TOPIC: What Type Of Cardio Program Should You Follow To Get The Most From The Time And Energy You Put Into It?
The Question: If you are looking to lose fat, you know you have to have a great weight training, nutrition, and supplement program to get the fastest results. You also know you will have to do cardio. Yes, I know... it sucks. So what type of cardio program should you follow to get the most from the time and energy you put into it?
Should you follow a high, medium, or low intensity cardio program? Should you do cardio everyday? If not, how often? How long should your cardio session be? Should you try to hit a certain heart rate? What kind of cardio should you do to prevent muscle loss?
Tell us about the perfect cardio program for fast fat loss. Summer (bathing suit season) is coming quick! Help!
Bonus Question: How can you make cardio more fun? What type of programs can you follow to keep it interesting while getting great results?
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1st Place - UliqMadiq
How To Give Your Cardio A Double Edge
Cardio - Who Needs It?
- If you look at losing bodyfat from a mathematical point of view, it's easy to see that the bulk of your caloric balance has to come from your diet. Ergo, the bulk of your caloric deficit will rest with your diet.
So of course even if you sweated yourself out doing cardio, you'd be hard pressed to lose a good amount of weight if you ate more than you burned.
Logically, that all works out. On the other hand, I don't think anyone should underestimate the power of cardio in accelerating fat loss, especially when you consider that it can be made to work in more than just one simple way.
A Double-Edged Sword
Cardio Has A Sort Of Two-Pronged Benefit: One, obviously it increases your caloric deficit, because your burning cals when you run, walk, bike, or what have you.
Two, it regulates your diet. The science isn't conclusive (I.E: No studies pinpoint the exact reason why it may do so, but they do observe the phenomenon just the same) but cardiovascular exercise appears to have a limiting effect on appetite.
Without any other changes made at all, that twenty minute sacrifice could affect how you eat the rest of the day, steering you away from those tempting foods that spell "junk" in flashing neon.
There is also the all-important mental side: sweating yourself crazy on your cardio trail establishes a sort of "Why waste that hard work by eating crap?" rationale that keeps you eating cleaner and lower on the calories.
Additionally, weight loss without cardio will primarily result in the loss of visceral rather than the bulk of your subcutaneous fat, if you are a woman, and vice versa if you are a man. This means that for a female the fat clumped around your organs will melt, but the fat sitting under your skin, around the buttocks and thighs where you really want to lose the fat, will take a much longer time to get out there.
With men, the visceral fat about the abdominals will take longer to lose without cardio. Cardiovascular exercise thus mobilizes that most stubborn layer of all to help get rid you of it quicker.
In short, anybody looking to lose fat cannot afford to ignore cardio but instead needs to committedly do both - watch his or her diet and hit the cardiovascular exercise hard - because one is contingent upon the other.
A Specific Double-Edged Sword
With the idea in mind that the overall armory of cardio can attack fat from two distinct angles, when choosing what specific weapon we use to slay that flab, why not also pick a type of cardio that works in more than one way too?
Before I expand on this personal trump card of cutting, remember that any type of cardio will help in some way for fat loss.
All the most popular methods - low intensity, high intensity, high intensity interval training (HIIT), walking on an incline, and everything else you can read in the typical cover story of a fitness magazine off the shelves - will work, but they won't necessarily work the best.
There are some obvious problems with each kind, not to mention they each contradict one another in a lot of ways. While low-intensity cardio may be too slow-going to burn enough calories in a reasonable time frame, high-intensity cardio may be very vigorous resulting in catabolism or muscle loss.
While HIIT may be too harsh to perform the first thing in the morning when fat loss is optimal and could cause catabolism without pre-workout nourishment, sports cardio may be too arbitrary for a lot of people who would like to know exactly what sort of deficit they are creating.
The solution is to try and glean the benefits of each of these types of cardio, and strip away the minus points.
Therefore, I Recommend:
An overall moderate intensity interval training program with small book-ending high-intensity spurts done the first thing in the morning, structured as follows.
The graph uses a 1-10 scale for intensity, where 1 is a very light walk, 5 is where you are breaking a sweat and 10 is where you feel you absolutely have to stop that instant or you will throw up. This can be done on any type of cardiovascular exercise machine, so long as you feel you can achieve all the intensity levels from 1-10 on it.
Some of the minutes are marked with comments so that you get a rough idea what each number is supposed to mean.
Minute 1: Intensity Level 2 (warm-up)
Minute 2: Intensity Level 3
Minute 3: Intensity Level 4
Minute 4: Intensity Level 5 (you should start feeling it now)
Minute 5: Intensity Level 6
Minute 6: Intensity Level 7
Minute 7: Intensity Level 8 (you should be pushing extremely hard)
Minute 8: Intensity Level 9 (you should be struggling to keep up)
Minute 9: Intensity Level 5
Minute 10: Intensity Level 5
Minute 11: Intensity Level 6
Minute 12: Intensity Level 6
Minute 13: Intensity Level 7
Minute 14: Intensity Level 7
Minute 15: Intensity Level 8
Minute 16: Intensity Level 8
Minute 17: Intensity Level 5
Minute 18: Intensity Level 5
Minute 19: Intensity Level 6
Minute 20: Intensity Level 6
Minute 21: Intensity Level 7
Minute 22: Intensity Level 7
Minute 23: Intensity Level 8
Minute 24: Intensity Level 8
Minute 25: Intensity Level 5
Minute 26: Intensity Level 6
Minute 27: Intensity Level 7
Minute 28: Intensity Level 8
Minute 29: Intensity Level 9 (you should be struggling again)
Minute 30: Intensity Level 5
Minute 31: Intensity Level 5
Minute 32: Intensity Level 4 (cool-down)
Minute 33: Intensity Level 4
Minute 34: Intensity Level 3
Minute 35: Intensity Level 2
This may be hard to remember at first, but the concept is simple once you get used to it: rise up slowly at first one minute at a time right up to the top of your intensity potential, then run two moderate intensity cycles, then cool down.
The high intensity spurts are solely at the beginning and end for a simple reason. Cortisol release is a factor in cardiovascular training, and is directly proportional to the intensity or degree of stress. Thus continuous high intensity training will typically send cortisol levels skyrocketing, which will primarily eat up muscle tissue rather than fat.
Ergo the first burst of high intensity training is built up to right at the beginning after the warm-up, and the last one right at the end before the cool-down, with the portion in between including enough moderate intensity work separating the two to prevent excess cortisol release in a steady stream.
At the same time, the high-intensity spurts take advantage of the fact that they hold the most fat burning potential as compared to lower intensity training. The set-up is as close as it gets to providing the best of both worlds: optimal fat burning without the usually inevitable muscle loss.
- The workout is done the first thing in the morning. Studies show that the cardiovascular work done on a fasted stomach as the first thing in the morning can burn up to 300% the amount of calories used by the same span of time of cardiovascular exercise done later in the day, after a few meals have been consumed. Glycogen levels are low in a fasted state, and so the body will burn body fat - not carbs that have been eaten - for fuel.
Nonetheless, morning cardio is a controversial issue, backed with the argument that cardiovascular exercise in a fasted state is said to release cortisol that will of course target the amino acids in muscle tissue for energy rather than fat.
However, this theory really holds water based on high-intensity exercise done at a continuous pace, when glycogen depletion will serve only to repartition nutrients the wrong way around.
If high-intensity work is coupled sparingly with mostly moderate exercise, chances of cortisol levels going through the roof are slim. You will usually hear either moderate-intensity morning cardio recommended, or high-intensity interval training recommended later in the day, with the intent of sparing muscle; this program combines the two to give the best gains of both.
- The training program is thoroughly individualized. Based on personal physical condition, one can decide what intensity level implies what speed or resistance to use during the cardio session.
- The program allows for variety, since it can be adapted to any type of cardiovascular machine that will allow intensity levels 1-10 to be brought into play. Thus rather than using the same machine day after day, giving way to the often forgettable but all-important mental fatigue that can put a halt to your progress, you can switch it up conveniently while still following the same basic, optimal form of cardio.
- The high-intensity bursts, in addition to increasing the caloric expenditure of the workout, also provide many of the benefits other high-intensity anaerobic workouts offer in the long run.
If performed consistently, the high intensity intervals adapt the musculature to be more efficient at oxidizing triglycerides, which means less fat storage in the long-term.
High-intensity anaerobic work (just like your high-intensity weight workouts) is one of the most effective methods of partitioning nutrients towards muscle tissue.
Thus this form of cardio is a 'double-edged sword' in that it not only burns fat in the present, but also makes it so that in the future calories that are eaten are directed mainly towards the muscle rather than the fat.
Q & A
- How Many Times A Week Should This Be Done?
Not more than three. This is of course just my opinion, but because the program incorporates bursts of high intensity work it stresses the CNS to a higher degree than pure moderate-intensity cardio, and an excessive amount could lead to overtraining.
- Is There Are Any Definite Way To Identify What The 1-10 Intensity Scales Mean To Me?
I would say that the moderate intensity training levels (5,6,7,8) would range from 60-80% of your VO2 max, while the high intensity level used (9) would be about 85-90% of VO2 max. These figures are based on the assumed definitions in most published studies.
- What Should I Eat After The Workout?
After this workout, I'd advise you have a whey protein shake with some low-to-mid-glycemic carbs, such as oats or yams.
This would create an overall insulonemic effect (along the same principles of low-glycemic post-workout nutrition) that would put a stop to any cortisol release that might occur past 35 minutes, yet it would not promote lipogenesis due to the nature of the carb source.
However, if you are usually comfortable with high-glycemic post-workout nutrition, dextrose is a viable option as well, but in smaller doses, as the program above is mainly of a moderate, not high, intensity.
- Is There Anybody Whom The Program Is Not Suitable For?
Yes; if you are way out of shape you may not be able to push yourself to the 9th rung of intensity without experiencing some problems. In this case I'd advise you start with low-intensity cardio, building your way up to such a program.
Additionally, those with a health problem that could lead to issues from the exertion in a fasted state (for instance, diabetics or those with low blood sugar for other reasons) should consider shifting the workout to later in the day, and of course only do so under the supervision of a qualified physician.
- How Do I Make This Fun?
It is fun. I look forward to hitting the cardio all week, just like so many bodybuilders (myself included) look forward to the 'pump' of intense workouts.
Because high-intensity bursts of exercise are anaerobic, this workout gives you something of a "pump" as well; although it is not the same feeling you might be used to, you start to love it just as much as you might love the pump during workouts, or that 'sweet' pain you feel after a heavy leg day.
If you still want to spruce it up, what I do is add music (of course); energetic, throbbing music with a jumpy beat that makes me move faster and harder.
Overall, keep in mind the fact that you are using a program that guarantees some of the quickest possible fatloss results, each workout bringing you leaps closer to that ripped summer midsection you crave.
Remember - you have to burn it to earn it!
- Angus,SD. et. al. Dietary composition and physiological adaptation to energy restriction Am J. Nutri. 71(4) pp901-907 2000
- Jacks, E.D., Sowash, J., Anning, J., McGloughlin, T., Andres, F. Effect of exercise at three exercise intensities on salivary cortisol. J. Str. Cond. Res. 2002; 16(2) pp 286-289.
- Jeff S. Volek, William J. Kraemer, Jill A. Bush, Thomas Incledon, and Mark Boetes. Testosterone and cortisol in relationship to dietary nutrients and resistance exercise. J. Appl. Phisol. 82(1) pp 49-54
- Lewis, JB., et. al Effect of intermittent high intensity exercise on gastric emptying in man. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise v 33 no8 Aug 2001. p. 1270-8
- Maretta, J., et. al Fuel oxidation during exercise in middle aged men : Role of training and glucose disposal. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise v 34 no3 Mar 2002. p. 423-9
- McConnel,G.,K., et. al. Effect of carbohydrate ingestion on glucose kinetics and muscle metabolism during intense exercise. J. Appl. Physiol. 2000 ;89(5). Pp1690-1698
- Tremblay A, Simoneau JA, Bouchard C. Impact of exercise intensity on body fatness and skeletal muscle metabolism. Metabolism. 1994 Jul;43(7):814-8.
2nd Place - bigcalves
Before we even start about cardio, you will need to set some goals.
Why?: By setting goals, you will not get discouraged and will know what to do. How can you go somewhere without knowing how to get there? Goals are important in sculpting your body.
Tip: First off; be realistic for what you want. Set a short and long term goal. Form a journal with information and measurements of your body. By setting goals you will be able to see your success every step of the way and that will encourage you to push yourself.
Be Smart About Cardio
No matter how much cardio you do, if your diet is not in check you won't accomplish any fat loss.
Why?: You must burn more calories than you take in. That will turn your body in to conservation/fat burning mode.
Tip: Avoid sugary foods, as they often spike the insulin and are full of empty calories. Also eat more salads when hungry to fill you up, but not to fill you up on calories.
When To Do Cardio
No matter when, cardio is beneficial to you. It would be best if you run on an empty stomach in the morning.
Why?: Because you have been sleeping all night, your body doesn't have any food stores, its been all used up. By running you will activate your body's energy stores, fat.
Tip: Always bring water to hydrate yourself. The last thing you want is dehydration, it's unhealthy, and it slows down the metabolism, making your fat burning goals a nightmare.
Different Types Of Cardio
All of these types of cardio work. It's beneficial to change up your routine every once in a while, it's not only fun, but your body might respond better to the new one.
High Intensity Interval Training or HIT is a type of cardio where you run from low to high intensity in minutes. It's like this, you go out and run on high intensity for about 5-10 minutes, then start running with low to moderate intensity for about 5 minutes, and repeat it until you do around 30-45 minutes of running.
High Intensity Cardio:
High Intensity Cardio focuses on burning a lot of calories in a short intense moment. Unlike HIT, you perform an aerobic activity on a hard level for about 10-20 minutes. By doing that you burn a lot of calories.
Low Intensity Cardio:
Low Intensity Cardio focuses on performing an aerobic activity for a longer time 25-45 minutes, at a comfortable level. That way you burn a lot of calories, some people even think this is the best cardio for minimum use of muscle for energy.
Your heart rate is very important in burning fat when doing cardio. The percentage of your max heart rate will determine the fat burn.
- Always run at about 60-80% of your heart rate.
- Running at 60-80% will prevent muscle used up as energy.
- That is also called the Aerobic/Conditioning Zone.
- Always carry water with you when performing cardio to avoid dehydration.
- Start off slowly, and gradually increase.
Sample Routine For Beginners
Ok. No more excuses. This is a plan designed for beginners to help them get on the road of success.
- Monday - Low Intensity Cardio (30 minutes on treadmill/ at 70%heart rate)
Tuesday - 30 minutes walk (nothing too hard)
Wednesday - Low Intensity Cardio (30 minutes on stationary bike/ at 70%heart rate)
Thursday - 30 minute walk
Friday - Low Intensity Cardio (30 minutes on treadmill/ at 70%heart rate)
Saterday - 40 minute walk
Sunday - OFF
Other Factors To Consider
Cutting body fat is not all about cardio. Here are a couple of things you must have in check to be successful in your goals.
Tips on diet:
- Avoid sugary food.
- Eat oats, fruits, veggies and lots of salads for carbs.
- Eat a good amount of protein to keep lean tissue.
- Do not consume carbohydrates after 7PM (no need for energy).
- Consume healthy fats (such include are olive oil, nuts and fish oils).
- Drink a lot of water for a faster metabolism.
- If you want, take a fat burner and green tea to give you an extra boost on your metabolism.
Other Random Tips
- Do not limit your activity to your daily cardio, or walk. Instead take an extra step, park farther away from the parking lot, etc.
- Keep long and short term goals that will make it easier for you not to get discouraged.
- Be consistent, it won't happen in 2 weeks, follow your routine and soon it will pay off.
- Rest. Take about 8 hours of sleep per night. That will help your body, and it's excellent for your fat burning goal.
Bonus Question: Making Cardio Fun
Here is some advice on keeping cardio fun.
- Listen to music. It will not only give you something to do, but music also encourages you, pumps you up, and makes time pass by faster.
- Change routines often. Mix it up a bit. One day it might be a jog in the park, the next stationary bike in your room, or hit up the Stairmaster in the gym. Keep it fun and exciting and soon it won't be a job, but something you look forward to.
- Running buddy. If you enjoy exercise why not share it with someone else? Find a relative or friend that enjoys exercise and invite them with you. Time will pass fast, and you will be able to encourage each other and push yourselves to the max.
Well this is it. There is nothing like having a goal and then accomplishing it. Follow the advice and this summer you will look great in your bathing suit.
3rd Place - L'ASSO
Part One: Getting Started And Making Cardio Fun!
The United States is said to be the fattest country, by that they mean that almost half of its population is fat, overweight or obese. Research shows that from 1960 to 2002, the average weight jumped from:
- Men: 166.3 Lbs. to 191 Lbs.
Women: 140.2 Lbs. to 164.3 Lbs.
Body mass index for adults (ages 20-74) has increased from 25 to 28.
Although height has increased in Americans the weight still is alarmingly high. Dieting just doesn't cut it anymore, the solution, cardiovascular exercise/activities or "cardio."
Sure, it sounds boring sometimes, and some of you work hard for hours just to come home and find out you haven't done your cardio and all you want to do is rest, but remember that getting in shape requires certain sacrifices.
Cardio is not only to help you lose fat, in time you'll see what I mean, exercise removes excess fat from your body making you look good, healthier, and you'll feel less tired. One more important point is that you will have more confidence in yourself.
Aside from making you fit, cardiovascular activity improves your stamina and endurance. An example of the benefits can be shown in rope jumping; it's effective in trimming your legs, hips and thighs.
This exercise also greatly improves your balance, agility and coordination. So you see the purpose of cardio goes beyond making you lose fat.
- First of all make sure you have a routine set up and you have a schedule for your workout routine, if you work you might want to do cardio when you get the chance in your free time or when you get home.
Remember that there are literally hundreds of cardiovascular activities, make sure you do the ones you like the most because those are the ones you will have an easier time doing.
Examples of cardiovascular activities include walking, playing tennis, football, basketball, swimming, running, boxing, hiking, skating, rollerblading, stationary bicycle, paintball, airsoft, etc.
Even walking your dog is a cardiovascular activity! If you exercise on an empty stomach you burn more calories which equal you burning more fat! Remember to set a goal (i.e. 170 Lbs. for September).
Making Cardio Fun!
Ok, many people find exercise boring; this doesn't have to be the case with you! There are many ways of keeping cardio fun, here are some ideas:
Have a Training Partner!
- An example: Have a friend exercise with you or try walking/running/jogging with your dog. Not only is it fun, but you get to meet people too.
- Play sports such as paintball or airsoft. Not only does it require many people to play but the thought of having a paintball or a plastic BB hitting you in the head makes you run pretty fast when being shot at! Best of all you can play for hours and you won't notice how much you've run! And believe me you run a lot!
- Exercise with your favorite music! Any type of music will work, it will keep your mind away from being tired and you'll feel more energetic.
- Watch TV while doing stationary exercises like stationary bike if you're doing it at home.
- And why just do the same exercise without adding a spark to it? Invent a game with a cardio workout! Not only will it be fun, but someone else will be there with you, your only limit is your imagination!
- Playing games such as basketball, paintball, football, tennis, racquetball, water polo, etc. are great fun (not only for you but your friends also) and you won't feel like you're doing exercise because your mind is set on it being a game when you're actually burning hundreds of calories!
- Sing a song in your head while exercising, if you have a nice voice why not sing? In a low voice of course.
Do's & Don'ts Of Cardio:
- Relax before and after every cardio session.
- When jumping rope, don't jump as high as you can, just jump high enough for the rope to pass under your feet.
- When running, take short brakes every few meters. If you feel your heart is way too jumpy and have troubles breathing stop and rest for a few minutes, relax, have a drink of water and as soon as you feel better, continue.
- Don't wear formal shoes, heels or similar shoes. Always wear tennis shoes, sneakers or similar type of shoes.
- Don't skip on a hard surface. You might hurt your tendons and ligaments.
- If you feel dehydrated drink water until you're satisfied, but not too much. When jogging, walking or other similar activity always take water with you.
- Don't overtrain; this can be bad for you. Make sure you do as much as your body can handle then stop. Over training can cause damage.
- Clothes are important; they depend on whatever cardio activity you're doing. For example, don't wear jeans when running; wear a t-shirt or something light! And remember that the clothes you wear shouldn't be tight or you'll feel uncomfortable.
- Equipment is also important; make sure you have the right equipment. For example: don't take a soccer ball to a basketball game!
- Try working out in the shade out of the sun, trust me you'll feel much more comfortable and you'll be away from the harmful UV rays.
- Wear sunglasses if doing an outdoor exercise, for some reason you'll feel less hot with them on.
- The most important thing; have motivation! Let it be a special someone, boyfriend or girlfriend. The way you look, etc. doesn't matter, just make sure you have one and you'll see that you'll work harder for your goal!
Ok, cardio has more purposes than just burning fat:
- It increases your lung capacity, it will make you breath much better.
- It helps you sleep better than before.
- It helps you feel good about yourself.
- It helps you burn fat and calories fast; and even faster with a proper diet.*
- It will help you reduce any stress you have.
- Cardio will reduce the risk of you having a heart attack, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, etc.
- Your heart will be able to work better because cardio will make it strong so it doesn't have to pump blood as hard as it had to before. Remember your heart is a muscle too.
- If you lift weights, then cardio is a must, it will 'cut' your muscles, make you more defined and will increase your stamina and endurance. The heart will be able to pump more blood into your muscles and you'll recover faster from each workout.
* Remember that in order to lose fat by cardio you must follow a proper diet; otherwise the fat you lose with your cardio activity will be regained.
In order to succeed in your battle to lose fat with your cardio program you must follow a proper diet, which means that if you are not following a proper diet you'll have to change your eating habits. It's not as hard as it sounds; the key element here is choosing the right foods and the proper portions.
People are sometimes scared when they hear the word 'diet'; they think it means starvation when it isn't. A proper diet means eating healthy, eating lots of vegetables (rich in essential vitamins and minerals), grains, fruits, and meats.
Fast food is a no-no here, mainly by the fact that fast foods contain 'empty calories'. Empty calories are those foods that contain little, if any nutritional value to your diet.
These empty calories turn into fat quite fast, and not only that, if you eat empty calories chances are you'll feel hungry even if you were full a minute ago from eating a whole Burger King Combo (Over 3,000 calories!), just like soda, it will not quench your thirst, therefore you'll be eating/drinking more.
Diets do not have to be strict, you can have almost anything as long as the portions aren't gigantic and that they're not high in fats. Avoid fried foods and try baked, sauté¥¤ or grilled.
You'll be surprised at how grilled chicken is a hundred times better than fried chicken, and you won't feel guilty for eating foods with high caloric intake!
Sugar and carbohydrates are not your enemies if they are taken in moderation. You might want to avoid sugar because sugar triggers the bodies fat storage mode.
Instead try 'Splenda', 'Equal' or any other of those sugar substitutes. Eat whole grain bread instead of white, because it is better for you and also tastes better!
Avoid sweets and candy, chocolate may be good once in a while but with moderation. Be smart on what you eat, if you want something sweet go for fruit, if you want something like ice cream go for frozen yogurt or freeze some fruits like strawberries and eat them frozen for a sweet cold treat. Avoid fatty foods such as pork rinds or Spanish 'churritos' which are fried in pork fat.
Part Two: Weight Loss And Cardio
Bodybuilding.com has a database that you can use to see what caloric intake foods have as well as fats, carbs (Carbohydrates), sugar, etc. Measure your caloric intake, remember that in order to lose fat you must burn more calories than the ones you've consumed.
Remember to take your vitamins! Your mom told you this ages ago, now I'm telling you again, vitamins and minerals are essential to the body to perform the activities you want it to do and reach its full potential. You can find them in this section of the Bodybuilding.com store.
Multivitamins are a great way on getting every essential vitamin needed, one or two pills and you've just taken the recommended daily intake of vitamins you need!
Remember not all fats are bad, saturated fats are the bad ones, which mostly come from meats. Unsaturated fats are good for you, because they come from fruits and vegetables as well as other plants and nuts.
Avocados are a great way to get your unsaturated fats; they're tasty, and easy to digest. Saturated fats are replaced by unsaturated fats in the body, so it's a good idea to eat foods that contain it.
Let's not forget about the Omega-3 fatty acids! They're extremely important for your cardio activities! Omega-3 can be found in fishes such as salmon or trout, but if you don't like fish (which I doubt you do) you can find it in pill form (soft gels) and they contain the recommended daily amount.
Benefits Of Omega-3 Include:
- Enhanced nervous system function
- Helps to maintain cholesterol levels
- Makes skin and joints healthy
- Helps you absorb vitamins better
- Benefits your heart
- And most important helps support your cardiovascular health.
If you're always in a hurry try a protein bar, they're tasty, are low in calories (most) and they're healthy. Just don't replace every meal with one of them, replace one or two meals at most! You can find them here. Make sure they have low calories and if possible, low carb.
Last but not least, the keyword for a diet is moderation! Eat six small meals instead of three big ones, make sure you're eating at least 6 portions of fruits and vegetables (be careful with potatoes, they are high in starch).
If you're going to eat bread make sure it's whole grain because white bread is actually glucose (bite a piece and chew it for a moment in your mouth and you'll feel the sweetness), and drink water whenever you feel thirsty, because it will not only quench your thirst but give you more energy make your metabolism a bit faster.
The Science Behind Weight Loss And Cardio:
Ok I'm going to make this short and easy for all of you to understand. The body not only takes fat as energy, but also takes sugar and water, the little guy that does all of this is called Mitochondria, the Mitochondria turns fat, sugar and water into energy that's why it's important to take water regularly or you'll feel tired.
When you eat your food it's usually absorbed and used directly by the Mitochondria, but if you eat more than you should have then the extra fat/sugar/water is stored.
When you exercise mitosis (when an organism such as a bacteria divides itself into two, then each one divides forming four, then the four divide to make eight, and so on) occurs to the Mitochondria because you're burning twice the amount of fat/sugar/water, and if you keep exercising they will keep dividing so that they can keep up with the fat/sugar/water "burning".
First a Mitochondria uses water as energy, then the sugar and finally the fat, that's why the Atkins diet makes sense in restraining Carbs and Sugars (Carbs = Sugar), but don't do the Atkins diet unless you're given an O.K. by your doctor because as helpful as it can be, the diet can damage you too, for safety reasons consult your doctor first.
Mitochondria will die if you don't keep exercising because the body will notice you aren't burning calories as you used to, so try to exercise often.
Types/Forms Of Cardio:
Cardio Workouts Come In Seven Forms:
Low Intensity, Long Duration Cardio:
This type of cardio requires 40-60% of your maximum heart rate and involves low activity cardio such as walking, jogging, riding a bicycle, etc. They're relatively easy exercises; the catch is that it has to be continuous and long which means you must keep going at it almost non-stop for about 30-45 minutes.
If you're just starting cardio or exercising this is the exercise activity you're looking for because its easy to follow, and if you have a treadmill or a stationary bike you're all set to do it in the comfort of your own home!
This type of cardio is also good for burning fat; it isn't as vigorous or demanding as other exercises yet it helps you burn fat as a steady yet slower pace but it works! This is good for obese people to loose fat because it isn't hard, and basically they're just starting exercising.
Medium Intensity, Medium Duration:
This cardio requires almost 70% of your maximum heart rate capacity; it usually requires you to do aerobic exercises and it can be used for losing fat (well, actually all can be used for that too).
It is harder which means it isn't long because you use twice as much energy, but its well worth it (remember, no pain, no gain!), it will usually take you 20-40 minutes a day and you can do this cardio form after you've succeeded in the Low Intensity Cardio, if you start from here you'll find it a bit difficult if you haven't exercised before.
This sort of cardio form can be basketball, football, or other sport such as those, running, swimming, etc. You will breathe heavily which is this forms characteristic, heavy breathing because of a harder workout.
High Intensity, Short Duration:
This type of cardio as said is intensive, it requires about 80-85% of your Maximum Heart rate, it is short though, 5-20 minutes is enough but it is vigorous, the performance you will use depends on your fitness level and sometimes genetics.
Remember that the time you spend on this type of cardio form depends on your fitness level and endurance. This type of exercises can be running at a continuous rate, stationary bike is preferred for this form of cardio because you can adjust the resistance to a hard level.
Aerobic Interval Training:
This form of cardio requires you do a routine of medium and high intensity cardio at first alternating with a small "rest" of low intensity cardio.
A good thing to keep in mind is that with this form of cardio you can alternate the intensity of your workout so you can keep up with yourself. Just remember to work hard enough to get a good workout but not too hard so that you don't have to stop.
Anaerobic Interval Training:
This form of cardio is simple, and will take place with high-medium intensity cardio, the catch is that the time you do your high intensive workout will be the time to rest and then start again until you've completed the number of sets (i.e. 10 minutes workout, 10 minutes rest, 10 minutes workout, 10 minute rest, etc).
This means play in Swedish, it is not a game or play, but it is sort of fun because you mix low, medium and high intensity workouts, for example you can walk for 10-20 minutes, jog for 10-5 minutes and then sprint/run for 3-2 minutes then start walking again.
It's fairly simple right? And it's fun to top it all. And don't worry; people won't look at you funny when doing it outside.
As you might have guessed already this is sort of aerobic weight training. For this you must use a variation of exercises using a fairly small weight, but you must do each exercise for a period of time without failing to do the reps which you have put as your goal for a period of time and you will do each exercise continuously with a set time interval.
This type of cardio is a good form of mixing weight training and cardio at the same time, and it's perfect if you don't have time to do both, and to top it off it works your entire body instead of just a certain place!
* Remember, all of these forms of cardio can be done using a machine (i.e. treadmill, stationary bike, etc.) as well as without them. Use whatever is more comfortable for you, and remember not to over train. Beginners start with a low intensity cardio, you will be surprised at how well it works.
To calculate your maximum heart rate, apply this formula: Heart Rate max = 208 - 0.7 x age
Although this formula is an estimate of your real Max Heart Rate (might be 10-20 beats per second more or less) it's very close with only a small margin of error. Your heart rate is actually a measure of your exercise intensity, and not only that, your maximum heart rate differs in different activities.
There are many factors which affect your heart rate: Your body position on a bike will influence heart rate, temperature (this will greatly influence your heart rate), humidity, and also the time of day (day or night) might influence your heart rate.
I'd recommend you to hit a heart rate of 60-70% of your maximum heart rate, this may sound like a lot but in reality this will help you burn more calories and is of medium intensity by the type of vigorous activities you must do in order to keep your heart at that rate.
Remember that as your heart rate begins to go up, oxygen consumption of the blood goes up so you'll need to breathe quickly and heavily, although it isn't too uncomfortable, no one likes to breathe heavy.
Part Three: Cardio And Muscle
Cardio And Muscle:
It is said that cardio makes you lose muscle, sad as it is this is true and scientifically proven, what happens is that muscle proteins are broken down and used for energy during aerobic exercise, but the thing is that you are constantly breaking down and re-building muscle tissue as you do your cardio workout, this process is called "protein turnover".
What's going on is your body is constantly alternating back and forth among anabolic (building) and catabolic (breaking down) cycles. Reducing the catabolic side just enough so that you stay on the anabolic side will gain you muscle or at least help you maintain muscle.
But if you'd like to do cardio and also maintain your muscle at least as they are I recommend circuit training, because this is sort of aerobic weight training. And since you use weights, muscle is not lost and can possibly be gained. So remember if you'd like to do cardio but not loose muscle or gain a bit of muscle, do some circuit training.
I know some of you need guidance, this is an example of what you can do for a routine, and it doesn't necessarily have to be like this, remember to do what you like for cardio exercises. Here is week one, change the routine as you please:
- Monday: Low Intensity, Long Duration Cardio (walking, stationary bicycle, etc). 20 Min.
Tuesday: Low Intensity, Long Duration Cardio. 30 Min.
Wednesday: Medium Intensity, Medium Duration (running, swimming, etc.) 10 Min.
Thursday: Day off. (You can do crunches, 20-50 to start getting your abs in shape).
Friday: Low Intensity, Long Duration Cardio. 30 Min.
Saturday: Day off.
Sunday: High Intensity, Short Duration (Stationary bike, sprinting, etc), 5 Minutes.
How Much Time Should You Perform Cardio:
Cardio, depending on what type of intensity you're doing should be done different everyday; normally you need 45 Minutes of cardio in Low-Medium intensity.
The Perfect Cardio Program For Fast Fat Loss:
Fat loss is always a problem because there are so many restrictions in the diet you decide to take and so many exercises to do that it makes it impossible right? Wrong! Fat loss isn't easy but it isn't hard either, there are several factors that you must have in order to make your fat loss goal possible:
Well of course you must have a goal! If not how would you know you've reached your actual weight loss goal? But remember, make it a real goal, don't expect to lose 50Lbs in a month.
Supplements (A.k.a. Diet Pills): Supplements are not going to make you lose fat by themselves, you must exercise in order for them to work and make you lose fat faster, for example take Xenadrine, great for losing fat but they won't work if you don't accompany them with a proper diet and exercise.
Time Of Exercise:
The time you do your cardio has a big influence in the way you'll lose fat, the best time is when you wake up and you haven't eaten anything, the body will lose much more fat if you do it at this time because it will have to take from the fat reservoir since you haven't eaten anything to take energy (fat) from directly.
Cardio can also be done when recovering from a weight lifting session, since the body is still burning calories you can take advantage and start your cardio there and burn twice as much.
Cheating On Your Diet:
Ok, cheating isn't recommended for many reasons, many include regaining fat. There are smart ways to cheat, for example, if you want to eat something sweet once in a while, try frozen fruit pieces, trust me they will taste great, for some reason freezing them enhances their flavor.
If you want chocolate buy unsweetened chocolate, add equal or other sugar substitute to the mix, then add water until you have a gooey paste, put it in a bowl and freeze it, take it out frozen and cut it (or smash it) to take out chunks out of the mix, they'll taste just like chocolate bars, add nuts to the mix (just not too many). They also sell no-carb, no-sugar chocolate, mainly dark chocolate.
Sodas, Caffeine, Etc.:
Sodas are a no-no in your diet, they contain large amounts of caffeine, sugar, and carbs, sodas will not quench your thirst for a large amount of time, one because of the sodium and two, because of the caffeine.
Try everything decaf, especially at night or you will not get a good sleep essential for muscle growth and recovery from your exercises.
Caloric intake has to be moderated in order for you to lose fat, and the key to losing fat is to burn more calories than you consume. The recommended caloric intake for a day is 2,000 but this can vary depending on your weight.
For losing fat you'll need to consume a range of 1,000-1,500 calories per day. Remember this also depends on your activity level. If you are extremely active then a low caloric intake is not going to help.
In order for you to lose fat fast you must do cardio almost everyday, it doesn't have to be high intensive cardio everyday (5-6 days is enough), normally you would do low intensity, medium and high all in the same week but not the same everyday, there are many forms of cardio you can do, all of which can be found in this article, just make a good weekly program and follow it. When you feel you can do more, change it according to your fitness level.
Ok, as you know fry foods are one of the worst foods you can have, but if you must have at least one fried meal a month, fry it in extra virgin olive oil. Not only does it add to the taste but it's really healthy and rich in vitamins and minerals. Another choice would be 'Olestra' oil, it tastes just like a fatty oil, except the body won't absorb it, no matter what you put in it.
Weird as it is, a few years ago it was said that it caused 'anal leakage', but then they removed the warning because the percentage of people with anal leakage was below 1%, so you will be safe on this one, but there's another side effect. If you eat lots of this olestra (which I doubt you will) it will cause an awful diarrhea (because remember the oil can't be absorbed, and then it mixes with whatever you have in your small intestine, and well... you get the picture).
Ok, summer (bathing suit season) is coming, and I know some of you are just a little bit out of shape; it isn't hard to go back in shape, ladies, don't go crazy starving yourselves, that's not the answer! Guys, a truck is not a dumbbell, put it down.
First thing you must do is lower your caloric intake. 1000-1500 calories a day may be enough, just don't starve yourself and try to stay with healthy low-caloric foods like vegetables (just stay away from yams, potatoes, and starchy vegetables), lean meats, steak, cook in olive oil or olestra, if you eat fast foods (empty calories) when you're trying to lose weight I'll personally hunt you down and kick you where it hurts (ok, no, I wont), point is don't eat fast foods, they're not good for you.
Another thing to keep in mind is to work out whenever you have a chance, but remember, if you lift weights do that first, then do your cardio, that way you'll lose even more calories as explained before. If you want to take supplements go ahead, just remember to stay with the recommended dose and that in order for them to work you must follow a proper diet and exercise.
For fat loss supplements I recommend Xenadrine and Hydroxycut, both are Ephedrine free and work fast.
If you already have lots of muscle and abs showing but need to take away the little fat left and look defined try Cutting Gel, it will remove some extra fat and make you look more defined.
Remember, losing fat is not only for looking good, but also for being healthier, feeling more active, and less tired. Again what's better than feeling better about yourself and knowing you look good? You'll feel much more free with yourself and you will do things you were afraid to do before (believe me, I was there!), and you'll feel a lot more confident about yourself.
Take cardio as a way of life, it doesn't have to be a load to carry, learn to have fun with it, enjoy it, and get in your mind that cardio is great for you, there are hundreds of cardio exercises, and seven forms of cardio which you can vary activities with. You will see in a few weeks the differences in your body.
At that point take a picture of yourself before starting your diet and cardio/exercise if you're a beginner, then 3-4 weeks later take another picture, at 8 weeks compare yourself and you'll notice a great change. Remember eat right, exercise daily and have fun!