Several new studies show that long and boring cardio workouts actually sabotage your body’s natural ability to burn ugly belly fat. Crazy right? Think about it…if you’re fed up and tired of not getting the results you want from your current workout, then keep reading. This cutting-edge research is going to change your life!
For years we have been led to believe that to lose fat you need to do cardio. The more the better, in fact. We have all seen that chart on our favorite cardio machine that reads: Fat Burning Zone. This is old science, taken out of context. What it should really say is this: By doing this you are teaching your body to store fat.
When you spend 30, 40 or even 60 minutes pounding away on a treadmill, you send your body a powerful signal to start storing fat instead of burning it. This is because when you do cardio, your body reacts to the stress by suppressing a very important hormone that is produced by the thyroid to burn fat. When this hormone, called T3, is suppressed, your body starts gaining and storing fat immediately. Now why would our bodies go and do something annoying like that? It’s because the body needs fat to function, and its automatic response to stress is fat storage for survival.
According to a study in the European Journal of Applied Physiology: People who performed intense cardio suffered from decreased T3 hormone production. But that’s not all… Doing the same intensity aerobic conditioning, or cardio, will make your body more efficient at burning calories at that pace. Your body adapts and becomes smarter in how it uses its fuel. If your goal is to burn fat, you definitely don’t want your body to become more efficient. Less efficient equals more fuel used/calories burned.
Doing cardio also puts massive amounts of stress on your body.
- It puts continuous jolting stress on your joints
- It causes scarring of the heart tissue which can lead to a heart attack
- It causes your body to release high levels of cortisol. High levels ofcortisol have been linked to heart disease, cancer and visceral belly fat. (That is the really bad, organ-choking kind of fat)
One study even suggests that if you jump out of bed every morning at the same time to go for a run, your body knows what to expect and begins to stress out, releasing cortisol and hanging onto fat, before you even start your run. Super rude!
If that weren’t enough…cardio increases your appetite.
This is a physical as well as an emotional response. Your body craves it, and you believe you earned it…which isn’t true. In fact, most folks end up eating an average of 100 calories more than they just burned off.
Perhaps worst of all, after 20 to 30 minutes, most classic, steady-state cardiovascular exercise begins to chew up your precious, calorie-burning muscle. Shocking to realize that something you believed was the ultimate weight-loss tool ends up being the ultimate weight-gain tool, because the moment you chew up that muscle, you are in a metabolic free fall. Muscle is active tissue that burns 6 calories/per lb per day. Fat, on the other hand, burns only 2 calories/per lb per day.
Muscle loss equals a slowed metabolism and fat storing. After the age of 20, the average person loses one-half to seven-tenths of a pound of muscle a year anyway. That’s 5 to 7 pounds a decade. The news is even worse for women. As we approach menopause, the rate at which we lose muscle doubles, which is why so many women begin to gain weight right around that time of life.
Just in case you need one more reason to stop doing cardio, consider this:
A recent study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that cardio causes immense oxidative damage and a flood of free radicals to the body.
Free radicals are molecules that cause rapid aging in your body. During your “healthy” cardio routine your body is filled with free radicals which cause damage to your organs, damage your skin and not only make you look older but actually do make you get older faster!
So if you’re interested in losing weight you you should cut back on classic cardiovascular exercise. Throw out your treadmill, or better yet, give it to someone you don’t like since cardio just doesn’t work if your goal is long-term weight loss.
Now you need to know what you should be doing. . . . Don’t jog–sprint! Train with weights. Do intervals, or better yet, high intensity interval training!
If you want to lose fat you need to increase your metabolism by lifting weights and signal your body to burn fat with short high intensity bursts or sprints.
Not only will you save your joints, protect your heart, look younger and feel better, you will do it in half the time!!
Dana Fullington is a certified personal trainer, nutrition and fitnesscoach. She offers personal training and small group training through Small Group Fit Club.
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