Extra weight can sometimes be so stubborn, especially when you just have those last few pounds to lose. It doesn't help that we're constantly fed lies and contradictions about exercise either. Whether you're just starting a long weight loss journey or you're frustrated by not being able to shed a bit of belly fat, you'll benefit from learning the truth about weight loss through cardio. I have listed four common myths about cardio and weight loss that I have busted with some strongly explained facts. Check them out to lose weight effectively and without injury!
Myth: Focus on only cardio to lose weight.
Fact: Combine cardio and strength training to lose weight.
If you're trying to get slimmer and leaner, you may shy away from strength training out of fear that you'll bulk up. However, that can't be further from the truth! Of course, if you're strength training with big weights for hours a day, you'll definitely bulk up.
However, if you use small weights with a high amount of reps, you'll burn fat and develop lean muscle, which even uses calories to maintain. In fact, a study done not too long ago by the American Council on Exercise found that kettlebell exercises can burn up to 20 calories per minute, which is the same you'd burn when running a mile in six minutes! That proves weight training to be very effective for calories burning.
Mix your workouts and add both cardio and resistance or if you want to focus on one, switch up cardio and resistance on different days. Both have significant weight loss benefits as well as overall health benefits for your body. Whichever you choose to do more of, make sure to practice them four days a week, with recovery days in between that consist of yoga or simple stretches.
Myth: Do cardio before eating to burn more fat.
Fact: Eat a light, pre-cardio workout snack to burn more fat.
You may think that you’ll burn more fat on an empty stomach because the body will be using energy from stored fat since you’re not feeding it carbs. While that is partially true, it’s not entirely accurate. For one, the fat and carbohydrates the body uses are from the bloodstream and muscles stores, not fat from fat cells. You’d also be forgetting about all the awful side effects from being hungry. If you go for a run or hit the treadmill on an empty stomach, you’re going to feel fatigued, you may have a headache, and you may feel nauseous. Therefore, you won’t push as hard during your workout, you may stop early, and you won’t burn as many calories.
Rather than suffering from hunger and doing an ineffective workout, fuel your body with a light meal or snack about 90 minutes before exercising. This could be a fruit or green smoothie, cheese, and an apple, yogurt, and granola, or even a banana, nut butter, and cinnamon. Keep it around 150 to 250 calories, not too fatty, and high-carb so you’re revved up rather than weighed down. This way, you’ll be able to give you work out all you got, and you’ll lose weight doing it while still feeling great!
Myth: Always burning fat during cardio workouts to lose weight is safe and effective.
Fact: It is important to have recovery days to keep your body healthy.
You often hear about people working out daily and not losing weight. This is because they don’t give their body time to recover. If you are constantly working your body to fatigue, it causes stress and triggers cortisol levels to increase, which then leads to weight gain. In addition, you’re more prone to hurting yourself when you exercise the same muscle groups frequently, and you could even develop a serious injury in the future that would result in an expensive and unpleasant surgery. Instead, only do high-intensity training every couple days, and incorporate moderate- and low-intensity exercise into your weekly routine, so you continue to stay active, as you keep your body safe.
Another component to be aware of is planning time for relaxation. Whether that’s taking a power nap or bath, practicing meditation, or self-massaging the body, including relaxation to your routine, is just as important as exercise. It will help with muscle recovery, revitalize your energy and it will make it easier to get back into high-intensity training. There are reasons why so many yogis are slim, and managing stress is one of them!
Myth: Always split up cardio and strength.
Fact: Try doing 20 minutes of cardio between strength training.
Some people like to split up cardio and strength, and that’s totally fine! If you want to go for a run in nature one day, and then go to the gym and lift weights the next, that’s a great workout schedule. However, it’s also effective to combine both together if that’s what you feel like doing. You might be wondering how exactly to do that though if you’ve separated them up until now.
As I mentioned earlier, you can lift weights while moving your body, such as with the kettlebell exercise I talked about in fact #1. There is also yoga sculpt classes that combine yoga, cardio, and the lifting of small weights, which has become popular in the past few years. That’s not the only way to mix cardio and muscle training together though.
One study found that participants who cycled for 20 minutes between their weight-lifting exercises had a greater metabolic impact post-workout than participants who did cardio before or after lifting weights. So if you want to do both on the same day while keeping them separate, put cardio in the middle of the workout. Many people start off on the treadmill as a warm-up, but it is more effective for calorie burning to make it an active rest between your weight-lifting. If you have believed this myth up until now, I highly recommend trying out a cardio-resistance fusion workout, for it may be something you enjoy!
Start Doing Cardio Right!
Get a good night’s sleep, eat that pre-workout snack in the morning and do your cardio workout of choice! Now that you know the truth about these cardio myths, you have the knowledge to make your weight loss go much smoother. Just remember to stay disciplined, mix up that cardio with muscle training, and indulge in relaxation and active rest days. You got this, and you’re soon going to see big changes, not just in your body, but your enjoyment for cardio, and your ability to give it your all!