Once upon a time I believed this to be true. I believed this because I was told that cardio burns fat. Little did I know, the words fat burning meant something completely different; I believe it was just a marketing term gyms used to try and lure people into their fitness classes.
The words fat burning are used way too often. You have to understand the difference between fat burning and fat loss first before we move into telling you why I know that cardio is not the best for fat loss.
Believe it or not, you are not actually burning body fat at any stage during exercise. In fact, there is no supplement, food or workout that inherently burns belly fat. in saying this, Is it possible to burn belly fat while exercising? yes you actually can, but it's very dangerous. I'll get to that in a minute.
Fat burning is when you are using the fat that you consumed in your diet as a fuel. Yes, those nuts, avocados and eggs you just ate are now been oxidized to give you energy. During low impact exercising (walking, aerobics) your body uses more of the fat from your diet as a fuel source. Eventually, if you are working out for more than 1 hour, or you're increasing your intensity to more than 65% of your V02 max, your body will switch from using dietary fat as a fuel source to using carbohydrates as a fuel source.
When do we use body fat? First of all, never get to this stage. I wouldn't recommend it as it is dangerous. When you have depleted your muscles and liver of all glycogen stores and used up all the glucose in your blood, your body has no choice but to use your body fat as fuel. Getting to this stage takes a lot of not eating, which leads to negative health effects in the body and increased mortality risk (death). So yeah, don't bother trying. I'm about to explain the best way you can lose fat without putting yourself in danger.
Fat loss is when you actually lose adipose tissue (body fat). If you follow me you probably know the best way to lose fat. Let's test you, the only way to fat loss is??......... You got it, a calorie deficit, and this is the best way to fat loss. A calorie deficit is when you consume fewer calories in a day than you burn. If this is your first time hearing/reading this, I hope it has woken you up and given you some sort of relief or "AH-HA" moment. I'd advise everyone to be more open minded towards this, because it's the truth. When I first heard about this it made my life much easier, especially working with clients.
Does Cardio Help With Fat Loss?
Absolutely, I would advise everyone to do some sort of cardio everyday; whether that be walking, jogging or doing an aerobics class while trying to lose fat, but, most importantly, for health purposes.
Cardio has many benefits, which i'll explain in a minute, it also helps you maintain a calorie deficit. When losing weight, some people decide to reduce calories like crazy, when all they have to do is increase their walking a little bit more to burn more calories.
Benefits of cardio
Improves cardiovascular health
Lowers mortality risk
Helps maintain a healthy body
Improves quality of life
Increases energy levels
Reduces stress/depressive symptoms
Improves physical function in the elderly
Decreases disease risk
Fasted cardio burns more belly fat! False
People believe that doing excess amounts of cardio in the morning without eating will help them burn more fat. By this stage you should know that this is not the truth.
You don't have to be going crazy on a tredmill everyday trying to lose fat, it's a waste of time. Enjoy the outdoors, go for walks, breath in some fresh air and search for hikes on the weekends. The more you increase this for health purposes and not fat loss purposes the better quality of life you will have.
Is cardio the best for fat loss? Absolutely not, a calorie defict is. But cardio, as I explained already, has huge benefits. It's probably the most important thing you can do for your physical and mental health even if it is just walking more.
Remember, cardio only helps with fat loss as long as you're in a calorie deficit, because it helps you maintain a calorie deficit. You should not prioritize cardio for fat loss and bust your ass. I can't stress this enough; use cardio for health purposes only!