Want to lose fat? Stop doing so much cardio!

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This week’s blog is all about fat loss. Firstly you should notice how I have used the words ‘fat loss’ and not ‘weight loss’. In this article I will be talking about how your training and diet should look if you want to maximise fat loss and minimise muscle loss.

First of all I think it is important to define what I mean by weight loss and fat loss. There are two types of weight loss: chronic weight loss and acute weight loss. Chronic weight loss is the loss of body fat and lean mass over an extended period of time. Acute weight loss is short term weight loss where the loss of weight comes mainly from water. In this article we will be looking at predominantly chronic weight loss. As I mentioned earlier, this weight loss comes from loss of body fat and lean mass (mainly muscle mass).

The equation for weight loss can be broken down into the simple formula of:

Magnitude of weight loss = calories in – calories out (Very over simplified but works for the purposes of this article).

This basically means that if you consume more calories than you burn then you will gain weight and the greater the difference between these two numbers, the more rapid the weight gain will be and vice versa. This article is about fat loss and so most of the time, you will need to be losing weight in order to be losing fat and therefor you must be consuming fewer calories than you are burning. It therefore makes sense to increase the amount of cardio training an individual is doing in order to increase calorie expenditure. This work if you are only looking for weight loss but in reality, most people are interested in fat loss rather than just losing weight and so a different tactics likely needs to be used.

The issue with using cardio is that it does not put you in a great position to spare muscle loss. Unless someone is untrained or seriously overweight then I would advise people to prioritise resistance training over cardio training. Heavy, high volume weight training (in a basic sense) sends signals to your body to hold onto your muscle and so fat loss is likely to make up a greater proportion of your weight loss than if you just did cardio or ultra high rep (20+ reps) resistance training. This does not mean that cardio training should be ignored; burning those extra calories is important when looking to lose weight but if you are increasing cardio training at the expense of your weight training then you are likely not putting yourself in the best position to maximise fat loss and minimise muscle loss.

If you are not doing extra cardio to put yourself in a calorie deficit then the only other way to lose weight and therefore lose fat is to reduce calorie intake. This is simple to do but if you are looking to minimise muscle loss then you need to think about more than just calories. Protein intake is going to be especially important if you want to hold onto all your hard earned muscle. I have gone into more detail in my previous blogs entitled ‘Meal Frequency And Timing’ and ‘How much protein should you be eating?’ but to keep it simple, the average weight training individual looking to lose fat should be consuming between 1.8g-2.7g per kg of bodyweight spread out fairly evenly throughout the day.

To summarise, my main tips for effective weight loss are to:

  1. Create a calorie deficit.

  2. Prioritise resistance training.

  3. Consume adequate protein spread evenly throughout the day.

Stick to these basics and you should be burning off fat in no time!

Speak to you guys again soon.

Albie

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