If you missed yesterday’s entry about Too Much Exercise On Too Little Food, I’ll kill time for a few minutes while you go and catch up.
So, we were talking about giving our body a clear message of what to do with the calories that we give it. Remember?
Ok then, I’ll continue.
A resistance training program tells your body to build strength and lean mass. Carbohydrates are utilised as fuel and for recovery, proteins are utilised to build muscle. So when we consume calories to maintain a particular weight in the healthy range, we end up at that weight, with a lean, firm and toned physique. As all of the fuel we put in is being utilised, there is none left over to go into fat stores, and any existing fat stores will be reduced. In very simple terms, your body realises “I can only support this amount of body weight, but I still need more muscle. The only way I can do this is to reduce fat”.
It makes sense right? And the end result is… same weight, less flab. More tone.
Don’t believe anyone who tells you you can’t lose fat and build muscle at the same time.
Of course you can. You just have force your body to do it. However, (and I’m happy to say!) that doesn’t actually mean tortuously long, unpleasant work out sessions on starvation rations. It simply means suitable nutrition to support the results expected from an appropriate choice of exercise.
At the time of writing this article I’m personally maintaining 80kgs while becoming noticeably more lean from one week to the next. AND I eat pancakes most days!
But anyway I digress.
The results I described earlier assume that you are fuelling yourself appropriately with enough protein, carbs and fats making up the required amount of total calories for the day. Now, this next part is important so it gets it’s own line;
Even when you are trying to lose weight, there is still a MINIMUM amount of calories you require each day.
Again, it’s not a matter of “less calories, more weight loss”. It’s a matter of eating the right amount, somewhere between “no less than this” and “no more than this”. And as we add more exercise (or do the same amount but with improved performance) we actually need to start adding MORE calories. Not less, MORE.
What happens if you don’t?
The human body is designed to adapt and survive. When you are highly active and not adequately fuelled, the message the body gets is very simple; CONSERVE ENERGY. The more you reduce intake and increase activity, the more stubbornly your body holds on to those remaining body fat stores.
Once your body realises that you expect to (for example) run 4ks in the morning, lift weights in the afternoon, and whatever else in between (school, work, social life) on a stupidly low amount of calories; it has no choice but to slow everything else down and conserve energy. As a result you feel sluggish the rest of the day, are more prone to mood swings and so forth. You body simply does not have the resources available to function optimally, and this includes mentally and emotionally. Which makes for all the more frustration when the strategy is ineffective and does not result in the body changes you desire. In short, all you are really doing is making yourself miserable. Right?
Bottom line: If you’re a highly active person doing cardio or endurance training, weights or other resistance training, other physical activities such as dance or sport; you can’t do it while limiting your calorific intake to the minimum levels required for a sedentary person.
Train, eat, rest, ENJOY.