Cardio burns fat, but it is not the only way you can burn it: Strength training and healthier eating also help you meet fat-loss goals. Regular aerobic training helps burn fat–and may even benefit heart health, mood, sleeping habits, and more.
Adding more muscle through lifting weights and doing other endurance exercises may also help burn fat, particularly if you are dieting as well. Lifting weights helps to encourage growth hormone, which burns fat, and you will also be adding more muscle, which has the effect of making your body burn more calories, even when you are resting. If you are lifting heavy at high intensity, you may actually increase your afterburn, or the calories burned following a workout.
Specifically, studies show you burn more calories in the hours following a weight-training workout than a cardio workout (5, 6, 7). For instance, weight training is more effective at building muscle than cardio, and muscles burn more calories at rest than certain other tissues, including fat (3). There are several other factors beyond cardio fat burning that promote weight loss, like eating fewer calories, maintaining a healthy diet, and muscle building, among others.
Minute-for-minute cardio burns more calories than resistance, thanks to the continued nature of the intensity, and thus helps burn fat while eating a wider, healthier diet. Weight Training Helps You Burn More Calories Every Day Although weight-training exercises typically do not burn as many calories as aerobic exercises, they do have other important benefits (2).
If losing weight was all about burning as many calories as possible, then you probably do a lot of cardio straight-up every day. The more activity you engage in, the more calories you burn, and the easier it is to generate the caloric deficit needed for weight loss. If you are looking to shed fat while maintaining muscle, working out with strength while eating in a caloric deficit is crucial. Muscle is more metabolically active than fat, so the more you build, the more calories you will burn — and the better chance you have of keeping the fat off, says sports physiologist Dr. Leigh Breen.
Muscle is metabolically active, so when you lose it, you are also losing out on the additional calories that the muscles burn. When exercising in a cardio zone, you are burning more glycogen, or the stored carbohydrates, as the primary source of energy, using less fat, however, you are burning much more overall calories.
Stable-state cardio is more likely to burn a higher percentage of calories from fat throughout the exercise than higher-intensity intervals. Minute-for-minute, HIIT training burns more calories than steady-state cardio–but you are probably going to be able to perform steady-state cardio for longer periods, so depending on how long you are training, the overall calories burned could be higher. What is more, other studies show HIIT-style workouts can burn roughly as many calories as traditional cardio, though it depends on how intense your exercise is. Yes, stable-state cardio is great for improving your overall cardiovascular health, and the stronger your cardiovascular system is, the faster you recover between sets while exercising (which allows you to do more work in less time, thus burning more calories in each time unit during your workout).
On top of this, other studies note that lower-intensity (steady-state) cardio does stimulate appetite5>, which is, again, not something you want to deal with when you are already cutting down your calorie intake each day. Another major drawback of using cardio as the main method for weight loss is that doing too much of it may actually inhibit muscle growth, and, worse, can actually eat into muscle tissue. On top of that, other research notes that low-intensity (steady-state) cardio stimulates appetite 5 >, again not something you want to have to deal with when you are already reducing your daily calorie intake.Another big downside to using cardio as the primary method for chasing weight loss is that performing too much of cardio can actually hinder muscle growth and at worse eat away at your muscle tissue. You may be able to get a slimmer, more defined, and more toned body, while doing far too much training of any type, and that may inhibit the bodys ability to adequately recover between workouts. Doing nothing but cardio day after day is not only boring, which may make it difficult to stick to over the long haul, it is inefficient when compared to a more varied training regimen which includes strength training.
That is because, although cardio burns calories as you move, strength training actually helps your body continue burning more calories throughout the day and into the evening (more on this below). Exercise is not supposed to be easy, however, and countless people sneer at their weekly cardio sessions because they simply cannot substitute its fat-burning benefits. If running heart-pounding miles or doing high-octane cardio sessions simply are not your speed, there are other ways to burn body fat without cardio.
Weight training may be particularly important for helping women lose body fat, and research from the University of Alabama shows greater reductions in abdominal fat among women who lift weights than among those who simply do cardio. The U.S. study actually found that those who chose cardiovascular exercise instead of just weight training lost up to four times as much body fat. Sure enough, fat loss observed following resistance exercise was on a par with aerobic exercise as well as cardio.
To correct for this omission in their own studies, scientists focused on the changes in overall body fat percentage that occurred following weight-training sessions specifically. After conducting a thorough, exhaustive meta-analysis of previous related studies, covering 58 studies and approximately 3,000 individuals, researchers at the University of New South Wales reported that weight training alone could lead to a 1.4% decrease in a persons total body fat. Based on research, you can use your bodyweight to estimate how many calories you will burn through various types of exercises, including cardio and resistance training.
HIIT vs conventional cardio might have similar effects for weight loss Studies examining over 400 overweight and obese adults found HIIT and conventional cardio reduced body fat and waist size by similar amounts (12). There is no single exercise regimen that works best for fat loss, but a meta-analysis from 2020 suggests resistance training increases metabolism more than cardio, which can make it easier to maintain weight loss since the body burns more calories while it is at rest.Share