Back when I was struggling to overcome obesity back in 2008, I was doing up to 12 hours of cardio per week, and doing my best to follow a low fat/low calorie diet.
Maybe this sounds familiar to you. I would try to be “good,” for a few weeks and I might lose five pounds, only to end up bingeing on sweets and starches, and gaining it all back almost overnight. It was especially frustrating because a few of the other clients in the gym, plus the trainers always said that cardio worked for them.
I admit, I thought that they were in denial, or just saying what they were supposed to say about exercising for weight loss, but they may have been telling the truth as they saw it. Here is the abstract to a study of 35 obese, sedentary individuals who went on a cardio exercise program for 12 weeks:
Individual variability following 12 weeks of supervised exercise: identification and characterization of compensation for exercise-induced weight loss.
To identify and characterize the individual variability in compensation for exercise-induced changes in energy expenditure (EE).
Twelve-week exercise intervention.
Thirty-five overweight and obese sedentary men and women (body mass index, 31.8+/-4.1 kg m(-2); age, 39.6+/-11.0 years) were prescribed exercise five times per week for 12 weeks under supervised conditions.
Body weight, body composition, resting metabolic rate (RMR), total daily energy intake (EI) and subjective appetite sensations were measured at weeks 0 and 12.
When all subjects’ data were pooled, the mean reduction in body weight (3.7+/-3.6 kg) was significant (P<0.0001) and as predicted, which suggested no compensation for the increase in EE. However, further examination revealed a large individual variability in weight change (-14.7 to +1.7 kg). Subjects were identified as compensators (C) or noncompensators (NC) based on their actual weight loss (mean NC=6.3+/-3.2 kg and C=1.5+/- 2.5 kg) relative to their predicted weight loss. C and NC were characterized by their different metabolic and behavioural compensatory responses. Moderate changes in RMR occurred in C (-69.2+/-268.7 kcal day(-1)) and NC (14.2+/-242.7 kcal day(-1)). EI and average daily subjective hunger increased by 268.2+/-455.4 kcal day(-1) and 6.9+/-11.4 mm day(-1) in C, whereas EI decreased by 130+/-485 kcal day(-1) and there was no change in subjective appetite (0.4+/-9.6 mm day(-1)) in NC.
These results demonstrate that expressing the exercise-induced change in body weight as a group mean conceals the large inter-individual variability in body weight and compensatory responses. Individuals who experience a lower than predicted weight.
What a difference: from 33 pounds lost for the most responsive exerciser, to nearly 4 pounds gained for the most susceptible “Compensator.” I know from my experience, and that of many other Sugar Freedom readers that cutting sugar, grains, and excessive cardio can prevent the hunger and cravings that derail the best weight loss intentions. So what should compensators do instead? For the past 11 years a combination of resistance exercise and short rounds of interval training have kept me lean, strong, and energized. Please check out the workouts on my you tube channel, and remember to listen to your body, and honor how you respond.
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