Nugget of the Day: Cardio is not the best way to burn body fat.
I thought I would start this nugget on the positive side of things. What is cardiovascular exercise good for, and why do we use it as our “go-to” exercise when we want to lose weight? What we call “cardio” should be more accurately termed “aerobic” exercise. The term “aerobic” literally means “with oxygen”. The body can breakdown food into energy in the presence of oxygen or without oxygen present. However, the fat molecule needs oxygen in order to be broken down into energy to be utilized by the body. Because the intensity is not as high in aerobic exercise, the body is able to get enough oxygen to meet the energy demands of the body. This allows fat to be utilized as a major energy source. Carbohydrates, on the other hand, can be burned with or without the presence of oxygen. But fats provide a little more whallop to their punch, supplying more energy per gram than carbohydrates, so it is a more efficient fuel source. This makes it the more prevalent provider when the intensity of exercise is low enough to allow it to be utilized properly.
To see the big picture, you need to understand that it is a matter of proportions. You never are just utilizing one energy source. You are always using a combination of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins as energy at all times. While engaged in aerobic exercise, you burn a higher proportion of fat calories versus carbohydrate calories. As an analogy, let’s look at it like a dinner plate, with the food on the plate representing the amount and type of energy burned in an aerobic workout. At a low intensity, the plate might hold three Twinkies and one granola bar (the Twinkies representing fat and the granola bar representing carbohydrates). You might have as much as a 3:1 ratio of fats burned versus carbohydrates when engaged in aerobic exercise. Fats are the major source of energy in this case. Sounds like a good recipe for weight loss, right? Wrong…and I’ll tell you why in the next post…