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The higher the intensity of your workout, the more calories you'll burn.
While cardio exercise causes your body to use fat as a fuel source, it also burns carbohydrates, depending on the intensity of the exercise you're doing. Working out at a low to moderate intensity for an extended period of time, 60 to 90 minutes for example, will burn fat, but it won't be at a level that gets you to your goals as quickly as shorter, more intense cardio.
Know the Fuel
Both long-duration cardio and high-intensity cardio burn calories and fat, so it's confusing to try to sort out which type of workout is best when the goal is fat loss. When you work out at a low intensity, you'll be burning mostly fat, but because the intensity is low, it won't be at a fast pace. As you increase the intensity, your body will shift gears from burning mostly fat and some carbohydrates to burning only carbs. Logically that would imply that long, low-intensity workouts burn more fat than short, high-intensity workouts, but that isn't the case. The rate of calorie burning and the total number of calories burned increases when you raise the intensity. And that's really the bottom line: when you want to lose weight, the most important factor is burning more calories overall.
Feel the After-Burn
You'll start to see weight-loss results when you burn more calories than you eat in one day. The most efficient way to do that is to opt for a shorter, more intense workout over a longer, less intense one. When you work out at a low to moderate intensity, even for an hour or more, your metabolism doesn't have very far to go to return to normal. But when you kick it into high gear with a higher-intensity workout, your metabolism will be raised for a longer amount of time after you've finished exercising, burning more calories over a longer period of time.
Opt for Long Duration
Choosing to do cardio at a low to moderate intensity for a longer duration is easier on your joints than a fast-pace run, for example, that will pound away at your knees, hips and ankles. Besides, if you exercise for enough time - even at lower intensities - your body will switch over to burning carbs. According to IDEA Health and Fitness Association, exercising for one and a half to two hours will put your body past the lactate threshold so it starts burning more carbs, and after the carb supply runs low, your system has to switch back to using fat for fuel. If you have time, consistently including long bouts of moderate cardio in your fitness regimen will train your body to burn fat more efficiently.
Benefit From Intensity
Using interval training will give you a cardio workout that will effectively maximize fat loss. Intense interval training burns more calories and improves your after-burn benefits, too. ShapeFit.com says the key to making the most of high-intensity cardio is to treat cardio like weight training, incorporating intervals of explosive movements like pedaling full-blast or sprinting. For example, you could run the track or on a treadmill for 25 minutes, alternating running at 90 to 95 percent of your maximum heart rate for three minutes then slowing down to 65 to 70 percent for a two-minute recovery interval and finishing off with a light jog to cool down.