There are a lot of mixed opinions about cardio and its effects. People often wonder if cardio is actually making them gain weight. When most people think cardio helps in weight loss, the fact is it just makes you gain weight.
A person gains fat when he puts more energy into the body which is greater than the energy spent in the process. Basically, cardio is all about energy expenditure.
Yet, it is observed that there is an increase of fat tissues around the waist of people who perform cardio exercises daily. There are many instances wherein doing medium intensity, and long cardio can increase body fat.
Wherever there is a lack of resistance workouts, the long and medium intensity cardio results in loss of muscle mass in the body. This lowers the level of metabolism. Hence, cardio helps in losing muscle mass and not fat.
What we need to do is to prevent the body from losing muscles while doing cardio.
How does cardio make you fat and gain weight?
The question that arises is done cardio makes you fat? Cardio workouts can actually keep you from losing weight.
Moreover, it adds to the fat in your body making you gain weight. Cardio definitely results in an increase in body fat in the following ways:
- Cardio causes a stress reaction - cardio results in the release of cortisol right before a person starts running or doing a cardio workout that makes the body grab onto fat and store it in the process of finding the energy to exercise.
- Long cardio exercises make you more hungry than you usually feel. People often end up eating more calories to regain that energy which takes away the whole purpose of the workout.
- Cardio causes the body to burn the muscle mass instead of any fats. Fat is required for survival, and hence the body is always willing to burn those muscles for saving the fat — the lesser the muscle, the lower the metabolism.
- It makes you very efficient in burning lesser and lesser calories so you can do all exercises burning just a few calories. This is again the total opposite of what people want for losing a pound.
If you want to lose weight, you need to run intervals and lift weights as well as make high-intensity sprints that are hard and short. This results in muscle building while ignoring the fat holding reaction that stress causes.
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Performing cardio should be done only after knowing the purpose. Cardio is done for some purposes, but weight loss isn’t really one of them.
The body adapts as a response to stress, and biologically there is always a need for minimizing that stress. Adapting to cardio exercises leads to the gain of fewer muscles and storing more body fat.
Low-intensity cardio cannot help in weight loss:
While going through the low, medium or long intensity cardio; you get more effective at the task, but meanwhile your body loses the muscle mass constantly burning very few calories.
If your aim is changing your body composition, then you may have to reconsider the need for low and medium intensity cardio. People who have elevated cortisol levels caused by chronic stress are very less likely to lose anybody fat through cardio.
In fact, cardio can cause the cortisol to rise hence stressing the body systems more and helping the body store more and more fat. If you are in good shape and are looking to improve body composition, long and slow cardio is probably not for you.
Rather, you should focus on HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) and strength training.
HIIT and its benefits:
As the name goes, HIIT is a high-intensity training workout. It is followed by a short interval to recover through the low-intensity exercises such as slow jogging or walking at a plodding pace or by simply resting.
This type of interval training is usually repeated for a certain number of cycles. Some cardio workouts like cycling, running, swimming as well as some bodyweight exercises can also be used as HIIT when done in a different cycle.
Numerous studies proved that people who use active transportation modes (like bicycling, electric bikes) for at least some of their commute are also shown to be much more active in other areas of their life, and it consequently improves the physical state of the whole body.
The main element of HIIT is the fact that high intensity should involve maximum effort and not just a higher heart rate. This training can help you lose weight effectively and definitely works better than cardio workouts.
It is all about briefly pushing a person beyond the upper end of their aerobic exercise zone. Therefore, it can provide all the advantages that the low-intensity exercises can’t provide because it keeps the heart rate always within the aerobic zone.