If you want to lose body fat, doing umpteen hours of cardio each day actually isn't that effective. While cardio does burn calories, it doesn't build muscle and can actually make you lose muscle. Having more muscle mass actually increases your metabolism, and it also reshapes your body, which can make you look leaner.
Marci Nevin, a fitness and lifestyle coach said on Instagram, "My physique did start looking better when I focused more on lifting and stopped the obsessive cardio. In fact, I was at my leanest when I was eating around maintenance calories, lifting 4x per week, and hitting at least 10k steps on the daily."
She's not saying you should ditch cardio completely. "When done in moderation it's definitely beneficial for your health, and if you're someone who genuinely enjoys it, then go ahead and do what makes you happy." What she's saying is that it's not 100 percent necessary for losing fat and getting lean. Marci posted this on her Instagram account to show you the six ways to get lean without doing cardio.
- Strength train: Aim for three to five sessions per week, focusing on all parts of the body. Don't be afraid to lift heavy!
- Increase NEAT: NEAT stands for nonexercise activity thermogenesis, and it's the calories you burn moving around throughout the day (not through exercise). Increasing NEAT will increase your metabolic rate, so if you sit all day, make a point to get up and walk around a few minutes every hour, take a walk during your lunch break, and take the stairs whenever possible.
- Track your steps: Aim to get at least 10,000 per day. Marci adds that "cardio can negatively impact hormones, increase hunger, and make it more difficult to lose fat when done in excess," so just focus on getting more movement throughout the day is the better way to go.
- Create a calorie deficit: Set your calorie range by multiplying your body weight by 10 to 12. It should be large enough to stimulate steady fat loss, but not so large that you're tired, cranky, and hungry all day. It may take several weeks to tweak this number.
- Prioritize protein: Get enough protein per day to keep you satiated and to build muscle. You need about .8 to 1.8 gram per pound of body weight, depending on how active you are.
- Practice patience: You didn't put the weight on overnight, so it'll take some time to see a change. Stay consistent, and don't give up!