It’s interesting how our mind works when it comes to doing something that should give us a presumed positive return.
It is also true when it comes to doing cardio for fat loss.
I see too many people trying to push themselves to the limit by doing long sessions of cardio everyday believing that this will speed up their fat loss or whatever BUT they never put themselves the question “I am doing too much cardio?”.
Let me tell you a story of my past experience with excessive amount of cardio…
I remember my second year of bodybuilding when I tried to lose fat at a fast pace because I was pressed by time.
I needed to get under 10% body fat because it was summer and I wanted to look good.
Anyways, I started eating a low caloric diet of around 1500-2000 calories/day while doing resistance training with high volume and on top of that, adding the “cherry” – 30-60 minutes of moderate to high intensity cardio.
At that time, I believed that by doing lots of activity, I would expend more calories which would equal more fat loss.
It worked for exactly 2 weeks after which the fat loss simply: STALLED
I mean, really stalled as I could do anything like eating less and running more but the end result would still be the same: my fat loss came to a halt and I didn’t know why.
I see examples like this daily and believe me, there are plenty of people trying to combine too much cardio with insane caloric deficits for the sake of losing fat and nothing happens.
The sweet thing is that if you can talk them into reducing activity and eating slightly more, the magic happens: they actually lose fat.
This is what happened to me: frustrated because I thought my fat loss efforts were being in vein, I just gave up on doing all that cardio and ate more food and the end result surprised me:
I actually lost weight.
What Happened Here?
In my example and other people’s examples, we were combining caloric deficits with too much activity and this created hormonal issues along with some crazy water retention that made us think that we were not losing fat.
Why Too Much Cardio Causes This?
The main culprit for all this crazy fat loss mask by water retention and hormonal problems is the hormone cortisol.
Cortisol is a hormone that is secreted in response to stress.
In our case, the specific stress is resistance training and cardiovascular activity (doing too much cardio).
As you’ve probably heard, cortisol is catabolic in his nature but you don’t have to label it like something bad because we need cortisol in order to function properly but we need it in the right amount:
For example, small pulses of cortisol are actually beneficial when it comes to memory but chronic elevations (those that we see with excessive cardio) affect it in a negative way.
So having a combination of dieting and excessive amounts of activity will trigger chronic elevations in cortisol which in turn will mask our fat loss efforts.
Also another hormone that is negatively impacted is the leptin hormone which is responsible with the regulation of appetite, energy expenditure, energy intake and metabolism.
I won’t go in details here but basically what happens is that this hormone is also susceptible to the negative effects of excessive cardio coped with caloric deficit which in turn can do bad things for your metabolic rate, hunger, etc.
Basically, you have water retention (masking any fat loss), hunger gets way up in the sky (making your efforts to stay on a diet even harder) and metabolic rate can go down (making it even harder to keep a deficit) and these are just a few of the negative side effects of too much cardio.
I would advise everyone that wants to lose weight to stop trying to wear themselves down with excessive activity because in the long run, it will only make it harder.
There are plenty of fat loss books that incorporate a good training program that has just the right volume and frequency and which can be used by anyone who wants to actually do things right and lose fat.
And if you still wonder if you can lose fat without doing cardio, in my book The No Bs Flexible Formula To Six Pack Abs, I detail how you can lose fat even by doing no cardio and by eating any type of food.
Moderation is always better… take it slowly!