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Too Much Makes You Fat!

The following is an exerpt from Art Devany’s website that I found very interesting… He explains a phenomenon that I see at the gym all the time…

Too Much Cardio and Long Workouts Make You Fat

One of many paradoxes about human fitness and body composition is that too much exercise makes you fat. How can this be since exercise burns energy?

Well, because in the long run a lot of low intensity exercise does not burn energy and it redirects energy flow to fat. Human metabolism is highly adaptive; if you burn more fat, the body will resupply more of it.

Why doesn’t a lot of low intensity exercise burn off fat? It is easy to see in the gym that it doesn’t. What are all the fat people doing in the gym?

Walking on treadmills and cycling endlessly and at a very low level of intensity. The evidence is there for anyone to see. The same point is true of bicyclists and joggers; they have a high fat content (fat, skinny joggers).

The point is equally true of guys who work out endlessly, doing multiple sets of high reps. Nearly everyone in the gym is too fat, not just in the real world outside, it is everywhere.

I made this point long ago in an interview with a performance publication; too much cardio makes you fat. Now just the other day I saw the point on a sign in Gold’s. So I asked one of the trainers, who had no real explanation for it. Few likely do know how or why this happens and are less likely to see the same problem with body builders.

The basic reason is…
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that too much cardio or body building increases stress hormones and down regulates hormones, like GH and testosterone, that preserve muscle. In addition, elevated stress hormones make you insulin resistant and leads to over eating as well as eating the wrong things that cater to insulin resistance, meaning simpler carbs.

Runners and bikers are taught to live on carbs and the path from excessive cardio to insulin resistance to poor body composition to frank diabetes is one that has been trodden by many an endurance athlete. It is one that keeps obese individuals from losing fat when they begin training in a gym and really dooms them. The success rate for the obese in the gym is poor.

Body builder types have similar problems, but I find that more of them are fat than they ought to be. Then again, they do too much volume (stress response) and eat really poorly. Protein powders, gainer drinks, carbs, carbs, and carbs to get big. To get fat really.

The excess volume is similar in its effects to running excessively. Both convert expensive fast twitch muscles into slower and less energetically expensive intermediate and slow twitch fibers. Both diminish muscle mass and this means your basal metabolism falls. Thus, you burn less energy.

This is one of the standard problems with first order thinking. If you focus on burning fat (cardio) you do burn fat. But, you set off all sorts of second and third order effects that alter the result.

In the end, you lower your total energy expenditure by lowering lean muscle mass and reducing hormone drives and muscle fibers that burn energy. To reach a new metabolic equilibrium you have to eat more fat or convert intake into fat.

This is fine, but if you also lower total energy expenditure and alter hormones in the process, the end result will be an altered body composition; more fat, less muscle.

That was very interesting to read. I guess it does make sense though. Cool stuff

What does he offer to combat the problem? I’m assuming shorter workouts and high intensity, short duration cardio.

Great post.
I do agree with what he says. However, it really depends on how smart you work out. If you really want to get into shape, sometimes you’re going to have to work hard. I think one of the biggest mistakes people make when losing weight and trying to maintain muscle, is they exhaust themselves in the gym and do too much.

Thats good if you’re bulking, but if you’re doing max lifts every week, and are on a really low calorie diet, then chances are you’re going to start losing muscle because you’re not going to put what you’ve lost back into your body from training. My weight lifting program isn’t as brutal as it is when I’m cutting, and people usually don’t understand that.

But, I’ve found the best way for me to keep muscle is to usually do full body workouts with only max lifts every other week. I still lift heavy, but not as heavy as I would if I were in a calorie surplus.

[quote]dhuge67 wrote:
What does he offer to combat the problem? I’m assuming shorter workouts and high intensity, short duration cardio. [/quote]

H.I.T.!

http://www.drdarden.com

Good stuff. A lot of it makes sense. Some of it doesn’t, but it can work if done right!

Art Devany recommends brief and intense workouts that could include max strength sets, lactic acid sets, or interval sprints on the order of 2 or 3 days a week for 20 to 40 mins… (from what I understand anyways) check it out:
http://www.arthurdevany.com/evolutionary_fitness

I couldn’t agree more, just look at long-distance joggers. sure they are “skinny” but they are still soft and doughy. skinny-fat, if you will. relatively brief (no more than 90 min), but intense training sessions along with moderate, well timed carb intake is the best way to combat being “skinny-fat” imho

[quote]Peteman wrote:
Art Devany recommends brief and intense workouts that could include max strength sets, lactic acid sets, or interval sprints on the order of 2 or 3 days a week for 20 to 40 mins… (from what I understand anyways) check it out:
http://www.arthurdevany.com/evolutionary_fitness [/quote]

Well, it depends what nutrition plan you’re on. Right now I’m doing the Anabloic Diet, and on my lower carb days I usually do 30-45 min low intensity cardio. I couldn’t do HIT on those days becasue I’d risk losing muscle. However, On my higher carb days I do HIT.

Too much low-intensity cardio does not make you fat. Too LITTLE high-intensity weight training, high intensity cardio, and poor diet is what does it. If you are lifting and eating propery and perhaps doing some intense interval work, adding in low-intensity cardio will not make you any fatter at all.

It’s likely not NECESSARY to get to desired levels of leaness unless seeking to get competition lean. What it can do is lead to muscle loss in some people.

[quote]jsbrook wrote:

It’s likely not NECESSARY to get to desired levels of leaness unless seeking to get competition lean. What it can do is lead to muscle loss in some people.[/quote]

This is what I find to be confusing when these discussions come up.

If too much cardio makes you fat (skinny, fat whatever), then why do people attempting to get into “competition shape” almost always up the amount of cardio that they do? I have read some contestants sometime do two, one-hour cardio sessions a day in order to get into shape.

I do think that it is important to switch up what you do. Not always run the same four miles at the same speed every day.

People are fat primarily because they don’t eat right. Whatever that means for them.

[quote]christine wrote:
jsbrook wrote:

It’s likely not NECESSARY to get to desired levels of leaness unless seeking to get competition lean. What it can do is lead to muscle loss in some people.

This is what I find to be confusing when these discussions come up.

If too much cardio makes you fat (skinny, fat whatever), then why do people attempting to get into “competition shape” almost always up the amount of cardio that they do? I have read some contestants sometime do two, one-hour cardio sessions a day in order to get into shape.

I do think that it is important to switch up what you do. Not always run the same four miles at the same speed every day.[/quote]

I did something today that I found challenging, and along the lines of what you describe. My right bicep is badly strained from hitting the heavy bag, so my upperbody workout was scrapped. It just hurt too much do contract it. So I ran 2 miles as fast as possible (I think my time was ~13 minutes), then did a leg workout. I did heavy back squats, lunges, leg press, and calf raises. Then I went back on the treadmill and jogged a mile.

5 hours later, I went back to the gym and ran 3 miles as fast as possible. My time was just under 20 minutes.

Even though I run 3 miles a lot, and usually in about the same time, I think that by adding intense sessions to the daily total (something hard for people without the ability to go to the gym multiple times a day) I am able to “ramp up” my overall fitness level.

Where normally I would run 3 miles in a day at about a 19:40 pace, I did 6 miles total, and 5 of them were intense.

Of course, I downed some BCAAs before and after running, as well as a low carb protein shake.

I’ve been stuck in a rut of “3 mile sprints” for a while, and my body fat seemingly is stuck at the same place, so I’ll see how this method changes me and my speed - if I do it 3x per week (18 miles a week).

[quote]Tiribulus wrote:
People are fat primarily because they don’t eat right. Whatever that means for them.[/quote]

Not only do we not know the diet of those who do the steady state cardio almost exclusively, many of them rarely enter the weight room. If they are short of time, they would rather skip a weight session than a cardio one.

Yes, if you haven’t figured out the diet that works for you, your chances at being lean are almost non-existent.

[quote]christine wrote:
jsbrook wrote:

It’s likely not NECESSARY to get to desired levels of leaness unless seeking to get competition lean. What it can do is lead to muscle loss in some people.

This is what I find to be confusing when these discussions come up.

If too much cardio makes you fat (skinny, fat whatever), then why do people attempting to get into “competition shape” almost always up the amount of cardio that they do? I have read some contestants sometime do two, one-hour cardio sessions a day in order to get into shape.

I do think that it is important to switch up what you do. Not always run the same four miles at the same speed every day.[/quote]

Dropping the calories too low also leads to muscle loss. In my opinion, much more assuredly and probably much more pronounced than burning additional calories through cardio does. It’s not really a problem when trying to get to get lean. Most people will be able to do just fine with proper diet, lifting, and APPROPRIATE amounts of cardio [for them].

But you can only drop your calories so low when getting competition shredded without losing muscle. You don’t have to drop to this level if you burn an equivalent amount from cardio.

Particularly, smaller women who compete are going to have a VERY difficult time getting to the level of leanness they need to without cardio. They’d have to drop calories so low that they’d be really malnourished and probably lose much more muscle than they would with burning calories with cardio, even if they’ll lose some with cardio and a greater caloric intake.

Keep in mind that high-level competitors of both sexes often ‘supplement’ both with things like clen and T3 to greatly increase meatbolism and allow many more calories to be eaten while dropping to really low fat than would otherwise be possible. And with steroids to help maintain muscle during extreme dieting and cardio. Not all but many, even in the Figure world.

[quote]christine wrote:
jsbrook wrote:

It’s likely not NECESSARY to get to desired levels of leaness unless seeking to get competition lean. What it can do is lead to muscle loss in some people.

This is what I find to be confusing when these discussions come up.

If too much cardio makes you fat (skinny, fat whatever), then why do people attempting to get into “competition shape” almost always up the amount of cardio that they do? I have read some contestants sometime do two, one-hour cardio sessions a day in order to get into shape.

I do think that it is important to switch up what you do. Not always run the same four miles at the same speed every day.[/quote]

I don’t think anyone is saying too much cardio makes you fat.
What is being said is if you basically eat too little, and do too much cardio, you will start losing muscle, thus lowering your metabolism. If you lose too much weight, too fast, you will eventually hit a plateau.

It seems the crux of what this guys is saying in a nutshell is that too much work induces insulin resistance and excess cortisol which in turn puts you in a catabolic state. This leads into muscle wasting and adipose tissue retention along with cravings for starchy/sugary foods which you will surrender to thus furthering the cycle.

I contend that if this happens at all it is the result of extremes that are very rarely a reality and the fat people in gyms just plain don’t eat, or for that matter train correctly. Follow them home from their 90 minute treadmill session and out comes the real reason why they aren’t making progress.

[quote]Tiribulus wrote:
It seems the crux of what this guys is saying in a nutshell is that too much work induces insulin resistance and excess cortisol which in turn puts you in a catabolic state. This leads into muscle wasting and adipose tissue retention along with cravings for starchy/sugary foods which you will surrender to thus furthering the cycle.

I contend that if this happens at all it is the result of extremes that are very rarely a reality and the fat people in gyms just plain don’t eat, or for that matter train correctly. Follow them home from their 90 minute treadmill session and out comes the real reason why they aren’t making progress.[/quote]

Good post.

Of course, on the way home, you’ll have to make little detour with them…at McDonalds.

I think what Art’s getting at is that most people in the gyms trying to lose the fat are doing too much exercise which TENDS to lead to increased calorie intake via sugar binges and the like… I know for a fact that the more exercise I do, the hungrier I am… So unless you have a strict nutrition plan to follow, your body will make you eat more and even gain fat overall…

I prefer to hit the weights hard and brief 3 or 4 times a week and forego any cardio and I find I am not as hungy and have no problem maintaining 200 pounds plus at sub 10 percent BF. Not only that, but I don’t have to eat as much as food which is easier on the wallet… people think for some reason they have to workout like an athlete for hours to look and feel good but its more about working out smart and eating smart…well just my 2 cents anyway

Have times changed that much since I was training in a commercial gym? I don’t remember all these hard working fat people.

[quote]Tiribulus wrote:
Have times changed that much since I was training in a commercial gym? I don’t remember all these hard working fat people.[/quote]

It hasn’t changed. People just like talking out of their asses. Fat people stay fat regardless of how much cardio they do because their diet is crap and their resistance training routine is crap. It isn’t because they are doing SOOOO much hard work that their cortisol levels are going against all of their great eating, great weight lifting, and great cardio. Their approach is screwed up from the floor up and has little to do with simply what they are doing on a treadmill alone.