Podcast 7

What about Cardio? Part 2: Fat Loss vs. Weight Loss, and How to Stay Strong and Lean into Old Age

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SHOW NOTES

In part 2 of this series with Dr. James Fisher, Brian and James discuss the downsides of cardio and why so many people can’t seem to resist binging after cardio exercise. Learn why cardio is important and useful when done right, and how it can lead to even worse health outcomes if not done properly.

  • While improving heart health is great, it’s not everyone’s goal when exercising or doing cardio. Weight loss is another major focus and cardio can certainly help accomplish that.
  • When doing cardio and exercising at a low enough intensity we are using our aerobic energy system, and that’s reliant on our fat stores as energy. So it’s easy to think that if you do cardio you will burn fat, but the reality is that anything that raises our energy expenditure and increases our metabolism is beneficial for fat loss.
  • Building muscle is great for maintaining a higher metabolism and burning more fat.
  • With a low-intensity exercise, we see an increase in our stress hormones, as well as a fluctuation in our leptin and ghrelin levels. These are the hormones responsible for hunger and they regulate how our body replenishes and restores calories. When we do higher resistance training we don’t get the same hunger response. The big problem is that going for a long run or bike ride may feel great, but the following hunger response may undo all the work you just did.
  • More movement and more steps in a day is a good place to start, but if you go out and start running, cycling, or swimming you are going to swim against the tide and your body will start to resist your efforts.
  • Increasing muscle mass is about increasing the quality of our body composition, and that itself is increasing our metabolism. If you look at the bigger picture, cardio alone doesn’t lay the foundation for long-term weight loss.
  • Studies generally show that the weight loss that occurs from cardio and a caloric reduction is 50% muscle, which is probably the worst possible outcome, especially as we age. Whereas if we perform resistance training and pay attention to protein intake the weight loss is almost exclusively fat.
  • When people say they want to lose weight, they mean they want to lose fat. We need to do something that allows us to hang on to the muscle we’ve got. Starting with resistance training, and then nutrition, with cardio as a tertiary thought is the best method to achieve fat loss and optimal long term health.
  • If we do what it takes to protect our muscle with proper nutrition and strength training, the weight that we lose leads to a better body composition since fat takes up so much space on the body.
  • Start with resistance training and nutrition, then add cardio if you feel like it.
  • When we think of older adults we think of frailty, despite the fact that they are often lean. The reason they are frail is because they are not carrying a high proportion of muscle mass. If we do resistance training and focus on maintaining as much muscle mass as we can when we age, we are setting ourselves up to be lean and functional as we age instead of merely frail.
  • An epoc is Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption, it’s also known as the afterburn effect. When performing high effort exercise our heart rate is elevated for a time after the exercise is complete but with low-intensity exercise, there is almost no after-effect. The energy expenditure from prolonged low effort exercise is about the same as interval training or resistance training a third of the duration. A 20-minute high-intensity workout has the same energy expenditure as a 1-hour run.
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