May 27 2016

The Danger of Using Only Cardio as a Form of Weight Loss

Everyone knows someone who has lost weight by perfroming cardio: running, rowing even aerobics!  But is it the best way to get lean?  I argue it isn’t… The fact is, there are many different ways to skin a cat and whilst many of these methods will work, the important thing…

Everyone knows someone who has lost weight by perfroming cardio: running, rowing even aerobics!  But is it the best way to get lean?  I argue it isn’t…

Rowing machine

The fact is, there are many different ways to skin a cat and whilst many of these methods will work, the important thing to understand is which method is right for you, your lifestyle – and ultimately your health. So here is a balanced view of what to consider when thinking about losing weight  – today we’re talking specifically about the arguments for and against just doing cardio.

The Advantages of Cardio for Fat Loss

  1. It’s “easy”
  2. It requires little planning
  3. It requires little knowledge
  4. It will lead to a drop in bodyweight – if done in conjunction with a calorie controlled diet (aka you are burning off more calories than you are eating)

 

The Disadvantages of ONLY Cardio for Fat Loss

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  1. The possibility of injury – running/ cycling a lot of miles (especially when going from a relatively low fitness base) will likely lead to bad backs/ hips/ knees – simply due to poor movement patterns and too much weight being pounded through those joints. If you need to lose weight, likelihood is you are too heavy for running to be good for you! Say you have a good run for a while, you lose some weight – as soon as something happens where you end up laid up and unable to train, that weight will come back so fast you won’t even have time to blink!
  1. A significant portion of the weight you lose on the scales will be lean mass – aka muscle tissue. The problem with this is that over time, muscle loss can be very damaging to your body. Without muscle, your metabolism drops, meaning you will be forced to eat less and less to keep your progress going. The less you eat, the more muscle you lose – it’s a downward spiral
  1. Your body probably wont look how you want it to look, even after losing a ton of weight. Fact is, cardio does nothing to actually shape your body, so if you’re looking for a bit of definition then cardio is not the way to go. You can end up looking a bit like a deflated balloon – no curves or muscle, just saggy skin.

 

The Well Rounded Solution

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  1. Match Every Cardio Session you do with a Resistance Training Session

If you want to do cardio twice a week, commit to two weight sessions a week as well. Combining the resistance training with the cardio will actually mitigate any of the negative issues of muscle loss from cardio. In fact, it might even put you in an anabolic (muscle building) state, making fat loss even easier.

Not only that, but it’ll give your body shape and structure  – rather than everything wobbling, it’ll help tighten your muscles up. You’ll wear smaller clothes even if you’re not any lighter on the scales.

 

  1. Look at Your Diet As Well

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You’ve probably heard the expression “You can’t out-train a bad diet”. Well, It holds true in almost every set of circumstances.

Stop thinking that just by running a few miles every day you can unwind all of the negative health implications associated with drinking too much, eating too much junk or sitting at your desk for 12 hours straight.

Looking at your diet as well as your training is like a double edged sword….now you’re hitting your results from two angles not just one. You’re doubling the potential you have to achieve, and you’re covering off your health in the process.

 

  1.   Use Technology

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Buy a Fitbit, an Apple watch or one of the other trillion gadgets out there. What it’ll do really well is make you aware of your activity level – simply how much your moving. Moving 250 steps every hour has been shown to have more correlation with improved health markers than any form of weight loss or fat loss on the scales.

250 steps is pretty easy – its getting up to go to the bathroom, or the coffee machine every hour – awareness is a powerful tool, use it.

If you’re thinking about getting fitter and healthier, then any form of exercise is better than none at all, and it’s great that you are thinking about it! But if you’re doing cardio because its the only way you think you can lose the fat you want, think again. There are more balanced ways to train out there that will get you better, longer lasting results.

Becs

@becscronshaw

Author

Becs Cronshaw