Less Exercise, More Progress?

When it comes to losing weight, we are all aware of the biggest factors – what we put in our body, and what we burn, (calories in, calories out) right? Yes. This IS the premise and most basic understanding of fat loss.

To lose body fat, the body must be in a calorie deficit (eating less than you burn!). This triggers the body to breakdown stored fat for energy to power your body for even the most routine everyday tasks.

So wouldn’t it make sense that if we added more to the other side of the equation (burning more calories) it would work the same way?

In essence, yes, it would. But for most people, this is NOT the way to look at it, and here’s why.

3 Reasons Adding More Exercise Is a Terrible Idea for Fat Loss

1) You already are crunched for time.

I’ve had clients talk about their stressful week for a whole session, then end with “I think I need to work out more.” To this, I ask, “when are you going to do this?”.

More exercise might seem like a simple thing to do versus paying attention to your food. But let’s be real if you already are working 60 hours per week, running your kids to and from events, sports, etc. or failing to get 7 hours of sleep per night – you don’t need to make your day any more jam-packed.

I’m a big fan of a minimum of 3 days per week of serious training, and more CAN be better if, and this is a BIG if, you are properly recovering from it and balancing your life overall.

2) You haven’t given ANY thought to your food.

You cannot outrun your fork. You cannot outwork a crappy diet.

“But Mike, my friend started working out every day for 2 hours and lost…”

Where is that friend now?

Look, you will lose weight anytime you go from doing nothing to something. However, is spending 2 hours a day working out, packed into a gym, or living in sweat-soaked clothes something you want to do the rest of your life?

Many people who live by the workout burn, “die” by the workout burn.

They don’t actually die, but their progress is often short-lived because inevitably, life gets in the way. and they can no longer get in 14 hours of exercise a week, they burn out, or they start getting too loose with their food.

3) Your Life is Stressful

Here’s a shocker. Stress sucks.

When we talk about adding more exercise, usually people are referring to more intense exercise. Another weekly boot camp, another HIIT workout, another long run, another WOD…

These types of workouts all add stress to your body.

Now, if you are properly balancing out that stress, this is fine! Exercise stresses your body – this is normal and physiologically needed. However, if you are constantly piling up the stressors, throwing MORE stressors on top of things WILL NOT WORK.

What else stresses our body out?

  • Sleep deprivation
  • Dieting
  • Social media exposure
  • Caffeine consumption
  • Screen time usage
  • Alcohol consumption

Well, I think I just described 99% of people who are forcefully struggling through trying to sweat off the pounds.

When we are stressed, our body releases cortisol and a lesser-known hormone, betatrophin.

Betatrophin was once thought to be a potential aid to those struggling with diabetes but now has been found to prevent fat loss – by blocking the breakdown of adipose (fat) tissue.

SO IT’S ALL MY HORMONES FAULT!

No.

Many nutritional gurus like to blame hormones for everything. Truth is, they can be a major catalyst in struggling with fat loss, but it always comes back to that tried and true calories in, calories out that we discussed above.

When you are stressed, overworked, under recovered – you are psychologically more likely to gravitate towards calorie-dense junk food – which is pretty much everywhere.

You are less likely to care about your food intake, but then get frustrated when you don’t see the results you want.

You are most likely either eating more than you think or not burning as much as your little gadget tracker tells you.

When you are stressed, under-eating, and over-exercising – you will get sick, you will burn out, and you will eventually give up. This is no way to live life, no way to try and lose weight, and no approach that I will ever advocate to anyone.

WHAT CAN WE DO?

Chill out.

Stop trying to add more exercise, or cut more calories.

Exercise should be treated as a means to build, not burn. Build muscle, build strength, build confidence, build endurance, build functional strength, build health.

Replace your desire to add a 5th HIIT class with a 30-minute chill session every night before bed. Meditate, read a calming book, or just chillax.

If you are currently spending 6+ hours per week exercising, but not paying any attention or care to your food – here’s what we do:

  • Get your lift on because you enjoy it – 3 days per week, 45 minutes maximum.
  • You now have at least 3 hours of your week back to plan meals, shop, cook, prep, track your food, etc.

I GUARANTEE that you will get better results if you do this.  

Be patient with yourself and realize that if life has you down right now, or you are busier than busy can be – now might not be the best time to go hardcore on training or dieting – and that’s okay too!

This doesn’t mean to live like a slob and eat your way to obesity.

You can still be active and pay attention to your food choices. Be mindful of what you do to de-stress. Be mindful of your food quality – and realize that quality food often leads to quality feelings/health – but you don’t need to put the pressure of diet and exercise on yourself.

Funny enough, you will probably still lose significant weight even if you do this.

Check out these other ways to decrease your stress levels HERE!

 

If you need help getting started on a sustainable, realistic plan – look no further than online coaching. Training and nutrition! Let me help you find the best plan for you – from anywhere in the world.

For more information, click HERE!

Like what you read? Want to get even more weekly wisdom, training tips, and nutrition nuggets along with up to date blog posts sent directly to your email? Sign up HERE!

 

Get More Sleep, Lose 10 Pounds?

“All you need is more sleep, and you will lose 10 pounds, easily” – Overheard at the airport.

Yes, I was eavesdropping. I can’t help it. Every time I’m in a public place, and hear people talking about fitness or nutrition topics I become intrigued. How do you think I come up with half of my article topics?

I ESPECIALLY tune in where I hear people talking about fads, guru logic, and quick fixes. Part of me wants to interject and save them from their own demise, but more importantly, it is essential as a fitness and nutrition professional to know what the average person is hearing about health through the pop media sources.

When I heard this person say the previously mentioned sleep line, I started instantly internally debating the topic. Can more sleep, in itself, lead to fat loss? Maybe…but highly unlikely from JUST adding more sleep.Image result for sleep

However, sleep IS very crucial to optimal fat loss, performance, and well-being. It can oftentimes be a missing piece of the puzzle when everything else seems to be in check.

Will Getting More Sleep Alone Lead to Fat Loss?

Short answer, NO. A caloric deficit will lead to fat loss. However, there may be some less obvious added benefits of getting enough sleep…

From a hormonal standpoint:

Studies have shown that when sleep is deprived, less than 6 hours per night, the bodies levels of ghrelin increase. Ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates hunger, plays a huge role in how much we eat, and thus overall caloric consumption. Lack of sleep increases ghrelin and thus makes us want to eat more.

From a Captain Obvious Standpoint:

This may be a no brainer, but we also cannot eat when we are sleeping – thus less time for caloric consumption. We have all had those nights, drunkenly mindlessly eating popcorn, chips, ice cream…just because. Or is it because we are tired, but really need to see how the re-run of “Naked and Afraid” ends? (spoiler – they get out okay 90% of the time, still naked, lose 10-20 pounds, and get some arbitrary number increase in Primal Survival Rating (PSR))

By staying awake 2-3 hours longer than we probably should, we are leaving the door wide open for more mindless caloric consumption.

From a body composition standpoint:

In a very interesting study done in 2010, researchers found that when overweight participants were put on a hypo-caloric diet (only 1450 calories per day) for 2 weeks, they lost the SAME amount of WEIGHT (6.6 pounds!) regardless of sleep (Group A averaged 7.5 hours, Group B averaged 5.25 hours).Image result for sleep for fat loss

HOWEVER! The adequate sleep group lost 3.1 pounds of fat and 3.3 pounds of muscle, while the sleep-deprived group lost 1.3 pounds of fat, and 5.3 pounds of muscle.

The takeaways of this small study are:

  • Losing 6 pounds in 2 weeks is very fast, and will likely result in some muscle loss… (no bueño)
  • More importantly to this article, sleep deprivation can inhibit fat loss, and lead to more muscle loss.
  • This may be due to the importance of sleep, and it’s relation with growth hormone production, and thus muscle protein synthesis and muscle anabolism aka #GAINZ

From an exercise standpoint:

To be blunt, when you are sleep deprived, you can’t perform at your best during workouts. When you can’t perform your best you run into:

  • Fewer calories burned
  • Increased risk for injuries
  • Increased risk for even more burnout

When you aren’t getting the most out of your workouts, you aren’t stimulating your muscle to maximal potential and thus priming it for development. More muscles = higher metabolic rate = more fat burning at rest, and throughout the day (see above in regards to GH, muscle protein synthesis).Image result for sleeping in the gym

From a short-term standpoint, it’s just harder to get amped up for a workout when you are tired and feel like napping instead!

So going back to the line, “All you need is more sleep, and you will lose 10 pounds, easily”.

Is this true? Maybe.

Is sleep important for fat loss and reaching your desired body composition. Heck yes!

While it may not be as simple as JUST getting more sleep, it may be the missing piece of the puzzle, that will lead to more pieces nicely falling into place (less mindless snacking, more intense workouts, more muscle gain.)

Get your sleep, make it a priority, and no, coffee is not one of the main food groups.

How Do We Accomplish This Challenge?

Like anything else worth improving upon, we must start with the unsexy basics.

In a world of sleep pills, light blockers, therapy lamps, and other “bio-hacks”, so many people ignore the basics and jump to the easy fixes. Well, just like fat-loss pills and skinny tea’s – the hacks don’t work as well without a solid foundation of the basics.

Reverse Engineer A Consistent Routine.

For those of us with kids, we all know how important a routine is. With a toddler, all it takes is one night of allowing them to do something different and the routine can be thrown off for days.

As adults, we hate having routines because we feel like we are above them, but we are not. We need them now more than ever.

If we know need 7-8 hours of sleep as adults, it’s quite simple to create your ideal routine.

You know what time you need to wake up. So figure out 7-8 hours before that, and thats when you need to be asleep – not in bed, not thinking about sleep – actually asleep.

Wake up: 6 AM —–> Asleep between 10 and 11 PM

Easy enough.

Next, we need to focus on our winddown.

Physically Wind-down

Digestion, heart rate, and respiratory rate all play a role. If we eat too close to bedtime, our body is still physically trying to digest food, and thus can throw off our sleep hormone production.

Avoid eating 2-3 hours before going to sleep.

10-11PM – 2-3 = No food after 7-8pm

Slow your heart rate and breath down as well. Avoid doing strenuous things prior to bed. Be honest with yourself – can this wait until tomorrow or the weekend? It most likely can.

Also, make sure your room is as dark and cool as possible. Blackout curtains and a cool 65-67 degrees Fahrenheit is where you want it. Your bedroom is your cave. It’s for sleeping and sex only (more on this to come).

Mentally Wind Down

Here is a tough one these days.

Everyone is swimming in triggered soup before bed. Even if you are the type of person who makes fun of the easily offended, or outraged – you are probably doing much of the same within your own safe-space echo chamber.

Even if you are watching the news, reading news or late-night talking heads that you agree with – you are probably getting fired up.

Turn it off. Block it out. On the TV, on the phone, in your books – it’s not helping.

Don’t read or watch things that are too mentally stimulating either. The last thing you want to do is read a book before bed that has you questioning your entire investment strategy.

Hormonally Wind Down (or Up)

Some hormones help us sleep. Some don’t.

Phones and other digital screens emit blue light, blocking the production of the hormone melatonin, which creates our “go to sleep” alarm. And no, it’s not as simple as just supplementing with melatonin. Your natural production is like the finest tap of pure, 100%, uncut good stuff.

Cut your screen time 1-2 hours before bed.

Phones off by 8-9 PM.

Here’s the first bio-hack – you CAN block some of the blue light with blue blocker glasses, but just like taking melatonin supplements, it’s not a perfect cure-all.

Need some hormonal help sleeping?

Have sex. Having an orgasm has a huge sedative effect on most people. It triggers a rush of endorphins and other hormones towards the same part of your brain that regulates your arousal and your sleep-wake cycle. Endorphins are hormones that make you feel great and drop your cortisol level usually related to stress.

Cut the Bandaid Approach

Living off caffeine all day, using alcohol to wind down, and reaching for bottles of over the counter sleep supplements are bandaids over bullet holes.

If you need caffeine all day, you NEED to prioritize your sleep and get into a routine ASAP.

You should not be drinking any caffeine within 5-6 hours of bedtime.

Alcohol does not help you sleep better. It may feel like it, but all it takes is one look at a sleep tracker to realize that even a drink or two can strongly inhibit quality sleep, especially deep sleep.

The night on the left was a night were a few cocktails were had.

You can see, I was in bed for 8 hours and 41 minutes but only was asleep for 6 hours and 27 minutes. Super low REM sleep, and SUPER low Deep sleep. All, not good things.

Taking sleep aids, like melatonin, magnesium, and other sleep boosters – CAN help. However, if you are not addressing the BIG ROCKS first, they will have minimal benefit.

What would I recommend if you want to go all-in?

Again, for the third time, taking supplements will not make a huge difference if you don’t address the bigger issues like schedule, routine, and environment.

Start reverse engineering your sleep schedule now, and stick to it. This is not something that will change overnight, but like all the other un-sexy, non-quick fixes when it comes to health – it takes time and consistency.

If you need help getting started, look no further than online coaching. Training and nutrition! Let me help you find the best plan for you – from anywhere in the world.

For more information, click HERE!

Like what you read? Want to get even more weekly wisdom, training tips, and nutrition nuggets along with up to date blog posts sent directly to your email? Sign up HERE!

 

Sleep: Needed? Miracle? Overrated?

 

“All you need is more sleep, and you will lose 10 pounds, easily” – Overheard at the airport.

Yes, I was eavesdropping. I can’t help it. Every time I’m in a public place, and hear people talking about fitness or nutrition topics I become intrigued. How do you think I come up with half of my blog topics?

I ESPECIALLY tune in where I hear people talking about fads, guru logic, and quick fixes. Part of me wants to interject and save them from their own demise, but more importantly, it is essential as a fitness and nutrition professional to know what the average person is hearing about health through the pop media sources.

When I heard this person say the previously mentioned sleep line, I started instantly internally debating the topic. Can more sleep, in itself, lead to fat loss? Maybe…but highly unlikely from JUST adding more sleep.Image result for sleep

However, sleep IS very crucial to optimal fat loss, performance, and well-being. It can often times be a missing piece of the puzzle when everything else seems to be in check.

Will Getting More Sleep Alone Lead to Fat Loss?

Short answer, NO. A caloric deficit will lead to fat loss. However, there may be some less obvious added benefits of getting enough sleep…

From a hormonal standpoint:

Studies have shown that when sleep is deprived, less than 6 hours per night, the bodies levels of ghrelin increase. Ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates hunger, plays a huge role in how much we eat, and thus overall caloric consumption. Lack of sleep increases ghrelin and thus makes us want to eat more.

From a Captain Obvious Standpoint:

This may be a no brainer, but we also cannot eat when we are sleeping – thus less time for caloric consumption. We have all had those nights, drunkenly mindlessly eating popcorn, chips, ice cream…just because. Or is it because we are tired, but really need to see how the re-run of “Naked and Afraid” ends? (spoiler – they get out okay 90% of the time, still naked, lose 10-20 pounds, and get some arbitrary number increase in Primal Survival Rating (PSR))

By staying awake 2-3 hours longer than we probably should, we are leaving the door wide open for more mindless caloric consumption.

From a body composition standpoint:

In a very interesting study done in 2010, researchers found that when overweight participants were put on a hypo-caloric diet (only 1450 calories per day) for 2 weeks, they lost the SAME amount of WEIGHT (6.6 pounds!) regardless of sleep (Group A averaged 7.5 hours, Group B averaged 5.25 hours).Image result for sleep for fat loss

HOWEVER! The adequate sleep group lost 3.1 pounds of fat and 3.3 pounds of muscle, while the sleep deprived group lost 1.3 pounds of fat, and 5.3 pounds of muscle.

The take aways of this small study are:

  • Losing 6 pounds in 2 weeks is very fast, and will likely result in some muscle loss… (no bueño)
  • More importantly to this article, sleep deprivation can inhibit fatloss, and lead to more muscle loss.
  • This may be due to the importance of sleep, and it’s relation with growth hormone production, and thus muscle protein synthesis and muscle anabolism aka #GAINZ

From an exercise standpoint:

To be blunt, when you are sleep deprived, you can’t perform at your best during workouts. When you can’t perform your best you run into:

  • Fewer calories burned
  • Increased risk for injuries
  • Increased risk for even more burnout

When you aren’t getting the most out of your workouts, you aren’t stimulating your muscle to maximal potential and thus priming it for development. More muscles = higher metabolic rate = more fat burning at rest, and throughout the day (see above in regards to GH, muscle protein synthesis).Image result for sleeping in the gym

From a short-term standpoint, it’s just harder to get amped up for a workout when you are tired and feel like napping instead!

So going back to the line, “All you need is more sleep, and you will lose 10 pounds, easily”.

Is this true? Maybe.

Is sleep important for fat loss and reaching your desired body composition. Heck yes!

While it may not be as simple as JUST getting more sleep, it may be the missing piece of the puzzle, that will lead to more pieces nicely falling into place (less mindless snacking, more intense workouts, more muscle gain…)

Get your sleep, make it a priority, and no, coffee is not one of the main food groups 🙂

 

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Stay healthy my friends,