Friday, January 3, 2014

Cardio is a Fat Loss Tool

How many much cardio should we be doing?  You hear people say, 1 hour a day to lose weight and there are others who look fabulous without doing a single minute of cardio.  Then those who say to keep the heart rate in the fat burning zone and some who say HIIT cardio is the best way to shed fat….Which is it?

Cardio is simply one of the many tools to lose fat.  
Cardio is a tool for creating calorie deficit.

That is very important information!!  It is just one way of creating calorie deficit.  There a hundreds of other ways to create a deficit and burn calories.  Strength training, sports, walking, vacuuming, chasing your kids around, etc….. The other way that we all know is through diet.  

The biggest mistake people make is making cardio #1 on the list when trying to lose weight.  Fat loss and a cardio machine is like bread and butter for some people.  Believing you can't have one without the other should not be the case.  You have to know that hopping on a cardio machine will do very little to build muscle.  Building muscle should be your first action if fat loss is your goal.  You don't just want to lose weight.  You want to lose fat.  You will lose 20 pounds of weight being a cardio queen but you must remember that in that 20 pounds was also a good chunk of muscle loss too.  We should all want to keep what muscle we have.  Muscle is what gives us shape.  Muscle is what gives you that "toned" look.  Muscle is what makes us look and feel lean in our clothes.  Clothes like to be snug against muscle much more than they like to be snug against fat.  The more muscle we have the more calories you burn throughout your day.  So if fat loss is the goal, why not kill two birds with one stone and keep your muscle, build some muscle and burn calories?!?  Weight training will do wonders for your figure more than a treadmill ever will.

Weight training should be the core of any weight loss program.  Adding in cardio is just an extra tool to  to create an additional deficit.  Remember it is just one of many tools too.
There is no need for dreaded long cardio every day.  Can you really sustain an hour of cardio every single day for as long as you want to remain active?  Choose something that you can sustain for a lifetime.  Next, adjust your food/diet to reach your goals.  If you want to lose weight eat less, gain weight eat more.  Most of your calorie deficit should come from your diet.  Not wasting away on a cardio machine.

As always, cardio is always great for the heart!  And so is any kind of physical activity.  Anything done with intensity to get your heart rate up like strength training when done with intensity, will not only build you some muscle AND burn calories but it also improves your cardiovascular system.  All your cardiovascular system wants/needs is for you to give it some sort of attention.  That doesn't have to be 1 hour of cardio a day on the treadmill or bike.  Your system doesn't know if you're running, biking, walking, chasing your 2 year old, or lifting weights.  All it recognizes is the stress that it is under and need to work hard to keep up.  And your system will appreciate you for making it stronger.

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