Cardio Is Catabolic

There is a long-standing tradition that cardio training is good for weight loss. People that are into heavy areobic exercise swear by longstanding cardio health benefits. It does energize you and make you feel good. Unfortunately, new research, and review of much old research now bears out that cardio is actually catabolic, and has little effect on weight loss.

Catabolic is a term that refers to a state when the body, starved of nutrients, begins to feed on itself in order to acquire the energy it needs.  Unfortunately, this means muscle tissue.  Hard running can deplete muscle mass while having little effect on fat loss.  In fact, heavy runners have to load up on carbs in order to maintain their weight and only add to the dilemma.

Aerobic Versus Anerobic Exercise

By example, running and jogging are aerobic exercises. This means you are primarily using more oxygen (respirstion) to burn more energy.

Did you know that you need to burn around 3500 calories to lose one pound of fat? And did you know that one mile of slow running is the equivalent to burning around 100 calories, depending on your body weight? That means you need to run for around 35 miles per week just to lose one pound. At 12 minute mile pace that’s 7 hours running each week just to lose one pound!

If weight loss is the focus of your exercise training, then you are better off pursuing resistance training. These are anaerobic exercises. Anaerobic means "without oxygen", and is the opposite of aerobic. This would include resistance training like band exercises. It also includes using your own body weight for resistance, and weight training using barbells and dumbells. If you are younger and fit, you can include HIT (High Intensity Training) as a form of anaerobic exercise. 

You Want to Build Muscle Tissue

More muscle mass means you burn more calories. You want to build more muscle mass, not tear it down. This does not mean you should give up on cardio exercises, or not consider the possible benefits of cardio heath supplements.

You actually will burn more calories after performing anaerobic exercises when in a rested state. This is the process where you exercise until your muscles are fatigued. As the muscle mass is rebuilt, you build larger muscles. Having more muscles takes more energy to maintain. This is the opposite of cardio exercise, and is why cardio is catabolic. Think about that for a minute and it will make total sense.

Anaerobic exercise is a physical exercise intense enough to cause lactate to form. It is used by athletes in non-endurance sports to promote strength, speed and power and by body builders to build muscle mass.

Gym Training Machines

Gym training machines and systems that incorporate resistance training are also considered good as anaerobic exercise. Think in terms of weight machines that use gravity for resistance, or popular home gym equipment like Bowflex and Soloflex. Do you want to spend hours and hours, week after week, doing aerobic exercises that have little or few benefits for burning fat? Or maybe even promote catabolic muscle loss?

So, resistence training seems the way to go. You need to build muscle to burn calories and to lose excess weight. No matter your age, you should incorporate some form of anaerobic exercise as part of your new whole food lifestyle. You can continue to run if you enjoy it as an activity. Aerobic exercise does strengthen the heart and lungs, and has many other good effects as well. Just know that it will have little effect on shedding extra pounds. It possibly may even make you eat more.