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How Cardio Can Make You Fat

I had a few people email to ask questions on my recent posts on the drawbacks of cardio.

“I thought cardio was the best way to lose weight.” Short Answer: Helps with weight loss but is not the best way to lose weight.

“How does cardio make you fat?” Short Answer: Too much cardio can have detrimental effects. Detailed answer below.


By the way, I don’t have a hate on cardio. I think there are a lot of great benefits of cardio. I incorporate cardio into my workouts each week. However, cardio is commonly misunderstood. There’s far too much emphasis on cardio. Many believe cardio is the best way to lose weight.

Truth: It’s not! You’ve been lied to by Jane Fonda! Infomercials, social media, and magazines have manipulated your subconscious into believing that cardio is the solution…

Does cardio help with weight loss? Yes! But it’s not the end all and be all for fat loss.

We’ve all heard it before like a broken record… It’s all about the diet. You can’t out exercise your nutrition. So why do we even try?

It’s because cardio feels good! You feel the effects of cardio, immediately. It feels good to feel the sweat against your skin. By the way, sweating is your body’s ability to thermoregulate and cool down. Fat does not disappear through sweat. 😊 Another myth!

So, let’s get right into it. How does cardio make you fat?

Too Much Cardio + No Resistance Training + Poor Nutrition= Weight Gain

1) Yes, you’ll burn fat with cardio, but you’ll also burn muscle tissue, which can slow your metabolism down in the long-term. Did you know after the age of 30, we also lose about 10% of our lean tissue every 10 years? Lean muscles are great for metabolism!  Muscle burns more calories than fat.

2) Cardio causes a stress response by releasing cortisol, the stress hormone. Too much cardio can elevate cortisol levels preventing you from losing body fat. When cortisol levels are elevated, we also naturally crave carbohydrates and have increased hunger. This leads to overindulging in foods high in carbohydrates, which sets us back and leads to further weight gain. It’s common for many to justify that they can indulge in a cheat meal after an hour of intense cardio. It’ll take more than an hour of cardio to burn off that cheat meal. Why workout to punish your body? Workout to celebrate what your body can do and how far you’ve come? 😊

Too much cardio can aggravate your adrenal glands, elevate your cortisol levels and mess with your metabolism, which is not ideal for someone who is already under a lot of stress.

There are benefits of cardio of course. It’s good for your heart, circulation, stamina, and endurance. Some cardio is needed. If you’re doing cardio 5 to 6 days a week such as cycling, rowing, kickboxing, or ‘bootcamps’, we need to talk. We need to talk about recovery.

If you’re only doing cardio, I encourage you to incorporate some resistance training. Start with 2 to 3 days a week. Resistance training helps maintain and build lean muscle, which helps with burning fat. Resistance training also helps with improving your posture, strengthening your core, and alleviating pain. So why not kill multiple birds with one stone and get the most efficient use out of your time?

For the reasons above, our workouts are focused on resistance training to rev up your metabolism and to help you build lean muscle and lose weight. Repetitions and sets are important considerations.

Programs that incorporate high rep ranges utilizing only body weight exercises is cardio disguised as weight training.  Programs that incorporate high rep ranges utilizing only body weight exercises is cardio disguised as weight training.  If you’re doing over twenty TRX rows, you’re really doing cardio. If you want to tone and strengthen, ensure that you complete the proper rep range, sets, rest periods, and tempo.

Questions? I’m giving away 5 FREE Strategy Sessions to help you make it past January:

Have a blessed rest of your week!

-Sammy Noh