If You Despise Cardio, Do These 6 Things to Lose Fat (They're More Effective Anyway!)
You hate running, biking, swimming, HIIT workouts — you name it. If it's cardio, you are so over it. That's OK! Even though a little cardio is good for your cardiovascular system and it can help you burn calories, you don't need to do cardio to lose weight. NASM-certified personal trainer Sam Altieri says to prioritize these six things in this order to lose fat without doing a drop of cardio.
Eat in a Calorie Deficit
You need to focus on consuming fewer calories than your body needs. Set your calorie range by multiplying your body weight by 10 to 12. Your caloric intake should fall somewhere within these numbers. Another way to calculate your calorie deficit is to figure out your TDEE (total energy expenditure, which is the number of calories your body burns each day) and subtract 500 calories. This will help you lose about a pound a week. However, make sure you're always eating more than 1,200 calories each day, even more if you're working out regularly.
Figuring out an appropriate calorie deficit will take some trial and error, so monitor your calorie intake for two to three weeks, and if you don't see a change, decrease by five percent. Tracking your calories by measuring your food and using an app like MyFitnessPal for accuracy is key.
Lift Weights 2 to 5 Times a Week
Just because you're not hitting the treadmill (or the "DREADmill" as Sam likes to call it), you still need to exercise. Strength training is key and Sam says that three to four sessions a week is the sweet spot for most people. Use a variety of equipment and don't be afraid to lift heavy — it won't make you bulky, it'll help you get lean and toned.
Move Your Body
Increasing NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis) is key to losing fat. This means if you work out once a day, that shouldn't be the only time you get in exercise. Move your body throughout the day, whether it's walking while having a phone meeting, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, doing a five-minute afternoon stretch session, standing at your desk, or biking to the store. Increasing NEAT will increase your metabolic rate, burning more daily calories, helping you lose weight.
Eat Enough Protein
Aim to get 0.8 to 1.5 grams of lean protein per pound of bodyweight to build lean muscle and aid in recovery after workouts. What's great about lean proteins like fish, tofu, eggs, or turkey meat is that they help you stay satiated longer, keeping hunger at bay. They also provide you with lots of energy and burn more calories when digested.
Track Your Steps
This is another way to get you moving more throughout the day. Aim for 10,000 steps (or more!) and track them using something like a FitBit or your phone.
Put on Your Patience Pants
Sam says to remember to have "patience and positivity because life is crazy and things take a hell of a lot longer than you want them to." It may have taken you a year or maybe even a decade to put on the weight, so don't get frustrated when you're not seeing the progress you want in six months. Have faith in your healthy lifestyle and don't give up!
How to Lose Fat Without Cardio
Sam adds, "Now if you do enjoy cardio, then GO FOR IT! But if hanging out on a piece of cardio equipment leaves you bored and you just genuinely don't enjoy it, don't do it! Cardio is a tool, but diet is KEY."