Which Burns Fat Better, Cardio or Weight Lifting?

Many people go to the doctor seeking advice on how to lose weight. Many doctors are not trained in exercise, physical fitness or nutrition. This leads to many of those people getting bad advice on how to lose weight.

I have seen many patients who have had their medical doctors tell them that they need to exercise, but not what type of exercise. I have also seen patients whose medical doctors have told them that what they eat has nothing to do with their health.

There is so much bad information out there on nutrition and exercise. All of this bad advice on how to exercise and eat right can have adverse reactions. These reactions can range from not losing weight, to actually gaining weight, to injury from doing too much of an exercise (or doing a wrong exercise) in a desperate attempt to lose weight, reduce pain, feel better and get into better shape.

This can derail anyone from exercise, and prevent them from losing weight and feeling better.

I read a study out of Sweden that showed that over 90% of all people who start a new exercise routine will quit due to pain and injury.

A new study in the Journal of Applied Physiology concluded that aerobic exercise is the best way to burn calories and lose weight. This study proved that aerobic exercise is more effective than weight lifting and aerobic exercise combined, for losing weight. Although it doesn’t go into which type of exercise is the best to do if you have an arthritic and painful joint.

In this study the researchers took 200 middle aged adults who were assigned to 1 of 3 exercise programs for 8 months.  All of the participants were adults over the age of 50, and were overweight and obese.

The first group did three 45 minute sessions per week of aerobic, or cardio-vascular, exercise. The second group did three 45 minute sessions of weight lifting per week. The third group doubled up and did aerobic exercise and weight lifting, exercising for six 45 minute sessions per week.

The researchers found that those who only did weight lifting built muscle but did not lose any weight. This makes sense. Muscle weighs more than fat does. If you start weight lifting, it is very common to not lose much weight because you will be replacing fat with muscle. If you are not doing aerobic exercise consistently, then you will not burn calories or fat. Weight lifting will reshape your body and make your clothes fit differently and will improve posture.

You will burn some calories while weight lifting, but not as much as you would from aerobic exercise. Muscle is more metabolically active than fat is, and therefore takes more calories and energy to maintain the muscle, thus increasing your metabolism. But this increase in metabolism is insignificant.

The researchers stated that the calories burned from having more muscle were not enough to make a difference when it comes to weight loss.

The researchers found that the cardio/ aerobic workouts were just as beneficial for losing weight as the workouts that included both aerobic exercise and weight lifting but required only half the time.

Lead author of the study, Leslie Willis, an exercise physiologist at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina, said “They (the combination aerobic/ weight lifting group) did lose more weight around the middle, but it was not statistically significant. We’re a little bit unclear as to why that is, but we would say that time-wise, it was not that much more beneficial to do double the work and not get that much benefit.”

He goes on to say that “if a person is going to give me 3 hours of exercise a week, the most effective way to lose fat is to spend that time doing aerobic training.”

He is right if you just look at the calories burned. But if you want to lose weight and feel better, then you have to exercise consistently. In order to keep yourself exercising consistently, you have to prevent injuries. The best way to prevent injuries and keep yourself exercising is by keeping your muscles strong and by stretching out your tight and irritated muscles before they get so tight that they tear and become sprained. And a sprain can be just as painful, if not more painful, than breaking a bone.

Ask anyone who has thrown out their back. Most back injuries are due to pulling, tearing and spraining of the hip, leg, low back and/ or abdominal muscles.  Throwing your back out can be one of the most painful experiences in someone’s life.

In order to prevent sprains and strains, you have to keep your muscles loose and strong. In order to get use of a joint that has deteriorated and become arthritic you have to loosen up, and strengthen up, the surrounding muscles.

Willis and other experts agree that strength training should be included in a well balanced exercise routine. Lifting weights, he says, helps to build and maintain strong bones and helps to prevent the gradual loss of muscle that comes with aging.

Dr. Melinda Jampolis, a physician nutritionist specialist and CNN’s diet and fitness expert, says that weight lifting may not be way to take weight off initially, it does help adults keep it off. And having added muscle does pay off over time.

“If you are short on time and not dieting, cardio is better for weight loss in the short term, but we don’t know in the long term. And in my opinion, to maintain weight loss and achieve optimal health, strength training is still very important,” Jampolis says.

Having added muscle will allow you to stabilize painful joints. Stretching will allow you to prevent injury and keep exercising consistently. Even if you just do a half an hour of cardio 3 days a week, you will see a difference. Even doing 15 minutes 3 days a week is better than doing nothing.

There are 4 components to staying healthy, reducing and preventing pain, and living a long, healthy and active life: eating right, aerobic exercise, strength training, and stretching. You have to do all of this consistently if you want to see a difference. The only way to keep yourself exercising consistently is to keep your muscles loose and strong. Skipping out on one of those 4 components will increase your chance of injury and not being able to continue exercising and prevent you from feeling good.

The Pain Free Lifestyle program lists out how to do these 4 components step by step. The program makes exercise and eating right easy to follow. It will allow you to incorporate these components into your lifestyle by utilizing small steps that slowly build up over time.

You can’t expect to go straight from not exercising in 20 years to lifting weights 3 times a week and doing cardio an hour a day 3 days a week. You have to ease your way into exercise otherwise you will hurt yourself and become one of the 90% who quits exercise due to injury and pain.

You also can’t go from not watching what you eat at all to eating a clean and healthy diet. You will set yourself up for failure and not be able to stick with the program long term. You have to slowly incorporate small and easy changes to your diet like: eat some fruit or vegetable with every meal, ct back fried and fast food intake to twice a week. If you deprive yourself of the foods you love, you will eventually end up binging on those foods and quitting your nutrition program.

Slowly, but consistently, incorporating good eating habits, stretching, weight lifting and aerobic activity into your life style in easy to follow steps is the Pain Free Way.



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