How to Optimize Your Cardio to Burn Fat Faster

How to Optimize Your Cardio to Burn Fat Faster

Cardio, such as running, biking or swimming, ranks as one of the most important ways to keep yourself fit and healthy, reports the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Unfortunately, many people lead busy lives and have schedules that don't leave much time for exercise. With a few workout tips and lifestyle changes, you can optimize your cardio workout so you burn fat faster, lose weight quicker and get more benefits out of your exercise in less time.

Things You'll Need
  • Water
  • Timer
Warm up by doing five minutes of your chosen form of cardio, such as running, but at a slow and gentle speed. Warming up before you exercise reduces your risks of injuries, increases the delivery of oxygen to your muscles, reduces lactic buildup — this can help you exercise longer without feeling tired — and raises your body's core temperature so you burn off more calories and fat.

Drink 20 oz. of water three hours before you start cardio, another 8 oz. half an hour before you start exercising, and 10 oz. every 20 minutes while exercising. Maintaining proper hydration enhances your workout performance, so you can work your body harder and burn more fat. Additionally, drinking cold water increases your body's metabolism rate and can help you burn fat faster throughout the day.

Set a timer. For optimal health, the average adult should do cardio for 30 minutes every day. A study by Duke University discovered that people who do this much daily cardio reduced their overall weight and lost fat from around their abdomen — a specific type of fat linked with higher risks of cancer and diabetes — while those who didn't do this much cardio actually gained abdominal fat.

Avoid eating before doing cardio, preferably exercising in the morning before you've grabbed breakfast. This is a common practice among cyclists who want to keep fat off. A study in the "Journal of Applied Physiology" reported that fasted cardio helps burn fat more effectively, while a study published in the "British Journal of Nutrition" found that fasted morning cardio burns 20 percent more fat than cardio done after breakfast.

Add interval training, which speeds up your overall metabolism and burns off more fat in the same amount of time as a traditional 30-minute set of steady-state exercise. This works with any type of cardio, such as cycling or stair-climbing. All you have to do is alternate between ultra-fast forms of your chosen type of cardio, followed by periods of slower cardio. For example, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends trying 60 seconds of walking followed by 60 seconds of sprinting, and flipping back and forth between the two for approximately half an hour.