Nathalia Melo – Is Cardio Needed For Fat Loss?

Nathalia Melo-Wilson ( has a long background in the fitness industry. Here she gives us an insight to which factors that are the most important if your goal is to lose fat.

Cardio is shortening for cardiovascular exercises, which is the popular name for aerobic exercises. Aerobic exercises are the ones that use oxygen as fuel and are normally performed for a longer period of time. (Example: jogging, brisk walk, cross-trainer etc. )

Cardiovascular activities have great benefits for our health and well-being, it can help:
– Cardiovascular efficiency
– Improve resting heart rate
– Reduce Ashtma symptoms 
Regulate blood sugar
– Reduce stress and anxiety

This is to name just some of the benefits of cardiovascular activities!

One benefit that I left out from the list above is THE ONE, I am very excited to talk about today which is FAT LOSS!
I left this out of the list, because despite popular belief, cardio is NOT your best tool when it comes to fat loss. 
‘’Say Whaaaat???’’

Before we move forward with this, we need to first understand how fat loss actually happens.

Fat loss happens when there is a calorie deficit, which means there are more calories going out than going in, or also known as CICO: Calories in vs Calories Out (you can read more about calorie deficit HERE).

There are a couple ways to create a calorie deficit:

1- Decrease the amount you eat
2- Increase the amount of calories you burn (by moving more) 

One thing that it is important to keep in mind is that your calorie deficit number is not a static number. It can change over time and even from one day to the next. Ultimately, if you are not losing weight it means that you are NOT in a calorie deficit (you can read more about this HERE).

We often see people relying on cardio only for fat loss, before first having a hard look at their diets to see how much they are actually eating. This is a huge problem because, according to studies most people tend to underestimate how much they eat by nearly 50%, and the same is true for overestimating how many calories they burn when exercising. 

Just to put into perspective why this is so crucial, let’s put some calories side by side here:
3 slices of pizza has in average 1100 Kcals 
1 hour of jogging burns 400 Kcals

This means that after eating three slices of pizza to break even you would have to run for nearly 3 hours to burn those calories.

I don’t like to use exercising as ‘’punishment’’ for what you have ‘’cheated’’ on your diet with, so I am just using this as an example for you guys to see that the 1 hour you spend in the gym might not justify the 3 large pizzas and 5 chocolate bars you scoff on the weekend. 

Of course cardio can be a great tool to increase energy expenditure (calories out), but the first priority should be to sort out your diet so you are not using cardio as ‘’punishment’’ for the food you have overindulged.