Can I Lose Weight with Just Cardio?

Key Points:

  • You can lose weight with just cardio but it is not the recommended solution for long-term success.
  • Calories in versus calories out determine weight lose. You must be in a deficit to lose weight. From this perspective activity doesn’t matter for much more than it can increase the calories out side of the equation.
  • Often nutrition will have a much bigger impact on the calories equation.
  • There are better ways, such as building your metabolism and resistance training that can provide a base for long-term success and you can hopefully avoid the yo-yo diet effect.
  • If you want to talk about your Nutrition and Training please checkout the 1 to 1 VIP training and nutrition program.


Can I lose weight with just cardio?

It’s a great question and unfortunately I have a mixed answer for you, it’s yes and no.

Losing weight, losing fat, losing any type of bodyweight for that matter is not really a matter of what activity you do, it’s a matter of the calories you consume versus the calories you use. Your calories in versus calories out. That’s just biology. If you use more calories than you consume you will be in a deficit and you will lose weight. There is nothing you can do about that, that’s just biology and simple math.

Now in relation to cardio, when you do cardio you are burning more calories. Your calories out, your calorie expenditure side of the equation is increasing. So from that perspective, can you lose weight with cardio? Yeah, as long as it is helping you get the calories out part of the equation higher than the calories in part. You can absolutely do that. And cardio is actually quite effective at this, especially when you just start doing it.

Long-term however, is this the best strategy for you? I would say probably not.

Long-term your body is very good at creating efficiency. What this means is that the longer you do cardio work for the more efficiency at cardio your body will get. This means that 45 minutes on the elliptical that you did two months ago actually burnt more calories than the 45 mins on the elliptical you did today because of the fact that your body is getting more efficient. Now what that means is in the future, how much time do you actually want to spend doing cardio to continue to get the same benefit. You probably don’t want to do hours and hours and hours right. So maybe there is a better way.

Also, if you are eating less in combination with doing cardio. Then we are talking about efficiency on top of efficiency. Your body is getting used to consuming less and it is getting used to doing endurance training with less and less calories. Which really means you could be taking a shot at your metabolism and lowering your metabolism. Well, lowering your metabolism, long-term if you want to continue living a certain lifestyle – maybe go out with friends once in a while, have a drink once in a while. Well all of a sudden if you have too much of a lowered metabolism those days when you indulge a little are going to have a significant impact on your weight which they wouldn’t if your metabolism was doing better.

This is actually why most people end up in these yo-yo diet situations. It’s because they restrict their calories so much, they do a ton of cardio and they kill their metabolism. Then after they got their desired weight they go back to eating the way they were and all of a sudden because you are burning way less calories your calculation of calories in and calories out has flipped and you are in a surplus and you are gaining weight quickly again.┬áSo you probably want to keep your metabolism up and not kill it.

So, can you lose weight with just cardio? You can, but it might not be the ideal long-term strategy.

The ideal long-term strategy sounds more like build your metabolism up to a higher level than it is today – unless for whatever reason it is already very high – and then cut from there. Then A your cut will be much easier because you are able to more more during your cut than you otherwise would and still lose weight. But B if you hurt your metabolism a little bit during the cut it won’t matter as much because you are at a high level anyway. You can accomplish this by reverse dieting which you can look into and reverse dieting and strength training go really well together. Strength training, as long as you are pushing yourself a little bit, excepting effort, and not letting your strength training become like cardio type work is something that you can keep doing pretty much forever without your body getting more efficient at it because you can develop the type of stimulus that you give your body to make it always new and nuanced and not repetitive.

So, yeah, it’s possible but I personally wouldn’t recommend it. If you are looking for a long-term, sustainable approach then I would be looking more at reverse dieting before cutting, strength training and everything in relation to that. To work on this with me visit my personal training and nutrition page over on

Hope this was helpful for you.

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