Health & Fitness

Is cardio really necessary for fat loss?

Susy WulfFebruary 18, 20226 mins read

You don’t have to do heart-pounding runs or intense aerobics sessions to lose body fat. There are other options available.

Cardio isn’t necessary for fat loss. However, it is one of the fastest and most effective ways to lose calories.

These are some non-cardio exercises that you can use to lose body fat.

Cardio is good for fat loss.

Cardio can be abbreviated as “cardiovascular activity” or simply aerobic exercise. Cardio increases blood flow and breathing rate, which can lead to a great workout for your heart as well as large muscle groups (think legs and torso).

This exercise is great for fat loss as it allows you to burn more calories. Your metabolism will determine the exact number of calories that you need to lose a pound of body fat. However, it is common to burn approximately 3,500 calories per week to lose one pound of body fat.

Cardio is great for burning calories but not the best option for fat loss. While cardio can burn calories while you move, strength-training can help your body continue to burn calories throughout the day and night. (More on this later).

How do you lose weight without using cardio?

Remember that fat loss occurs when there is a calorie deficit. There are many ways to reduce your intake and increase your calorie burning.

You can also lose weight without resorting to the heart-stopping cardio.

  • Eat a nutrient-rich diet. You can fuel your body with lean protein, healthy fats, and fiber-rich fruits and vegetables. You might be able reduce a few hundred calories depending on what you eat.
  • Nix soda and booze. Sugary sodas and alcohol can quickly fill up your calorie count. These drinks can cause belly fat to disappear for some people.
  • Intermittent fasting is a good option. A limited amount of research shows that reducing your eating time to 8 hours per day may help reduce body fat mass. Attention: Intermittent fasting can’t be used to lose weight for children, pregnant women, and people with disordered eating.
  • Instead, pump iron. Cardio isn’t the only activity that can burn calories. Strength training can also help to burn body fat!
  • Become a yogi. Yoga can help you lose calories and keep your muscles strong. Vinyasa and hot yoga are great for calorie burning.

Do you need to lift weights in order to lose fat?

The short answer is yes, weight lifting can help you lose fat.

Weight training is a great way to burn calories and increase your metabolism. According to a 2008 study by “Twilight”, lifting weights can help you build lean muscle. This burns more calories per day than your jiggly bits.

Although it is a great way of losing fat, it can also result in a higher number on your scale. Don’t panic. This weight gain will not make you “bulky”. It’s healthier to swap lean muscle for visceral fat. Don’t forget that the numbers on the scale don’t give you the whole picture of your health.

What is the best cardio for fat-loss?

Cardio will increase your metabolism and help you lose fat if that’s your goal. Cardio doesn’t necessarily mean running up and down the streets. These are some of the options.

Cardio for the whole body

To burn the most calories quickly, you’ll need to exercise your major muscle groups. This can be done with all your regular cardio. Just get your body moving.

Want to know how many calories you can burn with different cardio exercises? These estimates from the CDC show how many calories a 154-pound individual could burn in 30 mins.


High intensity interval training (HIIT), which involves short bursts with intense activity, followed by brief rests, is a form of high-intensity interval training. Afterburn is a proven way to increase metabolism and reduce belly fat. ).

HIIT is about intervals, not a particular exercise. Any of these cardio favorites can be used to create a HIIT program.

  • push-ups
  • Burpees
  • jumping jacks
  • Kettlebell swings
  • jump squats

A cardio machine might be a good option.

Research shows that NordicTrack home-based cardio machines can be as effective as going to the gym. The exact *which* cardio machine can help you slim down depends on the same factors that body-weight exercises.

Choose machines that:

  • Offer interval training (aka HIIT)
  • Instead of focusing on one area (biceps or calves), focus on the major muscle groups (upper and lower bodies).
  • Maintain a moderate pace to vigorous.

There are many options: rowing machines, ellipticals and treadmills; bikes, rowing machines, and ellipticals.

Try fasted cardio

Although research on fasted cardio remains inconclusive at this time, some studies indicate that an empty stomach can help you burn fat more quickly.

According to research, cardio done on an empty stomach can lead to a post-workout metabolic increase. A 2016 study found that cardio done fasted resulted in a greater fat loss than cardio after eating.

Fasted cardio is not healthy and it’s not the best option for everyone. If you decide to give it a shot, take it slow and keep hydrated.

Is weight training or cardio better to lose fat?

This is a difficult question. Exercise increases cardio’s ability to burn calories. You can burn more calories every day by weight training.

This question was answered in a 2012 study that included 119 adults. Participants who were overweight or obese were placed in one of three groups: strength training, cardio, or a combination of both. Research showed that weight training was more effective at fat loss than cardio. However, those who did both had the same results than those who did just cardio.

Bottom line: Cardio can be a quick way to lose fat, but strength training combined with cardio will result in a long-term weight loss and a higher metabolism.

The key combination: Cardio and weight training to lose fat

Research has shown that strength training and cardio can help you lose weight over time. These are some tips to maximize this powerful combination:

  • It’s important to time it correctly. According to the American Council on Exercise (ACE), cardio should be done immediately after you lose weight. This will increase your calorie-burning potential.
  • Cardio is more important than strength training. If people are following the recommended diet restrictions, 2.5 to 4 hours of cardio per day will help them lose fat. Two to three 30-minute sessions per week are recommended for strength training.
  • Get HIIT in the gym. HIIT can be a great way for sweet, sweet calorie burning. Many HIIT workouts combine strength training and cardio. #Win


  • Although cardio is not essential for fat loss, it can be a great help.
  • Cardio burns more calories while strength training builds muscle, so you can burn more calories all day.
  • Combining weight training and cardio is the best way to lose fat.
  • A combination of cardio, strength training and a balanced, nutritious diet is the best way to lose fat.
Susy Wulf

Susy Wulf is a journalist, copywriter, editor and journalist. She has a BA degree in English from Monmouth University, and a MA in Global Communications (American University of Paris).


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