Spending long hours doing cardio is not the best way to burn fat.
If you've been spending long hours on the treadmill or elliptical machine in an effort to lose body fat, it may be time to reconsider your strategy. While aerobic exercise is effective for burning fat, anaerobic modes of exercise can boost your metabolism and increase your total caloric burn, resulting in lower body fat. Deciding which mode is best for you depends on your preferences and time constraints.
Fat Storage and Distribution
Your fat storage and distribution is determined by multiple factors,including genetics, lifestyle and physical activity. According to the European Journal of Endocrinology, the primary storage site for excess calories lies in the subcutaneous area beneath your skin. Subcutaneous fat plays a dual role of providing insulation from the elements and serving as a fuel depository in times of famine and limited food supply. But when subcutaneous fat stores reach a threshold, excess fat can be shunted to your visceral intra-abdominal area, your muscles, and your liver, where it can interfere with metabolic processes and lead to health problems.
Long-duration low- to moderate-intensity aerobic training is effective for burning fat because fat is an oxidative fuel, meaning it can only be metabolized aerobically, and cannot provide anaerobic energy. Aerobic energy is produced in the mitochondria of your muscles, where fat and glucose are oxidized. Endurance training is effective in promoting the growth of mitochondria and increasing the enzymes that help to oxidize fat. But resistance training and high-intensity interval training are also effective for burning body fatвЂ¦
While your fat is metabolically inert, your lean muscle tissue contributes significantly to your resting metabolic rate, increasing your total daily caloric expenditure. In other words, the more muscle you have, the higher your metabolism, and the more calories you burn all day long. Weight training is generally considered anaerobic exercise, and because of its effect on metabolism both during and after exercise, it may contribute significantly to fat loss. Researchers Lawrence Herrera and Len Kravitz of the University of New Mexico attribute some of the fat-burning effect of resistance training to increases in the hormones epinephrine, norepinephrine and growth hormone, which play an important role in fat metabolism.
High-intensity interval training combines aerobic and anaerobic exercise to boost metabolism and improve cardiorespiratory endurance. As described by exercise scientist Michael Bracko, interval training alternates a brief bout of high-intensity anaerobic activity with brief aerobic periods of low intensity activity. Bracko suggests 60 seconds of sprinting followed by 60 seconds of walking, repeating this cycle for 25 minutes or longer. A 2011 article in the "Journal of Obesity" examined the effectiveness of various modes of exercise in reducing body fat, and found that interval training had a significant impact on both aerobic and anaerobic fitness, and showed promise for subcutaneous and abdominal fat loss. A 2006 study published in the "Journal of Applied Physiology" found that repeated shorter bouts of exercise increased fat metabolism more than a single bout of prolonged exercise.