This ques­tion is often asked not only by begin­ners, but even by advanced ath­letes.

When­ev­er you per­form any exer­cise — aer­o­bic or anaer­o­bic — the body requires ener­gy to meet these needs. And whether that ener­gy comes from glu­cose, fat, or even pro­tein, the fact remains that your body will burn the ener­gy you once con­sumed for fuel.

It fol­lows that car­dio is sim­ply a tool to help increase the body’s ener­gy needs, there­by burn­ing more calo­ries. But, con­trary to the expec­ta­tions of many, far from being the most effec­tive tool. While car­dio will indeed help burn calo­ries, it’s only a small part of the equa­tion.

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Let’s look at an exam­ple. The aver­age per­son does­n’t have the time or desire to do more than 30 min­utes of car­dio sev­er­al times a week. In those 30 min­utes, if you work hard, you can burn about 300 calo­ries.

Maybe 400–500 if you’re real­ly work­ing at a real­ly high inten­si­ty. Then you leave the gym and, feel­ing hun­gry, decide to treat your­self to a donut — you deserve it, right? Well, a small donut that you eat in 30 sec­onds con­tains about 400 calo­ries. So you burned 400 calo­ries in 30 min­utes of hard work, and then ate 400 calo­ries in 30 sec­onds on the way home. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, this means you won’t lose weight at all. You get oth­er health ben­e­fits, but your weight stays the same.

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