If you ask 3 different people the best way to lose weight fast, your most likely going to receive three very different answers.
Some people swear by cardio, and some by weight training. But which is better for weight loss? And beyond that, which form of cardio? What are the best exercises to lose weight fast?
Now, within the ‘realm’ of cardio, swimming is often considered king.
In fact, when looking at your average 180lb male, swimming burns about 500 calories per one-hour session at a moderate intensity.
In comparison, running burns about 350 calories and weightlifting burns 210 calories, for the same 1 hour duration.
Not to mention that when swimming, as you are submerged in water, there is almost no stress placed on the joints. This considerably reduces risk of injury during the exercise and translates to quicker recovery from a session (as opposed to an exercise type such as running).
Additionally, because you recover quicker from each session, you can perform more sessions per week, further increasing your total weekly energy expenditure, and potentially increasing your weight loss.
So there it is right?
Not only does swimming burn more calories per hour, but is actually easier on my joints. It must be the clear winner.
Not so fast.
There is a little more to it than that.
Despite burning more calories in the one hour session during swimming, it may not be the best way to go.
You see with cardio exercise, you only really burn energy while you are undertaking that exercise.
With weight training you not only burn calories during your workout, but also continue burning calories up to 48 hours AFTER your workout.
This is because of a little physiological process known as Excess Post Exercise Oxygen Consumption (or EPOC).
This occurs during weight training because our muscles are broken down.
This damaged muscle tissue needs to be repaired, which requires energy (calories!), and this repair process can take up to 48 hours, which means 48 hours of burning calories!
But that’s not all, with weight training we can build muscle, which increases our lean body mass.
Lean body mass (muscle tissue) is active tissue. Active tissue requires energy to maintain the cellular processes that keep it alive. So by increasing lean muscle mass, we increase our base metabolism, which increases the amount of calories we burn at any given time!
So taking these points under consideration, if I had to choose one, it would definitely be weight training in the gym.
Not only does it help you lose fat, but can also increase your metabolism, making it easier to keep the fat you lose off for good!
But the best thing about training for weight loss is that it doesn’t have to be so black and white.
There is no reason we can’t perform swimming on our days off from the gym, as a way to burn a few extra calories and improve our cardiovascular fitness.
This will also improve your recovery between gym sessions, meaning you can train harder and longer at the gym, promoting even more weight loss!
Source: Gwinup G. Weight loss without dietary restriction: efficacy of different forms of aerobic exercise. J Sport Med., 1987- 15, 275-279