Is there an alternative to cardio exercise?
It’s no use sticking to cardio when there are better and easier ways to fire up your fat burn. Why not walk, rather than run, for fat loss?
Although, LISS (short for low intensity steady-state) cardio has been long touted as an effective instrument for weight loss, after experiencing a few glaring problems I had a change of heart instead of continuing the hype around it.
Any good weight loss regime should not lead to extreme hunger!
In the 3 points listed below I will explain why you should have second thoughts before jumping on the treadmill again.
Point 1 – Do you always put an equation mark between the terms ‘weight loss’ and ‘fat loss’?
Most of you will give this same straight answer: “Sure. Fat people are overweight, aren’t they?”
I, too, agree with you, but up to a point. So, we need to address some problems with this general understand of weight and fat loss.
You see, when you do steady-state cardio you burn calories from fat, but you also burn calories from muscle! This is certainly bad since no one wants to decrease their muscle mass of their body at the account of their fat loss! In case you don’t know, muscles are more metabolic and burn more calories at rest than fat does. Loss of your muscle mass means loss of your work force and making yourself sagging.
Point 2 – When you over exercise, your cortisol level i.e. your stress hormone level increases, which can then lead to increased food cravings and overcompensation for calories burned. So, while you may burn a significant amount of calories after spending an hour on the treadmill, when you are done, you are dreadfully hungry.
Juices seem like healthy drinks, so you grab one and “deservedly” sip at it on your way home. The drink ends up bringing more calories than what you have just burned off running for an hour on the treadmill. So, it is obvious you can easily bring yourself into a caloric surplus by frequent running.
Over exercising has the same hormonal effect as sleep deprivation does. Both conditions make you leptin-resistant (unable to signal brain you are full), both raise ghrelin (insatiable hunger) and eventually become insulin-resistant because cortisol is too often too high. All of these in turn can lead to the undesired weight gain.
Another caveat to cardiovascular exercise is the negative impact it potentially has on thyroid function. T4 (inactive) is the primary hormone produced by the thyroid. T4 is then converted to T3 (active) to be used in a properly functioning metabolism.
Too high levels of cortisol not only impair the body’s ability to create the T4 hormone, but they also suppress the conversion of T4 to T3 which then leads to a dysfunctional metabolism. This equates to decreased ability to burn fat, lack of energy and a host of other serious health issues.
Point 3 – Outdoor or treadmill running apparently takes great effort, yet it is considered a low impact exercise. There is another side effect of it too: as you enlarge your running span, you increase the times you bang your feet against the ground. Surfaces matter, along with great shoes, and if you are overweight, running gets detrimental to your joints (knees, in particular) in the long-run.
I hope a made a good point of explaining why you should go in for walking. However, there are more.
Walking can make you slimmer not hungrier
While walking may not provide the same calorie burning effects as running, it can prove to be a much healthier alternative for some individuals. If running increases cortisol, walking decreases it. This might not sound very appealing if burning calories is more important to you than your overall health, but in the long-run this is much better for you.
When cortisol levels are lowered, the opposite of all the above-mentioned negative effects happens. You’re setting yourself up to be more insulin-sensitive and enabling calorie burning from other exercise.
You are in control of hunger and cravings, and naturally you eat less. This is the equation that is in place then:
Eat Less + Exercise Less = Fat Loss
Walking will increase the concentration of neurotransmitters like serotonin (comfort) and dopamine (motivation) that are known to enhance mood and overall wellness. All of these less-fancy things lead to a happier and healthier you.
How to “doze” walking?
How many times a week should you walk? As many as possible! As we have already rolled into spring season, if you live in a warmer climate try to get 30-60 minute strolls at least 3 days a week.
Work your way up to 6 days if possible. Replace those cardio sessions with walks. Try to schedule other stress-relieving activities like a massage, sauna, hot bath, or even fiestas!
If you really want to speed up your fat loss for the beach season, you should incorporate metabolic resistance workouts into your regimen as well. 2-3 high intensity, 20-30 minute workouts done each week coupled with a well-designed diet plan will get the treadmill out of your sight!
Bottom line: Cardio alone decreases muscle mass causing metabolism to become less efficient, it can disrupt hormonal balance-thus leading to weight gain and it can have a negative impact on your joint health.