MyCoach App Blog
Is Cardio Really Necessary for Fat Loss?
January 6, 2023
Why is cardio good for fat loss?

Cardio is short for “cardiovascular activity." Sometimes it's also referred to as aerobic exercise. Cardio helps bump up your blood pumping and breathing rates, resulting in a great workout for your heart and large muscle groups (think torso and legs).
This type of exercise is good for fat loss because it helps you burn more calories, plain and simple. The exact number of calories you need to burn to lose a pound of fat depends on your metabolism, but generally, you need to burn about 3,500 calories to lose 1 pound of fat in a week.
Cardio's cool for burning calories, but it's not the *best* option for fat loss. That's because while cardio burns calories while you move, strength training can actually help your body keep burning more calories through the day and night (more on that later).

How can you lose fat without cardio?

Remember, fat loss happens when there's a calorie deficit. But there's more than one way to dial down your intake or turn up your calorie burn.
Other ways you can lose fat and skip the dreaded cardio:

  • Eat a nutrient-rich diet. It's 100 percent possible to fuel your body with lean proteins, fiber-full fruits and veggies, and healthy fats. Depending on your daily diet, you might be able to slash a few hundred calories by simply giving up sweetened drinks, sugar-laden condiments, and refined carbs.

  • Nix soda and booze. Alcohol and sugary soda can fill up your calorie quota in a jiffy. Some folks might lose belly fat just by ditching these.

  • Try intermittent fasting. Limited research suggests that shrinking your eating window to 8 hours each day could help decrease body fat mass. Heads up: Intermittent fasting isn't a healthy fat loss method for kiddos, pregnant women, or folks experiencing signs of disordered eating.

  • Pump iron instead. Cardio isn't the only activity that burns calories. Strength training torches body fat
  • too!
Can you just lift weights to lose fat?

Short answer: Yes, you can lose fat by lifting weights.
Weight training offers the one-two punch of burning calories while lifting *and* revving up your overall metabolism. According to a 2008 study, lifting weights locks in lean muscle, which torches more calories throughout the day.
Hitting up the weight rack can be a great way to lose fat, but it can also lead to a higher number on the scale. Don't freak out. You're not gettin' “bulky" with this weight gain. Lean muscle is actually heavier than visceral fat, and it's a healthy swap. Remember: those numbers on the scale never give you the full health picture anyway.
So, is weight training or cardio better for fat loss?

This is a tricky question. Cardio burns more calories while you work out. Weight training changes your body composition so that you burn more calories all day.

One 2012 study of 119 adults tried to answer this very question. Participants with overweight or obese bodies were divided into 3 groups: cardio, strength training, or a combo of both. Researchers found that cardio kicked weight training's butt when it came to fat loss. But those who did both experienced the same results as those who'd done just cardio.

Bottom line: Cardio is a faster short-term fat loss solution, but combining cardio with strength training will help you lose body fat while boosting your metabolism for the long term.

Based on Greatist HealthLine Media.

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