We all know the benefits of cardio exercise – a low to moderate pace exercise for a long period of time, usually more than 20 minutes. These benefits include improved mental function, feeling better overall, increased levels of energy, low resting heart rate and weight loss. Wait, weight loss? Can running, or any activity for that matter, really help you lose weight? Sadly, the answer is NO.
Why cardio exercise is not a good way to burn calories
Cardio exercise is an extremely inefficient way of burning calories. Most of your caloric expenditure is in the form of heat – heating up the body. That’s why sitting on the couch, watching TV will burn you about 100 calories per hour, compared to about 130 if you spent that time running or walking.
Why cardio exercise might help you lose weight
However, as we also know, burning calories does not equal losing weight and there are plenty of examples to support that. Cardio exercise helps you lose weight by improving your overall health, including circulatory system, insulin sensitivity and serotonin levels. The reason why being lean is considered attractive is because it is healthy. This often means that becoming more healthy will result in weight loss, if you are currently overweight.
Diet vs. Exercise
When it comes to weight loss, your diet is infinitely more important than exercising. If you regularly consume a lot of bread, pasta, sweets or other insulin-spiking foods, you will have a hard time burning off fat through exercise. Making your diet a high-fat one, will quickly lower those blood sugar spikes and will put your body into fat-burning mode – even if you don’t exercise at all. That said, exercise is recommended and even only the increased mental performance is worth it.