Most of us have a few extra kilos we would like to shed, and with so much information out there it can be hard to know which type of exercise is best exercise for fat-loss. Which is the most effective cardio for fat-loss? Walking, running, riding, HIIT workouts or a combination? And how do weights or resistance training impact this?
Fat-loss: Calorie input vs output
To lose weight, or more specifically fat, we need to be burning more calories (calorie output) than we are eating (calorie input). General moving and being will burn up some of those calories, but regular exercise is needed to burn the rest. One way of doing this is through cardio activity. Cardio activity burns calories quicker on a per minute basis than weight or resistance training, but lets find out more about how we can best use cardio for fat-loss.
What is cardio exercise?
Cardio exercise is exercise that raises your heart rate and is generally sustained for a longer period of time. When we think of cardio, we often think of running, riding, swimming, rowing or walking, but these can also be used in interval type workouts, which we will look at shortly.
How much cardio should you do for fat-loss?
Experts recommend that three 30-60 minute cardio sessions a week is a good goal to have when aiming for fat-loss.
Running or walking, which is better for fat loss?
Interestingly, walking is great cardio for fat-loss as it allows more oxygen into your system than say running, and oxygen allows the fat to burn. This means walking burns more fat than running because whilst exercising at a lower intensity, fat is the energy source, not glucose. HOWEVER, you burn more calories running (or with any other high intensity training) over the same period of time, than you do with walking. So, if you’re short on time and wanting to burn fat for weight loss, running will make better use of your time. If you decide to walk to burn fat, then aim to do at least 60 minutes of brisk walking and add incline where you can.
Remember, do what you enjoy
The most important thing is that you ENJOY the process. Choose an exercise you love. If you hate running – walk, ride, swim or try HIIT (high intensity interval training, more about this below). Remember, some forms o mkotivated when you’re finding it hard or overwhelming is to focus on motivators outside of weight loss.
Want to loose fat faster? Or want a toned tummy?
For a quicker fat burn, try High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). HIIT is short, intense bursts of physical activity, paired with intervals of quick rests. These workouts are like gold for those wanting to lose weight fast because your body to continues burning calories 24-48 hours after your workout. This is a great way to vary both your workouts and the muscles you use. Variety is important, to both keep you from getting bored and to make sure your body isn’t being conditioned to the exercise, resulting in it not needing to utilise the fat stores as an energy source. This will make it much harder to lose those last few kilos! You might have noticed this when do the same 30 minute run 5 times a week – the first few weeks you see results and then after that it plateaus. This is because your body has become conditioned to this type of exercise. What you could do at this point is to switch it with a sprint for 30 seconds and walk for 30 seconds for a period of 15 minutes. You could even add in other exercises like squat jumps, push ups or dips at every second corner of your run. This will get your heart rate up and give you the extra fat burn! Head to this post to check out my favourite HIIT workout or subscribe and have 6 workout printables delivered to your inbox. These can all be done as HIIT workouts. You can also check out these apps and these free online workout videos for guidance as many of them have HIIT workouts you can do from home.
Adding resistance or weight training can be used in conjunction with your cardio to give you extra toning and muscle strength. I said before that cardio burns more calories on a per minute basis. However, HITT training and strength training allow your muscles to work for hours after your workout, which means you will continue to burn calories even after you finish working out! So don’t be scared of adding weights, embrace them!
Cardio exercise and your general health
As its name suggests, cardio is great for cardiovascular health, so is important to include in your exercise regime get oxygen moving around your body, increase circulation and help to reduce stress and its impact, as well as helping to burn that fat!
You can do as much walking, running or cycling as you want but food will catch up with you! Are there some healthy swaps you can make? Skip the muffin for morning tea and have a piece of fruit or some nuts instead? How about some hummus and carrots?
What about dinner, can you change your potion size? Change wheat pasta for zucchini pasta? Perhaps swap the after dinner chocolate for some berries and yoghurt? Or a few squares of 70-90% dark chocolate? Checkout some of our healthy recipes here for even more inspo!
Doing cardio, adding in some HIIT and a healthy diet is sure to do wonders and help shift those extra few kilograms!