Losing Fat Without Losing Muscle
You also may have heard that cardio will cause you to lose muscle. Although it is true that cardio training can burn from your muscle tissue, there are two things you can do to minimize muscle loss:
1. Don’t go cardio nuts and start doing hours and hours of it.
2. Integrate sensible amounts of cardio training with regular intense strength training.
This is exactly what high-level natural bodybuilders and physique athletes have been doing for years and they all been able to maintain exceptional levels of muscle mass while utilizing cardio to help them “lean out” to prepare for photo shoot or stage competitions.
The workout program we’ve provided for you will show you how to utilize regular, sensible amounts cardio training (along with strength training) to help you lose the fat without losing muscle.
Fat Loss and Nutrition
We can talk about cardio and strength training all we want, but if you want to lose fat you’ve got to burn more calories daily than you consume. This is what’s commonly called a “caloric deficit.” The simplest way to do this without starving yourself is to get the majority of the food you eat from lean protein sources (chicken breast, lean beef, fish, etc.) and vegetables. Lean protein sources and vegetables are both low in calories, but high in nutritional value. Plus, foods that are a high in protein have a high thermic effect, which is how many calories a given food causes you to burn through the digestive process. Protein requires the most work to digest because it is made up of 22 amino acids. In regards to its thermic effect, for every 100 calories you eat from protein, you will burn approximately 25 calories just to digest it.
Speaking of calories in versus calories out, and the fact that cardio burns more overall calories than strength training, an important point must be made. Let’s say you do a 30-minute cardio session on the elliptical trainer where you burned 300 calories. You could have also simply not have eaten that 300-calorie bagel with breakfast and ended up in the same place calorie-wise.
Now, cardiovascular health benefits aside, from a pure fat-loss perspective, the above example displays how study results like what was provided earlier in this article can be a bit misleading. In that, there’s no need to “up” the amount of cardio if you’re already consuming fewer calories (via diet) than you’re burning daily.
Additionally, fat loss is more than just burning calories through activity. Fat loss is really a two-step process. First, body fat must be effectively released from the adipose tissue in which it is stored. And, consuming foods that are high in sugar (even fruits) can prevent this because sugar raises insulin and insulin is a storage hormone. Controlling insulin levels is very important to do when trying to lose fat, as doing so puts your body in the hormonal position where its willing to release the stored fat in order to then be burned. Second, fat is then sent into your muscles to be burned. Muscle is considered “metabolically active tissue.” In other words, muscle is the physical place in your body where fat is burned (i.e., used as energy).
Plus, more muscle mass requires more energy. So the more muscle you have, the more calories/fat you’ll burn throughout the day, even while you sleep! Your body is just like your car. If you put a bigger motor in your car or truck (i.e., add muscle mass), you’ll burn more fuel (i.e., calories) while driving (i.e., doing activities) than you did before. With that analogy in mind, having more muscle will help make your cardio training efforts more effective by helping you maximize the calories you burn.
This is why strength training and the ability to maintain muscle with proper training and eating strategies is absolutely critical for fat loss! Not just adding in “more cardio” as some may believe after reading study results like what was provided earlier.
Settling the Cardio vs. Strength Argument for Good
As you can see, arguing resistances versus cardio for building a lean and muscular physique is just as ridiculous as arguing whether one should eat blueberries or broccoli. Of course you should eat both because it’ll be a more nutritious diet, as each type of food offers unique nutritional benefits the other does not.
The same can be said for aerobic training and resistance training: each form of exercise offers unique, but complementary benefits to the other. Therefore, including both can make your workout routines more effective at developing a healthier, leaner and more muscular physique.