Quick Hits: Rate of Fat Loss Less Than Expected After Adding Cardio? Can I Have Beer and Gains?

A couple of quick hits…

Is Your Rate of Fat Loss Less Than You Anticipated After Adding Cardio?

It is not all that uncommon of a situation: You have added or increased cardio to your routine as a way to increase fat loss. However, your rate of loss is less than what you were expecting. So, what is up with that? Well, there are a couple of things to look at.

Overestimation of Energy Expenditure


When studied, human nature is such that we often underestimate how many calories we consume, and we often overestimate how many calories we expend. Not helping matters is that many of those wearable fitness trackers also overestimate (sometimes by a lot) how many calories were expended during an exercise session (see our blog post on those studies). As such, if you thought you are burning 400-500 calories in a session, but in reality, expending less, your rate of fat loss is going to be slower than what you were expecting.

Compensation


For many people, adding cardio can raise appetite over the course of the day. If you are not tracking your caloric intake, it is easy to consume extra calories that negates some of the calories you expended, thus slowing the fat loss process.

For bodybuilding competitors, compensation can occur with reduced activity outside the gym. Competition prep is often fatiguing, especially as the competition gets closer. As competition nears, cardio is often rising and calories (particularly carbs) are falling, so fatigue increases. It is not uncommon to want to rest more outside the gym…you are tired, so you naturally begin to move less. As a result, the calories typically expended during the day outside the gym – calories from NEAT (non-exercise adaptive thermogenesis) – fall. So, increasing cardio may be getting somewhat offset from a reduction in NEAT. Generally, if your prep coach increases your cardio, the expectation is NEAT remains the same. So, one way to make sure your NEAT stays elevated is to track steps.

Can You Have Beer and Have Gains?

High intake of alcohol has been shown to not have a good effect on the human body…negatively affecting hormone levels, protein synthesis, among other things. But what about moderate intake?

As beer holds a special place in the hearts of many people I know, a study out last year looked at the effects of moderate alcohol intake (2 drinks for guys) over the course of 10 weeks of HIIT/circuit training. The good news for beer lovers is that moderate intake did not seem to negatively impact training or body composition. So, if you don’t over-consume, it looks like you can have a beer and gains.


Study: Molina-Hidalgo C, De-la-O A, Dote-Montero M, Amaro-Gahete FJ, Castillo MJ. “Influence of daily beer or ethanol consumption on physical fitness in response to a high-intensity interval training program. The BEER-HIIT study.” J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2020 May 27;17(1):29. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32460793/

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Chip Kelley
Chip Kelley

Legends Fit Co-Owner and Trainer

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