Removing Calories vs. Adding Cardio


When you’re dieting and trying to achieve a calorie deficit (or… pop tart deficit), there are 2 ways to do so:

  1. Eat less calories.
  2. Burn more calories.

Pretty simple, right? Remember, running a mile (burning ~100 calories) is going to create the same calorie deficit as refusing 1/2 a Pop Tart (eating 100 calories less).

But which one do you choose?

Well, first of all, you can do a combination of both. Just eat less Pop Tarts and run more on the treadmill. You’ll achieve the highest possible calorie deficit this way.

But maybe you only have the time or patience to focus on one area. Here’s how I decided how to allocate my calories:

  • Determine how much time you have for cardio each day.

Before you do this, you should remember that you always have time for cardio.

But let’s say you considered your daily priorities and still determined that you can’t fit in more time for the gym. If you’re tired after weightlifting and just don’t have the time or energy afterward, cardio might not be for you.

However, be honest with yourself. Are you really unable to do 10 minutes on the elliptical, or are you just being lazy?

Personally, after about 2 months into my diet, I realized that my weight was starting to stagnate without doing cardio, so I bit the bullet and started running about 10 minutes after each workout. I didn’t really have time to do more, because at this point, I already got home at 8PM and had to go to bed shortly after.

  • Determine how easily you can take out certain foods from your diet.

This could easily be a whole different post on its own, but to summarize in this paragraph: trim the fat from your calorie log.

Does that mean stop eating high-fat foods and aim for carbs and protein instead? No.

It means to really scrutinize which foods you are willing to take out from your day-to-day meals. For example, let’s say you eat a salad at Chipotle for lunch, along with their dressing. Check the nutrition facts on the dressing:

chipotle dressing

Now ask yourself – would you rather run for 270 calories, or just not use the dressing? Remember, this is Chipotle. Their salads are already packed with flavor from the corn, salsas, lemons, meat, and beans. If you don’t need the dressing to enjoy your salad, cut it.

It’s worth mentioning again that you can do both. Be creative. If, one day, you cut the Chipotle dressing and ran for 270 calories, BOOM, you created a 540 calorie deficit that day. You would literally lose weight twice as quickly. Or, if you cut the dressing and ran for 135 calories, you would lose weight 1.5 times as quickly. Make it a game. Get that high score. Get sexy.


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