Is cardio necessary for fat loss?

The first thing many people think of when trying to drop body fat is cardio. The thoughts of heading to the gym for 2 hours to run on the treadmill or hop on the cross trainer can be so daunting and put anyone off starting to exercise.

The good news is, there are so many factors that play a bigger role in fat loss than how much cardio you are doing. Cardio can of course aid fat loss and be used as an effective tool, but it should never be your first port of call!


The most important factor that plays a role in fat loss is nutrition. The phrase you cannot out train a bad diet is completely true! Monitoring your calorie intake over time and trying to eat as many whole unprocessed foods as possible is the key to achieving and maintaining your ideal body shape.

Ensuring you are eating enough protein (around 1g per lb body weight is more than enough for most people) and maintaining a slight calorie deficit will allow you to lose fat in a healthy way that is maintainable in the long run. Starvation diets are no good and will lead to binge eating. This will ultimately leave you yo-yo dieting and getting nowhere.


Weight training is also so important when it comes to fat loss. It will help you build muscle and increase your metabolic rate. You will burn more calories in your day to day life if you have more muscle.

Cardiovascular exercises burn more calories per session when compared to weight training, but research has shown than you burn more calories in the hours after a weight training session, compared to a cardio workout. As I mentioned above, more muscle mass also increases your basal metabolic rate. This is the number of calories that your body burns just to stay alive, when you are doing nothing. If you take two 150lb women who are the same height, it is highly likely that the woman who weight trains will burn more calories every day than the one who doesn’t. Therefore, if they are eating the same number of calories, the woman who is training will be in a larger calorie deficit, enabling her to burn more body fat.

3-5x weight sessions per week will aid you greatly towards your goal of fat loss and improving your body composition.


Once you have your nutrition plan and training sorted, including cardio sessions can help you reach your goals. Cardio is great for overall health and should be included in everyone’s routine, but it is not the most important contributing factor to fat loss. Cardio will allow you to increase the number of calories you burn in a day, but if you are not eating in a calorie deficit there is no way you will lose body fat.

In summary, cardio has fantastic health benefits, but is not completely necessary for fat loss. A good diet and training program are what really matters, and cardio is a tool that can be used on top of this for optimal results.