Can Exercise Make You Fat?

April 29, 2013 in Blog, Blog Slideshow

By Kevin Charles

Whether you’re looking to burn 50 pounds of fat or five, you’re probably considering exercise as a way to reach your goal. But what if you knew that some types of exercise can actually increase your fat? Several studies have concluded that cardiovascular exercise, particularly long bouts of steady-state cardio, can actually cause you to gain weight. These findings may make you re-think your workout regime.

Some people believe that the main reason exercise can be detrimental is because it can increase your appetite. In actuality, a study published in the 1997 issue of the journal ‘Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise’ found that there is no link between exercise and appetite control. But it is true that increased eating post-exercise does cause weight gain.

So if you’re not eating after your workout because you’re hungry, what’s the cause? In many cases, it’s a case of compensation. A study published in the February 2009 issue of the scientific journal ‘PLOS ONE’ found that women who exercise often lose the same amount of weight as women who do no exercise at all. How can that be? Well, the study’s authors noted that often people who exercise feel they deserve some compensation for the exercise they do. In other words, if they exercise for an hour they can reward themselves with a donut or two. Sometimes it’s not a donut. Sometimes it’s a seamlessly healthy smoothie that they buy right in their gym. The problem with this is that these post-workout treats often result in a bigger calorie intake than the calories these women have burned during their exercise. A Tim Hortons chocolate glazed donut is 260 calories while a Jamba Juice fruit smoothie is anywhere from 210 to 240 calories. You’ll have had to exercise vigorously for about 30 minutes to make up for either those treats.

Another reason exercise may be slowing down your weight loss is that it can increase your cortisol levels. Long and intensive exercise actually stresses your body. This in turn increases your cortisol levels which causes your body to hold on to fat. So the more you exercise, the more your body feels stressed and slows down your weight loss.

So what’s the answer you ask? Well, don’t give up your workout if that’s what you’re thinking. The answer is actually to exercise more efficiently for a less amount of time. A study published in the September 2012 issue of the ‘American Journal of Physiology,’ concluded that those who exercise 30 minutes a day lose the same amount of weight as those who exercise 60 minutes a day. Those 30 extra minutes of exercise led to higher cortisol levels and more feelings of “compensation.”

To make the most of your short daily workouts, try interval training. This includes short bursts of intense exercise such as sprinting, followed by longer periods of active recovery such as walking. Note, however, that these are very intensive so only perform them every other day to keep your cortisol in check and your fat loss on track.

My Favourite Trainer Interval Sprint Workout

0:00 – 5:00 – warm up: walk / jog
5:00 – 5:30 – sprint
5:30 – 7:00 – walk / slow jog
7:00 – 7:30 – sprint
7:30 – 9:00 – walk / slow jog
9:00 – 9:30 – sprint
9:30 – 11:00 – walk / slow jog
11:00 – 11:30 – sprint
11:30 – 13:00 – walk / slow jog
13:00 – 13:30 – sprint
13:30 – 15:00 – walk / slow jog
15:00 – 15:30 – sprint
15:30 – 17:00 – walk / slow jog
17:00 – 20:00 – cool down: walk