Five Seasons Family Sports Club Blog

Workout Myth Busting: Is Cardio the Key to Weight Loss?

Posted by Five Seasons Family Sports Club on 4/27/17 9:00 AM

Is cardio the key to weight loss? The answer to this question seems to be quite elusive, and with the overwhelming number of weight loss magazines and websites out there – many of which offer conflicting information – it can be easy to feel confused and frustrated. Should you focus on cardio, or should you zero in on strength training? And what about dieting – isn't cutting calories enough to lose weight? Below are some key points that will help clear up the confusion, so that you can approach your weight loss efforts with a clear head.

First Things First: Remembering the # 1 Key to Weight Loss

Before we go any further, let's clear up something right off the bat: If we approach the subject of weight loss from a purely scientific perspective, losing weight boils down to burning more calories than you take in on a daily basis. That's it. If you expend more calories than you consume on a daily basis, you are absolutely guaranteed to lose weight. It's an immutable physical law. As simple as that sounds, you can still sabotage your weight loss efforts by not knowing how to accomplish it the most efficient manner. This is where we have to examine the three most common methods for getting it done: 

1. Cutting Calories

If weight loss is all about balancing out your calorie consumption and expenditure, then decreasing your caloric intake definitely seems like a good first step. If your goal is purely to lose weight, you can actually do this without exercising at all; just reduce your caloric intake to the point where your calorie consumption is lower than your basal metabolic rate (BMR), which is the number of calories your body will burn even when you're completely at rest. Simply tally up your BMR (there are tons of online calculators that can help you do this) based on your age, weight, height, and gender, and then resolve to eat fewer calories per day than what your BMR states. If you do this enough days in a row, you will lose weight. While this seems simple enough, it is not the recommended approach for a number of important reasons: 

  • Reducing the amount of food you eat will cause you to feel hungry almost all the time; this can lead to poor food choices and "binge eating" the moment you let your guard down.
  • Your weight loss process will be agonizingly slow if you don't add exercise into the mix. 
  • When it's all said and done, you might weigh less on the scale, but you will not improve your physical fitness in any kind of way; only exercise can do that. 

2. Cardio Exercise 

Cardio exercise is all about boosting your heart rate, which will improve your cardiovascular health by giving your heart a good workout. Whether you're doing aerobics, jogging on the treadmill or going full-force on the elliptical, you can definitely get your blood pumping with cardio exercise, and as a result, you will burn calories while you're sweating it out. The only problem is that the bulk of your calories burned will be during the actual workout, and this doesn't do much to increase the number of calories you burn while at rest. This leads us to our next point ...

3. Strength Training

The number-one key to shedding body fat and keeping the weight off is strength training. The reason why is because the primary driving force behind your metabolism is lean muscle. Simply put, the more lean muscle you have, the more calories you burn when at rest. By incorporating strength training into your regular workout routine, you're firing up a calorie-burning engine that stays on all the time, even when you're not working out. Not only does strength training provide this all-important boost to your metabolism, but it also reshapes your body, builds your strength and bolsters your immune system. When it comes to weight loss, strength training is the boss. 

So does this mean that you should abandon calorie-cutting and cardio, and focus on strength training only? Not so fast – the truth of the matter is that you need all three to create a comprehensive, well-balanced weight loss program. Adopting a healthier, lower-calorie diet will help you shed fat, prevent disease, and build a stronger foundation for physical health. Doing cardio will help you keep your heart and lungs healthy, and it will boost the number of calories you burn as well. Strength training builds your lean muscle, so that you can rev up your metabolism to be a 24/7 calorie-burning machine. By combining all three elements, you will put yourself in a position to reap the greatest amount of benefits from your diet and fitness program.

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Topics: Fitness