So the conventional wisdom goes a little like this:
You to want burn fat you do cardio. You want to gain muscle you do weights. Seems a fair conclusion, right? Except it is not right, it’s not right at all. Please be assured this is not an anti-cardio rant, but an attempt to address the hugely popular misconception that cardio exercise is the principle key in exercise related weight loss. Or conversely weight training is all about bodybuilding.
Let’s ask ourselves where we get the most ‘bang for your buck’ while training for fat loss.
A good cardio session will burn between 500-800 calories, not bad at all when trying to lose weight. Since you must burn off 3500 calories in order to lose one pound/2.2kg of body fat, if you do enough of these cardio sessions, and make sure you’re not eating these calories back, weight loss will take place.
But, keep in mind here again that you are going to have to keep doing those long cardio sessions. Time will likely become a big factor with this one, as well as boredom could start to play a role eventually as well. Its also worth considering what it is you are actually burning during a long cardio session because it’s not just fat it’s lean muscle issue as well, which in reality is just what you should be aiming to retain.
So why might weight training have the edge in fat loss?
Studies have demonstrated that after a weight training workout, the metabolism can be boosted for up to 36 hours post-workout, meaning rather than burning say 60 calories an hour while sitting and watching TV, you’re burning 70. While you may think, ‘Big deal – 10 extra calories’, when you multiply this by 36 hours, you can see what a huge difference that makes in your daily calorie expenditure over that day and a half.
Here’s something worth remembering if you want to burn fat
Every pound of lean muscle your body holds will burn 50 calories in 24 hours even at rest just to sustain itself. And that’s without having to do anything!
So carry 5 pounds of lean muscle and that’s 250 calories gone right there and then. Do the multiples and you get the idea, I hope.
Age related muscle loss (Sacropenia)
People who are physically inactive can lose as much as 3% to 5% of their muscle mass per decade after the age of 30. Even if you active you will still experience muscle loss.
So the paradox is you can be fit and losing weight but still be getting weaker.
Your heart and lungs are doing just fine and you are pretty skinny, yet posture is not great and the reason you now have constant aching in your neck and back isn’t because you have tight muscles, it’s because they have become so weak they can no longer support the structures around them.