who take advantage of hypoxic training for weight-loss purposes can expect the following benefits:
• increased weight-loss through burning of fat and lipid stores
• superior physical fitness
• strengthened immune system
• reduced blood pressure and hypertension
• decreased overall stress and fatigue
This study joins many which have shown reductions in bodyweight in individuals from sea-level exposed to high-altitude for prolonged periods of time. It notes an average 10.2% body weight reduction in construction workers that reside at sea-level after working a job for one month at an altitude of 4600m. The researchers suggest that exercise centres at high altitude may be beneficial for people who suffer from obesity.
Progress in studying weight los at high altitude and its potential application in patients with obesity. Ge, Wang, Yand and Lui. Research Center for High Altitude Medicine, Qinghai, Xining
This review evaluates the ability of high altitude to influence certain satiety (lack of appetite) signals within the body in its promotion of weight-loss. It also notes that these weight-loss promoting effects are independent of Acute Mountain Sickness.
Energy and water balance at high altitude. Klas R. Westerterp. 2001