Experts used to tell us to do hours of cardio to lose weight, but now fitness trainers agree that cardio isn't necessary, and the hunger caused by strenuous cardio could actually cause weight gain. This is great news if you despise cardio, because the pyramid above designed by NASM-certified personal trainer Sam Altieri shows what's more effective.
Sam crafted this helpful visual after years of unsuccessfully trying to lose weight. She shared, "For so long, I focused on the wrong thing. I wasn't tuned into my diet, I was doing boatloads of cardio, not lifting weights, drinking skinny teas and taking fat burners." Throughout the past five years, "and lots of mistakes later, I created this little pyramid for you guys so you know what to focus on when you are trying to tone up and lose fat."
In order of importance, Sam recommends focusing on these five things:
- Calorie deficit: Eating fewer calories than your body needs is the only way to lose fat! You can do this by measuring your food and counting calories or with intermittent fasting.
- Protein intake: Aim to consume 0.7 to 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight. This is important to maintain muscle mass, recover from workouts, and keep you full and satiated. Your other calories can come from healthy carbs and fats.
- Lifting weights: Focus on two to five sessions per week. Sam says that usually three to four is a sweet spot for most people. And don't be afraid to lift heavy — "it WON'T make you bulky unless you eat too many calories."
- Sleep: Aim for seven to nine hours of sleep per night. Aside from helping you rest and recover, getting enough sleep regulates the hormones in charge of hunger. If you don't get enough sleep, cravings will actually increase.
- Cardio: If you love to run, bike ride, or hit a dance class, that's great, but it's not necessary for fat loss. Find ways to be active all day long and have a goal of getting in 10,000 steps per day.
Sam said when it comes to fat loss, "Find what works for you, your lifestyle, habits, and preferences. Focus on the BIG stuff and don't let the little things distract you from the big picture. "