Can excessive cardio make me fat?
Ok so you will have to be patient with me on this one, but please do read through all the parts coming up.
Now, let me clarify I am not saying that going on a run will make you fat, as such but instead there are many reasons why doing excessive cardio could not get you the results that you are after.
So lets start off this part 1.
I feel it is best top start off by briefly explaining how our bodies burn calories.
Your body will be burning calories throughout the day and night to keep you alive. This is literally where your energy will come from.
You ever notice that your energy levels can drop when you haven't eaten for some time? OK, now the amount of calories that YOUR body will burn all depends on your "stats".
These stats being:
Gender (yes this matters - big time)
These are the main criteria that is required when working out your calories for the day.
However there is one more big factor that isn't allowed for in all of this.
And it is very hard to know how to allow for the muscle mass in each individual which is why we sometimes need a week or 2 to find our starting point.
So lets discuss why this is a factor. And just to cover my ass here. I will try to explain this in the most simple way possible.
When you look at a person at take each part of their body at a time, most of their parts will require energy to run.
The brain, heart, bowels, skin and muscles to name just a few.
The one part you will not see on there is fat. Now although having fat does play a huge part in the human body it does not take calories to keep it functioning.
Our muscles are constantly working to keep us upright and keep us moving. Now the more muscle that you have the more energy it will take to move them.
Let me put it in a way that I understand (child friendly)
You are asked to move a bag of cement which may take one person to do so.
But to move a ton bag of cement will take many more people or some heavy machinery.
So... in this brief story the cement is the muscle, the people/machinery are the calories. The bigger the "muscle" the more "calories" are needed to move it.
And in this story we may wonder where the fat creeps in. Well lets call the air around everything the fat. The air will keep the people alive and breathing and that is about it. The air doesn't help move the object in any way.
I think we are onto something here now... I mean you're onto part 3...
So we have now discussed muscle mass and fat along with what we need to move.
So lets through in some examples.
Let's take "Chloe" (NOT A REAL PERSON) Chloe is 20 years old, 10st and 5' 8''. Chloe has a sedentary job (meaning minimal movement). Based on these stats her daily calorie is around 1,700 per day.
Now this hasn't taken into account Chloe's muscle mass.
Now if Chloe had her head screwed on and was managing to get 3 days a week of resistance training in then there is a high chance that a lot of the weight she is carrying will be muscle rather than fat. Now we already know that carrying more muscle around will mean that Chloe would need more calories per day to keep those muscles intact.
This could mean that her calorie limit could raise around 2-300 each day.
We should know by now that if we want to lose fat then we will need to be in a calorie deficit, that by now should be a given.
So how does resistance training help rather than cardio?
Let's continue on with the resistance training today.
So when resistance training we are putting our muscles under stress which in short will require them to repair and in turn grow stronger to deal with such stresses.
The more consistent the training is along with progressive overloading will mean that the muscle tissue will have no other option than to grow.
Now the more your muscles grow will mean that it will need more energy (calories) to keep them going.
Let's make this simple and say that you are currently on 2,000 calories per day and have just started resistance training.
Losing fat at 2,000 calories may mean that you are in a calorie deficit of 200 per day.
Now that you have introduced a program to grow you muscles, over time you will find that your calorie deficit has now increased to 3-400 per day.
With this training you are constantly putting your muscles under stresses that require them to do something about it. Along with still losing fat this will quite quickly give you that lower body fat percentage that everyone seems to be chasing.
Now, some of you may be wondering..."But if I am just after a bigger calorie deficit to lose weight why not just run on the treadmill".
So let move on to the cardio part of this topic.
How could excessive cardio make you fat?
Now when you read that question it does sound like I am saying that it will make you put on fat. Well no, that is not what I am saying.
It is a little more complex than that, so bear with...
Our muscles will only stay as big as they can be when they are being called for.
What this means is that if you constantly are asking for your muscles to lift heavy objects then they will more than happily continue being big and strong, with the right nutrition.
However, the moment we stop asking more from our muscle will be when you start to see a lack of strength and size.
How can I put this?
Let us take a marathon runner as an example. You will never see a world champion marathon runner who is carrying a huge amount of muscle mass because it is not practical for that person to carry around that much additional weight.
As we have discussed previously large muscles will take more energy to keep them going so when looking at running it is more beneficial for us to carry around less weight.
Our bodies are so clever and will continue to react to the stress that you put your body through.
So hang on...how can this make us fat?
Ok, so trying to close this down now by going back to the original question.
So cardio will not make you fat however it can have an affect on your metabolism and appearance.
When conducting an excessive amount of cardio your bodies metabolism will slowly become a custom to its daily needs.
If your body does not need the extra muscle then it will decide to slowly lose that muscle to save energy. With less muscle your body will no longer require the vast amount of calories to complete the tasks at hand.
Therefor your body will start to use those calories more efficiently (meaning that your metabolism has "slowed down).
Now what this can mean is this...
If you start off your transformation journey at 2,000 calories per day and are losing weight then that's great, however as your body will adapt to not needing the extra muscle, the chances are that a lot of the weight being lost is through muscle atrophy.
You will then soon find out that the 2,00 calories that you were on will end up being too much for your body now that it has become adapted to needing less calories to work.
*Now please note, if you are looking at becoming a runner, rower or any other cardiovascular machine then all this may not concern you. These posts have been more tailored for those who are trying to get that sexier looking, beach body as such.
So, what are the benefits of doing resistance training...
Hopefully the last 6 parts have made sense. So lets try to go over the benefits of resistance training using what we now know.
- Resistance training will help our muscles grow.
- Growing our muscles will mean that our bodies will require more calories to function. (who doesn't want more food)
- You CAN grow muscle and lose fat at the same time. (Just not as quickly as picking one or the other)
- You CANNOT turn fat into muscle.
- Cardio is great for your training, but do not feel that this should come 1st.
- Increasing your NEAT throughout the day will mean that additional cardio would not be required.