Many of us want to lose weight and the way we do this is by exercising. Indeed, the figures are staggering, with 66% of us being overweight or obese, and that includes children as well. This is worrying and demonstrates just how important it is to do something about our weight. However, it seems we are often too focused on losing the fat and forget that we also have to work on our lean muscle tissue. As such, when we do a cardio workout, it is supposed to burn fat and raise our heart rate, but we also have to make sure that we focus on our diet and on strength training so that our body becomes lean and healthy overall. But how is this achieved?
What Is Cardio Exercise?
The first thing you have to do is understand what cardio actually is. Essentially, it is any activity that sends your heart rate up and keeps it there for quite a long period of time. Some examples include running, cycling and swimming. If you really want to burn fat, you have to make sure you implement HIIT interval training for at least a couple days. You do, however, have to work out what your target heart rate is so that you know you are benefiting as much as possible from your workout.
“Simply subtract your age from 220 to get your maximum heart rate. Then multiply your MHR by 0.55 and by 0.85 to get a training zone.”
There are other calculations as well, which are said to be more accurate. However, the above is sufficient to at least give you an idea of what you should achieve. Besides this, however, you also have to do strength training which focuses specifically on building muscle. Of course, it also burns calories, as an added benefit.
It is very important to understand your target heart rate. Indeed, it is very important for two specific reasons, being the success of your workout, and your own personal safety. By monitoring your heart rate, you will be better able to track your own progress and understand where you are seeing the biggest results. However, the safety issue is equally important.
Combining cardio and strength training is something you should incorporate into your routine. It also all depends on what you want to achieve and how quickly you want to achieve things. For instance, running is a fantastic way of getting a cardio workout, but it may not be suitable for you. You may simply detest running, or perhaps you have problems with your joints which make running impossible for you. So finding the correct balance is important.
The Importance of Diet
Most of the times, those of us who want to lose fat don’t just exercise, but also cut the number of calories we eat. However, our body needs a certain amount of calories and if you cut them too much, your body will believe it is going through a period of starvation. This means that it will hold on to your fat stores, designed to keep your warm and safe, and instead break down your lean muscle tissue. This means that you will actually workout for nothing, and potentially do damage to yourself as well. It is about making sure you eat a balanced diet, which includes things like fruits and vegetables and grains, as well as unsaturated fat and plenty of lean protein. Cutting your calorific intake can be a good idea, but you have to do this gradually, reducing it by no more than 15% a day.
The best way to achieve this is by firstly understanding what you actually eat. Keeping a food diary is a great way to achieve this, and you may just find you are surprised at the number of things you consume every day that you really didn’t need to eat.The U.S. Department of Education has determined that every pound of excess weight you carry equates to 3,500 calories. This would allow you to work out exactly how many calories you need to burn overall, which you can then divide by the amount of time you have available to lose it. However, always remember that crash dieting is not a good idea. As stated, you should slowly reduce your calorific intake and you should also make sure that you still consume enough calories to sustain you throughout the day.
It is far more important, therefore, to eat a diet that is very balanced and healthy.
“Of the calories you take in, according to the Institute of Medicine, 10 to 35 percent should come from protein, 45 to 65 percent from carbohydrates and 20 to 35 percent from fat. Focus on eating whole-grain foods, including a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, and avoid saturated fat and cholesterol to keep your diet nutritious.”
If you do actually consume all the nutrients that you need, your body will be in a much better position to burn fat and to build muscle at the same time. Indeed, although our focus is always strongly on calories, nutrition is actually far more important. For instance, it is much better to eat 20 tomatoes and carrots than a single blueberry muffin, even if the muffin has fewer calories. This is due to the fact that the muffin doesn’t have nutritional value. It is full of all the bad fats and doesn’t do anything beneficial to our body, whether that is in terms of building muscle, losing fat tissue or both.
Do, also, watch out for drinks. Too many of us think we are doing great with our food, but then turn to sugared sodas or energy drinks, which are full of calories. Similarly, fruit juices are full of sugar. However, you do need fruit juices (pure) to make sure you get your nutritional goodness. But it’s also important to limit sugar intake as much as possible!