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I've read in this forum about aerobic and anaerobic training but i can't get an answer for my particular situation.

I'm 35 years, male, 175cm , with 79kg, doing 3 or 4 exercises (2xrunning 5km/500 kcal each and 1xsoccer 1hour/980 kcal) per week, i have some belly fat and overall fat that i want to loose.

I eat rather well, and try to keep a log of the calories that i intake.

I'm trying to understand what's the best way to train so i can loose belly fat.

From what i understand:

  • Aerobic, will decrease more fat but only during the exercise, after that calorie "spending" will decrease and also the metabolism, so i would be spending less calories just on doing my regular daily things. Also aerobic will make me lose some muscles.

  • Anaerobic will decrease less fat, but after the exercise i will be spending more calories, gain more muscle and increase my metabolism. Downside is that anaerobic training would take more time to lose fat.

What's the best training for losing fat? Aerobic or anaerobic?

I'm doing running and soccer for losing fat, are there better exercises for losing fat?

What kind of training plan do you guys recommend? Mine is obviously failing, in 1 month i lost 1 kg, i decreased my fat percentage by 1,5% and gain 2kg of muscle, which doesn't seem that much.

First i tried running 5km at 150 bpm (average), during 2 weeks and didn't lost 1 kg, right now i'm trying HIIT, in which i run 5km do 7 sprints of 30seconds and another 7 sprints of 15s, but i don't see much results.

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    I think your calorie burns are inflated. I doubt that you are burning more than 500 calories per hour playing soccer, and your running is also probably too much. – Eric Gunnerson Oct 9 '14 at 3:38
  • @EricGunnerson These calories values are taken from a polar ft4 heart band, i don't see how they can be inflated. Also, i use Endomondo app and the calories are more or less the same, so i don't see how 2 different way of counting calories would be wrong. – LnxSlck Oct 11 '14 at 23:35
  • Summary is that anaerobic is better for sustained fat loss, but best when combined with aerobic (preferably 3 hours apart) – BRogers Oct 18 '17 at 2:32
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Any conversation that doesn't directly address the overarching signifigance of your diet and nutrition would be incorrect. It is far easier to not eat 200 calories than it is to burn them off. As an example, a 6 minute mile will burn (for a 180lb person) roughly 190 calories: that's a tremendous amount of work for relatively a relatively small caloric drain.

Specifically answering your question though, I would look at it this way:

Strength training has shown, especially for men, a very high change in RMR (resting metabolic rate) as seen in this 2001 study:

RMR with men increasing RMR by 9%

So if your RMR was 1500 calories, it's now 1650 because of strength training. This effect persists: it happens even on days when you are not strength training, all day and night. Provided you at least maintain your strength levels, the RMR increase is maintained. This is further backed up by a 1994 study which had a slightly lower rate of increase, but it also had different study parameters.

RMR, measured by indirect calorimetry, increased 7.7% with strength training

The math around aerobic activity is much more straight forward: your body is actively consuming energy resource because of increased load. Anecdotally I would add in that heavy aerobic activity tends to make most people quite hungry, negating many benefits of whatever calories might have been consumed.

Another chink in the "aerobics for fat loss" armor is the recent knock against the long held theory of EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption) resulting in your body entering a "pro-longed period of fat loss following aerobic activity" (2006 study).

Notwithstanding the aforementioned, the earlier research optimism regarding an important role for the EPOC in weight loss is generally unfounded.

Summarized, I'd make these points:

  1. It is clear that aerobic activity results in higher caloric consumption than being at rest, while performing the activity.
  2. Strength training results in higher resting metabolic rates, which results in higher caloric consumption, during and after the activity.
  3. Your diet has the largest impact on your body composition.
  • Thanks Eric for your info, regarding nutrition i am following a diet made by a nutritionist, so i think this is more or less covered. I do 4 meals per day, i eat in the right quantities and right food (no sugar drinks, no fried food, a lot of green, etc) and i intake something like 1500 to 2000 kcal. Sometime i see that i lose weight but i increase my body fat percentage, i don't understand why. Do you know? – LnxSlck Oct 5 '14 at 18:20
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    @LnxSlck body fat percentage is notoriously unreliable unless you're measured in a water tank (fat floats). I'm not sure how long you've been training but if it's only several weeks I wouldn't be too concerned. Your progress has been pretty good: you had a decent change in body composition in a single month. If you've got your diet dialed in, and you're doing HIIT, I'd really just make sure you've got some barbell strength training going on (Starting Strength by Mark Rippetoe being a standard). Nutrition + strength + conditioning = no way you're going to be anything but shredded (in time). – Eric Oct 5 '14 at 20:26
  • Thanks again Eric, i've been doing this routine for 3 weeks. I was hoping to loose 4kg in 4 weeks. I had this doubt about what is more important: losing weight or losing fat percentage, and according to you i shouldn't concern myself so much with fat percentage. – LnxSlck Oct 5 '14 at 21:06
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    @LnxSlck I'd say body composition is a great goal (increasing lean muscle mass and reducing body fat), but that trying to track it weekly will drive you crazy. 8lbs in 8 weeks (American terms here) is extremely aggressive. .5kg/week fat loss would be considered an aggressive yet maintainable level. But trying to do the math constantly between water weight, fat, and lean mass can have you trying to futz with an otherwise effective program. The joke is often "it takes a long time to get out of shape, it takes a long time to get in shape." – Eric Oct 5 '14 at 21:14
  • The one caveat I'd say is that cardio is more sustainable over a long amount of time than weightlifting or HIIT (or at least that's my understanding), so while you'll burn more calories in less time weightlifting, you may be able to burn more calories overall by going for a run because you can sustain it longer. – Sean Duggan Mar 23 '16 at 14:22
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Actually, you should do both types of training without expecting to spot reduce. You can't direct your body to draw fat from a specific location for energy. Losing weight healthfully takes time. If what you tried has not been working, mix things up. Add some weight training to your workouts. The idea is to try and burn more calories than you consume, while keeping in mind, you're in it for the "long haul". I'd also take a closer look at the food log you mentioned and possibly cut some calories.

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In addition to the points made above, HIIT also has the added benefit of EPOC to recover from oxygen deficit during the anaerobic "sprinting" stage. That can increase your metabolic rate up to 13% for up to 48 hours (decreasing over time).

The optimal way to lose fat is a good combination of aerobic, anaerobic, and HIIT exercises. HIIT will give you the most bang for your buck and result in a heightened metabolic rate long after your workout. Strength training will have a similar effect, due to the added stress on the body of repairing muscle tissue. The real benefit from strength training is that it helps prevent muscle loss while you're at a calorie deficit. Strength training will also increase your levels of Human Growth Hormone and Insulin Growth Factor. Deficiencies in HGH/IGF have been shown to cause excess fat, and increasing them will help burn fat especially around the abdominal area (belly fat).

Like HIIT, cardio/aerobic exercise will burn extra calories and increase your metabolism during the exercise and for a shorter time afterward. HOWEVER the true benefit of cardio is that it increases your metabolic efficiency over time. In other words, the more cardio you do, the more efficient your body becomes at using fat for energy. You could technically lose weight without doing any cardio at all, but it's important for maintaining the calorie deficit and getting the most effect out of your exercise routine over time.

Summary:

  • HIIT: immediate results and constantly increased metabolic rate if cycled every 48 hours.
  • Strength-training: prevents muscle loss and increases your BMR. Increases HGH/IGF to burn belly-fat.
  • Cardio: helps maintain a calorie deficit and increases metabolic efficiency (aka fat-burning). More benefits than HIIT in the long term.
  • This is all dependent on your diet as well. The benefits of increased hormones and metabolic efficiency may take some time before their effect becomes clear. In the mean time, you'll get the most immediate results out of HIIT, but they should all be treated as equally important.
  • Thanks Tony. Would you consider this workout plan as a good one? Monday - HIIT, Tuesday - 8km aerobic run, Wednesday - 8 km anaerobic run, Thursday - 1 hour soccer, Friday - 8 km anaerobic run, Saturday - rest, Sunday - 8km anaerobic run. What would you advise as workout plan ? – LnxSlck Oct 5 '14 at 18:22
  • @LnxSick I would think that that much running would burn you out in a week, but if you can handle it then it looks good. You may want to replace one of those days with an endurance run. I'd recommend 3 weightlifting workouts a week (ideally, spare yourself from doing cardio on at least 2 of those days). You may find this link useful in setting up a beginner's weightlifting routine: aworkoutroutine.com/… The sample rountines for beginners are very good – TonyArra Oct 5 '14 at 19:51
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    All the studies I've seen show EPOC-fat-burning to be largely a myth (referenced in that study I linked). If there's some research showing otherwise, I'd be interested to see it. – Eric Oct 5 '14 at 20:28
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    @LnxSlck Boiling it down again, if you've got your diet in check, you're doing conditioning and strength training, that's pretty much it. Fitness wonks can get really nerdy about what's the best squat, what's the perfect routine, etc. But I wouldn't let the micro-optimization discussions distract you from the over-arching themes. – Eric Oct 5 '14 at 21:21
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    @EricKaufman as they say in software development "early optimization is the root of all evil". So I agree. My major point with the post was that a good mixture of different kinds of routines is the way to go, as they all have unique benefits attributed to them. Not only in weight-loss, but your overall health. – TonyArra Oct 5 '14 at 21:47

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