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Do I Have to Do Cardio to Lose Weight?

Do I Have to Do Cardio to Lose Weight? Not Really, Say Most Experts

Doing cardio has always been recommended if you're trying to lose weight. Too bad you despise running, biking, and anything exercise-related! Is it possible to reach your weight-loss goals without doing cardio?

You're going to love this answer — yes! Weight loss really comes down to creating a calorie deficit. You can absolutely do that with diet alone. It helps to figure out your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE). This is the total number of calories you burn each day. It includes your basal metabolic rate (BMR) which is the number of calories your body needs to do its basic functions like breathing and digesting food, which varies based on your activity level.

Once you figure out that number, which many apps like My Fitness Pal can calculate for you automatically, you need to decrease the number of calories you consume each day by 15 to 20 percent. Just make sure that you never dip below your BMR. Keep in mind that this is just an estimate, so listen to your body and eat more if you need to!

While many people find success with this method, focusing on calories in vs. calories out (CICO) isn't the only thing to consider. The types of food and the times of day people eat can also affect weight loss. For example, some may lose weight eating Paleo, while others find greater success eating a whole foods, plant-based diet.

While daily calorie intake is important, keeping track of your macros (protein, carbs, and fats) can also speed up weight loss. You might find that eating high-protein and low-carb is your sweet spot, while others may need moderate protein and high fat. Whatever you do, it's always important to focus on eating quality foods that nourish your body (so . . . salad over pizza most of the time).

The time of day you eat and how many hours a day you spend eating should also be taken into consideration. Fitness instructor John Kersbergen has found success with intermittent fasting (IF) for himself and his clients. But this is not a one-size-fits-all scenario. Trainer Bob Harper recommends that people eat "three square meals a day — no snacks — and one meal called a 'floater meal' that you can have at any other point during the day."

While relying solely on your diet to lose weight and doing zero cardio can work, there's no escaping the fact that exercise will help you burn more daily calories, and reach your goals faster. Instead of steady-state cardio like going for an hour-long run, John says the most efficient way to lose weight is to do some form of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) coupled with strength training.

Exercising is also essential for your overall physical and mental health, so maybe the issue isn't that you hate cardio, it's that you haven't found the exercise that speaks to your soul. Keep looking and make it about your happiness, not about your weight, and dropping a few will just be an added bonus!

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Rima Brindamour
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