Cardio & Weight Loss: Do You Really Need Cardio to Lose Weight

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There are two kinds of people in this world, those who love cardio and those who hate it. If you’re one of the many who dread it, at some point or another, you’ve probably asked the question, “Do you really need cardio to lose weight?” The technical answer is no. You don’t need to perform cardio to shed the excess pounds, however, it is HIGHLY recommended that you do. Here’s why:

A successful weight loss program is made up of three major components, cardio being one of them. Failing to include cardio exercise into your weight loss program would significantly hinder your weight loss progress. The quickest and most effective way to slim down is to make sure that your training program incorporates all three of these methods.

A Combination of 3 Major Components

1. Diet

In order to lose weight, a caloric deficit must be created. You can lose weight through diet alone. When we diet, we generally eat fewer calories. The problem is, that in order to diet safely, you must only cut 200 to 300 calories a day out of your diet. 3500 calories make up 1 pound of fat. Through diet alone, it would take you approximately 12-18 days. This is a long period of time to shed just one pound.

Cutting more than 300 calories a day out of your diet can cause your body to believe its starving. When this happens, it holds on to all of the fat that it can, stalling weight loss. Not to mention, not getting proper nutrients can take a serious toll on your metabolism.

2. Strength Training

Strength training accomplishes more than just making you stronger. Lifting weights builds, tones, and sculpts your muscles. A common misconception that we need to put to rest is the idea that lifting weights makes us look bulky. It doesn’t. Weight training firms the muscles, making us look leaner, rather than bulkier. Putting on some muscle, also helps kick your metabolism into overdrive. This means that you’ll burn more calories, even while at rest, throughout the day!

3. Cardio

Our third component is of course, cardio. Now the two previous components can affect the scale, but if you really want to see progress, you must incorporate cardio into your routine. No fitness program is complete without it.

Let’s look back at the 200-300 calorie deficit from dieting. It’s going to take a while to lose a pound, right? What if we burn an extra 200-300 calories through cardio each day? Instead of taking almost three weeks to lose one pound, we can lose it in 6-9 days. That’s a huge difference, right?

There are many added benefits to performing cardio, aside from helping you lose weight and inches quicker. This form of exercise improves heart and lung health, fights disease, helps you sleep better, and even improves your mood!

On a side note, if you dread cardio because you think it’s boring, you’re in luck! We have countless, fun cardio and HIIT workouts for you to choose from! Try any or all of these:

So, Do You Really Need Cardio to Lose Weight?

Incorporate Cardio if You Want Results

Do you really need cardio to lose weight? It isn’t mandatory, but we really insist that you do it! You don’t have to run for hours; you don’t even have to run at all. Find a form of cardio that you enjoy. You can go swimming, rollerblading, ice skating, hiking, or simply ride your bike! By doing what you enjoy, your cardio routine will feel much more sustainable.

To lose the most amount of weight possible, in a shorter amount of time, eat clean, nutritious foods. Make sure you get a little bit of protein at every meal and be sure to hydrate often! Incorporate strength training into your routine 2-5 days per week and perform cardio at least 3 times per week. The AHA recommends adults get 150 minutes of moderate intensity cardiovascular exercise, or 75 minutes of HIIT each week.

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3 Comments on "Cardio & Weight Loss: Do You Really Need Cardio to Lose Weight"

  1. Dana  September 10, 2018

    I’ve lost almost 40 lbs with diet alone, but have plateaued. I tried adding in exercise (PiYo and treadmill) and the scale showed gains, not losses, even though my diet had not changed. Now I’m skeptical about starting up exercise again. Was there a reason for the gain?

    • Gale Compton  September 11, 2018

      Dana, Maybe you’re building muscle, which is a good think. I wouldn’t let a little weight gain stop me from exercising. Try ramping up your cardio with some of our tabata workouts or other heart pumping exercising.

    • Erin Milller  September 11, 2018

      Hi Dana,

      Congratulations on losing 40 pounds! That so awesome! I wanted to mention that it’s possible your body is requiring less calories since you’ve lost 40 pounds. You may want to consider decreasing your daily calorie intake about 50-100 per day to see if your weight begins to move again. After a week or so, if something hasn’t changed, decrease your calorie intake a little more to see if anything changes. Lastly, you may also want to consider upping your protein intake and decreasing your carbohydrate intake, slightly. Hope that helps! 🙂


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