Christmas calories link here...... >

I get asked this question all the time. Is there a ‘best form of cardio for fat loss?’ Ok so there is the technical answer and the real world answer!!

The technical answer is that the body uses different energy systems at different times and under different stimulus. How long you train for, how hard you train and what you have eaten all impact the type of system your body prefers. Whether you burn carbohydrate stores or fat stores. The latter obviously pricks peoples ears.

High intensity training often requires carbohydrate levels to be used as an efficient source of energy. Long duration steady state cardio (jogging, long walks) on the other hand is well known to tap into your fat burning system with an often endless supply of energy from out fat stores.

Great so I’ll just do long cardio then…… hold on…

The reason that body builders have such little fat (good bodybuilders that is!) is because they train at a high intensity, lifting weights, that their increased muscle density and muscle mass requires more calories. Which they get from your fat stores later one while resting. Now you don’t have to be a bodybuilder to reap these benefits. You just need to train to the threshold of your ability to make the body crave calories while you are working, resting and sleeping.

In a nutshell fat loss occurs when we are in a marginal calorie deficit, how we achieve this is the real question. Too large a deficit and the body will down regulate or adapt negatively, basically just sapping us of energy, keeping us fat and potentially making us ill! If theres a surplus of calories then we quite simply don’t need to burn our fat stores, so we just add to them. Annoyingly we need to find a balance! Like the next person I would prefer to just pick a side, put your blinkers on and go for it, but the world needs balance and our bodies are no exception.

Back to the cardio question. Both have a place if they are utilised properly. If you do an exercise (run, bike, row) for a long period of time you need to ensure that you are using it to create the margin deficit. If you fuel your long cardio with high carbs or don’t train for long enough then you may not even reach the fat burning potential (unless your training for performance which I will cover in a bit!) If you train at a high intensity (HIIT, Circuits, Spinning) You will need to fuel your workout appropriately and train hard enough to actually improve your fat burning capability after the event.

OK textbook hat off now let’s look at the real world answers to that question.

How much time you have will dictate which cardio variation you choose! It can be a simple as that for many of us. If you make the time to do long runs and bike rides then great you can use that or combine it with intense forms of cardio. If your time is limited then you may need to rely on the higher intensity work and cram it in. Again neither is right or wrong, it just needs the correct approach.

If you’re training for a sport or event then obviously the type of cardio you choose should be relative and specific to the demands of your goal. If you are trying to increase your marathon time then manipulating your carbs while training may be a good option. If you are training for high power sports then a 2h run might not be for you.

The bottom line really is that provided you understand the limitations of the cardio you choose if you want to lose body fat then choose a cardio variation that you enjoy the most and are most likely to stick to. Consistency trumps technicality in most cases. We are what we do most not what we do sometimes!!

Hope this helps, if you need any further advice please drop me a line.


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