Want to learn how you can melt away stubborn fat WITHOUT adding in more boring cardio? If so, then this article will show you how to lose more weight without adding another second to your weekly cardio regimen
Let's be honest here...Cardio Sucks.
That is unless you're one of those weirdos who actually enjoys waking up and going for a sunrise jog in sub-zero temperatures... (which if you are, kudos to you...)
But most of us have a love-hate relationship with it.
At least I know I did during the early stages of my weight loss journey, and my melancholy mindset towards jogging and running hasn't changed much either...
However, there's no denying that cardio can be good for us, and along with having a ton of benefits for our cardiovascular health, it can help us burn more calories during the day and achieve faster weight loss results.
But it's not magic, and if you are relying on cardio alone to lose weight while neglecting other crucial factors like your diet, your mindset, and your daily activity other than cardio, then it won't provide much, if any, benefit.
Plus, there are plenty of other ways – and in my opinion, better ways – to ramp up your metabolism and fat burning potential without adding in more yawn-provoking cardio...
In this article, you'll learn:
- Why Your Cardio Routine May Not Burn as Many Calories as You Think
- How You Diet Could Be Canceling Out Your Cardio Benefits
- NEAT - The Key to Maximize Your Metabolism
- 5 Ways to Burn More Calories and Melt Away Fat Without Added Cardio
Why Your Cardio Routine May Not Burn as Many Calories as You Think
"I've been going to the gym and doing cardio every day, and I STILL haven't lost weight! I must have a slow metabolism..."
First off, I applaud this person's dedication and effort in the gym (seriously, not a lot of people have that type of motivation).
But the reality is that the number of calories burned through intentional exercises – jogging, elliptical, rowing, biking, etc. – aren't as much as you'd think...
Consider this: the average calories burned during an hour of intentional exercise is about 328 calories for every 100lbs of body weight. (this isn't universally accurate, but it's a fair estimate for most of us)
Consider this, too: Most activity trackers and cardio equipment don't just measure the calories burned from activity, they're are often including the calories you'd be burning even if you weren't working out.
It has to do with this thing called BMR, or Basal Metabolic Rate.
Your BMR is how many calories your body burns every day keeping you alive.
Essentially, It's the number of calories you'd burn if you were in a coma and not eating or exercising.
Let's use Hypothetical Haley to expand on these two considerations:
Haley is a 30-year-old female, 5'5 inches tall, weighs 150 pounds, and has a BMR of 1472 calories. (here's how I found her BMR)
If she were to do 30 minutes of cardio on an elliptical machine at a moderate intensity, we'd estimate her to burn ~246 calories.
However, this number ALSO takes into account her BMR (which are calories she'd be burning regardless). Since her BMR is 1472 calories, she's burning ~61 calories per hour or ~30 calories per 30 minutes.
So in actuality, Haley only netted ~215 calories from her 30-minute cardio workout.
Not a whole lot... especially when you consider that a serving of peanut butter is around 200 calories too....
Takeaway: Doing cardio WILL help you burn more calories, but the reality is that your cardio routine likely isn't burning as many calories as you think or hope for.
You should still be exercising (and if you're dieting, preferably lifting weights), but don't expect that exercise alone will melt away your belly fat.
Your Diet Could Be Canceling Out Your Cardio
Another problem I see is when people rely on cardio alone to get rid of fat and end up neglecting the more important aspect of losing weight - Their Diet.
There's a saying, "you can't outwork a bad diet!"
And for the most part, it's true.
You could do hours of cardio every day, but if you eat too many calories, it would all be for nothing.
That's because weight loss is a game of Calories In vs. Calories Out.
If you increase the Calories Out side of the equation without simultaneously decreasing the Calories In side (or at the very least keeping it static), then you won't lose weight.
So before you start worrying about what type of cardio to do and how long to do it, focus on your diet and ensure you are eating few enough calories to lose weight.
Here's Why You Should Count Calories to Lose Fat
"But Carter, I HAVE been tracking my calories and still haven't had a lick of progress.."
There are a lot of things that could be going wrong, but the most likely culprits are either consuming more or burning fewer calories than you realize...
It's not uncommon to unknowingly do this, either.
Studies have shown that some people who engage in intentional cardio mindlessly eat more food to compensate or they overcompensated for the calories burned by moving less the rest of the day. (source)
Translation: The calorie-burning benefits of your 30-60 minute cardio workout may be for nothing if the rest of the day your day is spent lounging on the couch or mindlessly munching on food to make up for the burned calories...
Takeaway: Just because you work out doesn't mean you can "sloth around" the rest of the day. Stay relatively active, avoid being overly-sedentary, and be mindful of how much you're eating following your cardio workout.
NEAT - The Keys to Short and Long-Term Weight Loss
I freaking loved Bill Nye growing up.
The best days in science class were spent watching Bill on a 1994 Tube RVC TV as he explained the "coolness" of science...
I'm no Bill, but for the next 30 seconds , I'm gonna attempt my best Bill Nye the Science Guy impersonation for yah...
But even if I fail at making this science stuff fun, stick with me - this info might just be what helps you get the fat loss ball rolling once and for all!
Let's quickly talk about Metabolism.
There are 4 components that determine the speed of your metabolism:
- BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) - calories burned at rest
- TEF (Thermic Effect of Food) - calories your body uses to digest food
- PPA (Planned Physical Activity) - calories burned through PLANNED activity (i.e. going to the gym or for a run)
- NEAT (& NEPA) - account for low-level conscious and subconscious movement throughout the day.
There's not a whole lot of variation between people when looking at the number of calories burned through BMR and TEF. And PPA (Planned Physical Activity) can be the same between two people if they follow the same workout routine.
However, the last component – NEAT & NEPA – is where things get interesting...
Here's what they stand for:
NEAT - Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (tapping, fidgeting, etc.)
NEPA - Non-Exercise Physical Activity (walking to work, taking the stairs, etc.)
(From here on out, I am going to refer to both NEAT and NEPA as just NEAT for simplicity)
See....Science is COOOOOOOL!
So You Wanna Know How NEAT Will Improve Your Fat Loss, Do Yah?
Research studies have shown us how much variance there can be with NEAT levels between people.
In fact, some studies have shown that there can be as much as a 2000 calories difference in energy expenditure between two otherwise similar individuals! (source)
That means that two people of the same sex, age, height, and weight could require drastically different calorie intakes based on their NEAT levels from their job, lifestyle, and activity OUTSIDE the gym.
(This could explain why you struggle to stay lean despite carefully watching what you eat while your jerk-off brother or sister effortlessly maintains their slender build while eating anything and everything that they please.)
Of course, 2000 calories is an extreme example, but even a 400-500 calorie difference can have a significant impact on one's ability to lose and keep off weight.
For example, an extra 400-500 calories added to dinner could help you actually feel full and satisfied as opposed to feeling like a bird pecking at crumbs...
If you haven't clicked off this article from pure boredom yet, then you may be thinking:
"[mockingly] WOW Carter, thanks for the interesting science lesson! But how the heck do I find out how many calories I'm burning from that "NEAT" thing? And can I improve my NEAT to burn more calories and fat during the day?"
Pinpointing the exact number of calories burned from NEAT is hard to do, but here are some ways to get a general idea of where you stand:
- Do you feel sluggish after a big meal?
- Do your workouts leave you feeling exhausted the rest of the day?
- Do you engage in activity OUTSIDE of the gym?
- Do you work a desk job?
- Are your steps-per-day at or below the American standard of ~5,000?
If you answered "yes" to any or all of those questions, then there's a good chance that your NEAT levels are on the low end...
But, I have GOOD NEWS!
It's extremely easy and simple to alter your environment and modify your lifestyle so that you can naturally increase NEAT...
And by making these changes, you'll burn more calories every day and get faster and more consistent fat loss results!
5 Ways to Burn More Calories and Lose More Fat Without Added Cardio
Note: don't worry about making all of these changes at once. Instead, go through and find the 2-3 that make that will be the easiest to implement for you and your current routine.
1. Walk, Walk, and Then Walk a Little More
You've probably theorized that I'm not a fan of doing a lot of high or moderate intensity cardio (jogging, running, elliptical, etc.).
But walking is a whole different ball game...
Walking is low-impact and low-intensity, meaning you can do A LOT of it and not feel overly fatigued, risk getting injured, or experience other negative effects that come along with chronic cardio.
And while it's true that walking doesn't burn a lot of calories, you can pair "busy-work" activities – business phone calls, audiobooks, podcasts – with your daily stroll to maximize the time efficiency.
Here's a video I made talking about walking and one of my "walking hacks:"
2. Implement Activity Breaks Throughout the Day
Most jobs involve a lot of sitting.
This sucks, because you could be pushing yourself hard in the gym for an hour every evening, but it's often not enough to cancel out the 8 hours spent sitting at a desk.
But by implementing activity breaks into your work day, you'll increase the number of calories you're burning while also eliminating many of the undesirable effects associated with chronic sitting (i.e. poor posture, back pain, disease, etc.)
Here's what to do:
Set a silent alarm to go off every 45-60 minutes. Once it goes off, stand up and move around for 10 straight minutes. This might mean going to the bathroom, walking to the break room and back, or going outside and stretching.
The key, though, is to keep moving the entire 10 minutes.
Here's why this is powerful: A short 10-minute walk won't do much, but if you're having one 4-6 time a day, the fat burning benefits can start to add up quickly.
So instead of switching to your private Facebook internet browser or watching the same cat video for the third time in a row, implement an activity break to maximize your time and weight loss potential.
3. Sit, Stand and Wiggle Around
Did you know that workers who stand vs. sit burn around 50-75 more calories per hour?
So even if you're standing for just half the workday, you could burn close to ~250 additional calories!
What's more is that standing will help naturally increase your NEAT from adjusting, fidgeting, and moving around more as compared to sitting where you pretty much stay motionless the entire time.
I typically try and do a mix of standing, sitting, and "lounging" on a couch when I'm working on updating and answering clients, or writing emails & articles.
Note: I know that not everyone has access to a standing desk, but you'd be surprised how willing your boss/company would be to purchase something that's proven to increase their worker's health and productivity.
4. Don't Be Lazy in a World of Comfort
Honest questions time.
Do you spend an extra 5 or 10 minutes driving around a crowded parking lot trying to score a spot right next to the entrance?
I know I'm guilty of this, and it's silly if you think about it...
You could have just parked at the first available spot, walked an extra 50 steps, and actually saved yourself time instead of stressing out from playing Parking Lot Stratego.
The same can be said for a lot of our supposedly "time-saving" conveniences. Which, in reality, don't usually end up save us much time, and are often just excuses to be lazy.
Here's what to do:
Instead of being a typical lazy human zealot, opt for the active alternatives of getting to places.
- Taking the stairs over waiting for the elevator
- Standing at your kid's soccer game instead of sitting on the uncomfortable bleachers
- Standing on the bus instead of sitting on your morning commute.
- Parking in the farthest lot space and walk to the store
None of these alternatives will add much, if any extra time to your life, but they WILL boost your energy expenditure and fat burning potential.
5.Double Your Steps & Invest in a Fitbit
I use to be the biggest hater on activity trackers such as Fitbits and Jawbones.
The reason for my hostility goes back to what we were talking about earlier in that most people grossly overestimate how many calories they're burning from cardio activities.
Fitbit's make things even worse by displaying estimates for calories burned which are incredibly inaccurate...(sometimes overestimating calories burned by as much as 40%!)
"My Fitbit told me I'm burning 4000 calories today! Seconds please!!"
However, there's one useful function of an activity tracker, and it's the pedometer (step tracker) function.
You see, most Americans only take 4000-6000 steps per day. If you work a sedentary job, chances are you are at or close to this average.
By doubling your total steps per day, you could easily burn an additional 250-350 calories or more!
The best part is that you'll have the Fitbit on your wrist to keep you accountable for reaching your step goal.
For most people, I recommend trying to get between 10-15k steps per day (if you're mostly sedentary, that will likely double your total step count).
You don't have to get in 10-15k steps EVERY day, but you should try to average that number over the course of a week.
For example, your week may look like this:
Monday - 12,000 steps
Tuesday - 13,000 steps
Wednesday - 7,000 steps
Thursday - 9,000 steps
Friday - 11,000 steps
Saturday - 5,000 steps
Sunday - 15,000 steps (went on a long, relaxing walk with your significant other)
Week Total = 72,000 steps
Daily Average = 72,000 steps / 7 days = 10,286 steps
Although there were days below 10k steps, taking extra steps to compensate resulted in just over a 10k average.
Follow a Fat Loss Plan Guaranteed to Work Forever
I mentioned earlier that cardio alone won't get you to your ultimate fitness goal.
It's just a piece of a much bigger weight loss puzzle.
Other just as important (if not more important) pieces include:
- Being Active in Your Day-to-Day Life (like we talked about in this article)
- Following an Effective Diet Plan
- Working out Strategically to build lean muscle and burn more fat
- Doing all of these things consistently over time
Similar to a puzzle, if one of these pieces is missing or out of place, you'll never be able to achieve your goals of losing fat and living a lean, healthy life.
That's where my free course, Fat Loss Forever, comes in...
It's a 14-day ecourse that goes in-depth on all of the knowledge, strategies, and tactics you need, as well as an actionable plan to start losing fat and keep it off forever.
This course is essential the cumulation of all the information, trial and error, and successes I've had from losing over 140 pounds and keeping it off.
It provides all of the pieces to the fat loss puzzle.
Are ready to get started on your fat loss journey and finally learn what it takes to get results? If so, then click the button below to enrolled for free!
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