April 17, 2015 5:54 pm
Updated: April 20, 2015 11:51 am

Cardio not all it’s cracked up to be: weight loss expert

One trainer says excessive cardio can actually make you gain weight.

Trae Patton/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

TORONTO — If you think you’re going to lose weight through cardio, one expert wants you to think again.

“One of the biggest misconceptions is that long-duration cardio by itself is going to help you lose body fat. It can for some people, but not the majority,” says Igor Klibanov, author of the book Stop Exercising! The Way You Are Doing It Now.

Kilbanov, who’s a kinesiologist and trainer, claims that excessive cardio can actually make you gain weight, which in some cases can amount to as much as 20 to 30 pounds.

“One reason for that is cardio makes you lose muscle mass. Every pound of muscle mass you have burns about 13 calories per day,” he explains.


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And muscle mass, in his opinion, is the most important when it comes to burning fat.

“I’m not saying ‘don’t do cardio, don’t stretch, only do strength training.’ That’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying pay more attention to strength training and preserve your muscle mass as much as possible.”

READ MORE: Combined training best for obese teens: Canadian study

Adrian Lightowler, who’s hosting a strength and conditioning summit in Toronto this month, also believes a combination of cardio and strength training is ideal if you want to lose weight. So he understands the point Kilbanov is trying to make, but still thinks his view is “a little extreme.”

Lightowler thinks that a snack before a workout, along with a proper meal within two hours after can help prevent that muscle loss from an intense cardio workout.

And if you want to achieve the greatest weight loss results, he recommends going for higher intensity and shorter duration.

READ MORE: New fitness trends mix high intensity, muscle recovery routines

Dr. Yoni Freedhoff, an obsesity expert from the Bariatric Medical Institute, goes a little further, calling Klibanov’s take on cardio “nonsense.”

“The best exercise for a person to do is the one they actually enjoy enough to keep doing. But as far as weight loss goes, while exercise is the world’s best drug, it’s not a weight loss drug,” he says.

READ MORE: The five biggest weight loss myths debunked

Freedhoff believes 80 per cent of the weight a person has the ability to modify can be modified through diet, and only 20 per cent can be changed at the gym.

READ MORE: Gluten-free for weight loss? You’re doing more harm than good: study

Kilbanov admits his views might seem controversial but maintains that it’s based on “the hundreds of measurements he’s taken of his clients.”

To achieve optimal weight loss, he also recommends seeing a doctor, setting specific goals and forming a good social support network to help you reach those goals.

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