Cardiovascular exercise is one of the best allies to lose weight. However, how much cardio do you need to achieve it?
We know that anyone who wants to lose weight should make a correct combination of diet, strength exercises and cardiovascular exercises. We also know that cardio exercises are almost essential to burn fat, although we must not neglect the strength exercises that will help you tone and generate muscle while losing fat. However, many people who are on a weight loss diet wonder how much cardio do I need to do to lose weight? The answer will vary in each case. Keep reading if you want to know more.
Cardio and calories: knowing your relationship
When a person goes on a diet and begins to do cardio exercises and strength to lose weight, it is important that you understand how your calorie system works in your diet, so you can calculate how much cardio you need to do.
The cardio is directly related to the loss of calories, but it is not a miraculous method to lose weight since everything will depend on the total computation of calories that are ingested and burned.
Let’s give a practical example:
Imagine that your usual caloric intake is 3000 a day. It is estimated that to lose a pound of weight per week (about 450 grams) you need to lose 3500 calories in total, that is, be in a calorie deficit of 3500 a week or 500 calories a day.
If your diet is restricted to 2500 calories a day, you will lose one pound in a week without the need to exercise. However, as the weeks go by, you will end up entering a metabolic loop or tomb. You will not be able to continue in a continuous calorie deficit, that is unsustainable and unhealthy, so there will come a time when you will find your limit of reasonable daily calories and you will stop losing weight.
This is where the exercise comes in and why it is so important. In addition to helping you tone up your muscles and get fit while you lose weight, exercise (mainly cardio, although everything as a whole) will allow you to balance your calorie deficit with an adequate and healthy daily caloric intake.
For this you have two options:
- Eliminate the deficit completely with cardiovascular exercise: for this, you will need to do between 30 and 40 minutes of cardio a day, 7 days a week. This option allows you to have an average caloric diet, as long as it is healthy.
- Combine the deficit with less calorie intake and cardio: in this option, you will slightly restrict the diet and you will do cardio 5 days a week for 30 minutes.
The last option is much more affordable for those people who start from zero on a diet and are not used to exercising. It is also a good option for those who have too high a calorie intake in their usual diet and it is necessary to lower it for when they lose the necessary weight they learn to maintain themselves.
The type of cardio is also important
In addition to the above, we must take into account what type of cardio is performed, because not all cardio exercises are the same and, therefore, not all burn the same calories. For example, 20 minutes of HIIT cardio with high-intensity intervals equals 40 minutes of average cardio exercises.
To understand us, it is not the same to go for a run and do a routine where you have moments of great intensity and others of moderate intensity that go out running constantly at a moderate to smooth speed. Although both are cardio exercises and are healthy, in the first you will lose many more calories at the same time as in the second case.
Therefore, it is important to take this into account and choose the type of cardiovascular exercise that really suits your diet, your physical level, and your needs.
Excessive cardio can be harmful
One of the mistakes in which most people who want to lose weight and start doing cardio fall is that they do it in excess, which can cause adrenal fatigue and generate the opposite effect that you want to achieve: gain weight. In addition, it can wear down your muscles, joints, and bones, especially if you do not combine it with strength exercises.
Other disadvantages of excess cardio are that it usually leads to a loss of general energy, makes you lose efficiency in the gym and you can experience a loss of strength, which causes a decrease in motivation to go to train.
Therefore, it is important that you do cardio if you want to lose weight, but in fair measure and controlling the combination of diet and exercise for the deficit of calories. In addition, it is recommended that you combine cardio exercises with strength exercises to ensure correct toning of your muscles.