Can Too Much Exercise Make You Fat?

is exercise making you fat

Over the years I’ve been approached by a number of gym goers, frustrated that despite their best efforts they’ve been unable to lose weight.

The conversation usually goes something like this…

“Mark, I’m doing all this exercise, my nutrition is on track, but not only have I not lost weight, I’ve put it on! So what gives?

Me: “Ok, precisely how much exercise are you doing every week?”

“Well, I do an hour of cardio 3 times per week, I also train with weights for about an hour 3 times per week…Oh yeah, and I might do a couple of group fitness classes as well.”

Me: “I think I might have the solution!”

The more is better fallacy is exactly that, a fallacy – especially when it comes to exercise. While it might seem counter intuitive that less exercise can produce better weight loss results, there’s a definitive reason why. It all has to do with our hormones…

While a consistent workout routine is essential for anyone wanting to lose body fat, increase their strength and fitness, there’s a fine line between training hard and overtraining. When we push our body’s stress response too far and for too often, our body releases high levels of cortisol.

Cortisol (also known as the “stress hormone”) is meant to be produced in short spurts, not for long periods of time. Chronically high levels of cortisol can increase your risk for a variety of health issues, such as sleep disturbances, digestive issues, depression, weight gain, memory impairment and adrenal fatigue. Excess cortisol also encourages fat gain, particularly around the abdomen.

If you’re already under a lot of stress, have hectic work schedules and constant deadlines, adding prolonged exercise to the mix is NOT the answer.

Your body has an amazing capacity to adapt and is very resilient, but if you keep demanding too much from your body and don’t get sufficient rest and recovery, it will eventually break down. Stubborn body fat, is just one of the ways in which your body compensates when exposed to too much stress, whether physically or emotionally.

The Fat Loss Solution

•Exercise 3 to 5 days per week (not 6 or 7)
•Keep your workout duration to no more than 45 mins
•20-30 minute “express” workouts can be more efficient than longer workouts if you use your time productively
•Avoid excess aerobic activity and substitute for shorter style interval workouts

•Find ways to keep emotional stress to a minimum, such as meditation, breathing exercises and quiet times of solitude

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