It’s no secret that cardio in any form – running, biking, your favorite class at the gym, swimming etc. – is an essential part to not only losing weight, but for warding off diseases, cancers and keeping your heart healthy too. Whatever kind of cardio you do choose, there is an individual fat burning zone for all of us. To find out what it is, you’ll first need to figure out your target heart rate. Knowing this number up front can really help in speeding up the weight loss process because you’ ll always know when you’re in the fat burning zone, or when you need to slow it down a notch. Remember, faster isn’t always better.
Depending on your fitness goals, cardio can be more beneficial to you if done in the right sequence.
If your goal is to lose weight, doing cardio first, right before your weight lifting session will be best for you. Because our body was in a fasting state while we were sleeping, you’ll want to make sure to eat something small, like half a cup of oatmeal and a protein shake or egg whites – especially if doing more than 40 minutes of cardio. Give yourself 20 to 30 minutes before starting your workout, that way you give your body the time it needs to properly digest your food so you don’t cramp. Don’t forget to stay in your target heart rate zone the whole time for maximum results in minimal time. Since your body is going to be burning through calories like crazy for up to eight hours after your workout, eat smaller meals throughout the day. This will keep your energy level high and blood sugar stable, stopping you from the likelihood of binging.
If your goal is to gain muscle, you’ll definitely want to save your cardio session for after your workout. Some people might say that doing cardio while trying to lean up or build muscle might be counterproductive. That’s just not true! Cardio is best after working out if trying to build muscle because you’re not wasting all your energy and motivation on the elliptical machine, leaving you felling depleted and weak when you’re heading out to the weight room. The key here is to do low intensity sessions three to four days a week for about 40 minutes – that way you’re not burning any hard earned muscle. You’ll also want to watch your diet closely, making sure that you consume enough nutrient-rich calories from lean protein sources, quality carbs and essential fats. These are the building blocks to healthy muscle growth. The first thing our body goes for when we’re in a fasted state are our muscles – so eat up! Research has shown that when you set yourself up with proper nutrition while building muscle, you stop protein from breaking down and in turn increase muscle synthesis – that’s a win win.
Whether your fitness goal is to lose weight or gain muscle, eating the right foods are just as important post work out as they are pre work out. You’ll need to feed your muscles and restore your glycogen levels within 30 – 45 minutes tops. Egg whites, a lean chicken breast, a piece of whole wheat toast with peanut butter, almonds, a salad and a small banana are all good choices and would be ideal for a pick me up. Stay hydrated throughout the day and make sure your getting plenty of rest. Muscles, and weight loss are made in the kitchen and also need plenty of rest.
Does this sound like something you can do? We’re you doing cardio in the right order? Let me know what you think 🙂