Your Metabolism on Cardio

Finding my email exchanges with clients, family and friends to be great sources for postings. Below I share my thoughts on weight loss plateaus on a high volume steady state running program, and low caloric intake.
Has your weight loss stalled despite a disciplined low calorie eating, and frequent training?  When attempting to lose weight, it helps to have a goal in mind with a deadline. Just like training, fat loss nutrition should be planned and structured. Cutting calories systematically can be an effective fat loss tool to a point. Scheduling refeeds, cheat days, and a return to baseline intake is important for sustaining muscle mass, and preventing your metabolism from crashing.
If you are not taking a multivitamin and fish oil supplement, you should. Its the first thing I recommend anyone change with nutrition. Getting more nutrients from vitamins, and consuming fish oil, naturally elevates your metabolism, and improves the way you use carbs for fuel, instead of fat storage.
In terms of your training, running is not a great way to lose fat. If you run for the love of running, keep it up, but if you have chosen it as a way to fat loss, you could be training more efficiently. The best fat loss plans involve 3-4 days of progressively heavy strength training, combined with 2-3 days of high intensity interval sprint  cardio. Steady state aerobic training would only be used on a 6 or 7th day of recovery training. If you are passionate about running, I suggest less steady state long runs, and more speed work, with a focus on strength training. The stronger you are, the faster you ll run. Longer runs are only building tolerance and aerobic capacity for the distance you are trying to complete. You probably have a base for this already.
Remember, as you become more efficient at running your desired distance, you burn fewer calories to complete it. Running only burns calories while you are doing it , versus intervals and strength training which we are finding have a measurable after burn, and metabolism boosting effect for hours after. Below is a great video interview with John Berardi, Sports Nutritionists, from Precision Nutrition. John discusses the best methods for fat loss, and myths associated with age and metabolism. My favorite fact in the video is the need for runners to run an additional 100 miles every year to burn the same amount of calories they did the previous year of training. Its an unsustainable approach to fat loss. Check it out!

Cardio vs Resistance Training for Fat Loss

Theres a common misconception that cardio is a more effective fat loss tool than resistance training. This could not be further from the truth. The jogging boom of the 80s and a misinformed media would lead you to believe you need to work your "fat burning zone" to lose fat. Not to mention when you walk into your local health club there are more cardio machines than free weights. Unfortunately, those machines are there because that is what you are looking for when you buy your membership. Next time you are doing cardio, take a break from the magazine or television program you are viewing and look at the gym floor. Who looks better, the people doing cardio, or the people doing resistance exercises? I know that's a very anecdotal example, so let me elaborate with science based facts.

The hierarchy of fat loss is DIET, resistance training, high intensity interval training, and then cardio. All the training in the world will not get you to your goals if you don't have a sound diet. But lets talk about resistance training. Science has proven a significant metabolic increase for up to 48 hours after resistance workouts. Conversely, typical steady state cardio routines show no post workout energy consumption. Once you step off that treadmill, the caloric burn stops, and while you are on the treadmill you could be eating your metabolically active muscle tissue and decreasing your metabolism. After a resistance workout, your body works to repair the muscle tissue your broke down, burns calories to build it up, and requires even more calories to sustain your new lean mass! You have just increased your metabolism and are burning calories while you are at rest. So get your diet in check, add three full body resistance routines to your week and forget about cardio.

Check out my blog on Compound, Multi-muscle Calorie Burners and Tapping into Your Muscle Mass for more info on full body resistance training information. Alywn Cosgrove, THE fatloss guru, recently wrote a great follow up post to the Men's Health post The New Science of Fatloss on the myths of cardio training, how they originated, and why they are perpetuated. Check it out!