How Many Calories Should You Burn for Weight Loss
If you rely on classic aerobic cardio for weight loss, you’ll likely spend 30 minutes on a machine trying to burn a certain number of calories. But does this work? Would burning 500 calories a day make you lose 1 pound of fat per week?
According to science, it should be. But if it were, you probably wouldn’t be reading this article still.
I used to write a column on fat loss myths for Men’s Fitness magazine. Here’s a classic weight loss topic I’ve tackled.
Myth: I need to burn 500 calories per workout to lose fat.
Probably one of the worst inventions for fat loss was the calorie-counting monitor on treadmills, elliptical machines, and stairs.
Because of these, millions of men and women are now obsessed with the number of calories burned per session. You might even be one of those people who watch you crawl very slowly during a slow cardio session. All the while knowing that you could wipe out a 30-minute, 300-calorie treadmill session with one swipe of the Krispy Kreme hand.
Too many people are brainwashed into thinking they won’t lose fat if they don’t burn 300-500 calories per session. After all, that’s what you’ve been told over and over in those puffy fitness/fashion magazines.
The problems with this approach to fat loss are numerous. First off, it’s hard to tell if calorie counters are accurate. A report in CBS news showed that cardio machines overestimated calorie burn by up to 20%.
Then, sticking to slow cardio for advanced fat loss is relatively useless, and in the least counterproductive. It takes a long time to burn a lot of calories, and one study showed that men who only do cardio training to lose weight have a reduced resting metabolism. Basically you’re just getting back the calories burned due to cardio. On the other hand, the metabolic rate was not decreased in the strength-training men in the same study.
So what is the solution to burning fat in a faster, more efficient way? The answer is to use strength and interval training to burn fewer calories in less exercise time, but with a more intense form of exercise.
Your body will burn more calories after exercise (when using intervals) than after doing slow cardio, and your metabolism will stay high. Some experts refer to this as the afterburn effect. How do you do the intervals? Well, you can run for 30 seconds and rest for 90 seconds and repeat for 6 sets – preferably using the bike or treadmill if you’re experienced with it.
In this short time frame, the intervals will cause your muscles to go wild with activity (I call it metabolic turbulence). This insane metabolism boost causes you to burn a lot of calories after exercise to bring your body back to normal. As a result, you’ll burn more fat and more calories in the post-exercise period as your body tries to get everything under control.
Now there is a time when you will want to count calories, but then it is when you calculate and determine how many calories you will consume per day. Again, you can wipe out the run of an entire workout in less than a minute by just eating garbage. Without a certain structure and discipline in your diet, there is nothing even my programs can do to help you lose fat.
Therefore, do nutritional control and interval training. These are two anti-calorie counting methods that will help you lose fat and slim down.