Fitness has many health benefits from better cardiovascular health and better muscle tone to decreasing symptoms of anxiety and depression and cranking up your sex drive. Yet, there are some fitness facts and stats that are totally counterintuitive but nevertheless true, and not all of us have heard of them. Let’s take just four of them and have a closer look.
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Fasted Training Is Better than Eating Before Workout
Contrary to popular belief and past research, fasted training can better help you reach your fitness and weight loss goals than the eating-before-workout habit. New research has found that (surprisingly) training on empty boosts aerobic capacity and the fat burning process.
Experts recommend fasted workouts to be done before breakfast, but they can be safely done later in the day if some rules are applied. While most fasted-training adepts, though, prefer working out in the morning for convenience, if you time your meals correctly you can boost your workout’s efficiency in the afternoon or evening too.
For instance, if you train hard on empty early in the morning and eat afterwards, in a later training session, you’d still be in “low carbohydrate availability” because your body wasn’t able to fully restore the lost carbs in the earlier session. So, your second training session will count as a fasted training too.
However, if your fitness goal is muscle building steer clear of fasted training because, during intense workouts like weightlifting, your body might start tapping your muscle protein stores for fuel and cause you to shed precious lean muscle.
Also, fasted training is not recommended if you’re into intense or long training sessions, as your body will fail to reach maximum performance and fully recover, so you’ll feel sorer after such workout. This can take a heavy toll on your morale and overall workout routine. Instead, this type of training is excellent for weight loss.
Experts recommend fasted training for short cardio sessions at a steady pace like a 40-to-45-min morning jog. However, don’t train on an empty stomach for more than one hour (if you are a beginner) or 90 minutes (if you’re advanced). And eat within 20-30 minutes after ending each session.
Dropping Fat Intake Too Much Can Wreck Your Health
If you’ve just embarked on a fitness journey in hopes of losing weight, you may want to eliminate fat from your diet as much as you can. Yet, if it is not done right, it can negatively impact your body in the long run. Your body needs fat for fuel, hormone production, immune function, joint lubrication, and muscle building.
Ironically, after the U.S. released its low-fat guidelines in 1977 something strange happened: obesity rates among the U.S. population skyrocketed.
Experts who have tried to explain the paradox believe that most people started to regularly consume low-fat foods felt like they had a license to gorge on refined carbs and added sugar (as only fat was bad, according to the detox guidelines). Another possible explanation is that, after the dietary policy change, people got flooded with low-fat junk food and they lacked the education to balance their diets.
But the major drawback of cutting dietary fat is linked to this nutrient’s ability to control the production of insulin and other hormones. Low-fat diets can be unproductive as they can up the risk of type 2 diabetes, gut issues, cognitive dysfunction, and even weight gain.
Cardio Alone Can’t Help You Burn Fat
There’s a scientific reason why you won’t lose all those extra pounds with cardio alone. According to multiple studies, if you train at 65% of your body’s maximum heart rate or more, i.e. you are working ‘hard,’ your body’s capacity to burn fat will be impaired. By contrast, low-intensity workouts have been proven to help burn more fat than high-intensity cardio.
In addition, if the only type of workout you are doing is cardio, your body will gradually adapt to it and start burning fewer calories. This is the reason so many people who have taken up biking or running as a way of losing weight eventually come up against a wall. In some cases, those people start gaining weight after some time.
One more reason cardio alone will not help you reach your weight loss goals is that high-intensity cardio can trim away muscle mass. And since more muscles help the body burn more calories, you’ll experience a reduced calorie burn.
Experts recommend mixing cardio with low-to-moderate exercise to prevent your body from adapting to your workout routine. For instance, you can brisk walk on day one, train on a stationary bike the next day, do some jump rope or weight training on the third day, and so on.
Too Much Exercise Can Kill Your Sex Drive
Contrary to a growing body of research which shows that staying physically active can boost sexual desire, function, and satisfaction in both men and women, new research suggests that too much exercise can wreck your sex life.
According to a 2017 study from the University of North Carolina, men who trained at low intensities were seven times more likely to report a satisfactory sex life than their peers who worked out at the highest intensities. In other words, active men who trained the hardest were more likely to kill their libido than their less motivated peers.
Researchers explained that during intense workouts the male body’s testosterone production is suppressed. Another reason for this might be that intense workout can boost mental and physical fatigue which naturally cuts the desire for sex. Regardless of the reason, science has spoken: training strenuously can crush your sex drive.
When it comes to fitness, not all that seems common sense or mainstream belief is also true. Fortunately, scientists are constantly coming up with new findings that debunk what may put a damper on our fitness goals and well-being. So, stay informed and train smart not hard!
This post was written by Luke S. Mitchell. He is an MS Undergraduate in Sports Journalism and manager of Exercise Bikes Expert. He is interested not only in the mind-body relationship and how motivation shapes our bodies but also in how we draw energy just from one simple yet powerful thought. You can find him on Facebook and Twitter.
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