Is Cardio Better Than Decreasing Calories to Get Lean?

Im around 14% bf at 195lbs and have been losing weight very slowly. I want to lose 4% more before i start bulking again. Im considering dropping calories, but i also like the amount of food i get to eat daily, so i considered adding in cardio since i currently dont do any. I follow a carb cycling regimen as follows: High/Med/Low/High/Med/Low/Med.

My high days are 3400 cals, med days are 3200, and low days are 2900. If i dropped cals, i planned to drop them to 3100 cals, 3000 cals, and 2600 cals.

For cardio, i planned to do LISS either fasted on weekends with bcaas(the insulin increase isn’t enough to stop fat burn) for about 30min 2x/week. Or do 10min post workout 5 days a week and build up.

You can undo 60 minutes of cardio with 30 seconds of eating. Something to consider


No doubt. The reason why i ask is because i feel that i can afford to decrease calories, but im also dont absolutely no cardio too. So it would make sense to go either way.

Without pics I don’t have a good feel for your body composition. 14% sounds like you could be fairly lean. But without a reference one person’s 14% could be another’s 18%. I don’t care about numbers. I care about the mirror.

Here’s the look that I will assume you have. Distinct muscle separation of major muscle groups. You have no striations. You are beginning to see abs, but not at all impressive.

IMO, don’t drop any calories and start 30 minutes of fat burning cardio on the days you don’t lift weights for two to four weeks. See if you look better in the mirror. Make sure you have not lost any strength.

If you don’t seem to have made any progress, up the cardio to 45 minutes. Run another two to four weeks.

Still not much improvement go to 60 minutes.

If still not much improvement you will need to start dropping calories. It if preferential to drop carbohydrates first, but if you are consuming trans fats drop those first.

Post pictures

Sounds good. Im slowly losing size every two weeks or so. I lose weight very slowly if at all, but im slightly recomping. Ill lose measurements every two weeks or so from which i assume is water fluctuations and fat loss. This has been happening for two months from 197 to 195.

IMO, it is critical to have a strength metric to assure that your weight loses are not muscle. It should be an upper body metric, and preferably a press.

You are probably not too fat in the hips, but squat strength can drop when “support” fat in the hips and core drop. That is why I recommend an upper body metric.

All of my numbers have been the same. I used to be able to increase in weight but now i might only get 1 rep increase on each set per week.

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Cardio won’t be able to make a significant change to your daily caloric expenditure, but it is an essential component of health, longeviyy and recovery-ability


I’d do some cardio regardless of I was cutting or not. It doesn’t need to be crazy, but the heart benefits alone are worth it.

So I say do both if you want better results.

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It will help my metabolism though. Ive experienced this before, especially if i hit a wall. It jump starts the weight loss process again.

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I plan on doing LISS so that it doesnt hinder recovery. Doing anything besides HIIT doesnt really help your heart from what ive done. If LISS and MISS benefits your heart, i would get enough work from lifting weight alone.

This is relative to where you need to get. I hate to do cardio. When I was in my 40’s competitors were doing a lot more cardio to get into contest shape. I never did it for my health.

10 weeks out from the show I would start doing 30 minutes of cardio three days a week. I did that to get into shape to be ready to increase the minutes if I needed to do so. As the weeks went by if the mirror indicated that I needed to pick things up a bit for show time, I would increase the time.

I would get to 30 minutes a day, 6 days a week. I might increase to 45 minutes. I might add a PM cardio in addition to the AM cardio. My ceiling was 45 minutes, twice a day, 6 days a week. At my body weight of around 220lbs a couple weeks out I could burn about 400 calories an hour, or up to 1 pound of fat a week at my ceiling cardio level.

Know that I am dieting this entire time. I use the amount of cardio to fine tune my cut. But to do so, you cannot start at the ceiling. You to be able to adjust cardio as the mirror indicates.

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Completely agree


Yeah, that sounds reasonable

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Yeah I think this is key

Because exercise doesn’t have a particularly high rate of caloric expenditure, for significant effects you need to amass very long durations of activity

Jumping straight into 5-10 hours per week of any single activity would probably lead to new pain/injury/niggles for a lot of cases. Building up slowly is thus vital

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Wait. You don’t do cardio at all? If so, your understanding of training is very flawed.


Not really. I think thats a pretty naive statement. Cardio is NOT necessary. It IS beneficial. There are plenty of people who have dieted and never had to touch cardio before. Preferences are a thing and i am fairly confident in my heart health.

Knowing that heart disease is a leading death cause of men, not doing cardio is moronic. Sure its not necessary but then again eating so much that you gain fat and then need to diet is also not necessary as is lifting weights and doing anything. I have no idea why would anyone skip the cardio benefits to save like 20mins a day.


It is true that heart disease is the leading cause of death in men. But it is highly genetic driven. Many a man has made it into his 90’s and never done cardio. In fact, of the men in the world today who are in their 90’s and all those who preceded them that made it into their 90’s, most likely never did cardio. Cardio is a relatively new health practice. I never heard anything about improving health through cardio before the mid-1970’s.

Is doing cardio a good health practice? Sure.