Many women increase their cardio duration when trying to lose weight. But it is not the best approach to get results!
The definition of madness is to make the same thing endless and expect different results. And unfortunately it is very true in the case of women trying to lose weight. For most women, the battle with fat is a process full of yo-yo diets, endless cardio and unfulfillments.
Usually, when a woman decides to lose weight, she starts a very calorie-restricted diet, along with low-intensity cardio, done excessively. All this combined with minimal effort to build muscle mass and phobia to become “too big”. Therefore, the weight loss plan of many women is cardio with some light weight training. Unfortunately it is a counter-productive approach when you want to lose weight.
Why do cardio?
I’m not against cardio. It’s great to be active, and low intensity cardio plays its part. But it should not be used in a bad way. Cardio does not help much to lose weight. By cardio I mean long-term, low intensity, like jogging. The lost weight gained in addition by cardio is insignificant. Why? For several reasons.
1. Cardio doesn’t burn as many calories as you think
You may already know that what your treadmill shows you when it comes to burned calories is just a rough estimate. The same with fitness watches. The additional estimates can be enormously high as well. And the calories burned while doing cardio decrease as you become better at doing it (you get physical condition). You may have noticed that the effort becomes easier over time – even if you increase the intensity or if you make more long-term effort. The more you exercise the more biomechanics are improving. It is good for performance, but not good for weight loss.
Not only do you force yourself to do an activity that you like or not, you are contributing very little to the weight loss process, even if you feel that it is not the case. This leads to too much food consumption, because you tend to compensate. You say you burned enough calories by doing exercise so you “deserve” X treat! And you do this even when you have no progress and the approach is obviously not working.
2. Cardio makes you hungry
You may have heard that physical activity suppresses appetite. It seems that the effect is more pronounced in men and it is mainly the high intensity exercise, not the low intensity one such as cardio.
For women, light cardiovascular exercises increase appetite. This maintains a vicious circle.
A woman goes running, her appetite increases so she eats. If she overeats often, she will run longer to burn what she has eaten extra. She burns fewer calories than she thinks but her appetite will increase even more. Runs longer, eats more, gets tired and the results still do not appear.
It is worth mentioning that walking did not have this effect.
3. Cardio creates addiction
Those who start cardio to lose weight fall into two categories. First, they become so demotivated because of the pain and discomfort that they give up. They try for a few weeks, they see no result and just give up.
The second group is forcing to continue. They ignore the pain and through will they can continue. Over time, low intensity cardio can have an interesting effect. It causes euphoria through the secretion of endorphins and opioids, which cause addiction to the physical exercises that produced them. They are so pronounced that those injured, who made their situation worse by running, still did.
You can forget why you run, that you want to lose weight and that you are interested in the feeling of running. And to maintain this you will eat without discrimination.
4. Gazelles for one hour, lazy for 23 hours
If you have ever combined a restrictive diet with a lot of cardio, you know that the saying “running is full of energy” is a great lie. Being in a calorie deficit for several weeks at a time when you are trying to get your body to lose weight, it creates a lot of responses called metabolic adaptations.
It does not mean that you ruin your metabolism, but that it adapts to the situation in order not to die. Do you give it less energy? It tries to use less energy.
When are you on a diet, do you feel colder than usual? Your body lowers your internal temperature to save energy. Do you feel like you’re going a little slower? Still energy conservation is to blame.
As the diet progresses, such small adaptations build up and make you increasingly lazy and slow. Cardio not only speeds up the process, but it also gives you a mental excuse: I ran, I did my sports, so I would sit on the couch all day.
If you do cardio and then become lazy for the rest of the day, the few calories you burn will be offset by doing nothing.
5. Calorie burns after exercise
More and more people know that HIIT is effective in weight loss. The concept of burning more calories after you finish your physical effort and sitting on the couch sounds really good.
When you recover from exertion, the body goes through a phenomenon called excessive post-workout oxygen consumption. The muscles are repaired, the lactic acid is released from the muscles and the oxygen from the tissues is restored. These effects can last up to 48 hours and burn some extra calories.
But it seems that the effect of HIIT is quite exaggerated. In one study, after 3-5 HIIT workouts per week, weekly caloric burns increased by only 200 calories.
Should you ever do cardio?
Being naturally active is great for your health and appearance. But cardio itself is not that effective for weight loss and sometimes, if done excessively, it can pull you back. That being said, if cardio is an activity you enjoy, do it! Just remember that it has a minimal effect on your attempt to lose weight.
After you lose weight, cardio can help you to stay fit. If you are not calorie deficient, the metabolic adaptations mentioned above are not triggered, so no negative effects occur.
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