Using Nutrition to Boost Your Cardio

So, you’re doing cardio religiously and you’re not getting any results. What’s the deal?! Good news. You’re probably just making some minor mistakes that need to be corrected. If you want to make changes to your body, its probably pretty important for you to understand how your body works. After all, I doubt you’re running on the treadmill because your cable got shut off and the cardio-theater at your gym is the only place you can watch The OC. I’m almost certain you want to burn fat. So, lets learn how that works.

cardioWere going to talk about using nutrition to maximize the benefits of your workout. What you eat and when you eat it can make a world of difference. But first, we need to talk about how your body works.

Even though you want to get rid of the excess fat that’s stretching out your pants, your body is not in such a hurry to do so. You almost have to trick your body into burning that fat as energy. You need to have fat to survive, and to your body, those love handles are money in the bank. Because of this, when you don’t eat anything for an extended period of time (as little as 4 waking hours), your body will go into whats called starvation mode. In starvation mode, your body will actually store more fat and break down muscle tissue to use as fuel. This slows your metabolism and increases your body fat. Its basically a self defense mechanism. With no fuel coming in, your body fears it may have to survive for some time without food. Your body doesn’t know that you’re just stuck in traffic or that you had to skip lunch because your boss was making you do his work. It just thinks Holy Mackerel, Im gonna starve. So instead of using its valuable fat stores, your body gets stingy and actually cannibalizes its own muscle tissue to use as fuel.

So to keep your body from freaking out and going into starvation mode, try to eat small meals throughout the day. 5 to 6 small meals a day is ideal. When I say meals, that doesn’t mean that you need to sit down and have 3 courses. A handful of almonds or even a protein shake can count as one of those meals.

On the other end of the spectrum, if you eat a turkey sandwich right before you hop on the treadmill, your body wont burn fat then either. When you eat carbohydrates, your body stores them in the form of glycogen in your liver. As you expend energy, your body uses these glycogen stores until they are gone. When performing any type of aerobic activity, like walking, running, etc., your body can use glycogen stores or fat stores for fuel. The problem is that your body will never use the fat stores until the glycogen stores are gone.

So you’re saying that if I don’t eat, my body will get scared and hold on to all my body fat, but if I do eat, my body will just use that as fuel instead of burning fat? Yes. And if this were the end of the article, you would probably be pretty mad. Fortunately, there are ways to make this work.

Option 1: Right when you wake up, before you eat or drink anything (except water), do 55 minutes of moderate impact cardio. Walking or an elliptical machine is ideal. If you’re breathing too hard to carry on a conversation normally, slow down. If you get light headed or weak from this option, eat something with no carbs before you workout. For example: egg whites, chicken breast, or a protein shake with no carbs. Protein consumption will not affect your glycogen stores so your body will still be willing to burn fat. With this option, its okay to eat breakfast when you’re done.

Option 2: If you only have 20 minutes in the morning, do intervals before you eat. Warm up for 5 minutes and then run for one minute and walk for two. Each time you run, make it a little more intense until you are running at full blast for one minute. After 20 minutes of these intervals, cool down walking for 5 minutes and then don’t eat for an hour after you’re done. Your body will burn fat for that entire hour.

Option 3: If you can only do your cardio in the middle or at the end of the day, use either of the above formulas but try to workout about 2-2 1/2 hours after you eat.

Option 4: Do your cardio right after you do your weight training. I know you’ve heard to do it before this is wrong. Warming up for 5 minutes before you weight train is fine, but always do your fat burning cardio sessions after your weights.

Option 5: If your cardio sessions are more intense like an advanced step class or a spin class, you’re better off having something in your stomach. Try eating about 2 hours before the class and then don’t eat for an hour after the class. Most often, during an intense cardio workout, your body is not willing to burn fat as fuel. It doesn’t know that you’re going to stop in an hour. It thinks this behavior could continue for some time so it can get stingy with its energy stores. But it will burn plenty of fat in the hour after you’re done.

Be specific when following these formulas. They work. Am I saying that if you eat before your cardio that you’re wasting your time? No, anytime you do cardio its great for your heart, you’re burning calories and you can increase your metabolism. But why not get the maximum benefits if you’re going to do the work anyway.

How Jogging Will Help You Lose 10 Pounds

How Jogging Will Help You Lose 10 Pounds

In February, you gained 2 pounds from gobbling down chocolates during Valentine’s Day. No big deal, you think. Then June comes and surrounds you with all-you-can-eat ice cream sundaes. You gain 3.5 pounds, take a deep breath, and forget about your weight.

Next, in November, you celebrate a certain holiday with family, where you can’t resist Mom’s buttery mashed potatoes and Grandma’s cherry pie. Oh no! The scale shows you’ve gained a total of 10 pounds this year. Your eyes widen– how did you get here?

Thinking back, you realize that you hadn’t made any effort to lose the extra weight in February. Since you did not use healthier eating habits or exercise, the pounds kept increasing until you got 10 pounds overweight.

So you decide to lose weight immediately, using better eating habits and regular exercise. One great form of exercise is jogging, “Isn’t jogging boring and old-fashioned?” you wonder.

Actually, jogging has almost always been a great form of exercise. Perhaps you’ve waited at a red light in your car, while a jogger waits to cross the street. Did you notice that the trim and fit jogger wasted no time by running in place, until the traffic light changed to green? Now you can become this determined person.

jogging-exerciseThis activity has another advantage: you can jog with others, like a friend, a group of buddies or a dog. You get each other’s company, making jogging even more enjoyable. Plus, your friends can encourage you to stick to this activity, when you’d rather give up.

Jogging also strengthens your cardiovascular system. With regular exercise, your health improves and you reduce your chance of a heart attack. You also get more energy, so you can go from one activity to the next with less rest in between.

Another reason to jog has to do with its intensity. Because jogging classifies as a high-intensity exercise, this exercise burns a good number of calories. As you may know, burning calories helps you reach your goal of losing 10 pounds.

Besides burning calories, jogging gives you a fun way to exercise. You can wave “hello” to neighbors, whose sincere smiles provide encouragement. And who can forget the scenery you see while jogging- like a rabbit lurching in the bushes or sunflowers towering upwards. You can take deep breaths and relax while jogging.

You may know that jogging is good exercise, but did you know that jogging is one of the cheapest ways to exercise? Basically, you spend money on running shoes and you’re set. You don’t need special equipment, videos, or membership to a club. But you do need the stamina and the drive to go forward to be a good jogger.

Although jogging can give you a great workout, remember that this weight loss technique puts pressure on your feet and joints. Do yourself a favor and start out with a short distance, like 15-20 minutes around the park. Gradually increase the time you spend on jogging, until you reach an effective distance for your stamina.

Following this gradual method will let your body adjust to jogging, your ticket to losing 10 pounds. And better yet, after you lose the weight, jogging can help you maintain your healthy weight.

Are You Making This Cardio Mistake?

Are You Making This Cardio Mistake?

Are you exercising for long periods of time to try to burn fat? If youre like most people you probably are, but there is a better way. Its called high intensity interval training (HIIT) and lately it has started to become pretty famous for its obvious health benefits.

–So What Exactly Are The Benefits?

1. Major Increase in Fat Loss. In a study done by Tremblay et al, two groups were assigned different training regimens. Group A performed the regular moderate intensity cardio (like jogging or bicycling) for 20 weeks and Group B performed a HIIT routine for 15 weeks. In the end the results of each group were recorded. Group B lost nine times more fat than Group A and in 5 weeks less (1)!

2. Increased Lactic Acid Threshold. Lactic acid is that burning sensation you feel when you work a muscle really hard. You’re lactic acid threshold is how fast your body can remove the lactic acid in your muscles. The higher the lactic acid threshold, the harder you can work your muscles before they get tired.

3. Increased peak power, or the maximum amount of energy available for a sustained period of time (2)(3)(4).

4. Increased VO2 peak or ability to utilize oxygen (2).

5. Shorter Workouts. I dont know about you, but would you rather spend 30 minutes to an hour jogging along the road, or crank it up a notch and just spend 4-8 minutes performing sprints?

–So Why Does This Burn more Fat than just Jogging?

cardio-trainingAlthough HIIT is much shorter than a normal run for 30 minutes workout, it burns more fat. To put it simply, after your HIIT training session is over with your metabolism explodes and tons of calories are being burned. So essentially with HIIT training, you burn most of the fat after your training session.

–So How Exactly Do I Perform This?

Simply put, HIIT is based around this concept: Go fast then go slow. Repeat. You can perform HIIT routines on pretty much any machine you want like a treadmill, elliptical machine, cycling machine, or apply it to almost any sport (swimming, cycling, running). Try to keep the bursts of speed at around 90%-100% of max effort.

Here is a sample HIIT routine:

Sprint 20 Seconds
Rest 10 Seconds
Repeat 4-8 Times


Sprint 15 Seconds
Rest 5 Seconds
Repeat 4-6 Times

These are just samples, you can change it however you want (you could even use distance instead of time), but remember, HIIT is based around the concept of fast bursts of work. Also, to continually challenge yourself you should add to how many times you repeat the cycle. Say for instance day one you repeat the sprint/rest cycle 8 times, well the next time you should shoot for 9 times. Also remember the amount of time you sprint, rest, and the amount of times you repeat the cycle should depend upon your athletic ability.

If you haven’t trained at a high intensity since your high school gym days, take it slow at first. If you have to start at 80% intensity and perform less cycles thats O.K. too. Everyone has to start somewhere. You may also want to check with your doctor before performing a routine like this as it is very physically demanding.

The Importance of Listening to Your Heart

The Importance of Listening to Your Heart

If I were your (sweet) heart I would most likely be yearning for your attention right now. To make my point, I invite you to take this allegorical trek with me. Pretend that your heart – your one and only sweet heart that lives inside your chest – could actually talk to you. What would it have on its “mind” right now?

The Heart Of The Problem

We treat our hearts like the wheels on a Daytona 500 racecar. But when it wears out we can’t pull into the pitstop and snap on another one. We’ve only got one. Like other internal organs, we often ignore our hearts. We live our lives satisfying our desires, and forming habits that endanger the health of our heart, and our lives as well.

Unhealthy Heart Habits You Can Avoid

Now I speak to you from the heart (literally). You pretend you do not realize how your actions hurt me day by day. You neglect to exercise. Haven’t you seen the volumes of scientific evidence that tell you how much I benefit from aerobic exercise?

Will you wait until you feel that burning in your chest, then you go for an aspirin? That might be too late. And how about all those chemical stimulants you subject me to every day? The caffeine in your coffee makes you feel good, but it makes me work harder. And the alcohol. That affects me too. Narcotic drugs… oh, those are even worse. You don’t even go there.

From the first time you tried smoking, I knew you were not thinking about me. Don’t you know that I suffer whenever your other organs are damaged. It’s more difficult to pump blood through damaged lungs and clogged arteries. You are killing me. When will you cut down on your animal fat and cholesterol intake? You’re killing me, and you need to realize this fact: When I die, so do you.

Help Change the Statistics – Exercise

Research is showing that approximately 1,200,000 “new and recurrent” coronary attacks occur per year. Don’t you realize that heart disease (696,947) is the leading cause of deaths in America. And most of this could be prevented by regular physical exercise.

Compare this to the number of deaths from cancer (557,271), stroke (162,672), chronic lower respiratory diseases (124,816), accidents or unintentional injuries (106,742), and diabetes (73,249). And I (your heart) suffer whenever any of those other conditions happen as well… I die from strokes too (cry, cry, cry).

Tell me, can’t you control your blood pressure and lose some weight? I don’t want it to have to end like Nellie did. She grew up a beautiful young girl of normal weight. Then she became lax in her eating habits and did not exercise. For years I overworked myself pumping blood past body fat and through partially clogged arteries.

She thought about her weight and how she looked, but never about me. Her main concern was how she could fit into her favorite dress again. I couldn’t take the neglect anymore. I attacked her one morning. She died at age 45.

Now, I don’t want to have to fail you that way. I am your one and only sweet heart. I’ve been working for you from before you were born. I have been taking care of you even while you sleep. Take care of me, please. Won’t you?

Please just listen to your heart, now!

Das, S.R., et. al., (2006). Increased Cardiovascular Risk Associated With Diabetes in Dallas County. American Heart Journal, May; 151(5);1094-1100.
Luddington, A., Diehl, H., (2002). Health Power. Hagerstown: Review & Herald
National Center for Health Statistics; Deaths-Leading Causes, URL:

The Importance Of Good Breathing When Exercising

Why Don’t We Breathe Properly Nowadays?

There are various reasons for this ranging from a more stressful lifestyle to habits weve carried through from childhood. Because most of us have more stress in our day to day living and we exercise a lot less, weve become a generation of upper chest breathers and only use the top portion of our lungs. The effect of this is that we breathe more rapidly to get oxygen in when we get stressed.

Because our bodies dont know whats going on in the outside world it assumes by this breathing and breath holding that we are in grave danger (maybe were being hunted down by a tiger?) it switchs on our fight or flight reflex and our body gets pumped up with adrenaline and other hormones to get ready to flee and by the end of the day we can find ourselves totally on edge and come home and flop on the sofa exhausted.

As you know yourself the benefits of a few deep breaths to help you calm down in a stressful situation, we can now logically see that we are actually adding to the stress in our bodies by continuing to breathe this way. To start to turn your life around by proper breathing, be aware of how you breathe in your day to day living if you do find yourself in situations where you tighten up or hold your breath.. take a few deep breaths, youll find yourself starting to relax and be able to think clearer and at least now you wont be adding to the stress your bodies under!

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