Are Your Vigorous Workouts Stalling Your Progress?


Published: April 26, 2016


HIIT and vigorous workout regimes like it have been all the rage lately and for good reason. They are an amazing way to get a fantastic workout in a short amount of time. Also, when these types of workouts are done right, they can challenge your body in ways that you didn’t think possible while leveling up your workout prowess and your results. But as with everything it is possible to have too much of a good thing.

HIIT workouts, when programmed correctly, will get you results. But the same HIIT workouts that you’ve come to love and depend on for the results you’re working so hard to get can keep you from reaping the benefits of your hard work.

The Impact

HIIT’s Impact on Your Cells

Fat loss is a lot about what’s going on in your body on a cellular level. When you’re eating too much food, you’re giving your cells more energy than they need to keep your organs and organ systems going. And the excess energy gets stored as fat. But for your cells to take up the energy that they need, they need to be in prime working condition. This means you’re not just beating yourself up at the gym, but you’re eating the highest quality nutrition that you have access to and can afford. It also means that your cells are no-more damaged than usual.

Consistent HIIT without a break can sabotage your results at this cellular level because excessive intense workouts without the needed rest can lead to cellular oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is defined as the total toll that free radicals that are released in the course of your daily life can take on your body. Your body has it’s own mechanism from preventing this from being an issue long-term, but your HIIT habit might short circuit these mechanisms if you’re not eating a healthy diet and are not resting sufficiently.

HIIT’s Impact on Your Hunger Levels

Fat loss is also about shifting your energy balance to where you’re eating a healthy diet that gives your body the high quality nutrition it needs in a lower calorie package. And exercise is one way to shift this energy balance without cutting your calories too much. But the relationship between exercise and weight loss is about so much more than burning calories. Have you noticed that you might get hungrier on the days you do intense workouts? Well this nuanced relationship is at play here.

The physical demand that intense workouts can put on your body after a workout goes beyond the initial calorie burn. If you’re working out intensely, you’re burning calories during and after your workout. This is what is called EPOC (Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption). And it is normally a great thing, but only if you fuel for it. Fueling for the calorie burn during exercise and EPOC requires that you’re eating the right nutrients i.e. whole foods that give your body the nutrients and energy and not just lower calorie foods.

So if you’re just focused on cutting calories and are not considering the quality of the calories that you are eating, you will feel hungrier because your body needs more energy.

The Fix

Recover Appropriately

One fix to managing the effect of exercise induced oxidative stress would be to give your body enough rest and recovery time. If you’re nervous about cutting out workout sessions, just change up what you’re doing. This might mean taking one or two days a week from your current HIIT sessions and using them for recovery workouts like walking or hatha yoga.

Eat to Fuel Your Intense Workouts

Exercise burns calories yes, but the way your body works will require that you add back those calories somehow. To do this, it’s best to fuel with high quality calories, and I’m not referring to the price here but the content. Quality calories include foods like non-starchy vegetables, animal or plant protein, healthy fats, starchy vegetables and whole grains. If your eating pattern consists of mostly these foods in quantities that don’t leave you feeling overfed, you will be eating a naturally lower calorie diet that supports intense activity and weight loss.

I want you to look at your workout schedule, is it packed with high intensity workouts and vigorous activities from calendar wall to calendar wall? Or do you make time for the leisure activities that will help minimize the impact of exercise stress on your body? Making the time for recovery, even active recovery, can help you make sure that your hard work pays off.

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About Ejiro Ogenyi

EJ (Ejiroghene) is a Lifestyle Coach and owner of the Team by EJ Ogenyi LLC. She helps busy women lose weight without taking their eyes off their other priorities - their families, their careers, their wallets, and their lives. She is a Certified Personal Trainer and Nutrition Coach and she enjoys bringing her skills and her experience losing weight herself to the awesome task of helping her clients create healthy lives and bodies that they absolutely love. She is also a wife and mama to a beautiful little boy.

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