TCNJ’s Kang working out fat burning myths

The average pizza-loving, cheesesteak-consuming member of the College community might not be aware, but the campus has a bona fide fitness guru in its midst.

In the past few years, professor Jie Kang of the health and exercise science department has become a go-to fitness expert for many major publications, including The Washington Post, Self, Men’s Health, and Muscle & Fitness. Recently, Kang was contacted by Consumer Reports about writing a short piece on workout tips for those in a time crunch.

Though he also teaches classes in applied physiology, Kang’s field of expertise is metabolism. Most of his research focuses on “which produces most energy expenditure,” he said. Kang is currently comparing different methods of exercise to see which “burns more energy, which in turn burns more fat.”

Kang’s emergence in the international spotlight can be traced back to his 2003 study on workout efficiency, published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology. In TCNJ’s own Human Performance Laboratory in Packer Hall, Kang and his colleagues, Professors Nicholas Ratamess, Avery Faigenbaum, and Jay Hoffman, had eight men run for 30 minutes on two separate days.
On the first day, the men ran at a high intensity for the first half of their workout. On the second day, they ran slower at first and finished the workout at a higher intensity. According to Kang ’s results, more energy was expended when the men ran faster first, which adds up to about five to 10 percent more fat burned in a workout.

“We involve a lot of students,” said Kang of his research, but not typically as subjects, because his health and exercise science students tend to be much healthier than the overall population.

So Kang has them assist with data collection and entry, statistics, and general research.

A lot of his research focuses on the athlete’s “perception,” Kang said. To work out harder in the beginning of a run, as opposed to the end, really has no effect on how tired an athlete feels. “The body’s still burning the same amount of energy,” he said, but in the long run, the total fat burned is greater.

In 2005, Kang studied the spinning craze of the late 1990s. Made popular by the praises of celebrities like Julia Roberts, the stationary-bike group workout continues to be a popular fitness trend today. Kang found that the varied intensity that occurs over the duration of a typical spinning class causes the athlete to burn more fat than just steady pedaling alone. The results of this study were published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, the official journal of the American College of Sports Medicine.

“For cyclists trying to lose weight, spinning classes can help you lose it faster, ” Kang said.

Due to obvious biological differences, Kang’s studies are split by sex. Interestingly, Kang has found thus far, despite common belief otherwise, that women experience greater weight loss and fat burning than men.

“Women are more likely to be successful…over time,” he said. “Women have the edge.” An article detailing these findings is currently under review.

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