Many people, when trying to lose weight, will just start running or running on a treadmill or hitting the spin machines. But there are a lot more effective ways to lose weight that don’t involve cardio. In fact, it might even be dangerous to focus too much on cardio. Just ask fitness expert and former trainer on The Biggest Loser Bob Harper.
Harper was recently a guest on The Rachael Ray Show to discuss what he’s learned over his years in fitness, and maybe more importantly, what he’s learned since suffering a surprise heart attack in 2017. “I came from a very cardio background,” he said. “It’s like, to get the weight off you’ve gotta get cardio, cardio, cardio. I don’t necessarily believe that’s true in all cases.”
And Harper has continued to discuss his opinions of fitness and weight loss since his heart attack as part of the AstraZeneca program Survivors Have Heart, which aims to help people avoid heart problems by relying on the first-hand experiences of people that have suffered from them. And Harper has stayed on message, reaffirming that cardio should not be the main approach when trying to lose weight.
“I think that people tend to overdo it when it comes to their cardio activity.” Often, he says, this comes in the form of people working off, or almost punishing, themselves for whatever indulgence they might have enjoyed the night before. But killing yourself with a long run or an intense morning at the gym can potentially do more harm than good. “What that’s actually going to do, it could have a reverse effect. That high-intensity cardio will actually make you hungrier.” And that’s the last thing you want to be when you’re trying to lose weight!
Harper instead urges people to focus less on their actual workout, and more on what they’re eating. It’s what most of us ignore all too often. We always want a quick fix and want to believe we can just work it off. But in the end, one of the most important parts of any significant weight loss is just eating healthier. And even if what you’re eating isn’t all that healthy, don’t use working out as some kind of punishment for being bad. Because then you’ll just be even hungrier than you usually are and will end up eating too much.
As for alternatives to cardio, Harper is a big fan of weight lifting, hot yoga, and some occasional CrossFit. He believes that workout variety is key to making sure you stay consistent and don’t skip important days. “Whatever your workout is, just have fun with it, love it, and hopefully that will keep you going back more and more to stay active.”