Does it Matter if You do Aerobic or Anaerobic Exercise to Lose Fat?

Cropped shot of a man tying his shoelaces while out for a run in the park

If you want to lose fat in the most optimal way, you have probably found yourself questioning whether aerobic or anaerobic exercise is more effective. Aerobic exercise means ‘with oxygen’, while anaerobic means ‘without’. Aerobic exercise may consist of jogging, rowing or walking; essentially cardio. Your heart and breathing rate can be sustained during aerobic exercise so it can be done for longer, with less work required by the respiratory system.

Anaerobic exercise consists of movements that you can only do for a short amount of time, that create an excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) meaning you can’t sustain it for long without running out of oxygen. An example of this is lifting weights or sprinting. 

If you want to lose fat, you’d ideally be doing an exercise routine consisting of both aerobic and anaerobic exercise. But if you had to choose one, the answer is anaerobic. Doing anaerobic exercise will burn calories faster and will boost your metabolism so you continue burning calories at a high rate for the rest of the day.

A study by Trapp et al (2008) studied aerobic vs. anaerobic for fat loss and found that after 15 weeks, the anaerobic group had a significant reduction in total body mass, fat mass, trunk fat and fasting plasma insulin levels compared to the aerobic group. 

Another similar study published in 2012 in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that during a randomized trial of anaerobic, aerobic or combined training; the group doing combined training saw the greatest fat loss.

Ultimately, during anaerobic exercise you burn more calories in a shorter time frame, making it preferential for fat loss. For the same fat loss you’d have to be doing a lot of aerobic exercise and I think we all prefer to do the minimum effective dose.

☎️ Book a V02 Max! This data allows you to learn where your HR needs to be during your next intense bootcamp class versus your power walking session.⁣ ⁣⁣⁣

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