Is HIIT Better For Fat Loss Than Steady State Cardio?

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    Is HIIT Better For Fat Loss Than Steady State Cardio?


    High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) alternates low & high intensity activities. Example: alternate 30sec sprinting with 60sec jogging for 10-30mins. Spinning & Tabata are other popular forms of Interval Training.

    But is HIIT really more efficient to lose fat than steady state cardio? In this post you’ll get a comparison between both in terms of fat loss.


    How Cardio Helps Fat Loss. To lose fat you need a caloric deficit. Either by eating less calories or by burning more calories or both. Here’s how HIIT & steady state cardio help you create this caloric deficit:

    Burn Calories. Your body uses the food you eat as fuel for cardio. The more & higher intensity cardio you do, the more calories you’ll burn.
    Increase Metabolic Rate. Your body burns more calories at rest during the hours post cardio. This is the post-workout afterburn or EPOC.
    Eat More. Cardio allows you eat more while having a caloric deficit. This can prevent starvation with lighter males/females.

    There are more ways that cardio can help fat loss, but they don’t matter within the context of this post. What matters is that you need a caloric deficit to lose fat (and you can do this without cardio, through dieting & lifting alone).


    How Much Calories Does Cardio Burn? Everything depends on the intensity at which you do cardio, and how long you do it. Here are some estimates:

    Low Intensity. Less than 65% of your max heart rate. Walking burns only 5kcal/min. That’s why it’s not efficient for fat loss.
    Moderate Intensity. 65-85% of your max heart rate. Steady state cardio at moderate intensity on the elliptical trainer burns about 10kcal/min.
    High Intensity. +85% of your max heart rate. Sprints burn 15kcal/min. But most people can’t sustain this kind of intensity for long.

    These are estimates. The best way to find out how much you burn is using the bodybugg. And people who’ve used it, found that HIIT burns about the same or less calories than steady state cardio. 2 reasons:

    Average intensity is the same since HIIT alternates between high & low intensities (sprints then jogging). So you end up burning 10kcal/min. Most people never get the most out of HIIT because they aren’t pushing themselves hard enough. Meaning: never until their muscles burn.

    EPOC. Then there’s HIIT’s biggest selling point: EPOC. According to this study HIIT has an EPOC of 14% vs 7% with steady state cardio. So if 30mins of HIIT burns as much as 30mins steady state cardio, that’s 342kcal vs 321kcal.

    Do 30mins HIIT 3x/week (which is a lot) and you’ll burn 252kcal per month extra from EPOC. Since you need to burn 3500kcal to lose 1lb fat this is insignificant. But again, these numbers are estimates. Use the bodybugg for proof.

    So in theory HIIT will burn more than steady state cardio through EPOC, but not as much as people usually think. As I posted before: people often overestimate how much calories they burn. That’s one reason why you can’t lose fat.


    Cardio Duration. The longer you do cardio, the more total calories you’ll burn. You must be in really good shape to handle 30mins HIIT while anyone can do 45mins moderate intensity steady state cardio. Compare calories burned:

    30mins HIIT: burns 324kcal (incl 14% EPOC)
    45mins steady state cardio: burns 481kcal (incl 7% EPOC)
    So you’ll burn 628kcal/month more if you do 3x45mins steady state cardio than if you’d do 3x30mins HIIT. But people usually do 20mins HIIT. This would burn 228kcal incl EPOC or 3036kcal/month less. Which is almost 1lb of fat.


    Cardio Frequency. 20mins of HIIT 3x/week is hard to recover from because it’s high intensity. You’ll stall if you do StrongLifts 55 + HIIT 3x/week. But you can easily do steady state cardio 4x/week without issues.

    4x45mins steady state cardio per week burns 7696kcal/month or +2lbs of fat. 3x20mins of HIIT only burns 2736kcal/month. So HIIT burns less total calories, is harder physically & mentally and causes stalling by messing with recovery.

    Again: don’t believe me. Get the bodybugg and do the test. Compare how many calories you burn with HIIT vs steady state cardio. Then decide what is most efficient knowing that burning more calories matters most to lose fat.


    Should You Never Do HIIT? No. HIIT has benefits: it takes less time, is more fun and more things I won’t get into here. Did I write that you won’t lose fat if you do HIIT? No, you will. But less than you might think.

    My point is that for fat loss burning calories matters. Steady state cardio burns more calories and with less effort. Here are 5 quick cardio tips to lose fat:

    1. Don’t do HIIT if you do StrongLifts 55. Your legs will never get enough recovery. Do steady state cardio only. Up to 4x45mins/week.
    2. Don’t do HIIT if you’re a beginner with zero fitness levels. This would be like starting with 220lbs on Squats. Build base fitness levels first.
    3. If you lack time to do 4x45mins/week steady state cardio, do 3x30mins. This burns about as many as calories as 3x30mins HIIT does.
    4. If you lack time to do 3x30mins/week steady state cardio, focus on diet & strength. You’ll lose fat, but slower. Accept it.
    5. If you get bored of the steady state cardio: get over it. It’s meant to be effective, not fun. Really. Once you’ve got body fat down you can quit it.

    Again: I’m NOT against HIIT. I do it. I’m against people wasting their time. You have to train hard, but you also have to train smart. Steady state cardio burns more calories with less effort. That’s training smart.

    Why HIIT Is NOT Better For Fat Loss | StrongLifts.com


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    Other than that they are wrong that was great Steady state burns more calories "with less effort" but takes 5x as long to do it. Not everyone is a pro bodybuilder with an unlimited amount of time in the gym. And the caloric difference is while you are doing them, but HIIT give you more lipolysis over the following 24 hours which makes up for it.
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    Shameless copy of Martin Berkhan's opinion..

    1. Walking does not affect AMPK (which blunts muscle protein synthesis).

    Moderate to intense cardio does. Prolonged cardio, i.e. jogging at a good pace for >30 min has the most detrimental effect in this regard.

    2. Walking does not stress the CNS. You're saving your nervous system (strength) and performance for the weights, which is crucial for muscle gains and muscle retention. HIIT is very stressful for the CNS. An all out sprint (i.e. HIIT done right) is not so different from a set of 3-4RM squats.

    Lifting at a suboptimal capacity starts a downward spiral in my experience. If your nervous system cannot keep up with what your muscles can lift, muscle loss happens as a consequence of never being able to apply adequate stress/perform optimally.

    3. Cardio - HIIT in particular - tears up muscle fibers and require repair and recovery, just like a set of squats.

    If you're adding 2-3 sessions of HIIT to your 3 sessions of weights, it is almost comparable to adding 2-3 days of weights. Keyword is "almost", I'm obviously not drawing direct comparisons. That's all fine and dandy if you think working out 5-6 days/week is a good idea on a diet. But I don't think anyone - no matter what level of experience - needs more than 3 days a week in the gym when cutting. (Yes, this goes for competitors and beginners alike.)

    In conclusion, if conditioning is not terribly important for you, if your goal is really about getting shredded while keeping your muscle, I highly suggest limiting moderate to high intensity cardio on a diet - or ditch it completely. Save it for some other time when your recovery is good and not limited by your diet.

    A calorie deficit is a recovery deficit. Avoid deficit spending.

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    Red face


    I thought HIIT was beneficial in the means that even though it breaks down muscle fibers and takes longer to heal, you are adding muscle vs leaving it be or losing it. Everyone knows more muscle means more caloric expenditure which equates to fat burning.

    Correct me where need be, I like to learn.

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    Quote Originally Posted by oogaly_boogal View Post
    I thought HIIT was beneficial in the means that even though it breaks down muscle fibers and takes longer to heal, you are adding muscle vs leaving it be or losing it. Everyone knows more muscle means more caloric expenditure which equates to fat burning.

    Correct me where need be, I like to learn.
    You're not necessarily going to add muscle mass by doing HIIT. HIIT is more beneficial than LIIT for fat loss, yes, but not because of more muscle.

    From Doctor Layne Norton:
    Another question that often arises regarding cardio is the argument "Low-Intensity vs High-Intensity" cardio. Many people automatically assume that low-intensity cardio is better; citing that high-intensity cardio primarily utilizes glucose (anaerobic metabolism), while low-intensity cardio primarily burns fat (aerobic metabolism).

    Once again, the substrate used during cardiovascular work is not as important as the caloric deficit created by the cardiovascular work. In actuality, high-intensity cardiovascular work is superior to low-intensity cardio for several reasons

    High intensity cardio has a much stronger effect on GLUT-4 translocation in muscle cells due to the increased force of muscle contraction. This means that high-intensity cardio creates a much stronger nutrient partitioning effect towards muscle tissue than low-intensity cardio.

    Low periods of low-intensity exercise tend to "overtrain" the fast-twitch muscle fibers and convert the intermediate muscle fibers to slow-twitch fibers. This is not a desirable effect as the fast twitch muscle fibers are those that have the greatest chance to hypertrophy. If your body has less fast twitch fibers, then you will experience less hypertrophy from training.

    The body's hormonal response to high intensity cardio is similar to the body's hormonal response to resistance training (i.e. increased insulin sensitivity, gh release, Igf-1 release, etc) without placing the same strain on the nervous system as resistance training.

    High-intensity cardio causes the body to preferentially store more carbohydrates and burn more fat.

    High-intensity cardiovascular exercise increases oxygen expenditure and forces the body to adapt by becoming more efficient at oxygen transport (increase in VO2 max). More efficient oxygen transport to the muscles will increase fat oxidation as fat oxidation is dependant upon the presence of oxygen.

    High-intensity cardio seems to be more muscle sparing. Several studies have shown that high-intensity interval training (aka HIT) burns less calories when compared to continuous lower intensity cardio. However, the skinfold losses were greater with the HIT group than in the continuous intensity group. This means not only did the HIT group lose more fat, they also spared more muscle tissue by burning less overall calories .
    Therefore, briefly, "If you want to lose fat quickly and efficiently, high intensity cardio is the best mode of cardio to incorporate into your training programme. Not only does it require less time to complete, but it burns more overall calories throughout the day. High intensity cardio makes the body more efficient at using oxygen and elicits the same hormonal response as resistance training - without the stress on the body - allowing for the same fat burning ability. High intensity exercise is also muscle sparing, due to the shorter exercise period performed and less calories burned during the session, allowing the body to be a more effective fat burning machine, since more muscle mass means a greater ability for the body to lose fat."

    ~Rosie~
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    There will never be a definitive answer to this. Do the one that you prefer and fits into your schedule better.
    M.Ed. Ex Phys

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rodja View Post
    There will never be a definitive answer to this. Do the one that you prefer and fits into your schedule better.
    As the article suggested. Good post.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rodja View Post
    There will never be a definitive answer to this. Do the one that you prefer and fits into your schedule better.
    When someone overweight asks me what's the best diet my answer is "the one that you'll actually follow and comply with"
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rodja View Post
    There will never be a definitive answer to this. Do the one that you prefer and fits into your schedule better.
    Bingo.

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    i tried both and the HIIT made me lose fat much better than the regular cardio.

    im not too sure why people saying it is still in debate since pratically over 90% done in research for this showed HIIT to be more effective in turning your body in to a fat burning machine. meaning transforming it better to burn fat, regular cardio cant do that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by x_danny_x View Post
    i tried both and the HIIT made me lose fat much better than the regular cardio.

    im not too sure why people saying it is still in debate since pratically over 90% done in research for this showed HIIT to be more effective in turning your body in to a fat burning machine. meaning transforming it better to burn fat, regular cardio cant do that.
    Remember in training - as with anything else - there are always anomalies, and just because something is "proven" or "said" to be the "best", it is not going to be the best for everyone. Add to that the fact that not everyone should be doing HIIT - for example, those who have genuine medical conditions where such intensity would be detrimental or dangerous, etc. What type if cardio one does also depends a lot on personal preference than what is most optimal - for example, some people might not like having to put in the effort required, or are not that serious about their training and just do it to socialize, or want more endurance long-term re performance, etc.

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    I've tried both. Low intensity burns more fat and less muscle for me. Do whichever one works better for you or whichever one is more enjoyable.

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    Quote Originally Posted by x_danny_x View Post
    i tried both and the HIIT made me lose fat much better than the regular cardio.

    im not too sure why people saying it is still in debate since pratically over 90% done in research for this showed HIIT to be more effective in turning your body in to a fat burning machine. meaning transforming it better to burn fat, regular cardio cant do that.
    Can you provide this research you're talking about? I'd love to read it!

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    To make it simple just do both to stop wondering.Do 5min low/15-20min hiit and cooldown with 20min low.I myself do hit with very short int.(kickboxing)for 45min in morning and my h/r is 80-85%the time.This is more for endurance and im not doing it fasted done it to long and not worth it to me.
    I lose just as much fat eating before and after.
    Plus i feel way better then fasted before and after.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rosie Chee Scott View Post
    Remember in training - as with anything else - there are always anomalies, and just because something is "proven" or "said" to be the "best", it is not going to be the best for everyone. Add to that the fact that not everyone should be doing HIIT - for example, those who have genuine medical conditions where such intensity would be detrimental or dangerous, etc. What type if cardio one does also depends a lot on personal preference than what is most optimal - for example, some people might not like having to put in the effort required, or are not that serious about their training and just do it to socialize, or want more endurance long-term re performance, etc.

    ~Rosie~
    well i meant for individuals that dont have any medical conditions or have rare Metabolic types.



    if someone doesnt like doing the HIIT the right way or hates it but is okay with the other type of cardio, than that is just personal preference. if that is the case, then do what you have no problems doing.

    @purebred bro, there were alot of this but the HIIT makes you lose the same amount of fat at shorter workout periods compare to regular cardio. also less muscle loss

    alwyn cosgrove (spelling) made quite a bit of research on this. at the sametime here are some of the past ones that i read about it.

    EDIT


    i couldnt post the links here since i dont have 50 posts or more. the hell??

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    Hell-to-the-yeah! There are many good threads here with actual experience detailed.

    HIIT needs to be implemented only for 8- 10 weeks, then take a rest or move to steady state cardio for the same amount of time. By doing this, along with weight/crossfit training and cross I have dropped from 21%-ish to under 14% and doing fitness modeling now. I'm not where I want to be, but I'm not 21% anymore, either.

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    nice read. Not sure I'm on board with all of that, but it was interesting.

    I switched to 20 min of HIIT for cardio instead of 30 min of steady state moderate intensity. And I burn almost the exact same amount of cals according to the calc on the machine. Steady state 30 minutes gave me about 385-390, and 20 min of HIIT puts me at 390-400.

    Takes less time to do, work up WAY more of a sweat, plus with how inaccurate the calcs on the machines are, I'm fairly certain I burned more cals doing the 20 min of HIIT than I did the 30 min of steady state moderate intensity.

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