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The Truth About Exercise at a Calorie Deficit

arguablysamsonarguablysamson Posts: 1,534Member Member Posts: 1,534Member Member
I get lots of messages from people with a sizable amount of weight to lose who are having trouble losing when they otherwise wouldn't be for mainly one simple reason--too much exercise. It is important to remember that if you have more than 50 lbs to drop, your dieting needs are different from these casual weight-losers on MFP who just want to carve off something like 5 or 25 lbs from their midsection.

The truth about exercise is that when you are big, you release the stress hormone called cortisol much easier with the same amount of exercise that a smaller person would have little or no trouble doing. Look at how much easier a smaller person can run upstairs compared to a bigger person, or how much further a smaller man or woman can run than a bigger person. Because of this strain on your body, a body can go into shock. Bodies react differently. Not all exercise is the same, but this is due to your body's inability to handle the stress more than anything else. What is good for one person can be bad for another, and what saves one life can end another.

Don't worry about exercise. You can switch over to a higher calorie, more intense exercise program once you get closer to your goal weight. Ideally, once you get within 20 or 40 lbs of your goal weight, you should up your calories to just under maintenance level and drastically pick up the calorie expenses. But when you have lots of weight to lose, your biggest priority should be to get that excess weight off, which means it is best to put a halt on most exercise routines and just stay mobile and lightly active all throughout your day.

Why is this the case? Because, as stated, being big has you taxing your body severely at a calorie deficit. It is already hard enough on your body as you maneuver your weight around. This produces stress, which impedes weight-loss, and in fact, puts your body into fat-building mode since it starts to "freak out" and seek ways to store fat for hard times ahead.

Get into a deep deficit with OMAD and stay the course--it sounds simple, and yet this is the single biggest thing people seem not to be able to do. The messages keep filling my inbox and even after I warn them, they get feisty and overstimulated by a new gym membership or the purchase of some new piece of workout equipment and go crazy. Then, they observe their progress being undone as the scale numbers go up.

This does not mean that by working out that you cannot ever lose weight. It does mean, however, that 1) you will gain weight initially and 2) that your losses will be slow even when you do begin to lose and that you will feel drained and somewhat cloudy (and if your deficit is too low for too long, you can even become anemic). Follow the example of the bear and let your body feast off of your reserves without interruption. Take it easy. Do housework, office work, travel, swim, walk, and at most, do bodyweight exercises (pushups, chin-ups, sit-ups, etc). When done moderately, these are light activities that won't jack your heart rate up through the roof and disrupt your daily rhythm. This is your heart we are talking about here!

And let's not forget the fact that your body must keep storing water to heal those microscopic tissue tears you keep sustaining in hard workouts...which, by the way, is another reason of why people complain of not dropping the big pounds. Your body responds to exercise as a catabolic (tearing down) process, which is the opposite of the anabolic (building up) process. That just means that your body wants to keep reserves of water/nutrients/stored energy around your limbs and midsection to ward off any future tearing down you do as you continue to work out--hence, the weight gain is intended to literally stop your progress. Take a hint! lol

Don't listen to these 5K runners and their ilk, not if you have more than a little to lose. You have to be in a deep, sustained caloric deficit for a while to break past your first set point (mine was 326-313 coming down from 363, and it took a while). Your body has gotten used to your staying big for a while, so it has become comfortable there. You must reset your system, which means you must keep to bigger deficits. Otherwise, your progress will take 3 or 4 years for what could just take a year, and you will mostly keep losing the same few lbs and it will just be water weight and the glycogen reserves you keep burning.

Think about it: this is why there is a fat-burning setting on a treadmill where it recommends to keep your heart rate lower at a certain level since you want fat-burning instead of glycogen reserve burning for harder exercising. Once you remember this, it should be very easy to see that the rest of this makes perfect sense.

If you must lift weights, limit any weight-lifting to one or two sets at a maximum about twice a week. Do what you must, but don't feel like you aren't doing enough and then start assaulting your body with wild attempts at shocking yourself into losing. It doesn't work that way. The key is consistency and not quitting.
edited March 2015
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Replies

  • OMADZombieOMADZombie Posts: 15Member Member Posts: 15Member Member
    This is wonderful! I have 150+ pounds to lose and exercise was always something that was so difficult for me. Walking and slow elliptical seems to do best for me, especially the walking. I am not sure about how low I should drop my calories though. Right now I am eating 1500. Should I go lower?

    Thanks so much, you are a fountain of knowledge! I love hearing everything you've learned on your journey. :)
  • arguablysamsonarguablysamson Posts: 1,534Member Member Posts: 1,534Member Member
    OMADZombie wrote: »
    This is wonderful! I have 150+ pounds to lose and exercise was always something that was so difficult for me. Walking and slow elliptical seems to do best for me, especially the walking. I am not sure about how low I should drop my calories though. Right now I am eating 1500. Should I go lower?

    Thanks so much, you are a fountain of knowledge! I love hearing everything you've learned on your journey. :)

    Thanks so much.

    Use MFP to find your ideal loss point for your height and weight. Don't be afraid to hover between 1,100 calories and 1,600 throughout the week. You need to stay at a deep deficit most of the time, but doing so will give you the results you want.
  • LinDiSm26262LinDiSm26262 Posts: 235Member Member Posts: 235Member Member
    Thanks for reminding me not to overdo it on exercise. I forget sometimes. I've always been told the opposite is true but the way you explain it makes a lot of sense. One thing I've learned about me is that if I drink a lot of fluids throughout the day I very rarely get hungry. I haven't weighed myself yet because my scales bit the dust and I need to buy another one. Which scale do you use?
  • LinDiSm26262LinDiSm26262 Posts: 235Member Member Posts: 235Member Member
    How much of a calorie deficit could I go? I'm usually eating around 1200.
  • arguablysamsonarguablysamson Posts: 1,534Member Member Posts: 1,534Member Member
    Thanks for reminding me not to overdo it on exercise. I forget sometimes. I've always been told the opposite is true but the way you explain it makes a lot of sense. One thing I've learned about me is that if I drink a lot of fluids throughout the day I very rarely get hungry. I haven't weighed myself yet because my scales bit the dust and I need to buy another one. Which scale do you use?

    I don't know for sure why people don't listen on the exercise thing, but I think it has to do with their not feeling like they are doing enough. I had a cheap scale from Walmart and it died after about a year. The one I use now was a gift from mom from JCPenny's (I will have to look to see the brand, but it is very accurate and runs a long time on one of those button-shaped lithium batteries.
  • arguablysamsonarguablysamson Posts: 1,534Member Member Posts: 1,534Member Member
    How much of a calorie deficit could I go? I'm usually eating around 1200.

    Just keep it the same. My "sweet spot" burn range was 1,200 to 1,700. Yours may be the same or different. What have you found the most success at thus far?

    With any level of activity you do bring in, it should be light enough to drain from your reserves rather than glycogen levels, which is to say, it shouldn't make you feel bad or out of it. And you shouldn't need to raise calories much, if at all.
  • LinDiSm26262LinDiSm26262 Posts: 235Member Member Posts: 235Member Member
    My scales were a cheap buy from a drug store. I can get into some clothes that I haven't been able to wear in a good while. That's success. As far as how I feel eating this way....more energy, sleeping better at night, and no afternoon slump.
  • LinDiSm26262LinDiSm26262 Posts: 235Member Member Posts: 235Member Member
    Oh, I forgot.....I save more money eating this way.
  • arguablysamsonarguablysamson Posts: 1,534Member Member Posts: 1,534Member Member
    rrsinmn wrote: »
    Finally! Someone gets it! I can't count the number of personal trainers I've hired who insisted on "6 small meals a day" and 4X per week weight-training workouts. I explained until I was blue in the face that multiple meals like that wasn't working for me (I was gaining weight...), and the cortisol effect from the workouts was impacting my training progress.

    Thanks so much for highlighting these issues!

    When are they gonna learn, right?! :-)

    Welcome aboard!
  • OMADing1OMADing1 Posts: 337Member Member Posts: 337Member Member
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    edited September 2016
  • 1MADGIRL1MADGIRL Posts: 835Member Member Posts: 835Member Member
    Hi,
    I'm not too large but my cortisol levels are always sky high. What can I do to lower this so I can lose weight ?
  • arguablysamsonarguablysamson Posts: 1,534Member Member Posts: 1,534Member Member
    1MADGIRL wrote: »
    Hi,
    I'm not too large but my cortisol levels are always sky high. What can I do to lower this so I can lose weight ?

    Just continue fasting.
  • OMADing1OMADing1 Posts: 337Member Member Posts: 337Member Member
    1MADGIRL wrote: »
    Hi,
    I'm not too large but my cortisol levels are always sky high. What can I do to lower this so I can lose weight ?

    Just continue fasting.

    >THIS<

    If you do what Joe says...your cortisol levels WILL drop. Here's some things I do that work along with fasting:

    1.) Warm/hot baths....I make time to soak in a hot bath, filled with Dr. Teal's epsom salts (Chamomile, lavender, and there are many others) with this, I mixed in about 2 cups or so of baking soda, about the juice of 2 lemons, a fabulous perfumed bubble bath, various organic essential oils. Then I light an excellent candle, Then I put on some wonderful music or a bible cd get in and totally relax/soak for 20-40 minutes or so and BOOM...instant cortisol reducer!!!!!!

    2.) Herbal teas...I invest in high quality herbal teas and drink them through out the day. Organic whole left teas like dandelion root, butterfly jasmine tea, milky oolong teas, chamomile teas, various exotic and delicious strong teas help me tremendous with stress AND help me stave off hunger during the day.

    3.) long purposeful s-l-o-w walks in beautiful nature areas, with NO TECHNOLOGY, just walking with a huge bottle of water and letting my eyes, ears, nose take in my "entertainment" of just enjoying nature. I purposely walk slow and NOT get my heart-rate up--walking for the sake of moving my body and NOT for "exercise" so to speak, but just to think about good things.

    4.) cleaning! I used to HATE cleaning before OMAD, it was dreadful to me and a yucky chore. Now, cleaning, dusting, ironing, reorganizing is a JOY to me--I LOVE it! I use this time listening to good stuff and/or thinking about nice, uplifting, positive stuff and BOOM...instant joy (aka high cortisol/stress beater-upper)

    Here's a link I found that may help too:

    http://www.prevention.com/mind-body/how-lower-cortisol-manage-stress

  • arguablysamsonarguablysamson Posts: 1,534Member Member Posts: 1,534Member Member
    OMADing1 wrote: »
    1MADGIRL wrote: »
    Hi,
    I'm not too large but my cortisol levels are always sky high. What can I do to lower this so I can lose weight ?

    Just continue fasting.

    >THIS<

    If you do what Joe says...your cortisol levels WILL drop. Here's some things I do that work along with fasting:

    1.) Warm/hot baths....I make time to soak in a hot bath, filled with Dr. Teal's epsom salts (Chamomile, lavender, and there are many others) with this, I mixed in about 2 cups or so of baking soda, about the juice of 2 lemons, a fabulous perfumed bubble bath, various organic essential oils. Then I light an excellent candle, Then I put on some wonderful music or a bible cd get in and totally relax/soak for 20-40 minutes or so and BOOM...instant cortisol reducer!!!!!!

    2.) Herbal teas...I invest in high quality herbal teas and drink them through out the day. Organic whole left teas like dandelion root, butterfly jasmine tea, milky oolong teas, chamomile teas, various exotic and delicious strong teas help me tremendous with stress AND help me stave off hunger during the day.

    3.) long purposeful s-l-o-w walks in beautiful nature areas, with NO TECHNOLOGY, just walking with a huge bottle of water and letting my eyes, ears, nose take in my "entertainment" of just enjoying nature. I purposely walk slow and NOT get my heart-rate up--walking for the sake of moving my body and NOT for "exercise" so to speak, but just to think about good things.

    4.) cleaning! I used to HATE cleaning before OMAD, it was dreadful to me and a yucky chore. Now, cleaning, dusting, ironing, reorganizing is a JOY to me--I LOVE it! I use this time listening to good stuff and/or thinking about nice, uplifting, positive stuff and BOOM...instant joy (aka high cortisol/stress beater-upper)

    Here's a link I found that may help too:

    http://www.prevention.com/mind-body/how-lower-cortisol-manage-stress

    Yup, this! ^
  • 1MADGIRL1MADGIRL Posts: 835Member Member Posts: 835Member Member
    Thank you so much. I will definitely try these! Should I stop from the strenuous exercise?
  • SavedByGrace26356SavedByGrace26356 Posts: 544Member Member Posts: 544Member Member
    1MADGIRL wrote: »
    Thank you so much. I will definitely try these! Should I stop from the strenuous exercise?

    Yes, that's not a part of OMAD when you're losing.
  • 1MADGIRL1MADGIRL Posts: 835Member Member Posts: 835Member Member
    Ok great! :) I'll start exercising except walking when I'm at my target weight!
  • OMADing1OMADing1 Posts: 337Member Member Posts: 337Member Member
    1MADGIRL wrote: »
    Thank you so much. I will definitely try these! Should I stop from the strenuous exercise?

    Yes, you should cease vigorous exercising until you get closer to your goal weight. But then again, aren't you close to your weight already? If so, vigorous exercise will be okay. Exercising vigorous is one of my main temptations on OMAD, because we've been trained/programmed all of our lives, (by "the experts" or "them") to believe vigorous exercise helps with weight loss, but I'm a witness that it's NOT. ALL of my years of trying to lose weight ALWAYS included vigorous exercise and I never lost a pound. In the middle part of my OMAD journey, when the pounds were flying off--I started semi vigorous exercising and my weight loss came to a complete halt. One of my battles in obesity, is/was a lazy spirit, so in my mind, not exercising or really low effort/low impact exercise didn't make sense to me--went against EVERYTHING I've ever thought or knew/felt/EVERYTHING. When I humbled myself (meaning NOT exercising and/or doing super low/no impact walking... didn't make sense to my natural way of thinking/believing), when I went against what I felt/knew was right--when I chose to NOT to exercise and/or super low impact exercise by "faith" (meaning not leaning to my own understanding and way), and listened to Joe and STOPPED vigorous exercising/taxing my body during fast--BOOM, the weight started coming off again.

    Watch this (even if you've been it before, watch it again)

    edited October 2016
  • IhatepeelingorangesIhatepeelingoranges Posts: 29Member Member Posts: 29Member Member
    http://www.zoeharcombe.com/standalone/1lb-does-not-equal-3500-calories/ what do you guys think about this? I was reading this today
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