If you are tracking and weighing, the next step in setting up a diet is to take maintenance calories and use that information to determine an appropriate caloric intake for your goals.
For weight loss, I’d recommend that you aim to lose weight at a rate of 0.5 to 1% of body weight per week to minimise muscle and strength loss.
From our previous article if you worked out your maintenance calories to be 2100, you found out your daily activity was 3000 steps and you weight trained 3 x per week, how would you go about dropping 0.5 to 1% body fat?
I always recommend leaving as many tools in the bag as possible, this is so when you hit a plateau you have tools you can use, so don't use them all at once in a rush to drop body fat, this will comeback to haunt you down the line.
Option one could be dropping 200 calories from your maintenance calories, leaving steps and exercise the same and seeing how your body reacts to that.
Option two could be to increase steps to 5000 per day, leaving calories and exercise the same and seeing how your body reacts to that.
Option three could be increasing the amount or type of exercise you do, leaving calories and steps the same and seeing how your body reacts to that.
I left exercise to last because I would rather manipulate calories and steps more often than not, and here is my reason why:
Doing cardiovascular exercise at moderate intensities is essentially endurance training. The adaptations and the work required to produce endurance adaptations can interfere with the training and adaptations required to generate muscular strength, hypertrophy, and power.
Not to say that interference will prevent someone from getting bigger, stronger, or more powerful, but if excessive cardio is performed it can slow down the process of building muscle, strength, or power in a dose dependent manner.
Glycogen depletion and the molecular signaling that comes from endurance training may play a role in interference.
Additionally, interference might also be related to the extent of the impact and the contribution of eccentric actions from the modality of cardio.
Eccentric actions are essentially when your muscle lengthens under muscular control, often performed when guiding a load into place or decelerating a load; like what your bicep is doing when you lower a dumbbell.
In endurance training, this is how your body brakes and controls your inertia and movement. High impact forces can create joint strain, and a high volume of high force eccentric actions can create a lot of muscle soreness. So, you can deplete the muscle of its energy and also go into training with sore joints and muscles if cardio training is excessive.
However, walking at a moderate pace would be below the threshold of producing overload and therefore wouldn’t be an issue. Thus, interference is not an issue with walking.
In my opinion because of interference, cardio should not be the primary vehicle for fat loss, regardless of whether you perform low or high-intensity cardio. The majority of fat loss should come from the diet and steps, with resistance training performance being the most critical aspect of muscle maintenance.
The diet supports the training as best as possible while creating fat loss and the training supports muscle retention.