Your Guide to Using the Elliptical for Weight Loss

woman on an elliptical machine wearing colorful leggings
Maximize your elliptical machine weight loss with high-intensity intervals and healthy nutrition.

Fans of the elliptical love the cardio machine for its low-impact, steady-state workouts.

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After all, regular cardio exercise is essential for good health. Everyone should aim to get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio per week, according to the American Heart Association. And by being inherently low-impact, elliptical workouts are great for anyone who wants to take it easy on their joints.

But elliptical machine benefits don't stop there. The elliptical is a great weight-loss tool, especially if you incorporate high-intensity elliptical intervals and use healthy foods to fuel your workouts and support a moderate caloric deficit. You create a caloric deficit when you burn more calories than you consume.

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Ready to start using the elliptical to lose weight? Here's how to get the best weight-loss benefits from your elliptical routine.

How to Use HIIT Elliptical Workouts for Weight Loss

The calories you burn during exercise contribute to your weight loss. Cue, the elliptical: In general, spending 30 minutes on the elliptical machine burns about 335 calories, according to Harvard Health Publishing.

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But if you pick up your pace and resistance levels with high-intensity interval training (HIIT), you can burn a lot more both during those 30 minutes and after your workout as your body recovers.

HIIT workouts involve alternating between periods of high-intensity work, followed by low-intensity recovery, according to the Mayo Clinic.

To use HIIT elliptical workouts to lose weight, try altering the pace or resistance of the elliptical machine to a hard-to-sustain level, depending on your current fitness level. You should feel too breathless to speak in full sentences during your high-intensity interval, according to Harvard Health Publishing. Your recovery periods should feel comfortable and conversational.

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Once you've settled on the pace and resistance needed for your high- and low-intensity periods, begin to alternate between the two.

For example, you might time your intense interval for one minute and rest for two. Or, if you're new to exercise, your recovery interval might be three minutes. The key to elliptical weight loss is challenging yourself while keeping your intervals consistent.

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How to Use Nutrition to Maximize Your Elliptical Machine Weight Loss

While your elliptical workouts will definitely help you reach your weight-loss goal, it'll be a lot harder to lose 20 pounds (or whatever your target number is) without also maintaining a healthy diet.

To lose weight, you need to create a sustainable caloric deficit using both diet and exercise. Finding the best caloric deficit for your body takes a little trial and error, but you can begin by finding how many calories you need to eat to maintain your current weight. To determine it, track your typical caloric intake for several days.

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From there, if you maintain a sustainable 500- to 1,000-caloric deficit (including both exercise and diet), you can expect to drop around 1 to 2 pounds per week, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Remember, the goal is to create a sustainable plan, so if cutting 500 calories leaves you feeling hungry, only cut 200. It's important to consider what's best for ‌your‌ body.

More Need-to-Know Elliptical Info

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