A common question that I receive from clients who are looking to burn body fat is ‘what type of cardio should I do to burn body fat’?. This is a very good question as typically the inclination for someone who is looking to get leaner is to immediately hit the treadmill, elliptical or rower. However, is this really necessary? Let’s have a look at the science behind fat loss to find out!
What causes fat loss?
So the short answer is no, it’s not necessary to do cardio if your goal is to burn body fat as typically, attention to diet and a resistance training routine is sufficient for most people to get and stay lean. This is due to the fact that burning body fat is primarily dictated by the law of energy balance which in laymen’s terms is calories in, calories out. And more specifically in order to burn body fat you need to create a calorie deficit by burning more calories than you consume each day and a calorie deficit can be created by simply controlling your calorie intake.
Weights vs Cardio: What the research says
A weight training routine is a critical part of the fat loss equation as it ensures that you will preserve muscle mass while losing body fat. However, not only is resistance training effective for building and preserving muscle it can also be play a key role in fat loss. A study in 2011 by Heden and colleagues found that subjects who performed resistance training burned about 200 calories during each training session. Interestingly though, the researchers found that the participants metabolism remained elevated for up to 72 hours post workout which resulted in an extra 300 calories being burned. This phenomenon is due what is known as excess post exercise oxygen consumption which is abbreviated to EPOC which is simply a measure of the calories that your body expends after a training session in order to recover from a training session. Therefore, due to the high amounts of metabolic stress and muscle damage caused by resistance training, weight training impacts fat loss beyond the training session itself and therefore will usually have a greater impact on fat loss than cardiovascular exercise.
Now this doesn’t mean that cardio isn’t going to aid your fat loss efforts as doing cardio will still burn calories however if your diet is in check and you are following a weight training program it is very unlikely that you will need to perform large amounts of cardio when attempting to burn body fat. It must be noted that I’m not discouraging anyone from doing cardio as some people simply enjoy doing it and some of my clients prefer to do some form of cardio training as it enables to eat more when still getting leaner due to the simple fact that they are burning more calories.
I hope you found this article helpful, as always please reach out to me if you need any help with your own health and fitness goals.