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For the average gym-goer, cardio and fat loss are synonymous. They're as inseparable as Jesus and the Holy Spirit, peanut butter and jelly, or my fingers and this keyboard. Cardio may be the go-to fat loss tool, but is it necessary?
Necessity Vs. Practicality
I will say right out of the gate, cardio is not necessary for fat loss. Fat loss (mostly) boils down to the number of Calories you consume in a day minus the number of Calories you burn in a day. If you burn more Calories than you consume, you will lose weight.  You could simply reduce your intake to achieve that.
That said, there’s a difference between necessity and practicality. While reducing your Calorie intake alone can lead to fat loss, it may be difficult to decrease your Calorie intake enough to lose a significant amount of weight.
For example, without exercise, the average sized female in the US at 5 feet 4 inches and 166 pounds, with the average activity level, would need to consume 1250 Calories or less to lose one pound or more per week. The average sized male in the US at 5 feet 9 inches and 196 pounds, with the average activity level, would need to consume 1500 Calories or less to lose one pound or more per week.
This is where exercise comes in to help. Rather than slashing Calorie intake so hard, you can reduce your intake a moderate amount and also add to your Calorie expenditure through exercise.
You could start by adding in weight lifting. (In fact, all good fat loss programs do include some form of weight lifting.) However, there’s a limit to how much weight lifting you can add before you run yourself down and start running into risk of overuse injuries.
That leaves us with cardio. Hopefully, based on what I’ve said so far, you can see that there is a need for at least some cardio. The question is how much? Unfortunately, I can’t tell you an amount that’s right for everyone, but what I can do is give you a guideline.
A pound of body fat contains approximately 3500 Calories of energy. If you divide that by 7 days in a week, that’s 500 Calories per day that you would either need to remove from your intake or add to your expenditure in order to lose 1 pound per week.
Maybe that means you want to remove 300 Calories from your daily intake and add 200 Calories of Cardio per day. Maybe that means you want to remove 400 Calories from your daily intake and add 100 Calories to your daily expenditure through cardio.
These are just examples. You can divide it up however you want. All you have to do is decide how much weight you want to lose per week and decide how many of those Calories you want to come from your intake and how many of those Calories you want to come from added cardio.
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