Too Much Cardio = Bad?
Working out but not losing weight? You may be doing too much cardio.
You’re determined to lose weight. You want your body and your health back. So you’re running on the treadmill three days a week and taking a spin class two days a week, but you’ve stopped seeing the results you want. Rather than seeing the scale go down, it’s staying put or even going up. What is the hold up? Are you doing something wrong?
Unfortunately, many people have this frustrating experience. They know they’ve got to burn calories and they hear high intensity exercise will get the job done so they hit the gym. Learn the possible set backs of too much cardio and the most effective way to shed those extra pounds.
An Urban Legend
If you’ve been busting your buns trying to lose weight and the scale’s barely budging, you may want to listen up. A common exercise myth is the more cardio you do, the more weight you’ll lose; that the longer and harder you run, cycle, or swim, the faster you’ll lose. Many people believe this urban legend, and when their weight loss expectations aren’t met, they often give up.
Yes, you need cardio. As you think, it’s an important part of any exercise routine and will help burn calories, improve your health, and get you in shape. But it may not work like you expect.
When you push your body to perform high-intensity cardio exercise for long periods of time (45 minutes or more), there are negative effects. You will burn calories, but your body may turn to the energy stores in your muscles to make it through such a long workout. This means instead of burning that bulging fat, you’ll wind up burning muscle. Since you need your muscle to keep your metabolism working at its best, getting rid of any amount of muscle is not a good idea.
Stressful on Your Body
Long, strenuous workouts are stressful to your body. This stress may lead to increased production of the stress hormone cortisol. Granted, your body needs some level of cortisol for proper metabolism, blood pressure regulation, and a healthy immune system. Small bursts of the hormone give you energy, improve your memory, and decrease your sensitivity to pain. However, prolonged exposure to cortisol leads to negative health effects, including high blood pressure, decreased muscle mass, lowered immune response, and increased fat around your waist. Excess cardio places stress on your body and will lead to fatigue. What do many people turn to when they’re stressed or tired? Food. Especially carbohydrates.
Increase in Appetite
Keep in mind, when you add exercise to your lifestyle you’ll be hungrier than usual. Your body needs to replenish the energy it used while working out. On the mornings you exercise, expect to be hungrier than normal when lunch rolls around. This can be dangerous. It’s easy to overestimate how many calories you burn as well as underestimate how many calories you’re eating. Watch what you eat to make sure you’re still creating a calorie deficit.
Regardless of how much water you typically drink, you’ll want to increase the amount of water you drink on the days you exercise. When your body becomes dehydrated, it may start to retain water to hoard it for later. The weight you thought you should have lost may actually be water weight. Get rid of water weight by drinking more water before, during, and after exercise.
Create a Balance
Cardio exercise is a good thing, but you can have too much of it. An effective weight loss routine should include a balance of cardio, strength training, and flexibility exercises. Aim to do 20 or 30 minutes three days a week of interval training to get your cardio. Then do 20–30 minutes of strength trainings two days a week with flexibility exercises added in.
Wondering how to create a nutrition and exercise plan that is just what you need to meet your weight loss or muscle gain goals? Ask your personal trainer. After all, that’s what he or she is there for!