Throughout the WLC System, you will hear me refer to the term cardiovascular exercise or cardio for short.
I am using these terms interchangeably with aerobic exercise. So, let's talk about the basics of aerobic exercise…
The word Aerobic means “with oxygen.” Aerobic exercise requires oxygen.
Carbohydrates are initially used for energy during cardiovascular exercise.
Oxygen is used to break down the carbohydrates so they can be used for energy by the body.
Once your carbohydrate stores are emptied, where does your body turn for energy? The answer is… it depends on several factors. Let's find out more.
What Will Your Body Use for Energy?
Well, it really depends on the intensity of your aerobic exercise.
Your body has three options for energy once the carbohydrate stores have been depleted.
Your body can use (1) fat for energy, (2) muscle for energy, or (3) a combination of the two can be used.
More than likely, a combination of fat and muscle will be used for energy once your energy stores are depleted. Your job is to maximize the amount of fat used for fuel and minimize the amount of muscle used for fuel. How do you do that?
Low intensity cardiovascular exercise shifts the energy source more towards fat.
As you raise the intensity, the energy source will start to shift more towards muscle for energy. You want to always focus on using fat as the energy source during cardio.
As the intensity of aerobic exercise goes up, so does the requirement for energy. So, more calories are burned as the intensity is raised. As more calories are burned, you have a greater chance to burn more fat.
But, as intensity is raised the energy source is focused more towards muscle. There's a balance you must find.
Finding that Perfect Balance
You want to burn the greatest amount of fat in the shortest amount of time. So, you've got to find the perfect intensity for burning the most amount of fat in the shortest amount of time.
You don't want to be doing hours of very low intensity cardio to burn the same amount of fat in less time.
We already know that low intensity exercise uses fat solely as the energy source, but low intensity exercise must be done for very long periods of time in order to burn a substantial amount of fat.
High intensity exercise shifts the energy source more towards muscle, so we don't want to use high intensity aerobic exercise. You never want to sacrifice your hard earned muscle. It's also harder to perform high intensity exercise for long periods of time because it's so tough.
How long can you run full speed? Probably not very long unless you are a trained athlete. And even trained athletes will be huffing and puffing after an all out sprint.
Here's The Perfect Type of Cardio for Burning Body Fat:
If low intensity cardio takes too long to burn a substantial amount of fat and high intensity cardio uses muscle as an energy source, what does that leave?
Medium intensity aerobic exercise is the perfect intensity for burning the maximum amount of fat.
You can burn a ton of calories during medium intensity exercise, and you can do it for longer periods of time. Medium intensity cardio will be the weapon of choice for burning fat on most of our programs.
Some of you that know about High Intensity Interval Training or HIIT for short may be wondering why I didn't choose HIIT as the best method of burning fat.
Well, you'll learn more about HIIT later and why I prefer medium intensity cardio. Everything you need to know is right here on the WLC website.