How Doing Less Cardio and Eating More Helped Totally Transform My Body


Less cardio, more weights was the secret to Maria Pro’s transformation.

By Caroline Cunningham· 10/16/2018, 8:00 a.m.

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Maria Pro did less cardio, more weights, to transform her body. Photographs courtesy Maria Pro.

Changing your body takes hard work, persistence, and dedication. Here’s one local’s story. Want to share your Transformation Story? Email [email protected]

Who: Maria Pro (@musclebymaria), 27, an online coach, personal trainer, fitness instructor, and founder of Muscle by Maria, from Manayunk

What inspired my change: “After graduating college and leaving behind my days of competitive cheerleading, I was a little lost trying to figure out how to be active without cheerleading. I was always into functional fitness and conditioning-style workouts thanks to many years of cheerleading, but my then-boyfriend-now-husband was into bodybuilding style, weightlifting workouts. As a compromise, he agreed to do my workouts with me if I would do some bodybuilding training with him. It wasn’t too long after that agreement that I realized how much I enjoyed the weightlifting. Next thing I knew, I was rarely doing my full-body cardio conditioning workouts anymore and was fully immersing myself in the ‘bodybuilding’ world. I was tracking my weights for exercises in the gym to measure progress, I was eating much more than I ever had before, I was taking protein supplements, and I was feeling great!”

Height: 5’7″

Starting weight: 149

Current weight: 152

What changed: “I’m much stronger and have put on a decent amount of muscle and lean body mass. I also have developed more mental and emotional strength! For a little there, I felt like my brain was in a fog — I didn’t know what I wanted to do or what I should do, I had a lot of doubts and felt like I was kind of stuck. Now, I have much more mental clarity as I know what I want to do, I know how to do it, and I can push myself and motivate myself to get it done!”

How I changed my diet: “I started eating more! More carbs, more fats, and much more protein — that protein is so critical in body recomposition. I’m not really eating much less of anything as I don’t restrict any specific foods, I believe everything has a place thanks to balance and moderation. However, since leaving college and entering the real world and starting this health and fitness journey, my alcohol consumption has declined, which in turn has decreased my late-night eating, so you can say I’m eating fewer dollar slices of pizza now.”

“I started eating more! More carbs, more fats, and much more protein — that protein is so critical in body recomposition.”

How I changed my workouts: “I began incorporating strength training to my bodyweight-style conditioning workouts. Now, my weekly exercise is 99.8 percent strength training, with the occasional exception for when I decide to go back to my roots and toss in a conditioning workout. I utilize training splits where I target specific muscle groups on specific days. For example, Monday is chest and triceps, Tuesday is legs (heavy lifts), Wednesday is back and biceps, Thursday is shoulders and leg accessory work. I treat cardio as ‘optional’ and toss in short 15 to 20-minute steady state sessions or a HIIT session when I feel like it (which is somewhere between one to three times a week).”

In addition to doing less cardio, Maria Pro also started eating more to fuel her body. Photographs courtesy Maria Pro.

The hardest part: “The hardest part was silencing the irrational voices and dismissing the fears in my head when I first started lifting and eating. The voices telling me not to get ‘too muscular’ or to avoid specific foods (like carbs) and constantly having a fear I was going to turn into a man if I lifted a weight or drank a protein shake. I blame the subliminal messages put out in society for this. Without realizing it at the time, I had developed some food fears and illogical thinking. I needed to shake the idea that I should be doing only cardio, lots of cardio, because heavy weightlifting was just for the guys. Eventually, the thoughts lessened as I got more comfortable with my new routine and saw the changes it was leading to.”

What I’m most proud of: “I’m most proud of the mental transformation. I didn’t go into this five years ago with the goal of ‘transforming,’ I just wanted to re-discover my true happiness for health and fitness after leaving cheerleading/college and entering the real world. I had to figure out what I liked and how to make that work for me, I had to educate myself on new topics I wasn’t familiar with (such as a high-protein diet and bodybuilding styles of training), and I had to get past mental roadblocks and self-doubt as I struggled to figure out what was best for me.”

What I want everyone to know: “Not all transformations come from weight loss. Your body doesn’t need more cardio and less food to transform, it needs some TLC! If you want to recomposition your body, you have to keep it happy! Give it food, give it activity, give it attention. Make sure you’re getting your sleep, trying to reduce stress levels, nourishing yourself through nutrient-dense foods and plenty of water, and be patient as you wait to see what happens. A happy inside will show on the outside!”

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4 Reasons To Do Less Cardio And More Strength Training

When we talk about cardio in this article, we mean prolonged aerobic exercise. While it is important to exercise your heart, too much cardio can be detrimental to the rest of your body, negatively effecting things like your hormones (can actually cause you to gain fat), muscles and bones.

It’s a long-held belief by many that endurance training is the way to go to keep healthy, especially as you get older. This could not be more false. As you get older, strength training becomes even more important as your body’s natural inclination is to get weaker and more fragile.

Here are 4 reasons to do less cardio and more strength training:

      1. Strength training is the superior method to strengthen your bonesA properly progressed strength training program will build you strong and healthy bones. Too much cardio in the form of jogging can negatively affect your bones, leading to things like stress fractures.
      2. Strength training can reduce your risk of death if you suffer from heart disease
        Doctors are always recommending cardio to aid in heart disease, but recent research has shown that higher muscle mass is associated with a lower risk of mortality in people with heart disease.
      3. A stronger body is better able to recover from injury
        The stronger your muscles are, from strength training, the easier you will be able to recover from future injuries. This includes things like slips and falls. Cardio intensive training will not have the same effect.
      4. A stronger body is more resilient against injury
        As we age, we are faced with chronic injuries. Bad backs, knees, shoulders, necks etc. Stronger muscles are less likely to be injured. They can handle larger forces. Many back issues are a result of insufficient strength of the back and postural muscles. Aerobic training won’t do this for you and could possibly leave to over use injuries.

Still want to do some cardio? Here are a few ways to add cardio into your training without sacrificing your muscle or bone health:

  • Make your rest periods shorter – Shortening rest periods in weight training workouts will add more of a cardiovascular component to your strength training workouts.
  • Do circuit training – Circuit training is the ultimate way to combine strength training and cardio. There are many ways of doing it. A very common way is to have several strength training stations set up and to go from station to station without resting. Once you complete all the stations, you rest and then repeat for a predetermined number of sets.

Should you eliminate cardiovascular training from your program all together? Not necessarily, but it shouldn’t make up the core of your training program. Weight training should.

Ask The Muscle Prof: What’s The Best Cardio For Preserving Mass?

Q. I hear people talking about high-intensity cardio constantly these days, but I still know a lot of guys who slog away for hours doing low-intensity work. I just want whichever one that won’t cut into my gains! What should I do?

One of the undeniable hallmarks of bodybuilding is extreme muscularity. The other is razor-sharp conditioning. Look at pretty much everybody’s program, and you’ll see how they approach these two goals: resistance training to build mass, followed by some cardio to burn fat. Simple enough, right?

The science backs up the effectiveness of these two modalities. It’s where they mix, in “concurrent training,” that things get complicated. For instance, a study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology in 1998 found that 10 weeks of resistance training plus cardio resulted in greater fat loss than lifting weights alone. Unfortunately, in that same study, strength gains were cut in half when cardio was added to weightlifting.1 Other studies have similarly found that muscle growth is severely decreased when cardio is integrated into a program.2,3

There are a number of explanations as to why cardio blunts gains. One is that cardio adds extra volume to your training, making it difficult to recover from normal lifting.4 Other researchers maintain that the physiological adaptations that follow cardio training are the complete opposite of those which occur with lifting weights, and that cardiovascular gains are thus capable of cancelling out gains from weight training.5

Both of these scenarios imply that mass-seekers are paddling upstream when they begin trying to cut fat. So is it really impossible to maximize the positive effects of cardio, while eliminating the negative? My colleagues at the University of Tampa and I have been studying this question in recent years, and we have some good news for you: It is possible. It all depends on what type of cardio you choose, and how much of it you perform.

Pedal Away from the Treadmill

One of our recent studies investigated the effects that different types of cardio, their intensity, and the separation of cardio from lifting had on muscle size.6 The goal was to determine exactly which components of cardio are detrimental to resistance training results. For instance, when we compared cycling to running, we found that running caused far greater declines in muscle growth than cycling. This echoed a 2009 study in another lab which found that uphill walking produced greater decrements in strength than cycling.7

There are a couple of explanations for why this is the case. The first is that the range of motion you use when jogging or incline walking is so dissimilar from lifting weights—squatting, for instance—that it impairs strength gains in those lifts. Unlike running, however, cycling has a large range of motion at the knee and hips.

Another theory is that cycling is mainly a concentric movement and causes little muscle damage, whereas running causes a lot of muscle damage from its eccentric and elongation portions.8 This would make it easier to recover from cycling than from running.

The Importance of Intensity

Intensity and duration have an even greater effect than mode. Our study concluded that long-term fat loss is actually lowest with moderate intensity, long-duration cardio. The greatest fat loss actually occurred with the shortest duration and highest-intensity activities, like sprinting. We also saw that the longer you do cardio per day, the greater the losses are in muscle mass. However, we found very small decreases in muscle and strength when cardio was kept to less than 20 minutes per day.

“But what about the ‘fat-burning zone?'” you shout from the treadmill! By this, you refer to a study conducted in the early 1990s by Dr. Romijn, who concluded that we use the most fat during exercise when performing moderate intensity (65 percent heart rate max), long-duration (45-60 minutes) cardio.9 This study’s conclusions are reflected in the “fat-burning” programs on nearly every cardio machine at the gym. However, a major problem with the study is that what happens during exercise does not always reflect what will occur long term. I want to hammer this point home.


My lab recently conducted another experiment where we compared low-intensity, long-duration cardio of 60 minutes with 4-10 sets of 10-30-second all-out sprints. As expected, we found that long duration cardio decreased muscle size. But get this: Sprinting actually increased size.10 This suggests that sprinting can actually be anabolic and get you shredded at the same time!

Put it All Together

OK, I know many of you are thinking right now: “If this is true, then why do so many bodybuilders have success with long-duration, low-intensity cardio? It seems to work for them…” I reply that the question is not whether long-duration cardio can help you lose fat—it can—but rather what you as an athlete need to do in order to optimize your training and reach your goals as efficiently as possible. In this case, the research is clear: High-intensity sprinting leads to greater fat loss than low-intensity, while also maintaining and possibly increasing muscle mass.

That being said, sprinting isn’t easy to get started with, so it’s necessary to approach it methodically. Bodybuilders seeking fat loss should try performing 10-30 second all-out sprints for between 4 and 10 reps. When I say “all-out,” I mean you should feel like you are going to puke at the end of the sprint. However, I recommend beginning at the lower range and working your way up.

Once you establish your conditioning, which will likely take at least a month, you should begin to periodize your sprinting protocols. For example, if you do three sprinting sessions per week, I recommend one to be shorter duration and really high intensity, such as six 10-second hill sprints. One could be moderate duration, such as six 15-second sprints on flat ground. And finally, one should be longer, such as four 30-second all-out cycling sprints. I’m also a fan of balls-to-wall activities like car pushes and prowler or sled pushes and pulls.

Finally, try to separate your cardio from leg days by at least a day. Our lab and others have found that the effects of cardio are specific to the muscle worked. So if you do leg-intensive cardio today, it will directly affect muscle growth in your legs. What research shows clearly is that cardio ideally should be separated from legs by at least 24 hours. Otherwise you risk impairing your gains.11

That may sound like a lot of guidelines, but just think about all the time you’re saving by not spending hour after hour on the treadmill. It’s definitely worth a little bit of extra planning.

How to burn fat effectively using cardio

I have been running for years but I don’t seem to lose any weight. Why is this?

Low-intensity cardio training, such as jogging, is one of the most popular tactics for weight loss but it’s far from the best. Long-duration, steady-state cardio isn’t an efficient way to burn fat – if fat loss is your primary objective, you’d be better off doing other activities.

One of the reasons why running is often touted as a good exercise for weight loss is that it’s a good calorie burner, but when it comes to specifically targeting fat it can actually do more harm than good as you’ll find out below. That’s not to say steady-state running isn’t a worthwhile form of exercise, it’s just not the one to spend your time doing if getting rid of love handles is your primary goal.

While a lot of people lose fat through running, they are generally people who have a lot of weight to lose and have previously been totally sedentary. In the case of people like that, just moving is a positive thing to do. Also, while the standard image of long-distance runners is wiry and thin, if you look around any marathon there’s always a fair few porkers about – some of whom might even pass you!

Why isn’t this form of cardio best for fat loss?

Slow cardio training can lead to an increase in your levels of the stress hormone cortisol because of the stress it puts on your system. Cortisol encourages the storage of abdominal body fat – in other words belly fat, the very fat most men want to lose – and also lowers testosterone, which is vital for building muscle and burning fat.

Training like this is often also accompanied by the desire to eat a lot of carbs and not enough protein, which will also lead to fat storage. How many times have you finished a long run and then stuffed your face by way of reward? Even if you don’t eat any more calories than you burned, you’ll still be in a worse off position because of the extra cortisol flooding your body.

Having said that, cortisol production is only really ramped up past the 45-minute mark of constant running. So if you enjoy steady-state running but want to lose your belly blubber, just ensure your runs don’t exceed three-quarters of an hour. And if your girlfriend is running to try and lose weight, be a gent and let her know the fat-storing effect of steady-state cardio is even more pronounced for women.

What type of training should I do then?

Lift weights and do high-intensity cardio training. Lifting weights helps to promote the release of growth hormones that burn fat and you’ll also add more muscle, which has the effect of making your body burn more calories, even at rest. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is also great because it has the same effect on your body as weight training and doesn’t stress your body too much.

What is HIIT?

Short, intense bursts of sprinting, cycling or any other type of traditional cardio. Typically it’s a short period of all-out effort followed by a slower period to recover, then repeating this pattern. Like weightlifting, it creates an oxygen debt that your body must balance afterwards, which has the effect of burning far more calories and releasing more growth hormone.

Most of us have less free time than we would like, and one of the best things about HIIT-style training is that you can get incredible results quickly. For example, a 20-minute sprint interval session will burn roughly the same amount of calories as and more fat than a 40-minute plod round the park, with the added bonus of not increasing cortisol production. It doesn’t end there either – some studies have found the body continues to burn fat for up to 12 hours after a HIIT session.

Find out more about HIIT training

How do I create a HIIT plan?

Due to the nature of this training and level of intensity, you shouldn’t do it every day. Done daily, it will quickly cause excess fatigue on your nervous system, at which point it stops being effective. Instead, do two or three workouts a week in which, after a thorough warm-up, you alternate between 20-30 seconds of all-out effort and 45-60 seconds of recovery. Repeat this eight to 12 times and finish with a warm-down.

The exercise you do can be sprinting, cycling, swimming, rowing, punching – whatever your favourite activity is. As you get fitter, increase the length of the work period and reduce the recovery period. There are even a load of apps that can help you do HIIT, from simple timers to whole training plans with suggested moves and integrated timekeeping. A HIIT session can be done in the park, gym, a hotel room – anywhere at all.

Try a HIIT workout

Should I still do longer, slower cardio sessions?

If you love getting outdoors and going for a long run or ride, then you should definitely still do so occasionally because the benefits to your sense of health, wellbeing and mood are undeniable and shouldn’t be ignored. However, keep it under 45 minutes, treat it as a recovery session and don’t expect it to make a positive difference to your physique if fat loss is your primary objective.

Feeling the burn – Why HIIT torches fat

Intensive exercise creates an oxygen debt as your muscles use oxygen at a quicker rate than you can take it in.

2. Pay it off

This deficit must be replaced once training has ceased, to return your body to a balanced state.

3. Reap the reward

As your body ‘pays off’ the debt, it increases the rate at which calories are burned, so fat stores are chipped away at during this period of metabolic increase.

WHAT ELSE? Keep it quick

Are your cardio sessions more dawdle than dash? Save time and get leaner simply by speeding things up. A study published in the International Journal Of Sport Nutrition And Exercise Metabolism assigned two groups of men to do either 30 minutes of steady jogging or two minutes of intensive sprint interval training, three times a week for six weeks. Researchers found that the interval sprint training boosted the participants’ metabolism the same amount as those who jogged, even though the joggers exercised for 28 minutes more than the sprinters each session. So hit the track and use that extra 84 minutes a week productively. Sleeping, maybe.

The Best Cardio for Fat Loss: A Science Based Approach

So many gym goers are focused on fat loss.

For some, that means adding cardio to boost calorie burn.

But when you look around the gym, you’ll see many different kinds of cardio.

So what’s the best type of cardio for fat loss? Let’s take a look at what the research says about some common cardio questions.

How Much Cardio Should I Do?

Large amounts of cardio are common during fat loss. But is this the best approach?

A recent meta-analysis (statistical analysis of multiple studies on the same topic) on cardio found that strength and size gains were reduced as the amount of cardio increased.1 These results suggest that doing as little cardio as possible is likely optimal.

However, doing no cardio during a fat loss phase may not be practical or possible for many of us. So how much cardio should you do to promote fat loss but not interfere with muscle size and strength gains?

To answer this question, we need to first discuss energy balance. Weight is gained when energy consumed exceeds energy burned. Weight is lost when energy burned exceeds energy consumed. To lose weight you need to create a negative energy balance by reducing caloric intake, increasing activity, or a combination of both.

Creating a deficit by only reducing calories can result in some miserably low intakes. However, adding in a bit of cardio may help keep calories a bit higher while dieting and make the experience less miserable.

Therefore, the most optimal amount of cardio for fat loss is the least amount needed (combined with diet) to result in an appropriate rate of fat loss.

What Should I Do For Cardio?

For fat loss, there is no best type of cardio. If you enjoy taking fitness classes to burn extra calories, do that. If you enjoy being outside, by all means do your cardio outdoors. The most important thing is to stay consistent with your cardio protocol and choose types of cardio you enjoy.

That being said, one thing you may want to avoid is doing cardio for a body part prior to lifting that body part.1,2 For example, if you are doing cardio in the morning and lifting legs at night, it may be best to do an upper body/total body form of cardio (e.g. battle ropes or sledgehammer slams). Or, lift in the morning and do cardio at night to keep lifting performance high and hold onto muscle while dieting.

Related: What Type Of Cardio Is Best For Fat Loss?

How Hard Should I Be Working During my Cardio Sessions?

It is common to see individuals doing lower intensity cardio to keep their heart rate in the “fat burning zone.” While it is true that a higher percentage of fat is burned during low-intensity cardio, there is no difference in the amount of fat burned over a 24hr period between cardio done in the “fat burning zone” and those training at a higher intensity.3,4 Additional fat loss does not occur with low-intensity cardio in the “fat burning zone.”

In addition, a recent meta-analysis on cardio found that lower intensity cardio negatively affected muscle size and strength gains more than higher intensity cardio.1 Based upon these results, it appears the optimal approach for fat loss is high-intensity cardio.

However, it should be noted that high intensity cardio can be more difficult to recover from, comes with a higher risk of injury, and may impact performance while lifting weights if the amount performed exceeds recovery ability. In addition, those with joint issues may want to limit high-intensity cardio to reduce impact.

As such, it may be best to perform high-intensity cardio if possible. But if doing so interferes with lifting performance and recovery, lower-intensity forms of cardio should also be incorporated.

Should I Do Cardio in the Morning on an Empty Stomach?

Many individuals perform cardio in the morning on an empty stomach because they believe it will result in more fat loss. Turns out this isn’t supported by research, just anecdotal evidence.

Studies examining what is burned during fasted vs. fed-state cardio have shown that there are no differences in the amount of calories burned, but a higher percentage of fat is burned during fasted cardio.5,6

However, if we take a look at what is happening during the hours after exercise, a greater amount of fat is burned following fed-state cardio.6 This means that fasted cardio does not result in a greater amount of fat burned over a 24hr period.

In addition, more amino acids are also burned during and skeletal muscle protein degradation (the rate at which muscle is breaking down) is increased following fasted cardio.7,8 Increased protein and amino acid breakdown is not necessarily a good thing if you are trying to build/conserve muscle while losing fat.

It is also important to look at long-term studies to compare the effects of doing cardio in a fed or fasted state on fat loss.

A recent study by Schoenfeld et al. looked at healthy young adults on a meal plan providing the same caloric deficit and had them perform 1hr of morning cardio 3 times weekly for 1 month. Half of the participants received a protein shake before cardio so they were training in the fed state. The other half received the shake after cardio so they were training in the fasted state.

After 1 month, both groups lost body weight and body fat. However, there were no differences in muscle, fat, or weight loss between groups.

Taken together, these results suggest that there is no difference in performing cardio on an empty stomach or after a meal.9 However, if cardio is performed on an empty stomach, having a protein shake or meal after may help prevent muscle loss.

Related: This Year’s Best Protein Powders

Key Points

  • There is no “best” cardio protocol for fat loss. Find something you enjoy doing and incorporate variety to keep things fun.
  • Aim to do the least amount of cardio while still seeing appropriate rates of fat loss.
  • Perform high-intensity cardio if you can. If you are not able and/or doing so interferes with recovery from lifting weights, do lower-intensity cardio.
  • Perform cardio on an empty stomach or after a meal based on preference. If performing fasted cardio, it may be beneficial to have a protein shake or meal after your cardio sessions.

Loose vs. Lose

  • Lose is a verb that means “to fail to win, to misplace, or to free oneself from something or someone.”
  • Loose is an adjective that means “not tight.”
  • Only one O distinguishes loose from lose.

No wonder so many people confuse “loose or lose!” How are lose and loose defined? How can you remember the difference between the two terms?

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Let’s turn to some authors to discover the three main definitions of the verb “to lose.” In a book associated with the television show The Biggest Loser, contest participant Darrell Hough stated: “Keep in mind that the more weight you lose, the more energy you’ll have for working out.” To lose means “to free oneself from something.”

In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, you find this statement: “Things we lose have a way of coming back to us in the end, if not always in the way we expect.” In this sentence, to lose means “to be unable to locate something or someone.”

One passage from A Lover’s Discourse: Fragments illustrates that to lose can also mean “to fail to win”: “Am I in love?—yes, since I am waiting. The other one never waits. Sometimes I want to play the part of the one who doesn’t wait; I try to busy myself elsewhere, to arrive late; but I always lose at this game.”

What about loose? Loose is an adjective. How do authors use it? The following quote from The Velveteen Rabbit illustrates the meaning of loose as “not tightly attached, pulled, or held”: “Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

In this quote from Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald, loose means “lacking in precision or exactness”: “One writes of scars healed, a loose parallel to the pathology of the skin, but there is no such thing in the life of an individual. There are open wounds, shrunk sometimes to the size of a pin-prick but wounds still.”

It’s easy to see the difference between the meanings in the quotes, but what about when it’s your turn to write? Because many people confuse loose with lose, there are many mnemonics to help you remember which is which. A grammar expert on the Grammarly Answers website shares this trick: If you lose the O of loose, you’ve spelled the opposite of find. It may help visual learners to picture lose and loose as ropes. Loose would be a longer rope than lose because of the extra O. So, loose is looser than lose.

A single letter distinguishes lose and loose, but you can tell them apart if you use a mnemonic. Practice makes perfect. If you write a few sentences with each of the words, before long you will be a pro. Why not start now? You’ve got nothing to lose!

Loose vs Lose vs Loosen

Confusing Words

Loose, lose and loosen are three words that look and sound similar but have different meanings. Mixing the words up can make your speech and writing look and sound clumsy and perhaps cause confusion as to what you mean. Loose, lose and loosen join other words in English, such as loss, lost and loses, all of which can get easily confused, even by native speakers. Learning the difference between lose, loose and loosen is quite easy though, and there are some tricks you can learn to help remember how to use them correctly.


First of all, let’s look at the definitions of lose, loosen and loose:

  • Lose is a verb, meaning to be deprived of something, defeated or unable to find something.


  • If the Dallas Cowboys lose their next match, they will be eliminated.
  • Drinking alcohol makes me lose my appetite.
  • Whenever I lose my keys, I always check my backpack twice.
  • Loose is primarily used as an adjective, meaning not-tight or ill-fitting. It can also mean broken free, with specific reference to caged animals or prisoners.


  • These pants feel too loose, I’ll need a smaller size.
  • One of those screws is loose, it needs to be tightened.
  • Three grizzly bears are on the loose; they escaped from San Diego Zoo.

*Loose can also be used as a verb, meaning to set free or unleash, such as he loosed the hounds or loosed off a shot (from a gun). This is no longer in common usage and you will rarely see or hear it, but it is still technically correct.

  • Loosen is a verb, meaning to untie or make less strict.


  • The pilot loosened the straps on her seat, preparing for landing.
  • The government wished to loosen fiscal policy, especially in the banking sector.
  • Will the Warriors loosen their grip on the NBA title in 2019?

What is the Difference Between Loose and Lose?

Lose and loose look very similar, and they are thus understandably confused in speech and writing. The meanings of loose and lose are very different, however, and the words have no relation to each other, so using them correctly is important.

Lose is mainly used as a verb, meaning to misplace, be deprived of something or to be defeated (in a game, match, contest, battle etc).

Loose is mainly used as an adjective, meaning non-tight or set free/escaped.

More examples:

  • We can’t afford to lose any more money.
  • Two prisoners are on the loose after a daring prison-break.
  • A business can lose up to seven hours of productivity per employee due to traffic.
  • She wore a loose-fitting blouse and matching skirt.

When to Use Lose?

We use lose as a verb to indicate that something has been misplaced, a defeat has occurred, or we are being deprived of something.

As lose is a verb, it has different conjugations and participles like lost, loses, losing etc.

Some more examples:

  • They lost the dance competition, although making the final was still an achievement.
  • The US Dollar loses ground against GBP in the early trading on Wall Street.
  • We are losing the match, so we must change tactics.
  • I hope to lose weight before my wedding.

In addition, lose is often used for countless idioms in English.

Some examples:

  • To lose one’s temper = to become angry.
  • To lose one’s mind = to become crazy, delirious.
  • To lose one’s tongue = to become unable to speak.
  • To lose one’s footing = to slip or fall.

Lose vs Loss

Lose also gets confused with the word loss, perhaps even more often than loose or loosen. The words are related, with loss used as a noun meaning the fact of losing someone or something. Lose is the verb, which means the action of someone or something losing something, whereas loss is a noun, referring to the event of losing something.


  • This company loses money.
  • This company had a loss last quarter.
  • The team loses all the time.
  • The team suffers loss after loss.

When to Use Loose?

We use loose mostly as an adjective, describing something that is either ill-fitting or recently escaped from confinement.

So, we use the word loose in the sense of something that is not fastened (attached) tightly or securely:

  • In the 1990s, it was fashionable for teenagers to wear baggy, loose clothing.
  • Be careful on the stairs, as one of the steps has become loose.

But loose can also describe a more metaphorical untightening, as with money or policy:

  • He was quite loose with his money, spending it all on fast cars and wild parties.
  • The 116th Congress was characterized by a loose monetary policy.

Also, loose can mean broken free or escaped from confinement. In this scenario, loose often forms a compound verb with words like let, set or break.

  • The prisoners broke loose from Alcatraz.
  • Sauron set loose his army of orcs.
  • I would love to let loose all animals from captivity.

As with lose, loose can also form the basis of some idioms in English.

Some examples:

  • Have a loose tongue = be talkative, gossipy.
  • Play fast and loose = act recklessly, ignoring the rules.
  • At loose ends = bored.

When to Use Loosen

We mostly use loosen as a verb to mean unfasten or untighten.

As a verb, loosen can have different conjugations and participles like loosened, loosens, loosening etc.

  • Hey, would you mind loosening this knot for me?
  • She watches on as the engineer deftly loosens the bolts.
  • Adding oil helped him loosen the screws.

Loosen as a verb can also be used specifically to refer to money or policy in the sense of becoming more flexible.

  • The Federal Reserve loosened monetary policy that year.
  • We should loosen banking regulations, make them less rigid.

As with lose and loose, loosen can be used to form many idioms in English.

Some examples:

  • Loosen up! = Stop being so prudish/uptight.
  • Loosen the purse strings = To become freer with money.
  • Loosen one’s tongue = To become more talkative.


It can be difficult to remember the difference between lose and loose & loosen, but there are some tricks to help you remember the difference. Some grammar experts recommend thinking of the following rhyme:

  • The goose is on the loose.

The double o in goose helps us remember to use loose, but it also directly refers to the meaning of loose, i.e. it means to unfasten or escape.

Another informal way of remembering is with the following maxim:

  • If I lose something, it becomes lost not loost.

Back to Confusing words index

How to lose weight in a wheelchair

Healthy weight

Tips for losing weight

Aim to lose between 0.5lb (0.25kg) and 2lb (1kg) a week until you reach your target weight. A healthy, balanced diet and regular physical activity will help you to maintain a healthy weight in the long term.

It’s important to eat a balanced diet from across the food groups shown in the Eatwell Guide because, when you eat fewer calories, it can become more challenging to get enough nutrients, especially vitamins and minerals, from your diet.

A healthy, balanced diet should be based on the Eatwell Guide. This means:

  • eating at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day
  • basing meals on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates
  • choosing wholegrain with less added sugar or fat, where possible
  • having some dairy or dairy alternatives (such as soya drinks and yoghurts) – choose lower-fat and lower-sugar options
  • eating some beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other protein – aim for 2 portions of fish every week, 1 of which should be oily, such as salmon or mackerel
  • choosing unsaturated oils and spreads, such as sunflower or rapeseed, and eating them in small amounts
  • drinking plenty of fluids – the government recommends 6 to 8 cups/glasses a day – but try not to have drinks just before meals to avoid feeling too full to eat

If you’re having foods and drinks that are high in fat, salt and sugar, have these less often and in small amounts.

However, it’s important to remember that the Eatwell Guide is aimed at the general population.

Your dietitian or weight management adviser may have specific advice about portion sizes that are adapted for your particular disability. But this will still be based on a healthy, balanced diet.

If you don’t eat meat, find out how to have a healthy vegetarian diet.

Lose weight without cardio

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