When it comes to weight loss, it’s all about energy balance. Choosing the cardio machines that burn most calories puts you in a prime position to get leaner, fitter and curvier in the fastest time possible.
Shaping a slimmer, athletic, more toned version of you all comes down to planning. There’s a war going on between the energy coming into your body from food, and the energy you burn off through physical activity and exercise.
There can only be one winner.
Choosing cardio machines that give you the most bang-for-your-buck is your secret weapon for winning the daily battle that’ll result in a sexy hourglass shape.
These are the machines you need in your life…
Weight Loss – Calories, Cardio and Curves
There’s only one way to lose weight and burn fat. You have to take in less calories each day than you use day-to-day.
Calories are a measure of energy.
And energy obeys the laws of thermodynamics, meaning it can’t be created or destroyed, only transferred.
So when you eat that salad, bagel burger or fries, your body transfers the energy inside the food into your body. It then uses that energy for various bodily functions, much like a car uses fuel.
Calorie intake and macronutrients
Energy from food comes in the form of macronutrients. These are specific sources of energy that not only have unique chemical formulas, but different roles in the body too.
- Carbohydrates – you get 4 kcal for every gram you eat
- Fat – you get 9 kcal for every gram you eat
- Protein – you get 4 kcal for every gram you eat
Although nutrients like vitamins and minerals help you use the energy in macronutrients, ‘macros’ are the ONLY source of calories the human body needs or uses.
Vitamins and minerals themselves don’t contain calories.
Energy expenditure – burning off energy to maintain balance
Once energy from food enters your body, it goes to work. It’s used in various ways to keep your body functioning effectively.
You use those calories in the following ways:
- Basal metabolic rate (BMR) – these are the calories needed for essential, basic functions such as respiration, brain function, muscle maintenance and regulation of heart rate.
- Non-exercise activities – above and beyond your BMR, every time you fidget, move, stand or walk, you need energy. It’s not structured physical activity, just movement.
- Exercise – structured exercise such as weight lifting or cardio exercise requires a high level of energy.
- Digestion and absorption – known as the ‘thermal effect of food’, every time you eat you need to break down the component parts of food, digest it using mechanical and chemical processes, and then finally absorb it. This takes energy too.
Energy balance is the key to weight loss
Imagine a seesaw.
On one end is the calories coming into your body through macro-nutrition. On the other side is the energy being burned off through BMR, exercise etc.
What happens to your fat mass is dictated by which side of the scale wins.
- If the calories coming in is more than going out = weight gain
- When calories in equals calories out = weight maintenance
- But if calories in is less than that being burned off = weight loss
Cardio Machines That Burn The Most Calories
One of the best tools you have available to push energy balance in your favor is cardio.
Not only is it great for boosting your mood, elevating fitness levels and building your confidence, it’s also a hell of a calorie burner too.
The problem is that when you walk into the gym you just don’t know which equipment is best for burning the most calories. All you see is row after row of machines.
If you feel overwhelmed and not sure how best to spend your time (and effort), this is what you need to know…
Cardio machines that burn the most fat
Before we break down the specifics, it’s worth noting that all cardio machines burn calories. They’re all useful in the war against fat, and because enjoyment is a big factor for successful weight loss, you should always try to pick cardio machines that you actually enjoy using.
Variety is also important. Mixing up machines each week help to keep things interesting.
It also reduces the possibility of overuse injuries.
And last of all, the energy you burn on cardio machines all comes down to intensity. If you work to your maximum on one machine, but moderate or light on another, you’ll always burn the most calories on the first.
Research on cardio machines shows a big difference in calorie burning
A science paper published in the Journal of the American Medical Association wanted to find out this very question.
The scientists involved asked a group of volunteers to work out at the same relative intensity on a range of commercial cardio machines.
- Skiing ergometer
- Airdyne (a bike with moving handles)
Collecting energy expenditure data using gas analysis, the volunteers performed 3 stages of 5-minutes on each cardio machine.
The amount of calories burned on each machine varied by a huge amount – 261 kcal.
That’s over a period of only 5 minutes too! Imagine the difference over 30 or 60 minutes.
The treadmill was found to burn the most calories, with the ski and rowing machines coming in right behind it.
Both the bike and Airdyne came in last. They still burned calories, just not the most.
More muscle means more calories
Another interesting research project showed that you burn around 5 kcal for every liter of oxygen consumed during intense cardio exercise.
And with muscle needing oxygen for fuel, the more muscles activated during a cardio machine workout, the more total energy is expended.
This is probably why the bikes were less effective than the treadmill or rower.
Estimated calorie burn on cardio machines isn’t accurate
One thing you need to take into account when counting calories is that energy expenditure is relative. You can’t really just rely on machines to tell you how many calories you’ve burned as they’re pretty inaccurate.
Most cardio machines are pre-set by the manufacturer to to track the energy expenditure of a 180 lb, 30-year old man.
Your actual energy count is based around not only gender, but things like body mass and age too.
So if you’re a 140 lb 40 year old woman for example, your numbers will be way different.
Summary – Cardio Machines That Burn the Most Calories
Successful weight loss all comes down to balancing energy coming into your body with what you burn off.
Cardio machines not only boost your fitness, but help ramp up energy expenditure too. That way, you can literally run your way to fat loss by burning most calories.
According to research, when intensity is kept the same, the treadmill comes out on top, with ski and rowing machines not far behind it. And while we suggest mixing up your training with variety, these should be the focal point of your training if you’re after fast weight loss.