The weight loss industry is a booming business for one simple reason: Losing weight is difficult. As lives become more fast paced, yet also more sedentary, weight is easily gained, but not easily shed. Even when calories are strictly counted and exercise is increased, stubborn pounds may seem to hang around.
One of the most surprising factors that contributes to the lack of weight loss is the exercise routine. More specifically, the exact cardio routine that is most thought to be beneficial for weight loss may be the one that prevents the scale from budging. This is even truer for women.
The Relationship Between Cardio and Calories
Every human movement burns calories. Even sleeping burns more than half of a calorie for every pound. Unfortunately, many people overestimate the number of calories burned during cardiovascular exercise.
It can be difficult to precisely estimate the amount of exertion put forth during any movement. It is very common to assume the utmost effort is put into the exercise even when that is not the case. Therefore, most will presume they are burning far more calories than they actually are.
Digital exercise trackers may also be inaccurate with calorie count. Most will provide a higher number of calories burned than what is accurate. This is due to the fact that digital trackers often estimate the amount of exertion at the highest level. Likewise, the user must stay vigilant at keeping weight amounts updated in the digital system.
Cardio Exercise Can Cause Hunger
Women are often told to exercise in order to stave off hunger pangs, but the wrong type of exercise does just the opposite. While cardio activities are excellent for blood flow and a healthy heart, they can be detrimental to weight loss.
The body naturally wants to replace any calories it has burned. After cardiovascular activity, the body’s natural response is to crave more food than what is needed after more sedentary activities. Even isometric exercises, weight lifting and yoga can burn calories without causing the same type of hunger.
A person who is trying to lose weight may believe that they are consuming less than they have burned. However, without a totally accurate calorie number, it is very possible to take in an excess of calories after a harrowing workout.
Dieters Can Go Too Far
The opposite side of overeating after a workout is not eating enough. Many dieters think that extreme diets are the best way to drop pounds. While a dieter might see a sudden weight loss on a very low calorie diet, eventually they will hit a plateau that is difficult to break. This is due to the body’s tendency to enter starvation mode.
When the body isn’t getting enough calories to support the amount of energy it needs, it will hold on to existing fat for as long as possible. This frustrating reality is only countered by ensuring that the right balance is found between the number of calories burned and the number of calories eaten. Most experts agree that adults who are trying to lose weight should consume no less than 1,200 calories per day regardless of the desired amount of weight loss.
The Energy Boost Myth
A great cardio workout can cause an endorphin rush that increases energy, but only briefly. Once the endorphin rush drops, the body becomes sluggish and tired. It can be difficult to do much more than watch TV, read a book or take a nap on a day that includes grueling exercise.
There is also a psychological problem with too much cardio. Dieters may think that they can take it easy for the rest of the day if they have put in their time on the treadmill or in an exercise class. Unfortunately, if this becomes routine, the body eventually adapts. Instead of increasing energy and burning calories, the body reserves energy and holds onto fat stores due to the decrease in activity the other 22 or 23 hours that the dieter isn’t working out.
A positive side effect of cardio is increased sleep, which has health and weight loss benefits. Any additional energy one feels may be due to a better night’s rest than the cardio workout itself.
The Lack of Strenuous Cardio
A common issue with dieters is that they workout for hours while seeing no results. However, they may not be working out in the smartest way possible. Too many dieters put forth a small amount of effort for long periods of time when a more strenuous effort in half the time would be much more beneficial.
In order to achieve the best results from cardio activity, dieters should make sure they are putting forth enough effort to justify the time spent.
Solving the Cardio Problem
Dieters have multiple reasons for wanting to lose weight. In most cases, they have been told by medical professionals that a weight loss will positively impact their health or they simply want to feel better about themselves. As long as weight loss goals are realistic and the approach is healthy, the reason one wants to lose weight is less important than the method they use.
Along with a healthy diet that is well balanced and includes a minimal number of processed foods, dieters should exercise. That exercise should include cardio activities, but cardio should not be the only exercise. Dieters should create a routine that combines cardio with activities that do not lead to an increased heart rate. Yoga, pilates and weightlifting are all excellent activities that have their own health and weight loss benefits. In addition, the type of cardiovascular activity should be varied. If a body becomes accustomed to an hour on the treadmill every other day, it will begin to expect and adapt to that activity. Instead, dieters should mix cycling, swimming, running and exercise classes like kickboxing or aerobics.