Do you want to lose weight, build muscle, or feel more fit?
There’s a reason cardio has been a longtime staple in fat loss programs. Regular cardio exercise can help you burn fat — and it may also benefit your heart health, mood, sleep habits, and more.
But is cardio the best option for fat loss? What type of workout burns the most fat? Here’s how cardio fits into the fat-burning equation.
How Does Cardio Burn Fat?
Cardio exercise will raise your heart rate and body temperature as your body works to supply your muscles with blood and oxygen.
All of this extra work requires adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the energy currency that powers your every move.
In order to generate enough ATP to meet the demands of exercise, your body has to make it out of nutrients digested from food.
The result: More calories burned in the process.
The calories you burn during cardio will come from two primary fuel sources: fats and carbs.
Your body will typically use up carbs first during exercise and dip into fat reserves if needed.
Which Cardio Routine Helps Burn Fat?
The great part about Group Fitness Live is that we offer a HUGE LIVE schedule and On Demand Library of a variety of Cardio workouts.
There are two types of cardio workouts: steady-state and high-intensity. These types of cardio burn fat in different ways.
So if you’re looking to burn as many calories from fat as possible, which type of cardio exercise should you choose?
Ultimately, both HIIT and steady-state cardio are tried-and-true methods for burning calories and fat.
Here are the basics and benefits of each type of cardio workout:
Steady-state cardio will likely burn a higher percentage of calories from fat during your workout as compared to high-intensity intervals.
Minute for minute, a HIIT workout will burn more calories than steady-state cardio — but you’ll likely be able to do steady-state cardio for longer periods of time, so depending on the length of your workout, your total calorie burn may be higher.
HIIT favors carbs as fuel. (Expect to burn only 35 percent of your calories from fat.) But because your body utilizes more ATP at higher intensities, HIIT burns more calories per minute than exercising at a lower intensity.
Another important benefit of HIIT: You’ll continue burning more calories once your workout is over through a phenomenon known as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC).
It takes more time and energy (a.k.a. calories) for your body to cool down, replenish energy, and repair damaged tissue after a HIIT session than after a steady-state cardio workout.
Is Cardio the Best Way to Lose Fat?
Cardio burns fat, but it’s not the only way to burn fat — strength training and healthier eating can also help you reach your fat-loss goals.
For best results, incorporate both types of cardio into your weekly workout schedule, along with resistance training. Keep in mind HIIT is more challenging, so you may need to build up to it if you’re new to exercise.