So you want to drop a few pounds of fat so you decide to add in some cardio. You talk to a few people, watch some videos, and read some articles trying to find out what type of cardio is the most effective. What you soon uncover is that there are so many conflicting opinions out there on which one is best. One person says HIIT cardio, another says steady state. So which is it?
Well first off lets list the most commonly used forms of cardio and define them.
1) HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training): Short bursts of all out effort in any form of cardio followed by a short window of rest.
2) LISS (Low Intensity Steady State): Low effort/resistance cardio for long periods of time with no rest in between.
3) Moderate Intensity Cardio: Intensity similar to jogging, swimming, or biking.
4) Fasted Cardio: Cardio performed in an unfed state.
5) Non-fasted Cardio: Cardio performed in a fed state.
These are the most common forms of cardio and depending on who you ask you will get a different answer every time as to which is the best form for losing body fat.
Truth is they are all equal and it all boils down to your preferences, situation, and schedule. We will explain.
Some say that HIIT burns more body fat because it is much more difficult to recover from than LISS and thus you will burn more calories after the exercise recovering. But it has been proven that the amount of calories you burn after HIIT cardio do not account for a significant amount of calories.
Others will say that LISS is a superior form because you are primarily using fat as fuel source while performing the cardio and with HIIT you are primarily using glycogen. But it has been discovered that whichever fuel source you primarily use during exercise the opposing fuel source will then be primarily used for the remainder of the day.
EX) Say you are performing LISS cardio and burning calories primarily for fat, once that cardio session is over your body then switches over and uses primarily glycogen (carbohydrates) to fuel you for the remainder of the day.
This is the same for Fasted or Nonfasted cardio. If you are in an unfed state performing cardio your body will burn more calories from fat during that session and more calories from carbohydrates after the session where as in non fasted cardio you will burn more calories from carbohydrates during the session and more calories from fat afterwards.
As long as you are burning the same amount of calories with each form of cardio they are all equally effective at decreasing body fat.
When deciding on which cardio to do the factors you should base it on are your preferences, situation, and schedule. Do you prefer to do cardio on an empty stomach? Do fasted cardio. Do you prefer to eat before cardio? Do non fasted cardio. Are you on a tight schedule? Utilize HIIT. Do you prefer to do something a little less strenuous and easy to recover from? Try LISS.
Ultimately I believe you should try out multiple types of cardio and never do the same type all the time. Utilize all forms of cardio as different tools to reach your fitness goals!