Many years ago I had a flat mate who obsessively trained twice a day – always cardio…. She didn’t want to bulk up by lifting heavy weights however the frustrating thing was that although she got fit – pretty super fit – she also got fatter. Today I’m weighing in on:
Fitter and Fatter.
It’s not a myth, I’ve seen it happen time and time again… And every time I decide to up my cardio anti I feel my own potential to fall victim to fitter and fatter. Here’s why:
It is super tough to increase your amount of moderate intensity cardio and not increase your food intake.
In fact the most common scenario is to slog through your cardio and then feel absolutely undeniably compelled to refuel your body with carbs. Except it’s not just the refuel that negates any calorie deficit you just achieved in that work out… It’s more likely the over refuel.
Whether you’re actually more hungry or perhaps it’s that sneaky, “I deserve…” that is so natural after a tough cardio session. The over refuel will lead to fitter and fatter.
Now in the same way that don’t hate carbs…. I don’t hate cardio. Hate is a strong word, I merely dislike it… and I get frustrated when people who are not happy with their body insist on sticking to the cardio-carb cycle of non-results.
Like that flatmate of mine who’d do an hour cardio after her cereal for breakie and then devour a mountain of low-fat-high-carb-yoghurt and fruit and a meal-in-a-bar sized ‘health bar’ and a big fruit juice for lunch and then force herself back to the gym in the evening for a another 1-2 hours of cardio because she felt “fat”.
This sounds punishing to me even for awesome results… however for no results it’s just down-right depressing.
Seriously though, cardio does have its place in the ideal training week. Specifically low intensity cardio – like walking and high intensity cardio like interval training… short, can’t talk type of interval training from as little as 5 minutes which is my preference to around 20 minutes. Any longer and you’re not working at a high enough intensity.
Here are some specifics to help you escape fitter and fatter:
1. Know what you’re eating. I’ll talk food diaries in a future show, however for today the important thing is an awareness of what you’re currently consuming – especially so far as carbs – and a commitment to not increase that fuel intake as you increase your exercise if weight loss is your goal.
2. Prioritise lifting heavy weights. Now this deserves a whole show – and it’ll get one this week in Thursday training – in which we’ll cover exactly why lifting weights is the best way to lose fat… for today’s focus the important thing to know is that lifting weights will make you crave protein not over-fuel on carbs. And a little extra protein is not going to make you fitter and fatter.
3. When you’ve got a routine happening with heavy weights 2-4 times a week work in the type of cardio that makes you fitter and leaner. That’s your incidental walking and your high intensity interval training.
But what if you’re that rare person that Loves cardio? …like during the session, as well as when it’s over.
You’re listening to the wrong podcast.
No, really you can make it work… off course you can – what about all those super fit and lean athletes right? Those athletes in the prime of their lives who spend HOURS a day exercising and are eatting machines. Yes, those athletes who’s job it is to be in awesome shape… whose goal into to maintain NOT lose fat. Unless you can sustainably commit to hours a day their approach is not your solution. If you need proof, just check out the weight so many of those athletes stack on once they retire and maintain their eatting habits yet not their crazy exercise routines.
If moderate intensity cardio makes you happy then that’s ok as long as you can keep your nutrition under control.
If you can still feel satisfied and happy with your meals based around fibrous veg, lean protein and some good fat AFTER a mammoth cardio session, then more power to you.
Oh, and as long as you don’t want the sexy, lean, metabolism boosting muscle that lifting heavy weights builds
OH, and as long as you have the time for cardio sessions that take 45 minutes instead of 5 minutes.
Your action step for today is to swap a moderate cardio session for either some high intensity interval training or some low intensity walking that fits easily into your day… perhaps a walk to work, or some intervals after weights.
I’d love to hear if and how that changes what you want to eat after the session… I’m expecting it’ll let you feel a lot more in control of your food choices, and that’s got to be a good thing
That’s it for me today I’ll be back tomorrow with Thursday training where we talk fat loss moves to choose your curves.
If you liked this you’ll also like: The emotion that guides my weight loss…what’s yours?
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