9

votes

Have any of you found cardio to be the missing link in burning fat?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created April 29, 2012 at 12:59 AM

I understand that cardio is largely looked down upon in the PH community but I'm interested to hear from folks who have found that adding some regular cardio to your life has helped you to lean out when just eating a clean diet didn't.

I'm a big fan of Tom Venuto's advice on getting lean. I have, and highly recommend, his book "Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle." I eat Paleo most of the time and I've gone through periods of low/no fruit, no nuts, no dairy and still didn't lean out. I do heavy weight training three days a week and that hasn't burned off the last 10 pounds of fat. But, during times when I did vigorous kettlebell training and vigorous crossfit training I was leaner. In fact, once upon a time I was at 10% body fat while doing "chronic cardio" (5 days a week of 40 minutes on the stairmaster) and eating a relatively low calorie Zone Diet (with crappy foods.)

I'm an endomorph body type and found the following information from Venuto's book to be very helpful in validating my own experience:

Endomorph training and nutrition strategy
When it comes to fat loss, a well-planned, strategic approach to nutrition and training is more important for the endomorph than for any other body type. The endomorph strategy focuses on high levels of activity and extreme levels of discipline and consistency in nutritional habits. Most endomorphs also need some degree of carbohydrate restriction with higher protein levels to compensate.

Exercise is an absolute MUST
Endomorphs generally have a very difficult time losing fat with diet alone. Even a close to- perfect diet often doesn???t work by itself because the endomorph needs the boost in metabolism that comes from exercise. The endomorph must do everything in his or her power to stimulate their metabolism and this means combining good nutrition with weight training and aerobic training. To diet without exercising means certain failure for the endomorph.

Large amounts of cardio
Someone with a low endomorph component may stay lean with little or no cardio at all. Endomorphs need a larger quantity of cardio to lose body fat. Most endomorphs will lose fat with surprising ease by doing some type of cardio at least 4 ??? 5 times per week. Extreme endomorphs usually need cardio every day (seven days per week). All endomorphs will tend to gain the fat back if they stop doing cardio completely. Often, they successfully lose weight, but then put it back on if they haven???t made the commitment to continue exercising for life.

I'm interested in hearing from folks who have had success with more cardio than what Grok would have done!

E6c676dcd53d2fceffb4533ac47cefd5

on June 14, 2012
at 12:25 AM

i'd like to know his recs for the other two body types. i would also agree with mzrdnan.

3b3a449b6705e9ec8b141d0bd07c1a64

(1489)

on June 12, 2012
at 04:36 PM

that could completely explain why I was at my leanest doing 45-60mins "chronic" cardio/6days a week and since cutting back and upping strength I just seem to building muscle under fat and not leaning out ... at all...

Fc6a9e07f6056d465573c8969d3a2ddd

(370)

on April 30, 2012
at 12:17 AM

For some people, cardio *is* play.

3b3a449b6705e9ec8b141d0bd07c1a64

(1489)

on April 29, 2012
at 08:22 PM

yeah, my body type is definitely endomorph.. I build muscle easy etc etc and the time I was my leanest I was doing 45 mins cardio a day split between rower/treadmill/elliptical ... plus so weights and callisthenics...even crossfit is a type of cardio. I don't lose weight by slow paced walk. Not even close to it.

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on April 29, 2012
at 03:30 PM

at a steady pace (22-24spm) to polish off those FFAs you just sent shooting into your blood stream

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on April 29, 2012
at 03:29 PM

No there's probably not research on this. It is just my personal experience as a rower for 8 years. Rowing increases cortisol more than virtually any other exercise form- that's what happens when you condense the equivalent of 2 back to back basketball games into a six minute 2k sprint. If you are on your concept 2, I'd recommend putting the fan up to 10 and doing 1 minute at 22spm with at least a sub 1:54 500m spit for 1 minute, and then go to 28-36spm for a minute with at least a 1:45 split. Do that for 10 minutes. Then take a short breather (like 2-4 minutes) and row for another 10..

35b2cb4d450e5288895c255dfdfff35d

(5828)

on April 29, 2012
at 02:47 PM

@foreveryoung I've never heard that rowing HIIT is not good for leaning you out. Is there any research that supports your personal experience? I've got a Concept 2 rower and will keep experimenting with different types of workouts on it.

41dfb1a4fecb38d24075ff52f13ccb28

on April 29, 2012
at 12:38 PM

I don't really have anything against the rain. I have something against the constant, unrelenting, incessant cold rain with bone chilling wind that hangs around for 7-8 months straight without a break. I can't run in that. I don't even want to leave my couch in that. It's the kind of weather that would make Grok hide in a cave. And it's every day.

Bf57bcbdc19d4f1728599053acd020ab

(5043)

on April 29, 2012
at 11:47 AM

I've done similar - limited my cardio to slow running, about 20 miles a week. I now crossfit 2x a week to mix it up, and go for walks on crossfit days or the days I don't run - just because I feel the need to get outside for a while every day.

Bf57bcbdc19d4f1728599053acd020ab

(5043)

on April 29, 2012
at 11:37 AM

you should try running in the rain. It's strangely exhilarating. Plus you have the advantage of having a truly waterproof body (unless you're the wicked witch of the west, you won't melt). You think Grok only went out hunting when the sun was shining?

Fc6a9e07f6056d465573c8969d3a2ddd

(370)

on April 29, 2012
at 03:54 AM

Well said! I love running.

35b2cb4d450e5288895c255dfdfff35d

(5828)

on April 29, 2012
at 02:13 AM

+1 for "flying fig." I guess flying figs are paleo if you don't eat too many of them!

35b2cb4d450e5288895c255dfdfff35d

(5828)

on April 29, 2012
at 01:41 AM

@Mike - Interesting question you posted. Thanks.

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on April 29, 2012
at 01:28 AM

If you can do it like this I recommend getting HIIT in either first thing in the AM fasted or post workout. At each of these times glycogen will already be low so you'll burn through it quickly then be mobilizing fat for energy.

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on April 29, 2012
at 01:27 AM

if you can do it this way do HIIT either first thing in the AM/anytime fasted or post workout. Both of these times you'll burn through glycogen quickly and then be running on fat stores.

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on April 29, 2012
at 01:24 AM

Hey, I used to row lightweight crew and I think that rowing is unique in that it does not really do good a good job of leaning you out for some reason. I think it may have to do with it increasing cortisol more so than other types of exercise. Sprinting and intervals on the treadmill should do wonders. Maybe try 20 minutes of intervals/springs followed by 20 minutes of steady state. That's what seems to work best for me.

Ae8946707ddebf0f0bfbcfc63276d823

(9402)

on April 29, 2012
at 01:20 AM

I posted a peripherally related question a while back: http://paleohacks.com/questions/114616/is-this-a-reasonable-argument-in-favor-of-excessive-cardio maybe, some of the discussion there is relevant to this question.

35b2cb4d450e5288895c255dfdfff35d

(5828)

on April 29, 2012
at 01:13 AM

I did an experiment for a month of doing three days a week of HIIT rowing (on my rowing machine) while continuing my weight training. My fat didn't budge even though the HIIT was intense. I may need some steady state cardio.

26b0f1261d1a0d916825bd0deeb96a21

(5798)

on April 29, 2012
at 01:07 AM

I hope it helps. I'm just starting a cardio plan, and hour Zumba 3x per weeks, with hiking and bike riding in between. I used be very firm and thin when I danced regularly.

  • 35b2cb4d450e5288895c255dfdfff35d

    asked by

    (5828)
  • Views
    11.8K
  • Last Activity
    1426D AGO
Frontpage book

Get FREE instant access to our Paleo For Beginners Guide & 15 FREE Recipes!

12 Answers

best answer

10
78cb3c4f70de5db2adb52b6b9671894b

on April 29, 2012
at 01:15 AM

I don't really know how I feel about "body types" and prescribed exercise based on it, but...

For me, I do better with more cardio than what is considered "optimal"...I love a good long, slow/medium-paced run. It may be looked down upon in PH, but endorphins from a good run give me a rush that lifting doesn't give me. The steady pace, the music I listen to, and watching a few cars pass me as I go down the quiet roads is a peaceful feeling. I feel like during these runs, I'm more connected with my body. I get a good amount of sunshine and fresh air. I know HIIT and the short, interval-baesd intenseness gives you a "good workout". I know it's better for fat loss, so I do it, but I don't necessarily enjoy it because I feel like it's too structured/forced. I also love Zumba classes, which are about an hour long. I find it more entertaining than sprints.

When I feel good about myself and excited to workout (doing something I like), I feel more motivated to take care of myself. I feel energized, positive, and want to continue to the day/night being on a good track. It sets the stage and emotional state to do well on my meals and to continue exercising (cardio and weights).

I suppose "chronic cardio" makes me a physically happier person, and you know, I'll suffer the "consequences" that people warn about...

Fc6a9e07f6056d465573c8969d3a2ddd

(370)

on April 29, 2012
at 03:54 AM

Well said! I love running.

6
41dfb1a4fecb38d24075ff52f13ccb28

on April 29, 2012
at 02:08 AM

Thinking back, the time I remember looking and feeling my best was when I was doing half an hour on the elliptical per day, plus weights.

As it stands, I've been chomping at the bit to get back to it. The only thing that's stopping me is I can't afford a gym membership and the weather has just been too crappy (minus the 2 or 3 days in the last few weeks the sun has made an appearance) to go running on the street. I seriously need to find a substitute. Luckily we're hitting the time of year where the sun should (theoretically) show up more.

But I honestly don't give a flying fig what anyone says about "chronic cardio". My body is telling me it wants to run and run a lot, and I trust my body more than any guru.

Bf57bcbdc19d4f1728599053acd020ab

(5043)

on April 29, 2012
at 11:37 AM

you should try running in the rain. It's strangely exhilarating. Plus you have the advantage of having a truly waterproof body (unless you're the wicked witch of the west, you won't melt). You think Grok only went out hunting when the sun was shining?

35b2cb4d450e5288895c255dfdfff35d

(5828)

on April 29, 2012
at 02:13 AM

+1 for "flying fig." I guess flying figs are paleo if you don't eat too many of them!

41dfb1a4fecb38d24075ff52f13ccb28

on April 29, 2012
at 12:38 PM

I don't really have anything against the rain. I have something against the constant, unrelenting, incessant cold rain with bone chilling wind that hangs around for 7-8 months straight without a break. I can't run in that. I don't even want to leave my couch in that. It's the kind of weather that would make Grok hide in a cave. And it's every day.

3b3a449b6705e9ec8b141d0bd07c1a64

(1489)

on April 29, 2012
at 08:22 PM

yeah, my body type is definitely endomorph.. I build muscle easy etc etc and the time I was my leanest I was doing 45 mins cardio a day split between rower/treadmill/elliptical ... plus so weights and callisthenics...even crossfit is a type of cardio. I don't lose weight by slow paced walk. Not even close to it.

4
Bf57bcbdc19d4f1728599053acd020ab

(5043)

on April 29, 2012
at 11:45 AM

I think what's detrimental to health is to approach exercise as a chore. If you love cardio - long, slowish running outdoors, like Sunny Beaches and me - then do cardio. If you love lifting weights or rowing, or swinging kettlebells around, then lift or row or swing! I am almost positive that the current trend for super-intense stuff will wane and that some form of low-level cardio will come back into favor. These things - and the research done to "prove" or "disprove" them, go in cycles. For that reason I have always felt it better to mix things up, and do what I feel like doing with the aim of keeping it fun. You can do what other people say you should or you can listen to yourself and have fun. I pick fun. I think Mark Sisson would agree.

BTW - recent research has it that it's not endorphins that we get while running, because the endorphin molecule is too big to cross the blood/brain barrier. It's probably endocannibinoids, the body's very own pot-manufacturing system. Here's a link: http://addiction-dirkh.blogspot.com/2010/08/cannabis-receptors-and-runners-high.html

4
01adafcb4dd4147c6af543f61eee60a8

on April 29, 2012
at 07:04 AM

I love running and when I initially fell for the idea of chronic cardio,i stopped and gained around 8 pounds in 2 months despite lifting and having a strict paleo diet. So after research iv come to my own conclusions that chronic cardio is a myth to most,unless you do ultra marathons every week. im now back to 10% bf after re introducting my morning hourly jogs and wkend 2hr run.

3
06bf7b92d77f1ac1d8e3dc9d539d8254

on April 29, 2012
at 01:23 AM

I agree totally with the above. I absolutely adore cardio. I was a distance runner, but cut it off after learning that it is probably bad. So, I do what to me is moderate cardio.. which is about 15 miles of steady state a week. In addition I lift heavy weights and mix in hill sprints and stair running.

I think it comes down to what works for you. If you were your leanest when you were a chronic cardio kid, then that is clearly what works. I have found that I feel much more grounded and complete when I have time to hit the open road a few times a week. Steady state cardio for me is akin to meditation.. and that is good, right?

I would suggest to maintain the balance. Lift heavy, but add cardio throughout the week. It is my understanding that chronic cardio is the most damaging and problematic when it is in combined with a poor diet. Just don't eat shit and you will be fine.

Bf57bcbdc19d4f1728599053acd020ab

(5043)

on April 29, 2012
at 11:47 AM

I've done similar - limited my cardio to slow running, about 20 miles a week. I now crossfit 2x a week to mix it up, and go for walks on crossfit days or the days I don't run - just because I feel the need to get outside for a while every day.

3
1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

on April 29, 2012
at 01:07 AM

Yes. I am no fan of the anti cardio that's going on in some places. Chronic cardio is bad, yes, but cardio is good. I stick mostly to HIIT 2-4x per week and some steady state mixed in here and there as well. Cardio + lifting heavy things + paleo diet = results

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on April 29, 2012
at 01:27 AM

if you can do it this way do HIIT either first thing in the AM/anytime fasted or post workout. Both of these times you'll burn through glycogen quickly and then be running on fat stores.

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on April 29, 2012
at 01:28 AM

If you can do it like this I recommend getting HIIT in either first thing in the AM fasted or post workout. At each of these times glycogen will already be low so you'll burn through it quickly then be mobilizing fat for energy.

35b2cb4d450e5288895c255dfdfff35d

(5828)

on April 29, 2012
at 01:13 AM

I did an experiment for a month of doing three days a week of HIIT rowing (on my rowing machine) while continuing my weight training. My fat didn't budge even though the HIIT was intense. I may need some steady state cardio.

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on April 29, 2012
at 03:30 PM

at a steady pace (22-24spm) to polish off those FFAs you just sent shooting into your blood stream

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on April 29, 2012
at 01:24 AM

Hey, I used to row lightweight crew and I think that rowing is unique in that it does not really do good a good job of leaning you out for some reason. I think it may have to do with it increasing cortisol more so than other types of exercise. Sprinting and intervals on the treadmill should do wonders. Maybe try 20 minutes of intervals/springs followed by 20 minutes of steady state. That's what seems to work best for me.

35b2cb4d450e5288895c255dfdfff35d

(5828)

on April 29, 2012
at 02:47 PM

@foreveryoung I've never heard that rowing HIIT is not good for leaning you out. Is there any research that supports your personal experience? I've got a Concept 2 rower and will keep experimenting with different types of workouts on it.

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on April 29, 2012
at 03:29 PM

No there's probably not research on this. It is just my personal experience as a rower for 8 years. Rowing increases cortisol more than virtually any other exercise form- that's what happens when you condense the equivalent of 2 back to back basketball games into a six minute 2k sprint. If you are on your concept 2, I'd recommend putting the fan up to 10 and doing 1 minute at 22spm with at least a sub 1:54 500m spit for 1 minute, and then go to 28-36spm for a minute with at least a 1:45 split. Do that for 10 minutes. Then take a short breather (like 2-4 minutes) and row for another 10..

2
Fc6a9e07f6056d465573c8969d3a2ddd

(370)

on April 29, 2012
at 08:13 PM

Several other posters have eloquently described the allure and the philosophical justification for chronic cardio, so this is just a quick answer to the original question. For me:

Low-carb paleo + walking 15 mi/wk: always tired and gaining weight

Moderate carb-paleo + running 15 mi/wk: feel awesome and losing weight

1
5b5abb28f3cacf4f5a01497f2895d072

(238)

on April 29, 2012
at 09:24 AM

I think that cardio itself isn't a problem. It's the intensity which can cause issues. We should be able to keep moving for huge amounts of time at low heart rate intensities (55-70% of max heart rate is often mentioned) and this is the area of burning the highest percentage of fat. Putting up the heart rate can increase fat burning - although the next zone burns a lower percentage of fat the overall fuel load is higher evening that out. The problem is that it also burns up glycogen.

To be honest there's a better and more detailed explanation than I can manage here http://www.twrc.rowing.org.uk/coach/heartrate.htm

Personally, I've noticed big benefits of doing 30 minutes jogging 3-4 times a week and also getting in some long walks.

0
37d5f39209d102473197de2943a70904

(130)

on May 06, 2012
at 02:37 AM

For the first 50 lbs I needed little exercise - in fact I think my body did a lot of healing and repairing during that time in response to the 5-6 day a week burn-500-calories-on-the-eliptical habit that I had maintained before becoming fed-up with conventional wisdom and discovering paleo.

Lately, weight loss has slowed down (about 4 months in). I have more to lose (though would be perfectly happy to just maintain this weight). I have begun upping my exercise again to 3-4 times a week, focusing on intensity over duration. It seems to be helping with the plateau. It is certainly a lot easier to do now also as I am exercising smarter and have more energy to do so.

0
Ccacf7567273244733bc991af4ac42ed

on April 29, 2012
at 09:49 PM

Vigorous kettlebell training is going to be a lot more intense than typical weight-lifting and isn't really chronic cardio. In fact 40 minutes on a stairmaster isn't chronic cardio, it's a (really boring) walk uphill. Grok would've been on the move every day. We generally don't have that luxury, so you want to avoid trying to compress it into hours of pushing yourself at a medium intensity to make up for it. But 40 minutes is a good length of time, and if you can keep some variety and whole body involvement then pushing your cardio boundaries should be a big step in your overall balance - and hopefully should suppress hunger. If you're trying to lose weight then you pretty much never do enough exercise to justify eating more.

0
Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32564)

on April 29, 2012
at 02:30 PM

Ramping up my walking last summer help me get down to 20% body fat. I was walking/gentle hiking an average of 2 hours a day. This winter I went down to an average of 1 hour a day and my body fat increased to about 23%.

Definitely not the 70% MHR I used to do on the stairmaster for 45 min, 6 days a week, but seems to be equally effective & easier on my knees.

0
1a98a40ba8ffdc5aa28d1324d01c6c9f

(20378)

on April 29, 2012
at 03:40 AM

Keep your cardio to 3x weeks. Do interval cardio where you alternate the intensity of your cardio. Keep your workouts under 45 minutes. Have one or two active rest days each week.

You can sub a long(ish) medium paced run once a week and also sub a sprint workout once a week. Other than that lift weights or do body weight exercises. Walk, hike and play all you want.

Fc6a9e07f6056d465573c8969d3a2ddd

(370)

on April 30, 2012
at 12:17 AM

For some people, cardio *is* play.

Answer Question


Get FREE instant access to our
Paleo For Beginners Guide & 15 FREE Recipes!