I recently asked you guys if you thought you needed cardio in a workout to feel like it was a “workout” and the majority of you said “Yes!”
I used to think this way, too. But I haven’t for over three years.
I loved teaching at Barry’s Bootcamp (which is 50% HIIT on a treadmill and 50% strength training that may or may not also be HIIT format) but let me let you in on a secret, I am the leanest when I do the least amount of cardio.
No hating on Barry’s, I love the place BUT if you want to lose weight, some of you may see more results with a spot on the double floor if you’re going multiple times a week.
Some of you may finally find food freedom by taking a step back from the excessive cardio routine.
I get it. Cardio is beneficial beyond burning calories for many of us, especially when it comes to our mental health, myself included. But if you are using cardio as a tool to get to a number on the scale, it is going to leave many of you feeling defeated at one point or another.
Maybe it will help you get to a goal but to stay there, you’ll find it nearly impossible *if* you don’t keep up the intensity and significant calorie restriction. This will not apply to everyone BUT I have found that my cardio junkies are always hungry. This insatiable hunger often goes hand in hand with the fact that you’re not eating enough for the demands you’re placing on your body. But cardio junkies ignore this hunger cue as long as they can until night time and then… they eat, and eat, and eat. Nutritious or empty, this *can* lead to food guilt and then cardio junkies feel the need to burn off the “extra calories” and do it all over again.
It’s a cycle. I’ve been there. I know many people who are also there. It’s not forever and it’s time to get out of this mindset if it’s you.
So how do we change this mindset?
First up, let’s figure out how much food your body actually needs. Let’s find out how many calories your body needs to function on a basic level, then let’s add in the exercise, chores, daily tasks done throughout the day. Many of you will be surprised at how HIGH this number actually is. Then, let’s breakdown this number into 3 meals and maybe add 2 snacks if you’d like. I’d love to help you with this in my next FASTer Way To Fat Loss round starting Monday 11/1 but for the sake of this post, I’m going to keep going.
So this is how much you can EAT without gaining weight. If you want to lose weight, we will try to eat slightly less macros across the board also known as a creating a caloric deficit.
For many of my clients, they are shocked at how much I want them to eat to lose weight. Once they start eating nutritious, balanced meals for meals and snacks, they have ZERO desire to go overboard at dinner or afterwards which helps reduce “food guilt” and the need to exercise away the excess calories they think they’ve consumed. If the deficit is too great, this may not work the way we want, so we may increase macros across the board. We will still see results, just a little slower pace.
Next, I’m going to oversimplify the science to understand on a basic level… cardio taps into glycogen stores for energy while you exercise assuming it’s readily available. Once you burn through this energy that comes from food you’ve consumed but has yet to be stored as fat, THEN you tap into your fat stores. Unless you are eating low carb, this happens around 60-120 minutes for most people so likely you aren’t getting to this point on a regular basis. I do not recommend eating low carb more than 3 days a week for optimal hormone/metabolic health long term, ideally just 2. Constantly just using up the readily available glycogen without tapping into fat stores is not going to lead to fat loss.
You get health benefits of cardio but if your goal is fat loss, the needle isn’t moving.
When you are strength training, you might not think you’ll ever tap into the fat stores because you aren’t burning a ton of calories during the actual workout according to your Apple watch “but did you know weight training may also shrink fat, according to a study of the molecular underpinnings of resistance exercise. The study, which involved mice and people, found that after weight training, muscles create and release little bubbles of genetic material that can flow to fat cells, jump-starting processes there related to fat burning.”
“A growing number of studies suggest weight training also reshapes our metabolisms and waistlines. In recent experiments, weight workouts goosed energy expenditure and fat burning for at least 24 hours afterward in young women, overweight men and athletes.” NYT
So while you may not mentally THINK you’re burning enough calories during a strength training workout to see results or progress or you might think it was too “easy,” in reality you’ll be burning fat for at least 24 hours after you finish!
This should hopefully allow you to TRUST that even if you’re not drenched in sweat, your body is doing the work you want it to do and since you didn’t burn 600 calories, you’re not starving all day trying to make up for it and you avoid overeating.
Cardio for me is something I enjoy but it’s not a tool that I use for fat loss unless it’s HIIT, which is when you elevate your heart rate high and then let it recover, repeat. I also usually pair my HIIT workouts with eating low carb to tap into the fat stores ONLY twice a week and for 30 minutes MAX. This is a principle I learned as a coach in the FASTer Way.
I’m currently in a maintenance phase 9 months postpartum so I’m not super strict about what I eat or when I eat. I try to do a 14 hour fast most days but not all the time. I carb cycle a few times a month. BUT I do NOT skip my 30 minute FASTer Way strength workouts and to me that’s my secret to maintaining this happy healthy self confident body I have 9 months after Elle was born. It’s not a goal weight because I haven’t weighed myself since June but I feel good in my clothes. I don’t have food guilt. I eat what I want which includes a balanced diet of oatmeal, salads and grain bowls but also pizza on occasion and treats daily. I am not currently tracking macros but I do occasionally to help my clients who are. I try to balance my meals with carbs, fats and protein and aim to hit 100G of protein a day. My snacks are carbohydrate based as just fat or just protein leaves me wanting more.
If you’d love to learn more and trust the science, join my next FASTer Way round starting on November 1st. We have a BRAND NEW APP I’m so excited about. My returning clients can even get in on this round with a $50 discount so it’s $149 for the 6 weeks.