Which Is Best For Burning Body Fat?

Aerobic vs Anaerobic

Aerobic vs Anaerobic: Which is the biggest fat burner?

A long running debate among exercise enthusiasts is whether aerobic or anaerobic exercise is better for burning body fat.

It is common for proponents of either method to share his or her opinions on the subject matter.

The truth is no method of exercise is ever created equal. Often, the answer to the question can be found at how the advocates of each exercise method look like.

Thus it becomes a question of perspective: what are your goals and objectives? 

Aerobic exercise involves the efficient use of oxygen that the body does not have to draw on an immediate energy source.

As you perform aerobic exercise with consistency, you are creating an environment of efficiency for your body.

It learns to conserve energy by drawing from stored body fat and eradicating the component which utilises the greatest amount of calories: muscle tissue.

Anaerobic exercise is so intense that it does not generate enough oxygen to support the activity.

The body is forced to draw upon an immediate energy source; carbohydrates, and begins to break down the simple sugars which produces large amounts of lactic acid. Lactic acid is the body’s natural defense mechanism.

It purposely slows down or inhibits muscle contraction to prevent permanent damage on muscle tissue.

Both exercise methods will help you burn fat and lose bodyweight.

But to answer the question as to which method is best for burning body fat, hands down the winner is anaerobic exercise.

Why Anaerobic Exercise Burns More Fat

There are 3 reasons why anaerobic exercise is superior to aerobic exercise when it comes to burning body fat:

1. Because anaerobic exercise draws upon carbohydrates as energy, there are fewer chances for excess carbohydrates to be converted into stored body fat.

2. Anaerobic activity such as sprint intervals, resistance training and High Intensity Interval Training or HIIT recruits large amounts of muscle fibres. This results in more toned muscles and a higher muscle to fat ratio. The more muscle you have the more calories you burn.

3. Anaerobic activity keeps your metabolism elevated for over 24 hours after exercise. Thus, while anaerobic exercise draws upon carbohydrates during exercise it begins to metabolise stored body fat after exercise.

What Does Science Say?

Here is scientific evidence that prove anaerobic exercise is better than aerobic exercise for burning body fat and building a toned body:

Steady State Cardio

Steady state cardio was least effective in burning fat in many studies

1. A 2007 study on women who did sprint interval training showed they started to metabolise fat more efficiently in as little as 2 weeks.

2. A 2006 study showed that Excess Post Exercise Oxygen Consumption or EPOC levels are higher after anaerobic exercise over aerobic exercise. Higher EPOC levels mean greater energy consumption or higher calorie burning after exercise.

3. A 16-week study had one group of cyclists do sprint intervals and another group perform steady state cardio. At the end of 16 weeks, the group which did sprint intervals, the cyclists lost 3 kilos of belly fat. On the other hand, the steady state group did not lose belly fat and instead lost 1.4 kilos of lean muscle mass.

4. A study on middle aged men with type II diabetes had them do sprint interval training for 8 weeks. At the end of 8 weeks, the men on average decreased belly fat by 44%, increased leg muscle tone by 24% and improved insulin sensitivity by 58%!

5. Scientists have conducted studies that show to burn 3,780 calories per week you would have to perform 1 hour of steady state cardio every day compared to only 25 minutes of HIIT. The reason is because anaerobic exercise increases the production of Growth Hormone (GH), a powerful hormone that rebuilds muscle tissue and burns off body fat. Larger quantities of GH are produced when you perform above lactic acid threshold.

So this evidence should put an end to the debate. If you want to burn body fat, your fitness program should emphasise anaerobic exercise.