Crazy to think this right? Fact be known, the answer is NO, it cannot make you fat! However, it can provide the proper conditions to increase body fat stores. How does this happen? Thanks to a life saving hormone released by the Adrenal glands, called Cortisol. I will preach till I am blue in the face, that until people understand and live according to how the body was designed, they will continue to struggle with excess weight, food cravings, and a lack of energy. So what does this Cortisol thingy do? Well, in times of prolonged stress, it helps the body increase blood sugar levels and signals the body to begin to conserve energy for possible famine or prolonged stressful environment. So basically, our metabolism slows down and our ability to utilize fat or burn fat, is slowed down as well. So what types of stress are we referring too? In an exercise sense, any and all types. Exercise is basically stress to the body, and increases the body’s ability to release cortisol. But the two types of exercise can differentiate between the body burning fat and the body storing fat.
If we revert back to Anatomy and Physiology, we can recall that our basic human nature has this amazing response called “fight or flight”. During this our body is faced with extreme stress, and produces a vast amount of stimulating hormones to put our senses in peak form, allowing for a heightened sense of awareness, adrenalin flow for optimal muscle performance, and a general sense of “oh shit, I need to survive!” Let’s look at the two types of exercise now:
- Long Bout Cardio: during long periods of cardio, our body begins to release cortisol, and through muscular contraction, our body will burn up some of the stores of cortisol. The longer we engage in this, the longer our body is being subjected to increased levels of cortisol which do the following:
- Slows bodily processes
- break down muscle tissue for energy output, before it breaks down fat stores
- slows down our metabolism or our rate of energy expenditure
- The more efficient the body becomes at longer or faster cardio bouts, the more stress is required for the body at a rate faster than our ability to burn excess stores
- Slows bodily processes
- HIIT: during short intense periods of exercise, also called high intensity interval training, our body is able to burn up the cortisol levels by pushing the muscle at maximal or near maximal output, decreasing the ability of excess stores of Cortisol to build in the blood stream
- Larger volume muscle fibers (fast twitch) are broken down and will require more repair, increasing the required energy expenditure to rebuild damaged muscle tissue.
- Maximal or near maximal energy output increases the body’s release of testosterone from the pituitary gland, which is the hormone for building muscle tissue and reducing body fat.
- HIIT has been proven to increase the production of lipolytic enzymes which are significant in fat breakdown and energy production.
I will be the first to agree that a cool breezy day, there is nothing better than a long walk or run to clear the mind, but remember that if your goal is to bust the fat, you need to make sure you are incorporating some higher intensity training for shorter periods of time.