Do you Want to Lose Weight? Forget Cardio!

Cardio vs. strength training

You will have heard about cardio, in that it is described by experts over the last few decades as the most optimal physical activity if the goal is to lose weight. You know, you can go jogging, use the cross-trainer, step machine, attend body combat, cardio kick box, zumba, and aerobics classes.  Put the machine in ‘fat burning’ mode, and operate at around 65% of your maximum capacity, minimum 45 minutes but rather an hour, 4-6 times a week.

Massive cardio machine stations in every big gym and despite the large quantity of these machines you still had to wait for the step machine or cross trainer. Damn! 

Messages on each machine: ‘We kindly ask you to use maximum 30 minutes the cardio machines in peak times’ You are wondering to yourself, ‘Are they mad? I need to do at least 45 minutes! I want to lose weight!’

High blood pressure? Diabetes? ‘You should start moving; go for a jog or a cycle. You have to decrease your weight. 

The baby is already 2 months old and sometimes sleeps 5 hours in a row. Put your trainers on and go for a run!

Most people have bad posture, lower back pain, waking up in pieces because of the tightness of their muscles. This is exactly the reason why so few people start to train on a regular basis. 

The number on the scale, the size of the clothes, a wedding; these are the main catalysts in people to get into the training routine. However in the world of obesity it’s not even important what the motivation is behind the desire to lose weight, because it’s becoming rather a need of society beyond our own personal need.

Losing weight yes, but losing weight from what? Because there is an enormous difference between losing weight and losing weight.

When you get onto those scales it shows a figure. The figure however does not say what % of that weight is fat, muscle or water. Our water storage fluctuates. You can influence that percentage by eating/drinking more, going to the sauna or just simply going to the toilet. Therefore solely relying on that number is silly. 

If you cut your carb intake you will lose muscle mass. All you are going to see though is that the number on the scale is going down. Therefore you are happy, even though you are losing your strength. You continue your lifestyle with this method and soon you will realise that you not only hit a plateau but the weight that you lost is slowly creeping back up. So what do you do? Increase your low-medium intensity workout from 4 times a week to 5 or 6. And what happens? Here is a bit of a scientific explanation about why this approach will not work:

We are lucky enough that our body has the ability to adapt, however in this case adaptation has a negative effect on the fat cells. If you give your body the task that with a certain energy intake it has to do a certain amount of fat burning activity, it will get used to it. It will become energy efficient like a machine, and it will be able to go for a long time from little energy. Therefore the fat burning slows down.

The other contributor to the process is the so called T3 thyroid hormone. Studies prove that too much cardio will lead to the decrease of T3 hormone which is responsible for our metabolism. When our T3 level is normal, our body uses just enough energy to ensure the optimal heat and that the muscles can work with average efficiency. Decreasing T3 levels slows down the metabolism and therefore the fat burn as well.

With too much cardio, the cortisol level grows in your body. Cortisol itself is a hindrance to fat loss, not to mention that another effect of cortisol is on a protein called myostatin that starts dismantling the muscles.

Hopefully this gave you enough explanation on why you should change your training habits and incorporate weights, and bodyweight exercises/body conditioning in your workouts. These type of exercises will stimulate the growth hormone production. The more muscle you build, the more fat you will burn.

Nutrition, nutrition, nutrition! This is what you need to fix first. And then squat, jump, hold, lift!

For clarity, I am not suggesting to completely ditch the cardio from your workout, but do it wisely. The important part is not the number that the scale shows but the increase in the number on your dumbbell! Let those words resonate this in your mind.

In my next post I'll write about efficient cardiovascular exercises.

Merry Christmas Everyone!