By: Eduardo Lorenzo
Does cardio really help you lose weight, more importantly burn fat? I would say, yes and no. I know, I know I get on some people nerves every time I do that. I’ll explain why I answer this way in a few seconds.
First of all there are essentially two types of cardio: slow to moderate or steady state and high intensity or better known as interval training.
Most people don’t really understand the concept of high intensity cardio training. Most think ‘I hit 2.5 incline at 4.2 miles for 30 to 40 minutes; uff! this is a workout’…. Hmmm, reality says: nope, even if you sweat. High intensity or interval training would be so “intense” (see the word why its high intensive interval training) that you wouldn’t be able to keep up for more than 1 minute to 2 at the most, and would required the same or even more time to recover your heart rate in order to allow you to go over it again, in spurts. This type of training would last no more than 20 – 25 minutes.
Now that you understand this, you need to also realize that cardio is an essential component to helping you burn calories, thus you should lose weight. So to answer the original question, can cardio help you on your weight loss goals: yes!
Obviously a cardio respiratory workout has the main benefit to keep your heart and lungs healthy. Cardio is also a stress reliever. But let’s focus solely on the weight loss and burning fat aspect of it.
Those who usually start on a fitness journey A.K.A. weight loss plan, almost immediately jump onto the treadmill and do cardio for an hour. And surely since you’re more active you are burning more calories per day you see some results on your weight loss goals. That’s nice! Ah!!! but 3 months later I see those same people on the treadmill for 1 or 2 hours doing the same and guess what, they haven’t lost more weight; some have actually gained. OUCH!
Truth is that if you don’t see results within 6 weeks (at least something) then ‘something’ isn’t right. Which prompts some of you to take drastic measures and increase cardio to 3 hours a day and then starve to death by going on an extreme diet plan, that will only - if it actually works – give you the illusion that you are losing weight but it’s essential muscle tissue you are losing and in order to survive your body is stacking up on body fat. So once you get off the diet and realize your body can’t take no more the load of 3 hours a day of cardio, you gained more weight than before.
This is the same yo-yo diet and boring cardio plan that unfortunately most people succumb to.
Then how can you get the most out of your cardio plan and start losing weight body fat which should be the main focus of any weight loss plan?
My next post will address the truth about fat burning cardio.
Author: Eduardo Lorenzo, NASM-CPT specializes in sports performance, injury prevention, corrective exercises, physique enhancement, Boot Camp and weight loss programs.