Expert advice to your questions about training, nutrition, recovery, and living the fitness lifestyle.
Chris: Is there an ideal length/method for fat-burning cardio? I’ve been mixing basketball, biking, and walking for 30 minutes a day. Should I be doing more or something different?
Alexander Juan Antonio Cortes: Over the course of a fat-loss phase of dieting, I’d generally recommend refraining from using cardio as means for fat loss for as long as possible. Once you begin using it, though, cardio for burning body fat is a question of sustainability more than it is any single method of cardio being “best.”
If you’re using cardio to sustain a calorie deficit, then aerobic cardio is generally going to be the most manageable. It’s low impact, can be done a variety of ways, and is the least depleting energy-wise.
If you’re trying to rapidly increase body fat loss however, and want to tap into stored fat in the most time-efficient way possible, then interval training or high-intensity interval training would be your best options. Intervals and HIIT can create a powerful metabolic effect, but these workouts are very draining and generally can’t be done more than three times a week.
Thomas: Are there any supplements that I can take help to burn body fat, other than caffeine?
AJAC: Yes, absolutely there are. While fat loss is a question of diet, it would be short-sighted to say that there are no supplements that can speed up the process. As a disclaimer, there is no quantifiable way to say “how much” any of the following supplements increase fat burning in the real world, but they definitely work. This is also not medical advice of any kind. That prefaced, the following are very effective fat burners.
Yohimbine—Yohimbine done with fasted cardio can be a powerful fat-burning tactic, but be aware: Yohimbine can cause anxiety and nervousness in some people. If you are stimulant sensitive, I wouldn’t recommend it. That aside, an effective dose of yohimbine is 0.2 milligrams per kilogram of bodyweight. I’d recommend taking yohimbine before your most metabolically intense workouts to maximize its effects.
Ephedrine and Caffeine—Twenty-five milligrams of ephedrine taken with 200 milligrams of caffeine up to three times daily is a very powerful fat-burning combo. Do not immediately start taking a triple daily dose. Begin with one dose a day in the morning, and then assess tolerance. In my professional experience, taking one dose in the morning upon waking and then one more before training is sufficient for most people.
Nicotine—This is not a suggestion to take up smoking or vaping. Nicotine actually has very potent lipolytic (fat-burning) effects, and the suggested dose would be achieved by chewing a four-milligram piece of nicotine gum. Be aware that nicotine is very addictive, and that the gum is not meant to be constantly chewed like regular gum. Limit yourself to four four-milligram pieces throughout the day.
Tony: Is there really such a thing as “clean food”? Or does it not matter so long as you get macros in?
AJAC: There is no “scientific” definition as to what “clean” food is. However, I would present an argument that certain combinations of foods and certain macronutrients are more conducive to weight loss. It's very hard to overeat non-processed carbs, whole-protein sources, and vegetables. And it is much easier to overeat processed carbohydrates, calorie-dense liquids, and foods with very high fat content.
If someone’s macros are all accounted for, then the rest of their calories could, in theory, come entirely from processed food and candy. However, on a practical basis, most people will gravitate toward whole-food sources. They are more filling, better tasting, and eating “junk” food loses its appeal quickly.
So to answer the question: No, there is no such thing as clean food. And no, on paper it doesn’t matter where macros from. But in practice, and in real life, yes, absolutely it does.
Muhammad: If someone wanted to make a real transformation, what would it require? I don’t mean being healthier, but I mean dramatically changing the physique in the shortest time possible.
AJAC: Good question. Yes, you can dramatically change your physique in a short period of time, but it requires far more than most people can reasonably or willingly do. A transformation would demand the following:
-Weight training six times a week with a periodized program
-Cardio six times a week, with periodized cardiovascular workouts
-A perfectly adhered-to diet, eating classic bodybuilding foods, and timing the food intake for maximum effect
-Maximizing sleep, eight hours a night minimum
-Maintaining 100 percent consistency in everything, while minimizing all other sources of stress
If someone did that, their body would change rapidly and dramatically. But for 99 percent of people, retooling their whole life to revolve around their training and diet is not remotely sensible. But it can be done under the right circumstances.