2

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Is cardio necessary for fat loss?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created January 13, 2013 at 6:53 PM

I really hate cardio -- is it necessary for fat loss? How often do you guys do cardio?

I do lift heavy full body (heavy for me that is) at least 3x week (sun tues thurs)

THen I do a semi HIIT treadmill thingy 2x week (mon and fri) --1 hr long Hitt is about 20-30 mins of that 1 hour other time is walking

I teach 45 min spin 2 x a week (wed sat) --which will be going down to 1x a week shortly.

Should I lift more?

028e70a250f38bd61fa81b0e0789bb6e

(812)

on January 15, 2013
at 02:35 AM

Raydawg, Walking/hiking is fine especially in outdoors. Just don't hit the treadmill too much.

Medium avatar

(2417)

on January 15, 2013
at 12:24 AM

Me too raydawg. Goes with all joints. Heavy makes joints stronger, high rep sets wears them out. My shoulder rotators for instance get pain free with heavy weights pull-ups for 1-2-3 ladders. High rep pull-ups hurt them. Heavy pack and slow controlled contractions make my knees stronger too.

96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19463)

on January 14, 2013
at 11:39 AM

I actually find that doing heavier workouts on knees is better for my knees - that is heavier resistance, more weight, etc. If I don't, I tend to have issues.

96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19463)

on January 14, 2013
at 11:37 AM

Wouldn't LISS count as chronic cardio and therefore dangerous to heart rate variability?

Medium avatar

(2417)

on January 14, 2013
at 06:30 AM

Lol, I meant sprints in general don't do it for me.....with a pack is ASKING for knee problems.

028e70a250f38bd61fa81b0e0789bb6e

(812)

on January 14, 2013
at 01:33 AM

However, imo we should avoid HISS. Fatigue is an enemy to fat loss.

68294383ced9a0eafc16133aa80d1905

(5795)

on January 13, 2013
at 11:53 PM

Sprints with a pack is almost impossible. I do think incline sprints can be beneficial. As you said though, anything involving weight and incline is great.

Medium avatar

(2417)

on January 13, 2013
at 11:51 PM

I find 130-140 BPM medium heart rate with slow, steady, controlled contractions with the legs so the pack and your body glide up the mountains instead of bouncing not only burns the most fat, but preserves the knees, and creates a zen fluidity. A loaded pack is key to the fat loss. Sprints don't do it for me.

68294383ced9a0eafc16133aa80d1905

(5795)

on January 13, 2013
at 11:44 PM

Agreed. If your knees can handle it, incline sprints up a hill or even on a treadmill are awesome. Throw on a weighted vest and sprint the steps at a football stadium or something. HIIT, but combined with the incline work as well.

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on January 13, 2013
at 11:00 PM

Having a proper diet is still important too, though, so never neglect that.

7a6529ea25b655132fe58d793f95547a

(2040)

on January 13, 2013
at 08:32 PM

You could say that I guess. I don't walk very fast and use it more as a way to relax so I don't see it as a form of cardio like jogging or cycling etc.

Adb249ff0b1447d86ed308d0265e2b86

(571)

on January 13, 2013
at 07:49 PM

Isn't all that walking cardio? I don't do any cardio, VLC took me down to 8% body fat and I had to add carbs because I got too thin. I just train with weights and rarely walk at all!

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13 Answers

4
1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

on January 13, 2013
at 10:57 PM

Cardio is not necessary for fat loss, but it will accelerate your results, and make you a healthier person.

You can either go the HIIT (high intensity interval training) route or the LISS (low intensity steady state) route....or both. Here is a run-down of the pros and cons of each.

LISS

  • not glycolytic, so ideal for those following VLC diets
  • relies on fat for energy
  • has a small metabolic affect, so you only burn fat during the activity, not after.
  • has a small metabolic affect because muscles are not being forcefully contracted and lactic acid is not building up rapidly. THus, HGH response is less than that from HIIT and the muscular insulin sensitizing affect is much smaller, so you don't get the body recomp-affects that way either.
  • low impact... but repetitive, which can cause gradual wear and tear on the muscles (mainly if you're jogging, walking is fine)

**HIIT

  • strong metabolic affect through intense muscle contraction and lactic acid production, which results in increased muscular insulin sensitivity and improved body composition
  • the improved body composition allows you to more effectively burn energy when not actively exercising, as muscles are very metabolically active tissue
  • higher impact, but much shorter duration, so as long as you are properly warmed up, the long term risk of injury is lower. Muscle strains aren't as bad as stress fractures anyways, as they heal in a matter of weeks.
  • glycolyic- which means dependent on glucose for energy becuase fat cannot be converted into energy quickly enough to fuel the activity. My opinion here is that because of its nature as being glucose dependent, it is much harder to recover from and/or do consistently on a ketogenic diet. However, if you are eating a very high protein, low*ER* carb diet, then I think it is possible.

That's just off the top of my head, but in all honestly I think doing both is ideal.

IT depends what your priorities are, but if you are really dedicated and want your body function like a well-oiled machine, I recommend keeping G-flux high (energy burned and energy consumed), rather than having a low G-flux (low energy output and low energy input). Having a low g-flux to lose weight means you have to restrict calories more, which means you suffer adverse hormonal affects (leptin and testosterone, most notably) and run the risk of malnutrition. Additionally, since you aren't as active, you won't have as nice of a body composition and you will generally carry more fat mass and less muscle, though, since you're in a deficit, you will still lose weight....may not look good naked though.

As you can see, I recommend both, and personally I do both- either LISS or HIIT daily. However, I don't consider LISS "cardio", more active recovery or just enjoying nature (walking, hiking, or swimming). For LISS I do at least an hour, and for HIIT I typically do 10-15 sprints with active recovery ("jogging"). Though, I also lift to failure, so that's knid of HIIT too.

IF you are not too pressed for time, I think the best way to get lean and strong fast is to lift with a HIGH frequency, and walk/hike for 2+ hours per day. Weight training can be your HIIT. It doesn't have to be sprinting.

028e70a250f38bd61fa81b0e0789bb6e

(812)

on January 14, 2013
at 01:33 AM

However, imo we should avoid HISS. Fatigue is an enemy to fat loss.

96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19463)

on January 14, 2013
at 11:37 AM

Wouldn't LISS count as chronic cardio and therefore dangerous to heart rate variability?

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on January 13, 2013
at 11:00 PM

Having a proper diet is still important too, though, so never neglect that.

028e70a250f38bd61fa81b0e0789bb6e

(812)

on January 15, 2013
at 02:35 AM

Raydawg, Walking/hiking is fine especially in outdoors. Just don't hit the treadmill too much.

2
Medium avatar

on January 13, 2013
at 11:41 PM

If you want to get down below 10% bodyfat, it helps. Doing long walks at the end of your fasts helps. But if I'm gonna bother my muscles with HIIT, I feel I may as well do a heavy lifting session.

Honestly the thing that melts fat off of my waist better than anything else is carrying a loaded pack up thousands of vertical feet all day for a few days in the mountains.

68294383ced9a0eafc16133aa80d1905

(5795)

on January 13, 2013
at 11:53 PM

Sprints with a pack is almost impossible. I do think incline sprints can be beneficial. As you said though, anything involving weight and incline is great.

96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19463)

on January 14, 2013
at 11:39 AM

I actually find that doing heavier workouts on knees is better for my knees - that is heavier resistance, more weight, etc. If I don't, I tend to have issues.

68294383ced9a0eafc16133aa80d1905

(5795)

on January 13, 2013
at 11:44 PM

Agreed. If your knees can handle it, incline sprints up a hill or even on a treadmill are awesome. Throw on a weighted vest and sprint the steps at a football stadium or something. HIIT, but combined with the incline work as well.

Medium avatar

(2417)

on January 14, 2013
at 06:30 AM

Lol, I meant sprints in general don't do it for me.....with a pack is ASKING for knee problems.

Medium avatar

(2417)

on January 13, 2013
at 11:51 PM

I find 130-140 BPM medium heart rate with slow, steady, controlled contractions with the legs so the pack and your body glide up the mountains instead of bouncing not only burns the most fat, but preserves the knees, and creates a zen fluidity. A loaded pack is key to the fat loss. Sprints don't do it for me.

Medium avatar

(2417)

on January 15, 2013
at 12:24 AM

Me too raydawg. Goes with all joints. Heavy makes joints stronger, high rep sets wears them out. My shoulder rotators for instance get pain free with heavy weights pull-ups for 1-2-3 ladders. High rep pull-ups hurt them. Heavy pack and slow controlled contractions make my knees stronger too.

2
Eedf46c82d0356d1d46dda5f9782ef36

(4464)

on January 13, 2013
at 07:32 PM

I never "do cardio".

2
7a6529ea25b655132fe58d793f95547a

(2040)

on January 13, 2013
at 07:01 PM

I did cardio for about five or six years trying to get healthy and lose weight. I don't do it anymore, I lift weights 2-3x a week and try to walk everyday for at least a half hour, this seems to keep weight in check better than cardio ever did.

http://vimeo.com/54864015

7a6529ea25b655132fe58d793f95547a

(2040)

on January 13, 2013
at 08:32 PM

You could say that I guess. I don't walk very fast and use it more as a way to relax so I don't see it as a form of cardio like jogging or cycling etc.

Adb249ff0b1447d86ed308d0265e2b86

(571)

on January 13, 2013
at 07:49 PM

Isn't all that walking cardio? I don't do any cardio, VLC took me down to 8% body fat and I had to add carbs because I got too thin. I just train with weights and rarely walk at all!

1
Cf416725f639ffd1bb90764792ce7b8a

(2799)

on January 13, 2013
at 11:28 PM

You don't need cardio. If you don't lift weights you'll lose muscle along with the fat though.

1
9f54852ea376e8e416356f547611e052

(2957)

on January 13, 2013
at 10:43 PM

I've lost 25kg without doing any cardio. My exercise is lifting weights three times a week. Diet is most important factor, though.

1
4303a65967884e68bfae59817c227351

(1881)

on January 13, 2013
at 07:43 PM

On a treadmill or eliptical or whatever? Never. Lift some stuff, a few sprints, body weight exercises, hike, golf, frisbee, play around and have fun!! But actually logging hours of "cardio." Never catch me doing that.

1
Cb9a270955e2c277a02c4a4b5dad10b5

(10989)

on January 13, 2013
at 07:39 PM

Yes, I do HIIT 3 days a week.

0
Bfd70bb38267fcc2d762063d691fa226

(723)

on January 14, 2013
at 04:49 AM

While it may not be NECESSARY, cardio does help you lose fat. In my experience, I lost about 30 pounds doing 45 minutes of hills on the elliptical, 5-6 times per week. However, I also noticed a loss of some of my muscle mass from the "chronic cardio." So, yes, I did lose weight. However, my body composition did not really improve. I became skinny-fat. Later, I did shorter interval runs (between 12 and 30 minutes) on the treadmill. This helped me lose even more bodyfat while preserving muscle I had built through doing kettlebell squats. Also, Like Foreveryoung commented, I began experiencing more cravings once i started the intervals since I was VLC. After adding moderate (around 100g per day) starches (sweet potatoes, chestnuts, or bananas), my performance and recovery improved. I still lost weight then even after adding the safe starches.

0
33ff1847bdaeceabe95f0735c3c40694

on January 13, 2013
at 11:56 PM

No, cardio is not necessary for fat loss. Diet contributes to about 80% of fat loss and body re composition. Your workout schedule is also more than enough to help cause and initiate fat loss without increasing cortisol, blood sugar, hunger and in turn, halting fat loss. I would say play with your macro ratios if you want to give yourself that extra edge. Namely, lower your intake of starchy carbs (fruit and tubers) and increase the amount of protein, vegetables and fat =).

0
089dd41b18fbb95ebb5347cded708d98

(5635)

on January 13, 2013
at 11:38 PM

i used to be a runner and swimmer, but i've been sick for a few years now so i haven't been able to do either one. i loved doing them and would like to get back to it when i'm better. definitely not at the level i was doing, but just for fun.

0
68294383ced9a0eafc16133aa80d1905

(5795)

on January 13, 2013
at 11:37 PM

How extreme? I've been to as low as maybe 9%. It wasn't that difficult to get to if you really pay attention to what you're doing and have both a training and diet plan. I can't imagine trying to get much lower, let alone the 2-4% range. That's crazy. To get any lower than I'd say 6 or 7%, cardio is a must. It just is. There's a reason that bodybuilders will add in excess cardio near the end of a dieting phase to reach these levels. They are completely unnatural and therefore, take unnatural measures to achieve.

0
2e777bbcd49262eb31a24f821abec6bc

(1974)

on January 13, 2013
at 10:13 PM

I run 30-60 minutes a day. It keeps my energy levels up and I maintain my weight effortlessly.

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