CARDIO FOR FAT LOSS?
Jumping on a treadmill or a cross-trainer for 45-60 minutes can be great for improving your cardiovascular health, getting fitter for an endurance-based activity, and stress relieving for some after a long day of work.
However, if your sole focus is FAT LOSS, cardio is NOT ESSENTIAL, and is POINTLESS without a sound nutritional programme tailored to your goals.
If you have your nutrition in check and focused on leaning down and losing fat, then obviously the most important factor is doing some sort of exercise you ENJOY, you can fit within your LIFESTYLE, and that you can do CONSISTENTLY (and as an added bonus, PROGRESS with).
It DOESN’T have to be ‘cardio’ per say.
There’s a lot of confusion around losing weight, that in order to lean down you need to add in hours of cardio a week and done first thing a morning on an empty stomach, however if this is not enjoyable and not something you can stick to, then for the masses it’s irrelevant.
If you’re interested in changing your physique, then your focus should be on your NUTRITION and MAINTAINING / INCREASING MUSCLE MASS, which is achieved through weight-training or variations of HIIT training. Moderate intensity cardio like long runs or cycling, can in fact work against you, resulting in weight loss, but with a greater proportion coming from muscle atrophy over fat loss.
Stimulating your muscles at a higher intensity (weights or HIIT), let’s your body know it REQUIRES those muscles (and any adaptation) for similar future stimulation, which (when combined with a sound nutritional programme) either increases muscle mass or fat loss depending on your programme.
This is important, as one of the main advantages of having more muscle mass, is the increase in your basal metabolism. Put another way, the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn at rest (doing nothing), and since resting energy expenditure (REE) is the BIGGEST part of your total energy use in a day, muscle can play an important role in fat loss and body re-composition.
So to wrap up:
Ask yourself WHY are you doing cardio?
- If it’s to destress, for a specific endurance event, or out of enjoyment, great keep it up.
- If it’s for fat loss and it’s something you enjoy and can stay consistent with (as well as not particularly bothered in losing muscle in the process), then great again. Make sure your nutrition is in check, and possibly consider slowly adding in weights in the process.
- If it’s for fat loss, and you don’t enjoy it…STOP it’s unnecessary. Focus on your nutrition and find a goal around exercise / workouts which you enjoy and can stay consistent with.
As a final note: realise that when you step on the bathroom scales...it measures your weight, not your fat. If the scales go up, it’s an increase in weight not necessarily fat. It could be due to holding more water, the carbohydrate density in your last meal (which does not equal fat), food you’re holding within your intestines, hormonal balance, increase in muscle mass and more.
What’s more interesting, is because of the volume (size) of 5lbs of fat compared to 5lbs muscle, which is a denser tissue, VISUALLY you'll look 'smaller', leaner, more defined at the exact same weight but with a better body composition…. This is part of the problem with fixating around a 'weight' number on the scales, over and above your body composition changes.
I will go into this a bit more in another post...
…Just don’t think solely ‘fat’ when you’re measuring ‘weight’.
Stay Healthy and Happy,