THE SKINNY: Exercise Makes You Fat & Hungry

Before we start,  lets just agree to disagree…  Dont you dare hit dislike at the bottom of this blog just because I’m not saying what you want to hear.  This is what you need to hear.

Over and over I see clients that are in pretty good shape,  just over weight, and I’ve seen clients that look fantastic but they practically vomit walking a mile…  What gives?

By far, the most asked question I get is either 1.) How many calories should I eat to get in shape?  orrr 2.) How much cardio should I do to lose weight? Commercial media has sold us a bunch of schmedge.  Dieting will not get you “in shape” and cardio inherently is not the best tool to lose weight.  Chill out and keep reading…

What I mean is, “dieting” will not affect important aspects of  your physiology, ie: Dieting will not increase VO2 max,  peak oxygen uptake or aerobic capacity, nor will diet increase stroke volume,  the volume of blood pumped from the left ventricle of the heart with each beat, nor will diet increase your strength or flexibility. Savvy? Likewise, any exercise, including cardio, though it expends calories, is not the means to an end for weight loss.  Exercise will increase caloric output which in turn directly increases our appetites to replenish used energy exponentially,  so that your body is prepared for more caloric expenditure next time you need it.

Downfalls of diet and exercise:
As soon as we start to decrease our caloric intake, or “diet”,  our metabolism will begin to decrease to preserve our energy stores, which in turn makes us less prone to feel energetic.  The other bad news; as soon as you begin to exercise, or increase caloric expenditure, your appetite will go through the roof – and you will want to eat everything in sight (again this is in response to your body preserving energy stores).  In other words, as soon as you start a diet and exercise program, you will be hungrier and lazier than ever.  It’s just primal. However, there are many things we can do to combat this evil problem.

Life vs Looks
Your body, biologically,  is more interested in survival than aesthetic appearance.  Unfortunately in the commodity of physiology, fat is more valuable than muscle, and muscle requires a hefty luxury tax.  Lean muscle is rather useless for your body in the realm of survival… but it looks so so good.   So now what?

If you want to lose weight, you are going to have to eat less calories than you expend.  If you want to get in shape, physically and physiologically, you are going to have to exercise.  But Steeeeeve, you just said that will make me lazy and hungry.  Yessss Jedi, but the force is strong in you. Here is the good news…

Trick Your System
How can I diet without slowing my metabolism down or losing energy?  We must retrain our bodies so that energy is constantly being deposited.  If your body will always have dietary energy, small meals being deposited, then your  body will have less need to store energy for long periods.  This takes work to “trick” your body because energy storage is primal, and it feels so good to indulge.  Try eating 5-6 small meals a day.  Stay away from foods that will spike your blood sugar and require your pancreas to secrete large amounts of insulin, as this gives your body momentum to store energy for longer periods of time… (as fat).   Stay away from foods that are high in carbohydrates, like breads, starches and sugars.

How can I benefit from exercise and not end up eating a horse?
If you pair exercise with decreasing your caloric intake you will be amazed at the response you will have.  Diet and exercise together will give you exponential results, and you will find yourself skinnier, toned, and in great physiological shape.  But how? “Steve you just said I’d eat more if I exercise”.

The skinny.
In the same fashion you eat when you diet, 5-6 small meals per day, and keeping your food choices responsible, with very little breads, starches and sugars, your body will feel more satisfied more often.  Your blood sugar will start to become very stable and less distressed triggering the hypothalamus to request food, or your pancreas to secrete insulin.  Eating more often is easier on your digestive system, increases circulation to the brain, and preserves muscles mass just to name a few phenomenal things you can start to expect.  So please please, diet to lose weight, exercise to get into shape, but put these two disciplines together and be amazed at how you can look and feel.


About Steve Pfiester

Certified CrossFit, TRX, Kettlebell Athletics Trainer with a B.S. in Physical Therapy. Owner of Longevity Max Fitness and BCx Boot Camp.

Posted on January 7, 2012, in BLOG VOMIT, Diet, IN MY HEAD, Motivation, NUTRITION, Reality Check, Ugly Truth, Uncategorized, WEIGHT LOSS and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. love this post!! great examples & so true!

  2. It’s crazy how some of us KNOW the facts about diet and excercise as you explained…however we tend to still look at food ALLLL wrong, and cardio for that matter. I am constantly having to reprogram my brain. It’s so easy to slip away from what you know and pick up old habits. As time goes on, bad habits get less frequent as long as we NEVER give up on ourselves …. in other words “Just keep getting back up” That’s where I’ve seen so many people stay in bodies that they hate, when they fail to keep trying……

  3. buff Yoda for the WIN!
    balance, balance, balance.

  4. I just saw Jillian Michaels’ tour and she talked about this as well. The only thing she disagreed with was the 5-6 small meals a day, she suggested 3 normal meals and a snack in the afternoon. She also said you MUST know your BMR (not BMI) in order to maintain or lose weight, calorie counting is a must, and interval training is your best calorie buster. I think you did a great job of explaining this to people! I’ve implemented watching my calorie intake over the past 10 days and have already lost 3 lbs in conjunction with working out. Do I feel the lack of energy? Absolutely, but it’s bikini season and overcoming being tired for 2 weeks will pay off. 🙂 Your body gets used to the lack of energy and will start burning your fat stores and everything will go back to normal, but you’ll be smaller and more fit! Thanks for the post!

    Donna @

  5. Definitely needed to hear (read) this. Thanks for a great post!

  6. Hi Steve i really enjoy your blog and Bonnies, i have a question about calorie intake. I definitely want to eat more and usually do when i train harder. I track my calorie intake on myFittness pal and i usually add my workouts to the app which ups my calorie intake allotment. How accurate are these apps and what is the recommended calorie range for a 29 year old lady who currently training for a marathon, strength trains and does crossfit? Thanks!

    • I have found that the apps are incredibly helpful but also dangerous. I have adjusted some of my clients calories way below standard bc measurement and app calculations seem to be inflated. So based on their apps and measurement I may tell them to eat 900 calories… when what I am really saying is eat 900 the way you are calculating them. as far as how many calories you should eat will be based on your bmr and caloric expenditure, and then how you want to look an perform. If you are training with intensity at X-fit and longer runs you can def eat a little more and what you eat can be a little more carby. But my recommendations are more fat than carbs and more protein than fat. Calories are going to be… eat as few as you can and still perform at your best. Sorry so ambiguous… just hard to be exact

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