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What Is The Best Type Of Cardio To Burn Fat Faster?
By Flavia Del Monte – RN, CPT, Precision Nutrition Certified


The simple answer to this question can boil down to a number of complicated factors, but let’s shoot straight – it really boils down to one question: Which type do you want to do?


Unless you’re stepping on stage or getting ready for a photo shoot in a few weeks then one of the key factors in determining your cardio type should be what you enjoy doing.

My husband hates doing cardio so he- would say, “I don’t have any kind of cardio I enjoy doing.”  However, an easy solution for him is to listen to one of his motivational CD’s on his iPod to mask the boredom.  It’s funny because he’ll tell me, “I didn’t want to stop my cardio today until I finished my audio!”

Before we dive into the science, keep in mind the “best” type of cardio is the type you’ll actually do.  This is a motto I apply to my training and even nutrition for that matter.  It’s often better to stick to what’s “enjoyable” rather than what’s “ideal” for long-term results.

Best Cardio To Burn Fat Fast

Best Cardio To Burn Fat Fast

Your Two Cardio Options

There are essentially two types of cardio: high-intensity and steady-state. Before we go any further, let’s make sure we’re on the same page as to how we define each of these two.

Often, when I mention high-intensity cardio to someone, they immediately say, “Yeah, the cardio I do is high-intensity.”

Then I ask them how long their intervals are and they either look at me like I’m from another planet, or they think they miss understood what I’m asking and say “I go for 30 minutes.”

Wrong answer, Private, wrong answer.

High-intensity, at least as for purposes of this article, is defined as something so intense that you couldn’t keep it up for more than 60 seconds — no matter how badly you wanted to! So even though your incline treadmill walk may feel like “high-intensity cardio,” it isn’t.

Running at 10 mph on a 10 degree incline for 10 seconds; now that is high-intensity!

Now that we’re on the same page as to the definition, you can clearly see that to do high-intensity cardio, you’d have to do it in spurts — do some, rest, then do some more, and so on. That’s exactly what we call high-intensity interval training, or HIIT (pronounced “hit”).

When most people think of cardio, they think of steady-state cardio. For that reason, I often simply refer to it as regular cardio. Since high-intensity cardio has it own, cool acronym, let’s refer to steady-state cardio as “SSC.”

Steady-state cardio is any cardio that’s done at an intensity low enough that it can be maintained for a longer period of time. While you may warm-up and cool-down, any cardio session where you keep roughly the same pace throughout your session is steady-state.

That’s right, even if you’re sweatin’ like a whore in church, it’s still not high-intensity if you can do if for more than a few minutes.

What you probably don’t know, is that while you are slowly burning “some” calories, others[1] are stripping twice as much fat off their bodies and in half the time!



You can burn fat 2x FASTER  and in HALF the time by incorporating High Intensity Training (HIT) into your exercise routine.

  • Cardiovascular exercise (slow and at a steady pace) burns much fewer calories than HIT.
  • Doing too much cardio is tough on your joints and ligaments.
  • Too much cardio will result in burning muscle instead of fat.




When it comes to weight loss, it doesn’t matter what type of fuel (food) you use. What matters is how many calories you burn as opposed to how many calories you take in.

As already stated; In order to lose fat, you must have a negative energy expenditure. Simple!

Energy out  >  Energy in

The Basics of Burning Fat

Our energy comes from fat, carbs and protein.  But which one our bodies utilizes depends on the kind of activity we are preforming.

Now, most people want to use fat for energy. Sounds legitimate, as we assume, the more fat we can use as fuel, the less fat we’ll have in our bodies. But using more fat doesn’t automatically lead to losing more fat.

Understanding the best way to burn fat starts with some basic facts on HOW your body gets its energy:

  • The body primarily uses carbs and fats for fuel. A small amount of protein is used during exercise, but protein is mainly used to repair the muscles after exercise.
  • The ratio of these fuels will shift depending on the activity you are doing.
  • Given the metabolic pathways available to break down carbs for energy are more efficient than the pathways available for fat breakdown, the body will rely more on carbs for fuel than fat during HIT. This is good.
  • For long, slower exercise, fat is used more for energy than carbs.

When it comes to weight loss, it doesn’t matter what type of fuel you use. What matters is how many calories you burn as opposed to how many calories you take in.

That said… burn WAY more calories during High Intensity Training than your standard aerobic exercise.

Think about it this way: When you sit or sleep, you’re in your prime fat-burning mode. But, you’ve probably never contemplated the idea of sleeping more to lose weight, as lovely as that thought is.

The bottom line: Just because you’re using more fat as energy doesn’t mean you’re burning more calories.


The more intense the workout, and the more muscles utilized, and the more oxygen is consumed as muscles use energy when they contract. The more oxygen is consumed, the more energy is expended; the more calories you burn!

Flavia Del Monte,
R.N., C.P.T., PN Certified (Sports and Exercise Nutrition)

P.S. Don’t forget to leave me your comments or questions below!

Join the discussion 64 Comments

  • Guilty. I make myself do 15 – 30 minutes on the stationary bike before I do my resistance training. It is the only kind of cardio I can stand and will do consistently. My time on the bike is certainly not high intensity – oh, the sweat is there but I am never out of breath.

    My question is: does it really matter? I’m not trying to lose weight, I’m trying to build strength and muscles. My goal is to look like Sarah Connors in Terminator II. 🙂

    Any advice would be much appreciated.

    • Flavia says:

      Hey Victoria,

      That is a great goal! If you are not trying to lose weight, just stick to the stationary bike. Try incorporating HIT once a week to see if you build muscle faster. Look at the legs of sprinters 🙂 Another benefit is conditioning, helping you with weight training and is great for the heart. You don’t need to go crazy and if you like the bike, stick to it! Doing some is better than not doing any at all!

      • Great! Thanks, Flavia. I will try to add the HIT but as I’m an conservative lady of a certain age I will go slowly…. 🙂

        All the best,


      • Allegra says:

        Hi Flavia!
        How often should you do HIIT? I do kettlebell training 3 x’s a week and gaining muscle, but it’s that thin annoying “baby fat” over it i can’t seem to shred………i do intervals for like 20 minutes on my off days but it’s def not high intensity….can you provide some examples for the desperate? if my abs can look like yours then I’ll do it no matter the pain LOL

        • Flavia says:

          Hi Allegra, often times it is diet. But here is a good routine to try: Sprint 30 seconds, lunges 20 sec, rest 10 sec and repeat for a total of 20 minutes!

  • Veronica says:

    Good info! Your right on with the just do it, when it comes to cardio. Just hope I can stay motivated!

  • Trish says:

    Hey Flavia,
    So nice to see you doing this! Been a fan of Vince’s for years. As a woman I look forward to your perspective.
    Can you clarify one thing for me. Above you say that slow burn cardio utilizes fat, not carbs and HIIT uses carbs rather than fat, although it burns more calories.
    What about LOTS of slow burn cardio. Would I then up the calories burned but burn more fat as my body is using that for fuel?

    • Flavia Del Monte says:

      Hey Trish,
      Doing lots of slow cardio could cause you to burn muscle and in return slow your metabolism, decreasing the amount of calories burned during every day activities….this is definitely what you DO NOT want to happen. Read my 5 Big FAT Female Myths Exposed….there is a long explanation that will answer all your questions and more…find it on the blog. Thanks for your questions!


  • Laurie Connery says:

    Hello Flavia!

    I’m so excited you are here. I have always been slender however lack muscle mass I desire. A few years ago I got type 1 diabetes (age 32!) and after loosing the little bit of muscle I had, learning about insulin and being almost scared to workout due to lows I find it’s now time to get in shape… Not just look slender but be fit!

    Do you have any recommendations for someone who needs to self regulate their insulin? MDI

    Many Thanks!

    • Flavia says:

      Hey Laurie,

      Make sure to incorporate protein with every single meal. Protein helps regulate blood sugar levels. And as you already know, stay away from refined sugars and flours.

  • Sally says:


    Are you saying that we don’t need to reduce food intake and simply exercise? How do you explain the studies that point to needing to reduce intake below maintenance and that exercise calories contribute very little to fat loss?



    • Flavia says:

      Nope, not saying that AT all. Nutrition is 90% of your formula to success. Without proper nutrition, you will not achieve the body of your dreams. Not too sure where you thought i suggested that….have you read 5 Big Fat Female Myths Exposed?

      • Sally says:


        That was the impression I got from reading your 5 Myth report. Proper nutrition I agree is key and needs to be followed but from what I read it seemed as you were saying or the experts were saying that a calorie reduction was not needed.

        • Flavia says:

          Calorie reduction may not be needed….first I want ladies to eat the proper foods and a lot of times that is all that women need to lose weight. I believe the most important thing for overall health is proper nutrition, so that is what I want everyone to start. I do say more than once that Energy out must be greater than energy in, in order to lose weight. But more importantly, women need to become aware of what is healthy and what is not healthy….this is usually what is missing from people’s lifestyle these days as was with mine own.

  • Debi says:

    Hey Flavia..
    so excited to get your new program,a big fan of yours! I will be in the Dominican Republic from the 22nd to the 30th, so kinda worried about missing out on the intro price…will I still be able to get it at a great price the first of may?
    Another question is, the full body workout you are doing in the free video you sent out,are you doing that every other day or what?
    Thanks so much for all your help!

    • Flavia says:

      As of right now the sale price is set for the 26th -28th! The workouts are suggested for MON, TUES, WED- ON…THURS-OFF….FRI, SAT- ON….SUN-OFF

  • Krystal says:

    Flavia. I am competing in a figure competition in 6 weeks. What is your suggestion for the most effective fat loss in this short period of time. Im 4’11.5″ tall and weigh 100 lbs. but body fat is at 16% with the bulk of it on my quads and belly. Ive been hitting it hard for 4 weeks by running two miles every morning and doing either a 50 minute spin or group step class every day…yes im doing double cardio….and of course my weight training, and i see a change but im nervous about the perfect flat stomach and shapley legs. HELP!

    • Flavia says:

      To be honest, I would do interval training in the morning for 45 to 60 minutes…sprints or incline eliptical. Carb cycling is very effective for quick weight loss. Look out for an email on Monday about a special bonus that you may want to look at….best of luck!

  • D says:

    Hi Flavia,
    I especially love how your shoulders and abs look!
    I’m a 18 year-old school sprinter, and I’m overall happy with how my arms and legs look, but I retain some fat on the inner thighs and abdominals. What do you think could be the problem? Nutrition? (I’m an Asian so carbs are our staple diet, should carbs be replaced with a greater proportion of protein?)
    (I don’t do short full-speed sprints anymore due to a hamstring injury but i do do rather fast runs)


    • Flavia says:

      Dan, that is where my holding areas were too. Protein should always be eaten with carbs and every meal….start there and then look at replacing carbs with sprout grains (or better choices than you currently are eating) and if those suggestions don’t make a difference, drop one serving of carb per day….at the end of the day.

  • raluca says:

    This is great, but too much talk…

    Let’s see some training! 🙂 You look gorgeous, by the way!

  • Samantha says:

    Hi Flavia,
    Thanks for the post!
    Please say more about the reason that when “you’re in your sleep or sit you’re in you’re prime fat burning zone.”
    Thank you! You rock!

    • Flavia says:

      When you sleep or sit, your body regulates itself, creating enough energy to sleep or sit. This means the body is retrieving the energy from fat cells because it has time to create energy and the body uses fat when there is enough time to make energy this way. The rate at which this energy is used is so so so so slow…don’t think this is a good thing. If we used carbs for energy all day long….than we could eat a lot more carbs. There is very little storage space in the body for carbs so the extra goes straight to your fat cells if not being used. Carbs are used during HIT.

  • Debbie says:

    I have just purchased your product and can’t wait to get started. I don’t see anywhere that you talk about doing just cardio. Am I correct in assuming that this program does not include cardio? Do you do any cardio?

    • Flavia says:

      Yes you are right, the day 2 is the cardio conditioning day. I have added a program guide to your members page…go there and download it. It states to add in cardio once you are able to complete the workouts in 45 minutes. I do add cardio 3 days a week most weeks!

  • Suzy Q says:

    Are you saying that we don’t need to eat less and simply workout for the deficit? I read in NYTimes an article that said exercise alone was not very effective.

    What’s your take on this and do you have anything to support claims?

    • Flavia says:

      Hey Suzy, the way to weight loss is energy out has to be greater than energy in….that is the science behind weight loss. What I do believe is people focus too much on calorie counting instead of eating healthy and working out hard. I eat a lot because I am constantly hungry due to a high metabolism from working out and building muscle. Please read the entire article, not only sentences… I explain everything in the Female Fitness Myths Exposed. Thanks!

  • Payton says:

    I really liked reading your post!. Quallity content. With such a valuable blog i believe you deserve to be ranking even higher in the search engines 🙂

  • Madelyn says:

    I enjoyed reading your post and I wanted to tell you that I totally agree with you. It is difficult to find people that think similar these days. Keep it up

  • Raquel says:

    Hi Flavia, I have been doing your workouts for about 5wks and I really like them. I’ve gotten stronger and can tell my body composition is changing. I’ve lost mainly inches rather than weight. I am able to finish some of the workouts in less than an hour and even though I still can’t finish them in less than 40 to 45 mins. I feel ready to start adding some cardio. Do you think this might be a good idea? I am considerably overweight and feel this might help me. Also is the main reason why I have to modify some of the exercises, I’m still too heavy to do some of them in full form. Thank you!

  • Lakesha says:

    Hi Flavia, I love all the helpful information you’ve provided and must say its changed my life I was 286lbs over 4 yrs ago and now down to 154lbs about 5’7 and I’ve lost the first 10 lbs following your workouts and meal recipes but now I’ve come to a stand still with losing the other 14lbs I do weights 3 days a wk and HIIT 2 days a wk. My question is should I be doing more or am I doing something wrong? Please help me understand Thanks 🙂

    • Flavia says:

      Great job first off! Your body is adapting to routine. You have to challenge yourself during your workouts…if that means adding wieghts, reps, adding another exercise, cutting out rest periods..running faster, harder, up hills, sprints etc.

      • Lakesha says:

        Thank you sooo much, I’m in to win to take back what FAT has stolen from me for years and I’m thanking God for a true person like yourself and all that you bring to help better educate us 🙂 You’re the BEST!!!

  • Tonia says:

    Hi Flavia!!

    Thank You SO much for taking time to come out with the TRUTH and your workout programs!! I have been doing the Full-Body-Licious for a while now. I’ve got quite the abs going! However, I still have quite a bit of fat! I’m a bit discouraged. I have a hard time getting jostled while doing some HIIT stuff. My Chiro says I have “lazy ligaments”!! I warm up trying to do 10 mins of HIIT and then hit the abs then off to my workout w/you! I dread day 2 due to All the HIIT. To be most effective, HOW much HIIT do I need. 10,20, 30 mins?? And how many days?

    You really inspire me as well as a lot of others!
    Thanks Flavia,

    • Flavia says:

      Thanks Tonia!
      The best way to use HIIT is to do them at a different time than your weight training. If you need to do them after your weight training, that is ok…just keep it to 30-45 minutes tops! I would do 3 cardio days…one slow-cardio (to keep your endurance in check and heart healthy) and 2 HIIT where you are working out at 80-90% heartrate.

      • Flavia says:

        Ps. If you aren’t losing enough…simple add another HIIT. Just make sure to take some time off 🙂

      • Tonia says:

        So… different time, do you mean NOT the same day as my weight training?? Also, if that is the case……I would be breaking my 5 day FBL up into 2 weeks, am I correct? OR say do my weight training in the morning and HIIT in the afternoon or vis versa?

        I am also wondering…….What would a typical HIIT day look like for that duration? I know the running, and hill sprints. I can’t do that for 30-45 mins……….Can I? I’m looking into getting a membership at the school to get access to the track, however along w/the membership there are cardio machines as well!

        I’m sorry, I know I’m so so full of questions!! I want to do this right!

        Thanks SO MUCH Flavia!

        • Flavia says:

          Keep the 5 days of FBL in one week. If you can do some cardio in the am, this is best. If not do after weights if you can’t other times but not every workout. You don’t want to burn yourself out. HIIT…start at 20 minutes (look at suggestion above) and add time as you go. When I am getting really lean, I do 45 min bu right now I am doing 30 min and I still am keeping weight off. Measure your results…everyone is different. If 20 minutes isn’t long enough, add more time. If you are exhausted, cut it and let your body recover. A great body takes time to develope!

          • Tonia says:

            OK Thanks!! I was planning on doing AM Cardio! It’s rather HOT here in MN right now so AM is a bit cooler! I have not AC!!

            Thanks Flavia!

  • Gladys Tladi says:

    Hi Flavia
    Thank you so much so all the information regarding female training and diets.I finished your programme six weeks ago but as a fit personal trainer i was amazed,the programme was challenging and i only did six weeks since i was always exhausted but i lost fat and somehow even some muscles,but i think i did not add enough weights .question:i know i aware that most of us black ladies build muscles quickly on our legs but we battle to cut them ,please advice me on weights and reps and lastly in your programmes most of glutes excercises were becoming easier-how do i add weights to hip lifts,since my glutes are tight but bigger -can i fight against this genetics but i see nice glutes shape from your competing again next year in body fitness after 2 years resting but learning from you of cause.
    Thank you for your help

    • Flavia says:

      Hey Glays, congratulations on your success. If you keep your heart rate elevated you should do fine increasing weights without too much worry of getting bigger. If you can add in some squat jumps to boost your workouts to make them tougher and to burn some fat. You shift between increasing reps and weights each week…one or the other and switch the following week.

  • John says:


    About a year ago I injured my left shoulder, and I can no longer do much in the way of pressing besides pushups. Of course, this has had a devastating effect on my lean body mass. So I started feeling sorry for myself and going to McDonald’s every day. Ha. I did have a pretty nice stomach. That went away. My blood pressure when through the roof (148/88, like that), and I got depressed. About seven weeks ago I decided to turn it around. Pushups to failure and upper body exercises and cardio. My goal was an unflexed six. I am there now. It’s not deep, but I have a flexed eight (I got body fat tested with calipers and the dude said I was over 16%. I am 47, but I find that hard to believe). Anyway, I have found that my current routine has worked. And I was also told it’s all about deficit. I eat enough protein to make gains in the gym every week (I have worked out every day for the past 50 days, sometimes pulling doubles). I have been doing at least five hours of cardio a week and about 3 or four hours of resistance training. I have dumped about 20 pounds, which I am sure is mostly fat. I guess the question now is, I am about ready to change my routine and start working my lower body and tapering off the cardio. I do one hour sessions on the stairmill. It’s effective, but it’s boring. Can HIT really be more effective at keeping off fat than an hour of pushing it so hard on the mill that I look like I’ve jumpred in a pool when I am done?

  • ishka says:

    hi Flavia

    i do HIIT once a week,1hr steady cardio 2x week, strengh training for 40 minutes 3x week of which i including ab exercise in that 2x week . I eat a high protein low carb diet of 1200 – 1300 calories a day eating every 2 hrs (3meals and 2 snacks ), i even take 3ooomg flaxseed oil daily and about 2TABLESPOON evoo + a multivit tabs and a calcium tab daily , but have not lost not 1cm or not even 1kg in 2 months. I donot know what to do. please help since i donot eat white flour products or sweet things.I have lots of cayene peper and 1/2 tsp cinamon powder daily.HELP wHERE AM I GOING WRONG

    • Flavia says:

      Hi Ishka, changing one of your 1hour cardio days to another HIIT. Secondly, what is your fat intake like? Sound as though you aren’t eating enough for the amount of training you do. Make sure to have fats with 3 of your meals and carbs with only 2 around your workout. ALL meals make sure you have protein…and that should do it!

  • ishka says:

    Hi Flavia
    I have 1000mg flaxseed oil 3x day, i use 2T evoo,coconut oil daily.I eat l dried unsweetened coconut flakes + 1ounce almonds as a daily snack. I will now do HIIT 2x week. How many calories do you think i should consume daily to lose 16kg. Can i mix 1/2 cup brown rice + evoo +protein + veges for lunch and supper or should i leave out the rice when i am having veges. God bless

    • Flavia says:

      Calories depend on how hard and how often you work out. I would multipy your weight by 12 if you workout hard and often (if you want to lose weight). Eat veggies and protein with every meal. No problem. Best of luck.

  • Sarah says:

    Hey Flavia, I was just wondering if it is okay for me to do ab workouts even though I my belly is not as lean as I would like. I have heard numerous times that you should not do ab/core workouts if your belly is not flat because it will just bulk up your stomach and make it look bigger. Could you please help?

  • Jennifer says:

    Would intervals on a hill be good – for example, today I did 20 seconds sprinting up hill, and 1 minute walking back down the hill. I did this 10 times. And then ran/walked back home for my cool down.

    Also, I do count my net calories each day, as it holds me accountable, but how do you figure out how many calories you burn from interval training? I tried to figure it out for today’s workout, and it put me at about 160 cals burned, as opposed to steady state cardio that I normally do – I would have burned a minimum of 200 cals just by running for the same amount of time. I can’t imaging that 160 cals is accurate based off everything i’ve heard and what you say above.

    Am I better off just setting my daily calories to something like 1500 regardless of my workout – as long as I am actually working out each day?

    • Flavia says:

      Yes Jennifer, that is a great routine!

      Yes, you should be trying to figure out your maintenance. Usually if you workout hard such as Full-Body-Licious and HIIT, multiply your body weight in pounds by 12 (if you are trying to lose weight) – 15 (maintenance).

      With HIIT, you will be burning calories for hours long after your workout as opposed to slow and steady cardio.

  • Janelle says:

    Hey Flavia,

    I do interval training 5 times a week as well as weight training. People at the gym often comment to me that I am in really great shape, yet I still dont’ have that body I’m trying SO hard to obtain. I want a toned body like yours and I feel like i work out super hard and I eat really well and I can’t seem to get there…any suggestions?

    • Flavia says:

      Hey Janelle, you may be too much HIIT. I would back off a bit on the cardio and focus more on nutrition. I would have to look at more to help you out but you need to recover or your body will be in stress mode, cauing inflammation and not wanting to get rid of fat for fear that your hormones wont regulate. Change the 5 days to 4 and see if that helps. Usually it is nutrition. Email me your diet and I will give you very quick tips that will help.

  • vobis says:

    Hello Flavia

    I will start your program next week. I really started with nutrition. I usually training 5 times a week but I have no much results and I work hard. It’s for that I bought your programme and I think is the good way for change my fat into muscle. I don’t want to lose weight but grow up my muscles and lose fats.
    What routine could you suggest me? I make my workouts always in the morning after breakfast… for me it would be better to make weights and cardio both together but I think it is not much correct?? What do you think about make workouts ON mo, tu, we, thu, fri and OFF sa, su? Is it possible to make weihgts and Pilates both in the same training day once a week(I love Pilates)?
    For cardio I usually make 10min warming, 20min HIT, 1min slow-1min HIT for 10 times and 5 min slowly for recuperation, is it good in that way?
    Thanks for your help
    You’re really a gift for all us, I think I finally found the correct Workout and I’m really excited, I want a best body for my 40 birthday this summer!!!
    Thanks for your help
    You’re the Best

    • Flavia says:

      The best program is the one you follow. I suggest doing what works best for you so that you continue to follow the program. I stated the best way to do the workout in the program guide but if you need to change it, no problem. Make this work on your schedule. I wish you a very happy and fit 40th!

  • Lauren says:

    Im eighteen an right now im just concerned with losing all over fat. I run four miles everyday just at a steady pace. How often should I do hit training to maximize fat burning and is there a hiit workout I can follow for beginners because I have never done hiit before. Thanks 🙂

    • Flavia says:

      Hey Lauren, start with doing HIIT 2x a week for 20 minutes and increase to 30 when ready and add another day when ready. For beginners follow the advice on the video. Start with 1 min high intensity..start slow and work your way up….1 min walk (treadmil is great for beginners)

  • katie says:

    your awesome! Thanks! 🙂

  • Selena says:

    Hi Flavia,

    I am a beginner to HIIT and was wondering what workout would be best for beginners. Just bought a treadmill so I would like to know what is the best way to burn calories.

    Thank you!

    • Anna says:

      Hi Selena,
      start with just 20 minutes of HIIT twice a week, minute/minute intervals. Watch the video again and read through the comments for more information. 🙂
      All the best!
      Anna, CPT, FF Specialist

  • Preeti says:

    Hi.i’m g8 fan of urs flavilicious.I hv a lil fat on my stomach. I does exercise but cudn’t found abs.i want abs on my body.Nxt few week i’ll hv shoot.My height is 5’6″.& weight is 50.Please tell me only abt abs.& wat type of home food i can eat..& is there any protein help me out fir wonderful abs.revert asap..thnx dear

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