How many calories am I burning? This is a popular question fitness trainers get. This is such a hard question to answer. Why? Your metabolism is ever changing. We aren’t talking about hundreds of calories a day. We are talking about 10 or so calories. Your metabolism is largely based on what you do on a daily basis. Meaning your metabolism will be slightly faster the next day if you worked out the day before. It gets even more complicated though. If you get yourself into a routine. Your body will learn how to do things more efficiently meaning those extra calories you burned from the workout yesterday might not temporarily boost your metabolism anymore.
Let’s think about this for a second. I am going to use running as an example because that’s what people immediately think of when they need to lose weight. Running is an exercise that burns a significant amount of calories on a per hour basis. Hence why it is such a popular way to try and lose weight. The reason you will burn so many calories is because your heart rate is elevated for a significant amount of time. A higher heart rate is often equated to burning more calories.
Running is a form of cardiovascular training also known as cardio. The dictionary definition of Cardio Training is ‘physical conditioning that exercises the heart, lungs and associated blood vessels.’ This literally means you are strengthening your heart. The better you get at cardio the stronger your heart gets. The stronger your heart gets the easier it is for you to pump blood through your body. The easier it is for you to pump your blood through your body the less heart beats per minute your heart will need. The less beats per minute you have the slower your metabolism will become.
I am not saying cardio is bad. It is absolutely necessary for heart health and longevity. I am saying if you are doing cardio for anything other than its intended purpose you will fail at what you are trying to use it for. Using cardio to burn calories is a bad way to boost your metabolism. It will actually make your metabolism slow down.
What will make your metabolism speed up? Strength training. Strength training is the physical conditioning of your muscles. This literally means you are strengthening your muscles. The more strength you gain the more muscle you will have, generally speaking. The more muscle you have the more calories you will burn at rest. Strength training is a better way to burn calories than doing cardio training. Both are good for you and both should be used in conjunction with each other.
So how many calories am I burning? The truth is we have tools like inbody scanners, heart rate monitors, fitness trackers, etc. that can help you get an estimate of how many calories you’re burning but nothing is going to be 100% accurate. That’s another blog for a different day though.
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