Working Out Doesn’t Equal Fat Loss

You don’t lose body fat from working out, you lose fat from recovering from your workout.

If I get an email from someone who says they eat three small meals a day, exercise twice a day, 5-6 days a week with lots of intense cardio, I automatically know they’re going to look out of shape. They will have a considerable amount of fat overlaying slender, under-developed muscles and generally look “soft”. I’m not saying that to make fun or put anyone down, it’s just part of my reality and it’s the fault of a buy-in to America’s current fitness culture.

Here’s the thing, we have become obsessed with the idea that the harder we beat up our bodies, the fitter we will become. If you puke, you get a pat on the back for having “really worked hard today”. If you eat very little, you get praised for having “great diet control” but the reality is that we’re beating and starving ourselves to death.

Here’s the routine.

Step 1: Start working out moderately and see a small change in body fat or firmness

Step 2: Plateau

Step 3: “I have to cut my calories to lose more” so you cut your calories down and see a little more progress

Step 4: Plateau

Step 5: “I have to workout harder” so you do more cardio and see a little more progress…followed by a little reversal of progress

Step 6: “I have to cut more calories” So you see a little progress then go back even further.

And the cycle continues until you’re becoming frustratingly chubby despite beating your body in to the ground 5-12 hours a week and eating like an anorexic pigeon.

You know someone like this…heck, maybe you do this…God knows I’ve been guilty of it in the past, and it’s because I didn’t understand that your body doesn’t lose fat and gain muscle from working out, it loses fat and gains muscle from recovering from exercise.

Let that sink in…

“You don’t lose fat from working out, you lose fat by recovering from your workout”
Let me explain.

Most of us think that exercise burns calories, which means we lose fat. In actuality, our workouts damage our bodies and cause a host of chemical/hormonal responses like the release of growth hormone, IGF-1, testosterone, etc. to repair the damage we’ve done. Essentially we’re telling our bodies, “you’re not strong enough to do what I want you to do” and your body says, “ok…well I guess I’d better get stronger”

It’s like if someone built a dam (your body) and a storm (your workout) came along that weakened the wall. Everyone would say, “that dam isn’t strong enough, we have to rebuild it, and make it stronger than before”

Now here comes the problem. Americans, as a whole are undernourished, don’t have enough sleep, and haven’t had enough water to repair.

IN FACT, this massive trend in obesity is probably more from a lack of recovery than it is a lack of movement. If the dam I mentioned above as an allusion to our bodies, imagine trying to rebuild the dam with no cement and workers who haven’t slept in 72 hours. The repair job is shotty at best, then another storm comes to weaken the dam even more and eventually, it breaks.

So what am I suggesting?

  1. Eat your freaking calories – Eat 20-25 grams of protein 6 times a day. Have some fat each time and eat a handful of healthy carbohydrates like veggies each time. Most people don’t eat enough calories to support their workouts.
  2. Sleep 7-8 hours each night and go to bed at the same time
  3. Don’t watch TV before bed, it messes with your sleep cycle
  4. Take a mult-vitamin or mult-mineral
  5. Take a pro-biotic
  6. drink at least 1/2 your body weight in ounces of water every day
  7. don’t exercise more than 6 hours each week and if you’re under a lot of stress, stop doing long, moderate-intensity cardio. Swap your schedule out for 3 hours of weight training where you lift heavy (3-12 reps)  and 2-3 cardio sessions of 20-30 minutes each, using HIIT training.
  8. Replace the modern “body abuse” mentality with “body care” yes you can and should work out hard, but treat your body well.
  9. ENJOY YOUR LIFE…excessive mental stress will kill your ability to be healthy. Enjoy every moment 🙂

In good health,

Nate

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