T Nation

More Exercise = Increased Body Fat


Hi All,

My calorie intake is 1500 - 1800 calories per day (whole grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, and fish), and my exercise schedule includes (1) 7 mile runs on Mon, Wed, and Fri, (2) 45 minute + 45 minute full body interval workouts on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday (AM and PM), and (3) core workouts.

In the prior months, however, my body fat has increased from 8 - 12 percent, and my six pack has disappeared -- the fat accumulation is in my midsection.

Does anyone have any suggestions? It's frustrating and upsetting: The more I workout, the more my body fat increases -- especially in my midsection.

FYI: My only medical condition is VERY low testosterone; though I'm receiving treatment, such has not had any significant effect on my t-levels.

Thanks for any help you can offer.



Damn dude, it sounds like your metabolism is in the toilet. At that level of activity you should be able to eat nearly double that amount of food and not gain fat. To use myself as an example, I consume 450 g carbs, 250 g protein, and 100 g fat daily and am maintaining my weight despite doing nearly no cardio at the moment. I would begin addressing this issue immediately. If you aren't already tracking your macros, start. Begin at about 1.25 g protein per lb/bw, and fill in the rest of your calories with carbs and fat, the amounts depending on your individual needs and tastes in food. Slowly increase your intake by about 10 g carbs to your daily numbers each week, and 5 g fat every other week. By slowly increasing, you'll build up your metabolic rate and be able to handle more food.

As for your exercise programming: To what purpose are you running 7 miles several times per week? If you do it out of enjoyment, then ok. But just know that you will have great difficulty achieving a lean, muscular physique. Have you ever seen a person with an impressive physique who regularly runs 7 miles in a day? There sure aren't many of them out there. If you have been doing these long distance runs in an attempt to reduce body fat, I would slowly taper them down in the same way you are building your metabolism. You need to get your body accustomed to utilizing food intake without running 7 miles a day. Start subbing in HIIT instead; it will have a positive effect on your metabolism and can actually be anabolic in nature. As for your "full body interval workouts," I would get on a legitimate program that fits your goals and individual needs. If building muscle is the goal, Kingbeef has some great routines laid out in his thread in the Bodybuilding forum. Good luck sir, if there's anything I can help with don't hesitate to ask!


What are these full body interval workouts? Sounds to me like you have the case of skinny fat. Reminds me of all the people in the gym that do cardio all of the time (not hiit). The steady state cardio is probably eating away at your muscle. I think there was an article on tnation i think at some point that discussed how the only truly skinny people were the people running the marathons though they were sickly looking and the rest of the people were skinny fat. Might want to try doing sprints instead of a 7mi run.

Found the article http://tnation.T-Nation.com/free_online_forum/diet_blog_hammer_velocity_shugart/running_makes_you_fat?id=5504535&pageNo=0#top


Dude, you're overtraining and undereating. That's not nearly enough calories to support your training. And that is why you're gaining fat. Your body is in high alert mode, trying to save your life. So yes, the more you'll work out that much and eat that little, the more worn out you will look and feel.

If your goal is to build a lean muscular physique you must cut back on all non-weightlifting activity and do the bare minimum cardio.

Secondly, you need to provide some stats if you want people to give you advice. How much protein are you getting from that fish? What are your height and weight? How much weight do you lift? What do your weight training workouts look like?


@OP: You say "In the prior months, however, my body fat has increased from 8 - 12 percent, and my six pack has disappeared -- the fat accumulation is in my midsection."

How do you know that? Your personal assessment via visual inspection? You know people suck at this - I would only trust very experienced coaches with this.

My bet is constantly elevated cortisol levels making you look a lot worse than you actually are via excessive water retention. Maybe it's time for taking a diet break and a deload.

Ps: I'm puzzled by some of the statements made so far.

"Damn dude, it sounds like your metabolism is in the toilet."
- What exactly do you mean by that? You mean his body has downregulated his BMR (in the order of 1500-1800 cal)?

"The steady state cardio is probably eating away at your muscle."
- Not impossible, but not all that likely.

"Dude, you're overtraining and undereating. That's not nearly enough calories to support your training. And that is why you're gaining fat."
- How does that work?


I think what others have said about you not eating enough for your energy demands (essentially being in starvation mode) is probably true.

I think that your body may also be burning some of it's muscle mass (as you seem to be doing no strength/resistance training at all), which would account for your decrease in leanness. If you are training hard for a marathon or some other extreme endurance event, then perhaps keeping the long runs makes sense. But you might be better served to replace your interval training with some more traditional strength/muscle building workouts.


He is performing a ridiculous amount of activity weekly, and his calories are at the extremely low end of the final weeks of a pre contest diet. Yet he is apparently gaining fat. That's what leads me to believe that his metabolism is damaged


Thanks for the replies.

My hope is to develop a more athletic, lead build. For this reason, I focus on full-body, metabolic-training sessions: MH Spartacus 1.0 and MH Spartacus 2.0, modified to include pull-ups and more squats.

I enjoy running - it's why I run. The 7 mile runs include a total of 2.5 miles of steep hills.

Thanks for the insights into the increase in body fat -- maybe it's too few calories and too much cardio?

I'd imagine my low t is making it all the worse...

My macros: 70% carbs, 15% protein, 15% fat. I follow a mostly vegan diet (+ tuna or lobster 2x per week) and therefore receive most of my protein from legumes, Ezekiel bread, spinach, Food for Life Protein Powder, and nuts (walnuts, almonds).

Thanks again for your thoughts. I'm glad I joined the T-Nation forums.


Neglected to include:

5' 10
140 lbs
Current BF: 10-12%


First, reset your metabolism, for about a week eat high carb hitting your caloric needs.

Long distance running is horrible for testosterone levels and unless it's your sport of choice (i uderstand it's not, from what you're saying it's just a fat loss tool). After a week reset you should engage in high intensity excercise like heavy strenght training and/or sprints.

As for diet, eat your protein and go low-carb with fat being your main eneergy source. You are fairly lean, so you don't need significant caloric deficit. I think 200 kcal should do the trick (counting in activity of course)


What are your measurements and what treatment are you getting for low test?


Thanks again to all.

Here are my measurements:

5' 10
140 lbs
Age 29
Current BF: 10-12% (up from 8% in the prior months)
Waist: 29.5"

My midsection has much more fat, and my core looks much "softer" (with 6 pack nearly absent).

BF determined through the caliper method and electronic instruments...


Dude, you are 5' 10" with 120-126 (by your bf% estimation) lbs of lean mass. Worrying about having a more "athletic lean" body at your height and weight and thus avoiding real strength training is ridiculous. If you were to get down to single digit bf levels you would look sickly/anorexic, not lean and athletic. Bruce Lee was 126 lbs when he filmed Enter The Dragon and he was 5'7". You are 3 inches taller with nearly the same (if not less) lean body mass.

Plus you are suffering from low T levels. Avoiding real strength training/muscle building is likely not doing you any favors in that regard either.


My DR prescribed 50 mg of Clomid (taken daily).


So, you're trying a Clomid restart...how long will you be taking it?

<-------------- Not an MD


Sorry, I meant body burning muscle and holding onto fat. I just used his terms. Obviously he's not actually gaining anything with that kind of diet.


lift weights

eat meat

do less cardio


Pick a program for athletes on this site and get off that vegan nonsense.

By all means be a veggie tho , and good that you allow yourself fish -get plenty of it.


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Bingo. Water retention (inside the triglyceride-emptied fat cell) can completely mask fat loss and mess with someone's head especially when they're not carrying much size in the first place. Sadly this can only get worse if he pushes himself further.

Even worse, its hard to say for sure when and how you can force the "whoosh" (as Lyle McD calls it) besides probably taking a week or so off diet andtraining, drinking red wine, a solid refeed day yada yada yada but yeah as and when it does happen, the OP can expect a dramatic transformation.

I'd imagine the thyroid issues brought on by hypogonadism will further complicate this.

Downregulation of BMR is way overblown.