High intensity vs. low intensity cardio for fat loss?

(Ben) #41

Here’s my tuppence worth/2 cents worth:

If you fancy the satisfaction of entering and completing a race (10K - full marathon) go for it. Do the training and enjoy your progress.
If you like being in the great outdoors and the time spent running is meditative, go for it.
But if your goal is to lose weight then go for HIIT

I did several 10Ks and a few half marathons in my 40s to try to halt the weight gain that was happening. Now I’m in my late 50s look back on those hours and hours training as time that I should have been with my family. As a weight loss technique, low intensity cardio really isn’t a good use of your time.

(Jason Fletcher) #42

(Jason Fletcher) #43

Dr Jacob Wilson has a number of these on HIIT and cardio and Keto.

(Jason Fletcher) #44

(Jason Fletcher) #45

(Stephanie Hanson) #46

It would be interesting to see if the same was true for ketonians with IR.

(Jason Webb) #47

Wow. As someone about to enter my 40’s with children, this hit me smack in the face. Thank you for sharing this bit of wisdom.

(Kirk Evans) #48

My thought on the original question:
I’ve done quite a bit of reading lately and the most widely agreed upon effective fat burning plan seems to use HIIT and full body exercise, but in each report it is closely followed by strength training. If you choose strength training, adding cardio is necessary. Muscle confusion is a very popular theory that has been shown to work.

Those reading this and trying to figure out how to start:
I joined a gym (LA Fitness), and was surprised when the trainer said that working out would yield marginal improvements on weight loss, the majority is from diet. He said it’s an 80%-20% split, but I think he made that number up. Even the health salespeople agree that, while exercise improves weight loss, success depends on diet.

If you are really large (which is why many of us started keto), you very likely have associated issues such as decreased circulation (frequently cold and/or numbness in extremities) and shortness of breath. You likely have limited flexibility and joint pain. Losing weight helps address these symptoms. Improving circulation and endurance while increasing muscle mass will improve your body’s ability to burn fat.

If you are obese and sedentary you should not start out with High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). If you are fat, your heart has been overworked to compensate and you need some time to work up to HIIT. The additional body weight you are carrying poses risk of injury as your joints and tendons need time to adjust to the additional impact. Keeping your heart rate within the range that @AllanMisner provides in this thread is key, especially when you are starting out.

I have a torn ACL on one knee and had a broken ankle on the other, HIIT options for me are a little limited. Being fat exacerbates the problem to where I started out with the mobility of an 80 year old.

The routine I’ve chosen is 6 days of strength training, alternating muscle isolation. Legs, lat/back, legs, triceps, legs, chest/biceps. 3 sets of 15 each exercise, 60-90 seconds between each set, with muscle failure on the 2nd and 3rd sets. I warmup, stretch, lift, do core exercises (planks, crunches, raises), then 30 minutes of cardio in the moderate range. The 7th day is a rest day. I had to build up to this routine, the first 2 weeks was primarily light weight with high repetitions to get my muscles used to moving. Stretching is key to avoid injury while improving flexibility.

One month in, I’m still really obese, but I can now tie my shoes (daily stretching) and get up a flight of stairs without being winded (cardio). I can feel muscles that haven’t presented themselves or been used in years. My sleep is significantly improved (I can barely make it to 9pm without passing out), my blood pressure is down, my resting heart rate is decreased. I’ve lost 30 pounds in a month.

Diet is necessary for weight loss. Exercise is necessary for health, which aids in weight loss.

(Aleg Novik) #49

A hell of a good advice.

We always look for shortcuts and partiality. While the answer is in your Way of LIFE.

We are complex creatures. Everything is interconnected: physical, emotional, food etc. If you pay attention to just one side (like we are all being educated from school bench) you will never have harmony. :slight_smile:

(Leslie) #50

I eat for metabolic & nutritional maintenance.
I workout for mental & aesthetic maintenance.

For me it’s that simple. Workouts are mental and physical challenges and achievements; food is for my optimal sustenance of life.


@devhammer I know this is an old post, but do you have any HIIT suggestions for a good rowing workout?

(Jason Fletcher) #52

I have a concept 2 myself i would put it on highest setting and then 2 pulls to get it moving and then go as hard as i could for 15 sec. I would do 10 sets of this. I would wait until my heart rate had fully recovered before next set. I just row as fast as i can and stop when my pulls get weaker. Just keep your core tight when you do this and pin down the rower.


Thanks Jason!

(G. Andrew Duthie) #54

If you’re using a Concept 2 rower, most of the performance monitors include a variety of programs for HIIT, including 30sec on, 30 rest, 1minute on, 30 sec rest, etc.

There are almost an infinite variety of ways to do HIIT…another example is here:

The key is to keep the individual parts short enough that you can go pretty much full-out, as hard as you can manage, and then enough recovery time between so that you aren’t completely wasted.

I would definitely suggest, before doing a full-throttle HIIT workout on a rower that you talk with your doctor about what you’re ready for…don’t overdo it.


Thanks @devhammer!!

(David) #56

Hi. Just joined the forum and saw your post. I would recommend looking into the work of Phil Maffetone. A summary of his ideas as I understand them is that during activity the body burns carbs in preference to fat. Burning fat requires oxygen. The body finds it very difficult to burn fat in the absence of oxygen. When doing exercise that gets you out of breath, fat burning is therefore inhibited. As a result to become more efficient at burning fat, keep your exercise to the intensity by which you can breathe in and out through your nose.

(G. Andrew Duthie) #57

See my initial reply at the beginning of this thread:

For purposes of fat burning and/or weight loss, exercise is not the primary driver. Exercise is good for fitness, and HIIT is an efficient way to increase fitness in less time, and there’s a good deal of research to back that up. It also appears to improve insulin sensitivity which may have secondary benefits in terms of burning fat when you’re not exercising.

So, for my money at least, I wouldn’t worry too much about whether or not I’m actively burning fat during a HIIT workout, as the amount of fat I’d burn during a typical session would be negligible anyway.

IOW, the premise of the original question was, IMO, incorrect. Neither HIIT or low-intensity cardio are particularly suited as a direct means of inducing fat loss.

(G. Andrew Duthie) #58

BTW - worth reading one of @richard’s posts on the topic over on his blog, too:


(David) #59

Yes. I think the point is that many people to advocate hiit as an irregular activity ie once a week or so. It’s what you do for exercise the rest of the time. One of those things might be, for instance, running. Running at lower exertion levels allows the body to more easily burn fat for fuel. It’s not necessarily that the purpose of the exercise is to burn the fat, but if you are burning fat for fuel generally (ie Ketogenic) lower exertion exercise might align with that. I only mention it so that the original poster can have a look and see if there is something of value there for them, not to argue against any thing else. It’s just another idea to sit alongside the rest.


Not sure I’m following you on the “need oxygen to burn fat” statement. I burn the most fat, at the fastest rate, on my high altitude climbs. And it’s not just me…this is very common in everyone who climbs high. At very high altitude, it gets harder to breathe because of lower amount of oxygen. To make things worse, the will to eat goes away, and your body depends on your own fat stores. The weight loss is pretty rapid…like 5 or 10 pounds per week. In fact, there is discussion about how Colorado, with lowest BMI, having the benefit of high altitude for weightloss.