Can I Lose Weight With Just Cardio?

Can I Lose Weight With Just Cardio?
This is a great question. It’s actually one of my favorite questions to be asked because I get to nerd out a little. Sometimes I can get carried away but on this page, that’s allowed so FYI, in the comments section-expand on this and ask questions I encourage it!
Now, can you lose weight with just doing cardio? Technically I’ll say yes (with a but). Yes, you will lose weight to start however eventually you will plateau out and you will stop seeing those pounds drop off. The is for two major reasons:

Why Cardio Is Not The Most Effective Method For Fat Loss

1. Your body burns the majority of its calories through muscle tissue. Doing a “cardio only” approach will burn calories to be sure, but it also burns right through muscle tissue.

If you burn off muscle tissue, you now have less muscle to help burn fat. So at the beginning it looks like you’re getting somewhere and you’re losing weight. In reality, you’re really losing a little of both muscle and fat tissue and eventually will stop losing any of either all together.

A really good example: The Olympics just finished and we watched some unbelievable competitors this summer! Take a look at the long distance cross country or track stars. They are very thin, lean, and have just enough muscle tissue to make them extremely good at running for a long period of time. Now look at the sprinters. The men have really strong shoulders and arms, full and defined backs, and great abs. The women have very strong glutes, hamstrings, and great abs as well.

Why is that? This happens because the long distance runners burn through their fat AND muscle while the sprinters are constantly burning fat ONLY while building lean and attractive muscle tissue.

2. Cardiovascular exercise burns calories predominately during the activity being performed. So if you’re on the elliptical getting after it for the last 60 minutes, you’ve probably burned a lot of calories (but don’t forget about reason #1 here).

However, that’s really the only time your body is burning fat. It also takes roughly 30-40 minutes of steady aerobic (cardio) exercise to burn off any sugar in your muscle tissue (depending on how much sugar/carbs you’ve had for the day.)

So on the surface it may appear like you’ve been burning fat for the last hour, in reality you’ve only been burning fat for the last 20 minutes. That SUCKS! All that work and I only get 20 minutes of success?! Well I have good news for you…

Strength Training And Weight Loss Go Hand In Hand

Strength training is a huge component to fat loss.

Actively strength training between 2-4 times per week will prevent #1 from happening. If you push yourself hard enough and bump up your heart rate during your strength training something amazing happens! (Stay tuned for a video blog on this).

You create what is called a metabolic after-burn and this tackles problem #2. This is a fancy way of saying that by bumping up your heart rate and really taxing your body with high intensity interval training, you chemically (on a cellular level) tell your body to burn calories and burn fat for hours after your workout. Depending on what research you look at, there are some people who have shown to burn fat for up to 36 hours after their interval training! That’s AWESOME!

So when we look at efficiency and how to get to the body of your dreams safely but QUICKLY, we look at this. I promote your body to burn fat when you aren’t seeing me. When I get your body to do that, fat tissue doesn’t stand a chance.

John Welborn

My name is John and I'm a certified Fitness and Fat Loss Coach. I help individuals get in the best shape they've ever been in and teach them to maintain it for good. I've got a Bachelor degree in Exercise/Sports Science, Associate's degrees in health science, accounting, business, and chemistry, 2 RockTape Kinesiology Taping Certifications, and an ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine) Personal Training Certification.

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