Many fitness enthusiasts wonder, “Can you lose weight without cardio?” Like many questions related to fitness and diet, there are many dimensions to a simple question.
The easy answer is yes, that you can definitely lose weight without doing cardio. Losing or gaining weight is a simple measure of calories consumed vs calories burned.
So the answer is yes, you can lose weight without cardio if you manage your calories (food intake) and make sure that it’s generally less (over time) than your calories burned.
We’ll get to the other real benefits of cardio, but first let’s deal with exactly what determines weight loss vs weight gain.
This measure of calories consumed vs calories burned is irrelevant to performing cardio, lifting weights, or any other physical activities. It’s just a matter of whether you burn more calories than you eat.
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If you burn more calories than you eat over a given period of time, then you will lose weight. This is called a caloric deficit.
So over the course of seven days, if each day you consume exactly 1,500 calories per day, and you burn 2,500 calories per day, then you’ll lose two pounds of fat.
There are some other factors that weigh into this, but that is a good general rule.
1,000 calorie/day deficit X 7 days = 7,000 calories ÷ 3,500 calories = 2 pounds lost
(1 pound of fat = 3,500 calories)
The same process works in reverse. If you consume more than you burn over a given period of time, be it a day or a month, then you will gain weight. This is a caloric surplus.
So over a 7-day period, if you eat 3,000 calories per day and only burn 2,000 calories each day, then you will gain two pounds of fat.
1,000 calorie/day excess X 7 days = 7,000 calories ÷ 3,500 calories = 2 pounds gained
(1 pound of fat = 3,500 calories)
So losing or gaining weight is a direct consequence of your caloric surplus or caloric deficit over a given period of time, with or without cardio.
But Cardio Helps…A Lot
So losing weight comes down to consuming less calories than you burn, but cardio has a big influence on that equation in more ways than one.
And yes, 30 minutes of cardio only burns 250-500 calories depending on the type of cardio, which is only a few cookies or a light sandwich.
But it’s the combined effect of cardio over weeks, months, and years. Even though you might only burn 300 calories in a 30-minute cardio routine, cardio is like compound interest in that it starts to really stack up over time. A Lean Life strongly supports the idea of daily cardio so that it becomes part of your daily routine.
Even though it’s only 300 calories for that given day, if you do cardio 5 days a week let’s look at the impact over the course of a year 300 calories X 5 days a week = 1,500 calories a week = 78,000 calories in a year!
78,000 calories = 22.2 pounds of body fat
So over the course of a year cardio starts to really impact your weight control in a huge way.
Psychological Impact of Cardio
Doing consistent and frequent cardio also has a big psychological impact. Doing cardio just puts you in the mindset of taking better care of your body, and that translates into healthier habits. When you’re doing frequent cardio, then you are more aware of personal wellness and it becomes top of mind in your daily life.
A major reason that two-thirds (67%) of adults are overweight or obese in Western cultures is that health and fitness are not prominent on their daily radar. However, if cardio and workouts had a larger role, then fitness and personal well-being would be a higher priority! It comes down to basic human nature.
And then of course there are the well-documented additional benefits of cardio:
- Improved blood pressure
- Improved circulation
- Better weight control
- Stronger lung capacity
- Improves cholesterol
- Better sleep
And the list of cardio benefits goes on and on.
Summing It Up
Can you lose weight without cardio? Absolutely. You need to closely manage your calories or follow a very strict diet. However, adding cardio to your lifestyle makes the journey a whole lot easier.
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