When someone decides to “lose some weight,” they often think that they should “do some more cardio.” We hear it all the time. But will doing more cardio actually lead to weight loss? Read on to learn find out if cardio will actually cause you to lose weight.
We need to first look at what “cardio” is and does. Cardio as we hear it referred to is short for cardiovascular activity. These are activities that primarily work out your heart and lungs. Typically, we see people running, biking, swimming, etc. for medium to long periods of time. No doubt they are using a good amount of energy to do these activities. When you start a “cardio” session, your body will begin using its stored carbohydrates for energy (learn more about this in our “Carbs Are Bad For You” post), after a while, your body will have gone through these stores and will begin mobilizing fat in an effort to create more energy. So during the longer sessions, you will be improving your lung and heart function, and burning some fat potentially. As mentioned earlier, this fat burning only occurs once you stored carbs have been used up, so, you need to make sure that your cardio sessions have some level of intensity to them to actually get this affect. Think about going 70-80% for 60min. That should do the trick.
There is another side to the coin. When you are doing “cardio,” you are working your heart and lungs, and also your larger muscles such as legs, back and arms. Try running without legs, and it’s not really possible. So, as you are working out, there are lots of muscle contractions going on, and your body begins using protein (stored as amino acids) for energy production. If you do not have enough protein stored in your body, your body will begin to breakdown muscle tissue in order to get the amino acids it needs. This is why you hear some lifters say things like (cardio will make you lose your gains.)
So, where does this put us in regard to the myth?
If you are doing cardio, you have potential to lose weight, however, if you eat more than you burn, you won’t lose weight. So, cardio itself will not make you lose weight, but a caloric deficit will make you lose weight. Additionally, if you lose weight but aren’t consuming enough protein, you may actually be losing muscle instead of fat.
Cardio by itself will not make you lose weight. You need to consider your food intake, time of session, and intensity of session. If you need some structure guidance in setting up. The ideal plan for you, schedule a conversation with one of our coaches, you can do that here: