For Masters It’s the Diet Stupid!
Hey masters athlete, looking to lose body fat? If you’re counting on relatively low-intensity cardio to get it done you may be counting wrong. While cardio provides many benefits, too many people see cardio as an end-all for body fat loss. To be sure, cardio can create an environment where body fat is burned and also can contribute to creating the all-important calorie deficit required for body fat loss. However, many people fall short of their fat-loss goals by making incorrect assumptions about using cardio, especially assumptions about a cardio-only approach.
Important to note we’re talking about mainstream, or low-intensity cardio – the people who trudge away on treadmills at a slow jog for long time periods. High-intensity cardio like going all out for ten sets of 30 seconds isn’t suitable for the general population due to conditioning, injury risk and that it’s hard and most people just won’t stick with it.
Cardio is a great thing; it pumps tons of oxygenated blood through the body, hastens delivery of nutrients to muscles and organs, develops a strong heart and strong lungs, and, at times, can give us a wonderfully euphoric shot of endorphins. Additionally, cardio requires the body to burn calories, a good thing for fat loss. But here’s where some people get badly off track.
Cardio only burns so many calories. Running a mile at moderate pace burns about 125 calories. That’s it folks. So a 30 minute treadmill session will burn roughly 375 calories, maybe 400 by throwing in some post-run residual effect. That in itself is fine. But the bigger problem is how some people will substitute cardio for diet discipline. A 375 calorie cardio burn can be blown just by picking the wrong salad dressing. I hear people talk all the time about getting in their cardio, but when asked how the diet is going they don’t have a clue.
The key to weight loss is diet, period. Sure, show on paper the math that proves the impact of cardio, but we’re talking real world here. Truth is, far too many people head out for their daily cardio thinking they’ve got it covered, then act puzzled and make excuses when the body fat levels don’t change. Typical responses from people are “I’m watching what I eat” or “I’ve been pretty good on my diet”, when in fact they really have no idea how many calories they’ve downed in the last week. It’s the diet stupid!
It all starts with knowing your daily caloric needs, then ensuring that number isn’t exceeded for maintenance or that a calorie deficit occurs for weight loss. Simple right? Not if you don’t know the numbers, and most people in pursuit of “weight loss” don’t know the numbers. That’s why techniques such as diet journaling become critical, people seeking to lose wight absolutely must be able to know, recite, and manager their caloric intake.
Cardio is a great thing. I personally can’t even recount the endless miles I’ve run or cycled in all conceivable settings around the world. Cardio can provide a pleasurable and important dimension to our physicality and to our psyche, and can definitely contribute to weight loss as part of a comprehensive plan. But never let anyone confuse cardio as a stand-alone means to masters weight loss and a great looking body, only intense diet discipline will achieve that.