Is Yoga Good For Weight Loss?

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Weight loss workouts typically involve intense movements like running and lifting weights. Find out whether yoga can help you lose weight too.

To see weight loss results you need to get to a point where you use more energy than is coming in from food.

Yoga is good for weight loss in the sense that it helps in this process to some extent.

However, it is important to note that yoga is not that effective for losing weight either. The extra energy you use is very small compared to many alternatives.

One of the benefits yoga does offer is a mindfulness aspect. This can potentially help you avoid overeating and/or improve your sleep.

That being said, even with that in mind, you really want to consider doing workouts that are different from yoga. This activity is just generally not that helpful for losing weight.

Can you lose weight by doing yoga?

If you want to lose weight, you need to make it so your body needs more energy to function than is coming in from the things you eat.

In a situation like that, your body starts using energy stores like body fat to get the remaining needs to function.

Because yoga involves movements that are more intense than typical daily activities, you can say that it can help you lose weight.

That being said, the principle above also implies there are conditions for making this happen.

More specifically, your habits in other lifestyle areas like nutrition still need to be good enough to see weight loss results from doing yoga.

Another important thing to note is that just because yoga helps to some extent does not mean it is effective. This is relevant because you only have so much time to exercise more.

Is yoga good cardio for weight loss

Calories burned yoga vs exercise alternatives

To figure out how the weight loss potential of yoga compares to other exercise alternatives you can look at estimations of how many calories (energy) these activities burn.

One important thing to note first is that the numbers below are very rough estimations.

In reality, you could burn different amounts of calories due to differences in body composition, hormone levels, yoga moves, etc.

On the other hand, comparing the estimations for how many calories yoga burns to these other activities can help. They indicate the weight loss results you can expect to some extent.

That aside, a 155-pound (70 kg) person can burn more or less the following amounts of calories when doing the activities below for 30 minutes (1):

  • Stretching, Hatha Yoga: 144 calories
  • Water Aerobics: 144 calories
  • Walking 4 mph: 175 calories
  • Stair Step Machine (general): 216 calories
  • Rowing, Stationary (moderate): 252 calories
  • Bicycling, Stationary (moderate): 252 calories
  • Swimming (general): 216 calories
  • Running 5 mph: 288 calories
  • Elliptical Trainer (general): 324 calories
  • Boxing (sparring): 324 calories

Doing more intense yoga moves may change the amounts to some extent.

However, it is fair to say that yoga will only burn small amounts of calories compared to many exercise alternatives.

Can you lose belly fat with yoga?

Many people get the impression that losing belly fat requires you to do specific workouts or exercises.

Unfortunately, it is generally not possible to target fat loss in significant amounts. This is a general principle. Yoga is not the only workout this applies to.

That being said, there are still ways to lose belly fat and yoga can help a tiny amount with these.

More specifically, if you want to lose belly fat, you have to lose enough weight overall. As you keep seeing overall results, your body will “decide” to use more and more of the fat around your stomach.

In simpler words, if your other lifestyle habits are good enough, you can lose belly fat with yoga.

However, you will not target this area specifically and yoga will still not be that effective.

Does the mindfulness of yoga change anything for weight loss?

An interesting detail of yoga is that is one of the few types of workouts that involves mindfulness. This aspect can actually help weight loss a small amount in indirect ways.

Mindfulness helps you look at your thoughts and actions from a third-person view. Instead of just taking a cookie, it becomes easier to stop yourself and wonder whether this aligns with your health goals.

This can make it easier to follow your weight loss plans and habits and avoid things like emotional eating.

Secondly, mindfulness training has the potential to reduce stress.

This can benefit the quality of your sleep and in turn, your weight loss to some extent.

It is hard to estimate exactly what the weight loss effects of the mindfulness aspect of yoga are for weight loss. Partly because it will vary from person to person.

That being said, it is likely not enough to make yoga a good exercise choice for weight loss. You may also be able to get similar effects from meditating 10 minutes a day.

The mental aspect of yoga for weight loss

Is yoga a good exercise choice for losing weight?

Yoga is better than no exercise at all but at the same time, it is not that good for losing weight.

Even if you really like doing yoga, there are just so many activities that are so much more effective for weight loss.

The mindfulness aspect can be a bit helpful when trying to lose weight but likely not enough to compensate for the lackluster energy usage.

You can still lose weight while doing more yoga with good habits in other lifestyle areas. However, even then, other exercises would still typically offer more results.

Instead, you want to go for more intense cardiovascular workouts or resistance training exercises that can help you build nice amounts of muscle mass.

Is 30 minutes of yoga enough to lose weight?

If you are currently at a weight loss plateau, regularly doing 30 minutes of yoga can be enough to lose a tiny amount of weight. That being said, yoga is typically not that effective for weight loss.

Can a beginner lose weight with yoga?

With good habits in other lifestyle areas like nutrition, a beginner can lose weight with yoga. Even so, there are many exercises and workouts that are more effective for this purpose.

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Matt Claes founded Weight Loss Made Practical to help people get in shape and stay there after losing 37 pounds and learning the best of the best about weight loss, health, and longevity for over 4 years. Over these years he has become an expert in nutrition, exercise, and other physical health aspects.