The Science Behind Cardio And Weight Loss
So the holidays are over, you have gained a bit more than the Freshman fifteen and have set your resolution to get into the best shape of your life. Now is the time! You head down to the closest gym, plop down your hard-earned cash, but where to start with your cardio and weight loss journey?
Hit the treadmill?
Go to the free weights and start bench-pressing?
Maybe a fifteen minute High Intensity Interval Training?
So many options, but let’s start with the basics.
So many people crash and burn before they even get to see results. Let’s look at why this happens.
The 5 Heart Rate Zones
Our bodies are essentially chemical engines, and it is essential for us to know how to hack these engines for optimal results. Let’s start with the different kinds of cardio.
There is cardio for cardio – this is where one will put forth maximum effort for their cardiovascular health. We are talking 110% for as long as they can tolerate it.
These are the five different cardio ‘zones’ based on heart rate:
- Heart Rate Zone 1: 50 – 60% of maximum heart rate
- Heart Rate Zone 2: 60 – 70% of maximum heart rate
- Heart Rate Zone 3: 70 – 80% of maximum heart rate
- Heart Rate Zone 4: 80 – 90% of maximum heart rate
- Heart Rate Zone 5: 90 – 100% of maximum heart rate
The easy way to calculate your MAXIMUM Heart rate is 220 – Age. Of course, this is very generic and changes based on your fitness, genes, etc. We will come back to this in a bit.
How Long Does It Take To Burn Fat?
As we are focusing on weight loss, now let’s talk about time needed to lose weight. You have gone to the store, bought your trainers, and have stopped for a healthy snack an hour or so before you are ready to work out. You get on the treadmill and wonder how long you need to exercise for before those pounds, stones or kilos start to melt off. You are not going to like the answer, but you have to exercise at least 30 – 45 minutes before you even start to burn fat.
Wait, don’t give up yet, let’s discuss some of what is happening in your body first.
When we start to exercise, we will start to burn off blood sugar. It takes about 5 – 10 minutes to burn through the excess sugar we have floating through our veins. For the next 20 – 30 minutes, we utilize glycogen for energy. Glycogen is how our body stores energy within our muscles. It isn’t until we hit that 30 – 45 minutes that we start to burn fat. Keep this in mind when you are planning how long your workout session is going to be.
Heart Rate Zone For Fat Loss
Now, let’s think about where we want our heart rates to be while we sweat. If our goal is weight loss, we want to keep our heart rate in Zone 2. That’s right, about 65 – 70% of our max rate. Keeping our heart rate in this zone is going to utilize glycogen and then fat as fuel. When we push our heart rate higher, our bodies will utilize fuel inefficiently and cannot be sustained. One of the ways that I motivate myself is to find a show that I really enjoy on Netflix or maybe Amazon Prime, and I will only watch the show when on the treadmill.
Let's Recap: Cardio And Weight Loss
When we exercise we utilize glucose, glycogen, and then fat for fuel. We want to keep our heart rate in zone 2 to optimize our cardio and weight loss. 30-45 minutes is the sweet spot for weight loss; It takes that long before we start burning fat, so you have time to watch that interesting show on Netflix. Now you are ready to get started!