Does Cardio Make You Gain Weight?

combinations of diets and exercise

The most common advice that you get when you tell people you want to lose weight is to burn more calories. People boil down losing weight into a simple mathematical formula which basically states that you need to burn more calories than you consume. This advice has led to scores of people spending hours on the treadmill or the elliptical every week. However, even after a month of doing cardio, the weighing scale doesn’t move or worse, you might end up gaining weight.

So the big question is why aren’t you losing weight even though you’re working up a sweat every day? The first thing you need to understand about weight loss is that there isn’t one tried-and-true method that works for everyone. Even the models and movie stars with enviable bodies have had to go through many different combinations of diets and exercise to find a routine that works for them. But for the average Joe or Jane, here are some facts you should know.


What The Research Says

There could be many reasons why you’re not losing or are gaining weight when you start doing cardiovascular activity regularly. One of them is because you start to feel hungrier. Researchers at the Loughborough University in Britain wanted to dig deeper to find out if this was indeed true.


The small study closely followed 16 healthy young men to see which types of exercise led to increased levels of acylated ghrelin, or the hormone that increases appetite. Interestingly, they found that when these men ran for 90 minutes or longer, their appetites were actually less voracious than the appetites of those who engaged in shorter, more intense bursts of exercise.

While this study is an indicator of what might be happening in your body when your exercise for short periods, it’s too small to generalize the findings. People are different and the way your body metabolizes food is also different. Also, eating a large meal after exercising might have less to do with actual appetite and more to do with other factors.


Listening To Your Body

Some health experts believe that the motivation to eat more may just be a case of confused body signals. Cardio is definitely going to make you hungry because your body is burning calories and will demand more calories in return. However, the amount of hunger you feel may not correlate to how hungry you actually are. Your body may simply mistake dehydration for hunger. So make sure you are hydrated and are meeting your nutrition requirements.


Exercise is actually a great way to understand and learn what your body needs over time. Food is essential to muscle building but where most people fail is the inability to limit their carbohydrate intake. Years of eating excessive carbs make it difficult to limit your portions. Though carbs are the body’s main source of energy, you need to reach a point where you have only as many carbs as you need.

Using Exercise For Weight Loss


There is no denying that exercise is good for you, regardless of whether you lose weight or not. From increasing happiness to reducing stress and risk of heart disease, regular exercise can be seen as an investment is good health. But if your goal is weight loss, then you need to include a combination of cardiovascular exercise, strength training, and mobility.

According to exercise experts, strength training or strength combined with cardiovascular training can be more effective in a shorter amount of time than just cardiovascular activity. This is because cardiovascular training does not typically build lean muscle mass, which is key for increasing metabolism and helps burn more calories and aids in weight loss. That said, you can also lose weight by just changing your nutrition because what you eat is key to keeping your body healthy. Exercise gives you a boost in your weight loss efforts but making sure you’re nourishing your body properly is by far the most important thing you should do.