Cardio Calories: Effective for Fat Loss?

"How accurate are the calories burned on a treadmill? It is hard for me to reconcile that when I was doing a longer cardio workout it would say I burned 500 calories and now when
I do the short burst intervals for 15-20 minutes it says I only burned 160 calories. A few people told me the treadmill reading is wrong anyway. What do you think? Thanks, K "

"This is a great question!

When Fat Loss is your goal, your concern will lie in boosting your metabolism so your body burns more calories 24-7.

A lot of women fall prey to the number of calories burned on a treadmill for it is immediate feedback.

However, this number can be off by as much as 30% as it does not account for several variable....such as:

~ your body fat percentage. A person who has a higher percentage of body fat will usually burn less calories than a person with more muscle mass.

~ your fitness level. If you're new to an activity, you'll usually burn more calories than a fit person doing the same activity.

To further the issue, the typical mindset is - the more calories I burn, the faster I will lose weight, the more weight I will lose.

That is great, however, immediate calorie burn is not what makes a difference on your body's ability to burn more fat and calories all day long. The elevated calorie burn you see on a treadmill diminishes and goes back to "normal" shortly after the cardio session ends. This means your body is burning less overall calories.

Plus, the longer you "do" cardio, the more you put your body at risk of burning lean muscle. Not good for fat loss, for muscle is the foundation of your calorie burn...the more lean muscle you have - the more calories you burn - all day, all night....not just when you are exercising.

So in essence - women find themselves doing more and more cardio based on the # of calories burned and the fact that they end up having to do more and more since the entire process ends up backfiring and slowing down their metabolism. It is very common for women to end up doing long bouts of cardio just to maintain a body they are not happy with, feeling nothing works and there is no other option.

This is why a balanced fitness program is a must.

Not only must you have a concern for supportive nutrition but also a fitness plan that addresses how much lean muscle your body holds.

Resistance Training is the heart of a true fat loss program for it addresses how many calories your body burns 24-7 as resistance training increases your lean muscle (and remember, the more lean muscle you have, the more calories you stated in the handbook).

The short burst intervals that you perform are not going to show a huge increase in calories while you perform them...however, due to the intensity and nature of the workout, your metabolism will continue to stay elevated for 24-36 hours afterwards.

Traditional cardio - while yes has some benefits - will not give you this benefit nor the advantage to faster and more effective fat loss.

Plus intervals are short!
As busy women, we just do not have the TIME to spend hours every week on the treadmill. Short burst intervals not only allow you to use your time more effectively, but also BOOST your Metabolism for there is no risk of the loss of lean muscle from long cardio sessions.

So my advice is to not base your success around this feature on the treadmill. You will get results simply by following the Fit Yummy Mummy guidelines and focus your cardio sessions on short, but intense intervals to help you see faster fat loss results.

Holly Rigsby, CPT, MAT America's #1 Fat Loss Expert for Busy Moms and the author of Fit Yummy Mummy Lifestyle System and expert contributor at She has helped well over 500 Mom's lose the stubborn baby fat and get their pre-baby body back. Join Holly's Free Online Fitness
Community for Moms Today ClubFYM

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