Why Cardio Might Be Sabotaging Your Weight Loss
No one is disputing the fact that cardio workouts can do incredible things for your body. Cardio can improve your heart health, increase your lung capacity, and lift your mood, so cardio has a place in your overall health strategy. That said, there is one area in which cardio tends to be highly overrated: helping you lose weight. If you’re spending hours running or biking in hopes of shedding kilos, you might be setting yourself up for failure. Here’s why.
Your Diet Is King
Weight loss comes down to calories in versus calories out. Your body uses energy in three ways:
- Resting metabolism, or the calories you burn performing basic functions such as breathing, thinking, and your heart beating
- Thermic effect of food – this is the energy you expend simply digesting what you’ve eaten
- Physical activity, which accounts for only about 15% – 25% of the calories you burn
The problem is easy to see when you look at the numbers. Most of the calories you burn are out of your control. Increasing your physical activity to a level that significantly increases your calorie deficit is nearly impossible. What you burn may be out of your control – but what you consume is entirely up to you.
Strength Training Is a More Efficient Weight-Loss Option
If you jog for half an hour, you’ll burn roughly 200 calories. That’s great, but it’s fewer calories than a single piece of avocado toast contains. If you focus on resistance training instead for the same half-hour, you may burn fewer calories immediately, but you’ll have a much bigger impact on your calorie expenditure for the rest of the day. That’s because the more muscle mass you have, the more calories you burn all day, even at rest. Strength training turns your body into a more efficient fat-burning machine.
Cardio Makes You Hungry
The fact is that after a gruelling cardio workout, you’re going to be hungry. Most people find it extremely difficult to deny this hunger and tend to compensate by eating more. You may also find yourself “slowing down” after an intense workout, taking the elevator instead of the stairs because you already worked out, or simply walking around your house or office less than usual. These behaviours impede your energy expenditure, and in the case of eating more, actually, add calories to the other side of the equation.
Cardio is a beneficial activity with many significant health benefits – just don’t count on it as your weight-loss hero.