Some people engage in regular cardio increasing the duration and revving up the intensity but never end up losing any fat. What’s the problem?

It is possible to do lots of cardio and not lose weight. This is because weight loss comes from calorie deficit and is not due to increased cardio workout. Cardio does accelerate calorie deficit but it may not always be enough.

Endurance athletes, for instance, train for several hours across many days, often eating lots of food to fuel the training and still maintain their weight. This is because the calories that are lost are equal to the calories that they take in thereby creating no deficit.

If you are trying to lose weight, spend some time looking at what you can do to create calorie deficit and don’t just rely on cardio. Proper weight management can be enhanced with the combination of exercise, diet and non-exercise activity thermogenesis.

Non-exercise activity thermogenesis

Non-exercise activity thermogenesis accounts for about 30 percent of calories you use in a day. It is basically all your physical activity outside of a workout; such as working, playing, shopping, housework, walking and talking. The sum of these activities leads to substantial calorie use by the end of the month and can go down or up depending on activity.

When does exercise fail?

Some people exercise then go on an eating spree then claim that exercise does not work. Some people stick to strict diets but never move their bodies. Many other people work out hard in the morning then slow down on their other activities because they feel they’ve done enough for the day, but prolonged rest and laziness can reverse the gains made at the gym.

Increasing non-exercise activity thermogenesis along with your formal exercises and a healthy eating plan – that isn’t a fad diet – is the surest way to manage weight.

Moderate and high intensity cardio?

Some trainers only encourage high intensity training because they think other exercises are inefficient. For average gym-goers, high intensity training has the potential to decrease non-exercise activity thermogenesis because we may feel too tired to complete our daily chores and activities after a heavy session. More moderate cardio workouts are often better tolerated by our bodies, as one doesn’t feel fatigued, sore, and sluggish and can still enjoy walking, playing and working to normal levels throughout the rest of the day.

Do I stop training altogether?

High intensity training is effective and efficient. However, moderate and low intensity training can be more suitable to most people. Overdoing high-intensity training may lead to decreased non-exercise activity thermogenesis performance and actually lower the amount of calories lost at the end of the week.

Try building up cardio sessions gradually so that it doesn’t impact your everyday life in a negative way. Incorporate healthy food choices with regular gym sessions and an active work, family and social life. Keeping up with the non-exercise activity thermogenesis helps burn more calories thereby increasing fat loss, so make a concerted effort to make your home life as active as possible when it comes to chores, playing with children and getting from A to B. The benefits on your general health, wellbeing and happiness will be far more than losing those extra pounds.

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