What’s the first thing people think about when they want to lose weight?
Apart from “eating healthier” it’s most likely cardio.
They think that if you run more you’re going to see the pounds melt off.
While cardio does burn more calories, it doesn’t mean that it’s going to help you lose weight any faster.
You Don’t Burn As Many Calories As You Think
Let’s say you get on a treadmill and you decide to run for 30 minutes and it tells you that you burnt 500 calories.
The problem with this is that you didn’t actually burn 500 calories.
The machine that the machine is overestimating how many calories you burnt because it didn’t account for weight, height, age and fitness level.
This means that you would have probably burnt anywhere from 10 – 30% fewer calories than you think.
On top of that, our body already burns calories just sitting down doing nothing.
On average we burn our bodyweight in calories per hour.
That means a 90kg male burns about 90 calories an hour.
So if you run for 30 minutes and you burn 300 real calories, you’re only burning 255 calories in that half an hour period.
Burning an extra 255 calories a day with exercise isn’t much in the grand scheme of things.
A personal anecdote is that I love to use the assault bike (the bike that has handles and peddles that move) and it tells me I burn 900 calories in 35 minutes.
There is no way in HELL that I burn that many calories in such a short amount of time.
To get a more accurate reading, I wore a heart rate monitor I burned 500 calories in 35 minutes compared to the machine telling me 90 minutes.
That’s an extra 450 calories that the machine told me I burnt.
So, don’t trust what the machine tells you.
Cardio Can Reduce Your Activity Level
Another problem with doing 30 – 60 minutes of a cardio session is that it can cause you to be less active during the day.
Let’s say someone takes 14,000 steps on a day where they don’t do cardio.
Then on the days, they do cardio they are less active for the remainder of the day. It winds up counterbalancing the extra effort that they put in.
If you push yourself and do a HIIT session and then you sit on the couch for the rest of the day, you’re basically just cancelling out the “extra” calories you would have burnt.
This means you could have roughly burnt the same number of calories if you were to do your normal everyday activities and take 14,000 steps.
If you do cardio, you need to make sure you keep up your normal activity levels in order to get the benefits of the extra calorie burn.
It Can Effect Your Weight Training
Your goal isn’t to lose any type of weight.
Your goal is to lose body fat and not muscle which means you still need to train with weights.
If you tend to focus more on cardio than weights, you can increase your chances of muscle loss.
You can also do too much cardio and slow down your recovery after a workout and push yourself too hard.
That means it can affect your workout sessions.
When you bet too tired and you get weaker, it increases your chances of losing muscle mass.
In saying that you want to cut back on how much cardio you’re doing if it starts to negatively impact your weight training sessions.
You Can Easily Eat Back Your Calories
How many times have you snuck in a doughnut or two after a hard workout and told yourself it’s a “reward”?
Guess what? That just undid your 30 minutes of cardio. You probably ate more calories than you burnt.
If you were to go from the example above with calories burnt, one doughnut would undo 30 minutes of cardio.
If you ate two, you’re now getting closer to having a smaller deficit.
That sucks, that really sucks!
It’s so easy to overeat calories and ruin the hard work you put in with a cardio session and that’s why it’s better to focus on your diet.
There’s no way you can outrun a bad diet and that means it doesn’t matter how much cardio you do.
What To Do Instead
This is why I’m so big on nutrition and creating a calorie deficit through food.
Cutting back on calories through food eat it’s easier to control how much of a deficit there is.
This also means you’ll be able to predict your weight loss better because you can be more consistent.
That’s not to say that you shouldn’t do any cardio at all and it can still be beneficial.
I do cardio three times a week for 30 minutes. However, I don’t use that to change my eating or give myself an excuse to burn more calories.
Cardio is an add on to my calorie deficit.
The deficit was created through my diet and cardio is the icing on the cake.
Cut back on calories and change your diet. It really does has much more of an effect than people think
Abs are made in the kitchen and it really is the truth.
Have a good diet that helps you lose .5 – 1% of your bodyweight a week and your progress will run a lot smoother than if you were to try and outrun your diet.