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Ask Men's Fitness: "How Much Cardio Do You Actually Have to Do to Burn Fat?"

Consider this: A hard aerobic workout can burn about 500 calories in an hour, but a meal of chicken, rice, and vegetables is around 400 calories. Even when you work very hard to burn calories, you can easily replace them with food.

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What about HIIT? Well, high-intensity interval training is helpful, but it’s a bit overblown. Proponents argue that it revs your metabolism for hours after the workout, but this isn’t as dramatic as it sounds.

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A review in the Journal of Sports Sciences found that this metabolic effect amounted to, at best, only 15% of the calories you burned in the session. So if you burned 300 calories, you may burn another 45 over the next day. Whoop-de-doo.

I’m not saying to cut out cardio, but controlling calories with your diet is more impactful. With that said, a cardio regimen can include up to five days of moderate activity for 30 to 60 minutes and two days of interval sessions for 20 minutes.

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