Many Years ago I believed that the best way to shed fat was to eat very little and do many hours of aerobic exercise. Boy was I way, way off! Since then I have learned and seen through my clients that killing yourself with aerobics will eventually backfire and lead to burnout, muscle loss, and a slower metabolism. Let me explain:
First off I do a couple of hours of cardio most week, some treadmill, elliptical, bike or some outdoor activity when it’s warm. Sometimes I do my weight training with very little rest so it can be considered a cardio session. Cardiovascular exercise is an essential part of a complete fitness program and should not be be omitted. It works your most important muscles, burns fat, relieves stress and releases our bodies natural painkillers (endorphins). In moderation it will help you build that precious muscle by allowing your body to build new capillary’s which will feed those muscles and help them to grow. I recommend that my clients do a total of 3-4 sessions each week of cardio if you’re trying to lose body fat. Each session should be at least 30-45 minutes, but no more.
What happens if you do too much cardio? Well, how much is too much? I believe that 60 minutes and more per day should only be done for a few weeks at a time, maybe before a vacation or contest etc. Your body has limited reserves and resources for rebuilding and maintaining a healthy state in the body. If you want to be firm you all know you must lift weights and it must be consistently. If your body must recover from many weight sessions per week and try to build muscles, then excess cardio will tax your immune and adrenal systems and something eventually has to give. Either you fall prey to a cold or flu. have a strain or injury, feel tired all the time, stop making strength gains, and maybe get weaker, but you will never be able to build of maintain your muscle (your metabolism) if you’re pushing your bodies reserves this far.
This is where your diet comes into play. If you eat clean all week except for 1 or maybe 2 cheat meals then you will not need to further stress your bodies reserves to shed the fat, it will come off quickly. I have seen it time and time again with myself and others.
Eat a clean low fat, low sugar, high fiber, moderate protein and nutrient dense diet each day. Eat frequent small meals (4-5 meals a day), do not stuff yourself but satisfy. Do weight training 2-4 times per week with cardiovascular 2-4 hours weekly. Don’t always use the same machine and do interval training when you have the energy (I have found it burns fat the fastest). IF you don’t put junk in, you won’t have to burn it off and use up your precious reserves. Those reserves can be used to build muscle, maintain that muscle and keep your immune system running smooth, and we all need that!