Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Do You Compensate for Cardio?

Fitness expert Craig Ballantyne admits cardio exercise is perplexing. In theory, it should work the same for everyone, he says. But it doesn't. Some people do cardio six hours, nine hours, or more per week, and still have belly fat to burn. It works just fine for others.

To get some insight into the reason for this, British researchers studied 35 overweight men and women who weren't previously exercising. Subjects did cardio five times per week for 12 weeks. On average, they lost a respectable 8.2 pounds. However, the variance between individuals was huge. One of the 35 subjects lost a staggering 32.3 pounds, while one actually gained 3.74 pounds. The scientists think they know why.

They classified the subjects into two groups: those who lost the least amount of weight (the "Compensators") and those who lost the most (the "Non-Compensators"). Turns out the cardio exercise made the Compensators hungry. As a result, they wound up consuming more than 250 extra calories per day... all but wiping out their weight-loss efforts. The Non-Compensators, though, did not experience an increase in their appetites (and therefore, did not compensate for hunger by eating more).

If your cardio program is not working for you, Ballantyne suggests you check your post-exercise appetite level and calorie intake to see if you are a "Compensator." If you are, you might be better off with a program of high-intensity resistance and interval training.

(Craig Ballantyne is the creator of the Turbulence Training for Fat Loss system. For a free online source of information, motivation, and social support to help you improve your health, lose weight, and get fit, sign up for Early to Rise's free natural health e-letter.)

***Ding, ding, ding! HYC Tuesday check-in: All things considered, it was a good week. I did figure out one day last week I had miscalculated my inches lost. It WAS 22.7 (not 24.75); now, 24. Average daily calorie consumption was 1268. Still, I lost only one pound (What’s up with THAT?!), bringing my total weight loss since Jan 15 to 26 pounds.

Because I ate right and exercised six days, I’m choosing to believe that as I’m losing fat, I’m also building muscle, which weighs more; consequently, the apparent “mediocre” loss this week.

The good news is I’m still two weeks ahead of schedule toward my goal weight planned for August 12.


Hanlie said...

Well done on the loss! You're really doing great!

That was a very interesting tidbit about the exercise! Of course it puts paid to the WW system of Activity Points. I've always been suspicious of the concept...

Erin said...

Hey! A pound is a pound no matter what! Celebrate all losses...and all victories!

I've had the same argument no discussion with my mom about the flawed weight watchers program.

P.S. Cammy over at http://tippytoediet.com/ is having a question/answer session open to anyone. Head on over to her blog and ask a question. Then I will have a q/a and I will pass it along!

Anonymous said...

I thought the exercise thing was very interesting. I found myself to be unable to lose consistently by doing a lot of cardio - but what interests me is that I was very strictly calculating my calories at the time. So I do know I wasn't compensating - but I found I lost more if I did increase my calories somewhat. Very strange...but I definitely do better with the strength-cardio circuits. Plus I love the muscle definition I get from them... :-)

Meanwhile...you probably really ARE building muscle...but regardless, one pound a week is great. I know it doesn't sound like much and can be disappointing when you've lost more quickly in the past, but it's actually a very healthy and sustainable rate. (And I'm sure I'm not telling you anything you don't already know!) But be proud! You did all the right things and it's coming off. :-)


Felicia said...

Congrats on your loss and success!! You are doing simply amazing!!

Keep up the super work!!


Grumpy Chair said...

This is interesting information. When I was losing weight, I walked on treadmill 4 to 5 times per week around 6:00 pm (after my dinner) and never felt hungry afterwards. I stopped walking and took up aerobics (noon class) and I am gaining weight because I noticed I'm hungrier when I get home and over compensate with a larger lunch.

Congratulations on being 2 weeks ahead of schedule. That must feel great.

Simone said...

Extremely interesting article. Thanks for sharing it.

Congrats on your progress.

Pattie said...

Hey darling, you are doing JUST fine! You're working hard and doing a lot of the internal work required in this process - as well as lots of external work. I'm so proud of you!

Holly said...

Yikes, definetly a compensater here.

Congrats on the 26lbs down! You are well on your way in achieving your goal!

Manuela said...

Hooray for the pound.

I agree that a lot of that has to do with the fact that you are exercising more. I always think that no matter how high or low the number is, as long as it goes DOWN it's all good.

Steph said...

WHOA - thanks for that post!! I totally needed to hear that. I'm the girl in the back of the room who stands up and says "Hi I'm Barbie and I compensate for cardio by eating"..........oh my goodness. I am trying to refocus my exercise efforts on health and not on the mindset of "now I can eat more"......old habits die hard!

Congratulations on the loss - you are doing incredible AND you totally inspire others on this journey.


40 by 40 said...

Such success story here! You are doing great!Interesting article..was wondering about cardio vs strength training just this am..Thx!