The Most Controversial Point In Fat Loss
by Dr. Kareem F. Samhouri, CSCS, HFS, Neuro Metabolic Fat Loss Expert
Here it is, the most controversial and debated point in fat loss:
Is cardio good or bad for Fat Loss?
1. According to the American Medical Association, American Heart Association, American Physical Therapy Association, and American College of Sports Medicine – YES.
2. According to some of the most well-respected fitness authors in the world – NO.
Let’s take a step back.
Are they really talking about the same thing?
Well, when it comes to cardio for fat loss, both. Let me explain…
Steady Heat Rate Work for Weight Loss
Steady-State Heart Rate Training (SSHRT) is what most of us know cardio to be. Pick a heart rate and stay there for a prolonged time period (30-60 minutes.) This is good for stress reduction, increased circulation that delivers nutrients to joints and causes healing, smoking cessation, blood pressure reduction, cholesterol-lowering effects, and medication dosage reduction.
Interval Training for Fat Loss
Interval-based training on the other hand (HIIT), alters heart rate (sort of) and intensity often. In general, I don’t recommend anyone interval train over 20 minutes. In fact, if you can successfully interval train for more than 20 minutes and you are not an Olympic athlete, I’d politely suggest you take a look at your method.
Interval training, when done at a medium pace and high pace actually is much more like ‘cardio’ than ‘interval training.’ There is some heart rate fluctuation during your high intervals, but, for the most part, you’re heart rate remains high after the first couple of rounds.
However, interval training can be a very effective form of fat loss training. This is based upon the principle of lactic-acid onset or hitting your VO2max. This is the point at which your body can no longer withdraw oxygen that is needed by your muscles from your bloodstream. This creates an anaerobic state, or oxygen-deprived state, which produces lactic acid.
Lactic acid has many importances, but when it comes to fat loss, there are two main things to consider:
• Lactate Threshold – how long/hard it takes for lactic acid to set in (your max exercise capacity)
• Lactic Acid Re-absorption (or pH balancing in the body) – the energy cost it takes to get rid of lactic acid from your bloodstream (calories spent)
Your fat loss program needs to train your lactate threshold to get higher. When your max capacity is more, everything is worth more… every exercise you do, every weight you lift, every set you finish. Plus, your progress is much more evident, in that you just feel ‘unstoppable.’
Lactic acid re-absorption is your body’s attempt to re-balance it’s pH. This costs energy for 2-3 days after you leave the gym, causing your body to ‘consume oxygen.’ Often times, you’ll hear of this referred to as ‘Excess Post Oxygen Consumption. (EPOC).
In summary, you want to train your max capacity higher by hitting your VO2max over and over again while producing lactic acid and fending it off for days while burning calories. But this needs to be kept in balance with good joint health, lower stress levels, being off of medications, normal blood pressure, etc. If not, your body will slow down any other process to focus on its priority.
This is where it gets really interesting… you’re about to learn how to communicate with your body. The first step is thoughtful reflection on what your body needs.
• Does your body need better posture?
• Do you need a higher metabolism?
• Do you want fat to go away from certain ‘trouble spots’ and it’s truly gone from everywhere else? (this could be a hormonal imbalance)
These are all signs that your body may need a combination form of attention, including both fat loss and postural strengthening, for example, to get the fastest fat loss result. Think about it… our bodies are designed to be incredibly complex and simple to understand. We are supposed to understand our bodies on a basic, instinctive level.
(Special Note: To learn more about the neuro-science behind weight loss and how to make it work for you, see Dr. Samhouri’s video Double Edged Fat Loss. It will end your confusion about losing weight, once and for all – Enjoy!, Buck)