Cardio Vs Dieting for fat loss, which is better??! It’s the one thing most gym goers can agree on.... We don’t like cardio! Nor do we like Dieting! Most people (bar a few crazy people) dislike doing cardio (myself included), mainly due to its monotonous and time consuming nature. So is it actually necessary when the goal is fat loss or should we concentrate on diet, and are there ways to break the boredom?!
First things first, cardio vascular exercise is one of the best things you can possible do for your general health, along with not smoking and having a healthy diet. On that basis alone, cardio should be included in your fitness regime. It’s good for the heart, increases blood flow to the brain and other organs, helps to clear the body of toxins so is excellent for general health.
Most people however don’t do cardio for this reason and they use it solely as a fat
loss solution. That is because as the name suggests, cardio vascular exercising, increases your heart rate, depletes glycogen stores in the body thus it increases your metabolism and burns more calories. This can mean that you end up actually burning more calories in the day than you consume from your diet, and so the body makes up that deficit in calories by using energy from its fat stores. This is how you ‘burn’ body fat. So then cardio is effective at creating the caloric deficit required to lose fat, there’s no doubting that.
However most people for that reason see it as the Holy Grail of fat loss, that in order to lose fat you must spend hours sweating on a treadmill in order to lose fat/weight, when in reality this simply isn’t true. In fact you can easily accomplish your fat loss goals without doing any cardio at all....
Is It Best Thing to Do For Fat Loss?
That is because the more effective way to lose fat is to control your caloric intake by having a balanced but deficit inducing diet plan. Let’s put it this way, why bother slaving tirelessly during cardio sessions, wasting time and effort on what could otherwise be put towards weight training or just some more free time in the day, burning off calories that you have eaten, when if you had eaten fewer in the first place there is simply no need to do the cardio to burn them off.
So dieting to create a caloric deficit is a much better approach. It’s as
simple as that really. The difficult part comes with actually sticking to a calorie restricted diet! This is where cardio can help out by adding to that deficit giving you some room to manoeuvre. To enjoy your diet, you need to include flexible dieting in my opinion, this is where you eat what you want as long as it fits in with your target calories or macros for the day! Check out my YouTube video on enjoying your fat loss diet here, or check out my blog on the same topic.
I believe then that a fat loss regime should always start with your diet and then cardio can be used as a tool on top of that diet, say to speed up fat loss or when excess calories have been consumed in a day. But I would never advise using cardio solely as a weight loss tool. To me it makes no logical sense.
Different Forms of Cardio
Now that we've established how cardio should be used in a fat loss regime, here now are the benefits and disadvantages of different forms of cardio...
Steady State Vs. HIIT
When I do use cardio though I tend to stay clear from steady state cardio, such as