High-Performance Vegan Letters

Does Cardio Help Burn Fat, Should You Walk More, and How To Balance Weightlifting With Cardio

letters Apr 11, 2024

Nearly 4.5 months into 2024.

2.5 months away from summer.

How far have you come along in your health so far?

Have you made progress?

Or maybe regressed or struggled?

There’s no right or wrong here.

What does help?

Bringing awareness and acknowledging where you’re at.

When I feel overwhelmed or unhappy with my progress, I’ve often shut down or ignored what’s going on.

What’s helped me mature and develop myself over the years has been the practice of self-reflection.

Giving myself the space to question and wonder.

There’s always a reason why something is happening.

The law of cause and effect dictates this.

Once you reflect, clarify where you want to go next.

Where do you want to be on Jan 1st, 2025?

Where do you want to be 3, 5, or even 10 years from now?

The longer your time horizon for health and fitness, the more likely you are to achieve sustainable and permanent results.

Spring is the time of renewal for a reason.

Take a step back to leap forward.

If you need support or guidance along the way, comment below, and I’m happy to point you in the right direction (no strings attached).

Lesson: Knowing where you are and where you want to go is 50% of the journey. The rest is putting it into action.

Here's Your 5 Minute Friday:

#1.) Does Cardio Help Burn Fat

Cardiovascular training is a core pillar of health.

The better your heart health, the longer you’ll live.

Does that mean you need to live in the gym and do endless hours of cardio?


But cardio and raising your activity levels usually make it easy to keep your metabolism high, especially if you’re in a deficit.

For sports performance, it’s often a prerequisite.

Cardio = a great tool for heart health, endurance, and energy.

Cardio < not an effective for ONLY fat-loss (however, it can work in harmony with a caloric deficit paired with strength training).


You can easily eat the calories you burn from a cardio workout in a snack bar but it’s harder to regain weight when you’re dropping weight from a deficit and building active tissue like muscle from lifting weights.

So, how can you use cardio properly in your workouts?

According to the American College of Sports Medicine, here are the recommended guidelines:

  • Perform moderate-intensity aerobic activity for a minimum of 30 minutes, five times per week OR vigorous-intensity aerobic activity for a minimum of 20 minutes, three times per week.

This is a significant jump for the average sedentary desk worker or manager who gets 3,000-5,000 steps per day.

And over time, this will compound for you.

That guideline above may be FAR or CLOSE for where you’re currently.

And start where you’re at right now.

If you haven’t been moving much, the goal is to move more.

If you have been moving a lot, keep this your standard and raise the bar slightly.

A great way to increase your movement is to choose your favorite cardio activity and do this consistently.

This can be a sport, playing with kids (tag is an easy way to win here), biking, hiking, swimming, etc.

The main thing (again) is consistency.

Choose something you love and then commit to it wholeheartedly.

Note: While cardio may not be an effective tool for fat-loss, it’s a phenomenal tool for health, and it can help with weight-loss efforts when paired with a strategic caloric deficit and intelligent strength training.

#2.) Should You Walk More

I’ve written about walking before.

It’s hands down one of the simplest ways to improve your fat-loss or health efforts while reaping many benefits.

Walk outside in nature (it's a bonus if you do this while grounding barefoot) and watch your life improve instantly.

Walking has been one of the most effective practices I’ve taught our students.

It’s also changed my life.

There’s hardly a walk I go on that I don’t return feeling BETTER than when I left.

And yes, many feel-good hormones are being released while you walk and spend time in nature or outside.

So, a few standards here.

Aim for a minimum of 8,000 steps per day.

While 10k+ days and higher step days are terrific, your baseline should be a minimum standard.

Short breaks every working hour, using a standing desk, walking outside, taking your lunch and dinner breaks outside, etc., are great ways to increase your steps.

Going for long walks, hikes, and spending time in nature are also suggested.

The theme here is more movement.

More movement = higher metabolism.

Your body was designed to move.

And move daily.

Allow it to do so.

Bonus: Walking in silence and observing your mind is a powerful way of recentering yourself and learning more about who you are while improving your physical and mental health.

#3.) Balancing Cardio & Weight Training

How do you lift weights and do cardio?

Can you do both?

Or should you skip one for another?

In the fitness world, there are two sides of the spectrum.

Some coaches said weights are all you should do.

Others preach that cardio is the way to go.

So what is it?

The truth usually lies somewhere in the middle.

Both forms of exercise are helpful.

And they have a positive impact on your body.

As I shared in the first point in today’s letter, cardio has its place in your fitness.

But balancing it correctly with your strength workouts does matter.

So, as a note, when doing either one, always lift weights first.

If possible, space out your higher-intensity cardio from your weightlifting for at least 6-12 hours.

If that’s not possible, do cardio after lifting weights and have a small piece of fruit and protein shake after lifting to help you recharge.

The reason is that we want to minimize the interference effect that’s received from two different exercise modalities.

The interference effect is when you have two opposing signals from different exercise types.

One from cardio.

Another from weights.

When your body is faced with both, it will prefer the more efficient signal (cardio).

Which means you’ll nullify and void your weightlifting efforts.

Lifting weights first will help prioritize the exercise signal you want to receive from your strength training.

Spacing out both workouts can be a small lever that helps you improve the benefits you see from both exercise types.

Client of the Week

Can you drop weight while working full-time, studying, and supporting your family?

Jennifer did.

She’s a busy student, working full-time, and becoming a veterinarian.

Her schedule is typically maxed out every week.

Yet, she was keen to prioritize her health and drop the stubborn weight that had crept up.

She wasn’t happy with her body or appearance, yet she wanted to be a positive example for her family (especially after going vegan).

Her packed schedule was a challenging obstacle. However, she was committed to her health and the changes she wanted to see.

Our strategy: We started initially with 4 days of lifting and tracking her nutrition 5 days a week. In moderate deficit, we also started to work on her self-language and how she spoke to herself.

Being an overachiever and perfectionist, she tended to be the most critical of herself, even when she was making progress.

Later, we added silent meditation, worked on increasing and improving her sleep, and taught her how to release stress positively.

Our wins: She’s down 21 lbs of body fat net total from her start, down to her leanest body fat %, and the strongest she’s ever felt lifting personal records like her leg press at 680+ lbs.

All while working overtime, taking care of her family during challenging times, and learning to love herself healthily (while releasing her perfectionism).

She’s a testimony of what it means to be coachable and have an open mind - even when facing difficult times. 🙂

If you're a busy vegan, plant-based human, or plant-curious and want to get in the best shape of your life while leading by example, apply here to get lean, strong, and healthy in 2024. 

(2-week waiting list and capped at 5 new spots per month)

One Quote To Finish Your Week Strong

“When health is absent, wisdom cannot reveal itself, art cannot manifest, strength cannot fight, wealth becomes useless, and intelligence cannot be applied.”
– Herophilus

Health is the basis of everything.

Without it?

It’s hard to master ourselves.

Or become fully self-actualized.

Health is our life force.

- Gabriel

Whenever you're ready, there are three ways I can help you:

#1 Join our free high-performance fitness FB group to get access to dozens of live trainings recorded along with a tight-knit group of leaders who want to get healthy, lean, and strong.

#2 Are you a high achiever who wants to be lean, strong, and lead by example? Apply for private 1:1 coaching and get in the best shape of your life (2-week waiting list).

#3 Want to fuel your fitness curiosity and follow along with the latest findings, insights, and evidence-based practices? Let's be friends on Facebook and Instagram. :)


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