What's the Best Cardio For Fat Loss?

Should you do high-intensity or slower, steady-state cardio? A new meta-analysis provides your cardio prescription.

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Today’s Health Upgrade

  • The new rules of carb-loading

  • Is all cardio equal?

  • The memory vitamin

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The New Rules of Carb-Loading

Gone are the days when you need to eat as many carbs as possible before a hard workout. But that doesn’t mean you should avoid them completely. 

Research suggests that carbs help support better performance — especially if you’re performing a longer endurance-focused workout. 

Scientists compared those who ate more carbs before a long workout (90 minutes) to those who didn’t eat many carbs. Those who fueled up maintained higher intensity and had less fatigue. 

If you’re going to do longer-lasting activity (especially endurance-type exercise, like running, biking, etc.), want to build muscle, or are trying to maximize performance or strength, enjoying pre-workout carbs is probably in your best interest.

Unless you’re doing a workout longer than two or three hours, you don’t need to go crazy. Approximately 20 to 40 grams of carbs (or 1-2 slices of bread or a banana) will do the trick and it is best to combine with about 20 to 40 grams of protein.

But this doesn’t mean you must eat carbs. If you feel better when you work out on an empty stomach, you can still make incredible progress. (Remember, Arnold trains on nothing but caffeine and then eats afterward).

If your workouts are shorter than 60 minutes, your “need” for carbs is less. You can fuel up with coffee, a good pre-workout, or some electrolytes. And, if you’re focused on fat loss, eating fewer carbs before a workout could support your fat-burning goals — assuming your carb-depleted approach doesn’t result in bad workouts where you can’t push as hard.

The Best Cardio For Fat Loss

Many people argue whether one type of cardio is better than another, and a new study might have put the debate to rest. 

Scientists recently found that high-intensity cardio (HIIT) and lower-intensity cardio were equally effective at supporting weight loss goals. 

The research focused on randomized controlled trials (the gold standard for determining direct relationships), which included 11 studies assessing the effectiveness of cardio. The high-intensity workouts lasted an average of 27 minutes and were performed three to five times per week. The lower-intensity sessions were performed the same number of days, but the workout lasted approximately 45 minutes per workout. 

Both programs resulted in similar fat loss, body weight reduction, BMI changes, and triglycerides. That said, the HIIT workouts did a better job of improving VO2 max, fasting glucose, and total cholesterol. 

The takeaway? Don’t forget rule #1: consistency is king. The activities you do repeatedly will deliver results. So you can spend all day optimizing, but what matters is consistent work and effort. That means selecting programs that best match your behaviors, routines, and lifestyle. 

Different types of cardio will have tradeoffs. HIIT workouts require less time, but they can put more stress on your body and require more recovery. Lower-intensity cardio requires longer workouts but creates less fatigue, making it typically easier to bounce back faster. Or, you can mix and match different types of training. If you determine the variables that best allow you to stick to a plan — and remember to stay patient — it’s only a matter of time before you’ll see results. 

The Memory Vitamin

We are critical of many supplements overstating claims, but when research starts adding up, we give the right ingredients their flowers. 

Recent research suggests that a good multivitamin could help you protect your memory against age-related decline. 

Scientists reviewed five studies on approximately 8,000 older individuals over two years. The goal was to assess how multivitamins affected cardiovascular health, but they also focused on brain health, memory, and cognitive function. 

While the multivitamin didn’t appear to do much for executive function, the researchers saw a real change in memory. They estimated that daily multivitamin use protected memory significantly and was associated with nearly five years less aging.

This isn’t the first time we’ve shared a study about multivitamins and aging, which is why it was worth sharing again. Often, new findings get all the attention. However, research that is replicated and discovers similar results deserves fanfare because that’s when you can feel more confident something works

At this point, we don’t know if the memory benefits extend to younger individuals. But if you want to try, multivitamins are a low-risk alternative that tends to be fairly affordable. Or, you can focus on including two to three servings of fruits and vegetables per day to give your body (and brain) the nutrients it needs.

Publisher: Arnold Schwarzenegger

Editors-in-chief: Adam Bornstein and Daniel Ketchell