Thursday, January 26, 2017

Combat Vitamin D Deficiency And Use It To Create An Advantage


Vitamin D is one supplement that’s been getting some well-deserved attention in recent years. Numerous studies and research have come out that suggest that sufficient vitamin D intake is linked with increased aerobic capacity, muscle growth, strength and bone density as well as decreased recovery time with exercise [1].

Not only that, but a vitamin D deficiency has been linked to an increased risk of bone disorders, depression, and even cancer. In an ironic twist, despite the highly sought after effects that having adequate vitamin D levels can provide, the vast majority of people have a vitamin D deficiency.

What’s even worse is that getting sufficient vitamin D intake for optimal health benefits is near impossible through a proper diet alone and using a specific vitamin D supplement and multi-vitamin may indeed be necessary. Even if one were to eat a remarkably balanced diet with a solid mix of fruits/vegetables/grains/meats/etc., it is still likely that they would wind up with a vitamin D deficiency. The best of the best IIFYM plans can’t even help you here.

How Common is Vitamin D Deficiency

A vitamin D deficiency is far more common than most people think, unfortunately, basically requiring supplementation in order to get the recommended amount. Research has shown that approximately 88.1% of the world population has a vitamin D deficiency (1).88.1%! You might as well round up and just say that EVERYONE has a vitamin D deficiency. Another study examined 20 people composing of 10 men and 10 women to determine any micronutrient deficiency [2].

Dialing in your diet is the first step to combating vitamin D deficiency, have one of our coaches create your Custom Macro Blueprint

The participants were composed of professional athletes, amateur athletes, and sedentary individuals. It turned out that among numerous other vitamin and minerals, a vitamin D deficiency was prevalent and was in fact, the most common vitamin deficiency out of all participants. 19 out of 20 people ended up having a vitamin D deficiency which helps prove the 88.1% statistic from earlier. One person even had as low as 1% of the recommended vitamin D intake in their diet… Wow! Truly staggering.



Overwhelming Results

It’s easy to see why taking a vitamin D supplement or at least a multi-vitamin is highly recommended in order to prevent a vitamin D deficiency. I’m sure there are some of you out there on an IIFYM plan built by one of our coaches, which incorporates a variety of foods. You may think you’re getting the required amount of vitamin D for max benefits through your diet. Well, it’s possible… But still highly unlikely. Another study was done analyzing the micro-nutrient percentages of four popular diet plans[3].

I recommend supplementing with around 2000-4000 IU per day in a couple divided doses.

To no surprise, it was found that ALL of them were deficient in vitamin D. Now I know these are diet plans that incorporate a lot of the same foods on a consistent basis unlike an ever-changing IIFYM approach, however they are also based around getting a balanced mix of all the food groups so for a vitamin D deficiency to occur in every single one still is something significant to consider.

Why is Vitamin D Crucial?

Now that we’ve established that most people have a vitamin D deficiency, you might be wondering why that’s even bad or why taking a supplement to reach adequate levels is necessary in the first place. As previously stated at the beginning of the article, a vitamin D deficiency has been linked to depression, bone disorders and an increased risk of cancer.

In addition to those side effects, it can also cause muscle weakness and catabolism to occur in muscle tissue [1]. I’m not a doctor or anything (so original right?), but those sound like circumstances to avoid. On the flip side, sufficient vitamin D levels can positively affect variables such as neurological function, exercise-induced inflammation, cardiovascular health, bone health, and glucose metabolism.

breastfeeding calories

That answers why a vitamin D deficiency is unfortunate from a general health standpoint, but some of you may still be wondering how vitamin D relates to performance and muscle function, though. I mean if most people are truly deficient then how come athletes have been able to accomplish some of the feats they’ve done even with a vitamin D deficiency? And all the people following IIFYM who still lost a lot of weight without taking a vitamin D supplement?

Surely it can’t be THAT important then. Wrong. Who’s to say that those athletes with a vitamin D deficiency couldn’t have performed even better if they had a sufficient intake? Or that those people who followed IIFYM to lose a lot of weight couldn’t have retained just a tiny bit more muscle or maintained better gym performance if they were taking a vitamin D supplement? Just because something works, doesn’t mean that something can’t work better.


vitamin d athletes


To Gain An Edge

Numerous studies have shown that taking a vitamin D supplement or multi-vitamin to raise vitamin D intake to adequate levels can improve proximal muscle strength, aerobic capacity, recovery, and testosterone levels[1]. Some studies have only shown positive effects to occur in individuals with a severe vitamin D deficiency and taking a vitamin D supplement provided no noticeable benefits for the people who already had high levels (4).

Regardless, there are still enough studies out there that support the notion of sufficient vitamin D intake helping out with various health and skeletal muscle functions no matter how small the benefits may be, so all the recent interest in vitamin D as a supplement is certainly justified.

It takes about 4000-5000 IU of vitamin D from all sources in order to optimize bone health and to experience the performance benefits that it can provide [1].

I’m not talking about insanely dramatic differences in athletic performance or anything such as that. Above all else, the athlete’s overall diet and training program will have a far greater effect on their performance than simply taking a supplement to help offset vitamin D deficiency.

However, at the highest levels of competition, minute details such as that can be the difference between 1st and 2nd place. To the physique competitor trying to turn pro or place in a pro show, or to the serious high school/college athlete that’s trying to take their game to the next level. Even to the non-athlete that simply wants to lose weight following an IIFYM plan, avoiding vitamin D deficiency by taking a vitamin D supplement and/or multi-vitamin will have a desirable effect on strength which in result will lead to more muscle retention over time.



The Sources of Vitamin D

There are essentially two ways in which we can acquire vitamin D; sunlight exposure and through a diet. There are various factors that affect the rate and synthesis of how vitamin D is absorbed through sunlight, so it’s hard to rely on sun exposure alone as a means to combat vitamin D deficiency.

If you live in a warm area where the sun is always out then your vitamin D levels will probably be higher than others, however, it’s still unlikely you’re getting the full recommended amount unless you’re outside a lot in a bathing suit. The winter months will pose even more of a challenge just due to less skin being exposed to sunlight, which there will already be less of in comparison to the warmer months.

Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of sunlight available at this time of the year in the Northern Hemisphere so let one your coaches build a Custom Macro Blueprint so you start implementing more vitamin D in your diet

Since sunlight exposure is an unreliable means that depends on too many variables, this leaves us with diet and supplementation as the other way to assist with vitamin D deficiency. Some of the foods that contain vitamin D include:

• Salmon and other fish
• Shiitake mushrooms
• Nutrient Dense Cereal
• Milk
• Fortified Yogurt
• Cheeses
• Egg Yolks
• Butter

There are some others, but these are a lot of the main sources. Initially, this may not look like a problem at all if you’re a follower of IIFYM and flexible dieting. Cereal is a popular carb source for IIFYM followers and more nutrient dense foods like fish and eggs are usually included on most meals plans and should be included on occasion in an IIFYM plan anyway.


vitamin d optimal


Achieving Optimal Intake Is Challenging, To Say the Least

However, the amount of vitamin D that these foods contain is, unfortunately, minimal making it challenging to still get the recommended amount even on a generously balanced IIFYM plan from one of our coaches. Let’s put everything into perspective here. It takes about 4000-5000 IU of vitamin D from all sources in order to optimize bone health and to experience the performance benefits that it can provide [1]. One cup of standard fortified cereal, as well as one cup of yogurt, contains roughly ~50 IU of vitamin D. Yet, one egg yolk contains even less than that.

Begin to optimize your bone health by diversifying your diet with a Custom Macro Blueprint

Even a well balanced IIFYM lifestyle or healthy meal plan will still have major problems in preventing a vitamin D deficiency. The only foods that contain a worthwhile amount of vitamin D are freshly caught wild salmon (canned and non-wild contain significantly less), cod liver oil (too much can be bad though due to excess vitamin A) and sun-dried shiitake mushrooms. Fresh wild salmon can provide as much as 1000 IU vitamin D while sun-dried mushrooms can provide up to 1600 IU.

If you’re catching and eating fresh salmon in the lake in your backyard and sun bathing your shiitake mushrooms in the sunlit meadow behind your house every day then I suppose it’s unlikely that you have a vitamin D deficiency. However, most people don’t have those luxuries so a vitamin D deficiency is highly probable and taking a multi-vitamin and/or vitamin D supplement to offset that will be required.

Is Taking a Vitamin D Supplement Necessary?

To live? No. To experience the full benefits that the recommended amount has been shown to provide? In my opinion yes. As previously explained it’s near impossible to avoid a vitamin D deficiency through diet alone. Even the most diverse IIFYM plan built by one of our coaches may not get the job done. To avoid a vitamin D deficiency, the most efficient and cost-effective way to do so is to take vitamin D supplement, even on top of a multi-vitamin. Most multi-vitamins don’t contain any more than 1000 IU of vitamin D which won’t be enough on its own so taking a specific vitamin D supplement will still be required.



The Solution

Depending on your diet and the vitamin D potency in your multi-vitamin, I would recommend supplementing with around 2000-4000 IU per day in a couple divided doses. This should easily allow you to reach around that ~5000 IU level which should be high enough to see the full benefits.

A vitamin D supplement ranges from $5-15 on average depending on the size you buy, and it should last you for months. It’s probably one of the cheapest supplements out there, even cheaper than creatine, so there’s really no reason not to take it.

Depending on your diet and the vitamin D potency in your multi-vitamin, I recommend supplementing with around 2000-4000 IU per day in a couple divided doses. This should easily allow you to reach around that ~5000 IU level which should be high enough to see the full benefits.

A vitamin D supplement ranges from $5-15 on average depending on the size you buy, and it should last you for months. It’s probably one of the cheapest supplements out there, even cheaper than creatine, so there’s really no reason not to take it.

Overview of Vitamin D

I hope this provided some insightful info about vitamin D and why taking a supplement to meet sufficient needs is highly recommended. To sum things ups:

• Vitamin D can provide numerous health and performance benefits as well as prevent various diseases
• Chances are you’re not getting enough vitamin D through diet alone, even on a well balanced IIFYM plan
• Taking a vitamin D supplement to experience its full effects is required
• It’s cheap and easy, so you should do it

The importance of vitamin D should not be overlooked. Whether you’re a serious athlete looking for any potential way to optimize performance, a normal person looking to stay in shape or just someone looking to maintain optimal health and disease prevention, vitamin D supplementation can benefit anyone and everyone.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Testosterone Supplements: 10 Ingredients Worth Your Attention


With so many testosterone supplements out there today, we at IIFYM decided to give you the goods when it comes to knowing what testosterone supplements work. If you’ve followed us for quite some time you know IIFYM does not recommend many products, yet we try to provide you with informative content such as providing you with macros with the IIFYM calculator.

While this article contains many different ingredients to look for, there are still more out there that studies are being conducted on. So, sit back and get ready for an informational content piece to help boost your potentially lagging natural testosterone levels.

*Before getting started, IIFYM and the author would like to point out that testosterone supplements are not for everyone and can have serious side effects to your overall health if not used as directed. IIFYM and the author recommend that you consult with your doctor before using any testosterone supplements. Also, IIFYM and the author does not support the use of testosterone supplements to anyone under the age of 18.

1) Forskolin

This herb is one that many people may have never heard of before but is one of the testosterone supplements that shows great merit. Forskolin has been shown to stimulate cAMP (cyclic adenosine monophosphate). cAMP acts as a messenger between cells and hormones in the body.

In one study, it was found that taking 10% Forskolin extract twice a day for 12 weeks yielded a 33% increase in testosterone levels compared to the placebo group [1].

breastfeeding calories

A separate study, done in-vitro found that Forskolin was able to boost testosterone as much as 200% in Leydig cells—mainly due to cAMP stimulation that Forskolin has been shown to enhance [2]. A final study16 found showed that Forskolin is an activator of androgen receptors. This alone gives off anabolic effects in the body, again thanks to cAMP [16].

2) Butea Superba

A herb that no one has really heard of before is Butea Superba. This herb has the ability to not only increase testosterone but also contains anti-estrogen compounds. Found mainly in Thailand, this herb is used by many men in that area to also increase their libido but some also use it in their regimen of testosterone supplements.

In one study using healthy men, Butea Superba was found to increase testosterone levels by as much as 11% [10].

What you will also find throughout this article are ingredients that have minimal amounts of studies surrounding them. For that reason, IIFYM and the author would like to see more research done on each to show they are indeed effective.



3) Ginger

This common spice is something many find in their homes already. While IIFYM is not recommending you simply start adding it to all of your dishes, the research shows some encouraging news when it comes to testosterone supplements.

One study in Iraq was shown to increase testosterone levels by 17% in infertile men [5]. While there wasn’t a group added to this study of non-infertile men, this still shows some promise as one of the testosterone supplements available. More research will need to be done, but luckily, ginger supplements are inexpensive.

At IIFYM, we try to help you live a healthy lifestyle to minimize the negative effects poor exercise and nutrition habits can have on the body. Our coaches are well equipped to help you with your body composition goals, often times that involves which supplements are most effective.

4) D-Aspartic Acid (D-AA)

D-AA is an amino acid that is naturally occurring. It, like Forskolin, is a messenger between Leydig cells and your brain. While more research on D-AA is needed, there are studies that are extremely promising when considering this in the lineup of testosterone supplements.

While none of the studies are done on healthy males, the findings are still encouraging when more research is conducted.

One study has shown that in as little as 12 days, D-AA can increase testosterone levels by as much as 44% [15]. My IIFYM friends, this can truly be beneficial if more science comes along showing its effectiveness. In the same study after using D-AA, they found the same individuals had a 22% increase in testosterone levels even after discontinuing the product.

5) Royal Jelly

Royal Jelly is a very dense liquid created by worker bees. This liquid actually contains a very small amount of testosterone along with other nutrients and enzymes. Generally, what happens in the world of bees is that when a new queen is brought in, the bees feed the larvae with Royal Jelly which in turn gives that particular larvae testosterone.

Testosterone supplement may provide an advantage with muscle building, but it all starts in the kitchen. Let our coaches provide you with a Custom Macro Blueprint for consistent results!

The Royal Jelly allows the new queen to live up to 40 times longer than a normal worker bee and allows the queen to grow around 60 times larger as well. At IIFYM, we like to call that an “alpha bee”. Should you add it to your list of testosterone supplements? Maybe. The research is pretty compelling.

One study on humans has shown Royal Jelly increased testosterone by as much as 20% in infertile men while a second study8 shows an increase of 14% in healthy men who were fertile [7].



6) ZMA

One of the most common testosterone supplements on this list is ZMA. This product is made up of zinc, magnesium, and vitamin B-6. Most commonly used at night-time as a sleep aid, this product also has the ability to boost testosterone levels in humans. Many people, especially athletes, are deficient in zinc and magnesium which can alter hormone profiles.

In a study using male athletes, a seven-week trial has shown to increase testosterone levels by as much as 30% [14]. Not only did the athletes get a boost in test, but they were also found to sleep better and have a 12% increase in strength.

I would highly recommend all my IIFYM peeps to consider this product, as it’s one of the most common supplements in our client’s regimen. While there are indeed mixed studies out there on ZMA, the benefits of using the product outweigh any negatives.

7) Mucuna Pruriens

If you have heard of Mucuna Pruriens, it probably wasn’t for being on the list of testosterone supplements. Mucuna Pruriens has been known to help improve libido. However, this little gem also increases dopamine which has been shown to stimulate testosterone production in men.

In a human study using healthy individuals, Tongkat Ali increased testosterone levels by around 37% [9].

One study has shown that continued use of Mucuna Pruriens for 90 days increased testosterone levels by 27% in healthy men and as much as 38% in infertile men [3]. A second study looking at just infertile men found that Mucuna Pruriens increased their testosterone levels by 38% showing Mucuna Pruriens to be one of the viable testosterone supplements available [4].

8) Shilajit

No, I didn’t sneeze—but thank you. You may have never heard of Shilajit, but you will soon—assuming companies can get their hands on this difficult to find ingredient. However, I have a feeling more companies will try to include this in their products in the near future. This Indian herbal medicine flies under the radar as it can only be found on the deep rocks of Himalaya.

On a study of infertile men, testosterone levels were increased by around 24%, showing that Shilajit belongs on the list of testosterone supplements that works [6]. More studies need to be produced on healthy men to see the true value of Shilajit.


ashwaghanda root testosterone


9) Tongkat Ali

This herbal extract is very well-known in Malaysia for its ability to help men with erections. That being said, it also has some testosterone boosting properties as well which lands it on our list of testosterone supplements. While the name might have you scratching your head, it’s more commonly known in the United States as Long Jack or Eurycoma Longifolia in some products.

In a human study using healthy individuals, Tongkat Ali increased testosterone levels by around 37% [9].

10) Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha is a herb you may have seen in a few different products in the industry. It’s mostly commonly used to reduce stress, however, it does have some testosterone boosting properties.

Supplements are meant to assist in the nutrition process, but our Custom Macro Blueprint will be the focal point of your dietary approach

There are three studies in particular that I found where Ashwagandha has increased testosterone with infertile men [11,12,13]. While none of the studies are done on healthy males, the findings are still encouraging when more research is conducted.

In Conclusion…

When it comes to testosterone supplements, there may be many, but the majority of them don’t have enough study based evidence to give a definitive answer on whether it boosts testosterone levels in men. Many of the studies that have been shown to increase testosterone are done on infertile men. The same studies using those ingredients need to be done on healthy men to know for sure if we can give it the IIFYM thumbs up.

For that reason, use the ingredients above with caution if at all. The science is there, but as we all know, science evolves and studies in the past can be invalid. Testosterone supplements aren’t going anywhere in the industry and will most likely be around forever. If you keep up with the science, you’ll be able to make a more informed decision on what testosterone supplements you want to try and what testosterone supplements you want to steer clear of.

If you have questions regarding IIFYM please feel free to click on the IIFYM FAQ tab on the website. Also, if you are looking for some great IIFYM guides, IIFYM recipes, or even IIFYM meal plans, check out the IIFYM programs available on the website.

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Friday, January 20, 2017

Cardio Exercise: What’s The Best Method For Fat Loss?


The new year is among us and with it many individuals are about to embark on a fat loss journey. However, many may be confused as to how to reach their fitness goals. They may be following an IIFYM approach to nutrition, but question what they should be doing in the gym.

Common questions related to cardio include:

“Should most of my time be spent focusing on cardio or weights?”
“If I am doing cardio and lifting weights which should I do first?”
“How much cardio should I be doing?”
“Should I eat before I do my cardio exercise?”

The purpose of this article is to address these and many other common questions associated with cardio to provide a framework to a cardio plan for successful fat loss.

Should I Focus on Cardio or Lifting Weights?

The cardio vs. weights dilemma is common amongst those beginning their fat loss journeys. So which should it be? To answer this question, let’s take a look at the scientific literature on this topic.

As a whole, many studies find that both cardio and weightlifting can both contribute to weight loss by helping to create a caloric deficit. However, weightlifting often results in a significantly greater change in body composition during weight loss compared with cardio alone. In fact, a recent meta-analysis of over 200 studies on diet and exercise concluded that while adding exercise to a hypocaloric diet improves body composition, not all exercise is created equal.

Intensity of cardio has no effect on fat loss, yet a recent meta-analysis has found that high-intensity cardio interferes less with muscle size and strength gains than lower-intensity forms of cardio [2].

Resistance training was found to be more effective than endurance training for body composition change. Moreover, the change in body composition was greatest when resistance training is performed progressively utilizing whole body and free weight exercises with loads > 75% 1RM [1].

Based on these findings it is clear that for an individual aiming for a maximal change in body composition, progressive weight lifting needs to be the focus in the gym. However, that does not mean that cardio is completely worthless. Cardio can be a great tool for helping to create a greater caloric deficit and keep weight loss moving. The remainder of this article will focus on how to create the most effective cardio plan for your fat loss goals.


How much cardio exercise is needed


How Much Cardio Exercise?

Weight is lost when energy expenditure exceeds energy intake. Therefore, to lose weight an individual needs to reduce daily caloric intake and/or increase activity.

In fact, cardio is never actually “required” to see weight loss.

However, for many individuals creating an energy deficit large enough to see loss may require a caloric intake that may not be comfortable or sustainable. Therefore, increasing activity in the form of cardio may be beneficial in order to help create an energy deficit. This may allow the individual to eat a bit more food, likely increasing consistency with their nutrition plan.

Could I Create My Entire Deficit Through Cardio Without Lowering My Macros?

Technically yes; however, that may not be in the best interest of maximizing muscle retention during a fat loss phase. A meta-analysis examining the effects of adding cardio to a resistance training plan found that the more cardio an individual performs and the longer the duration of the cardio sessions the more it interferes with muscle size and strength gains [2].

Although exercise is crucial, changing your body composition starts with nutrition. Let us build your ideal diet approach with a Custom Macro Blueprint!

This is not what someone looking to lift heavy weights and hold onto muscle mass while dieting wants to hear! Moreover, a more recent study suggested that the interference effect of cardio on strength training gains may increase the more advanced an individual is in the weight room [3].

So Does This Mean I Shouldn’t Do Cardio?

I wouldn’t take it that far. Cardio can be an effective tool along with a reduced caloric intake for creating an energy deficit resulting in weight loss, our coaches usually suggest cardio for those that are pushing to cut their last few pounds while toning. However, based upon this data it may be advisable for those looking to maximize muscle retention during a fat loss phase to keep cardio as low as necessary to see an appropriate rate of weight loss (roughly 0.5 – 1.0 % of body weight weekly for those aiming to maximize muscle retention [4]).


high intensity cardio exercise


What Type of Cardio?

If you look around the gym, you will see gym-goers performing a wide array of cardio modalities ranging from walking at an incline to taking fitness classes to doing a kettlebell circuit and many others.

Which of These is Best?

Fortunately, there is no evidence that any one type of cardio is superior for fat loss over any other cardio modality. Find something you enjoy and do it!

However, it may be in your best interest to schedule your cardio to maximize performance during resistance training. A recent study recruited 11 resistance-trained men and had them perform a full body workout when fresh or after 1 of 4 different types of cardiovascular exercise (a 45min slow run, a 20 min moderate intensity run, high-intensity sprint intervals or an uphill run) in a crossover design [5]. What they found is that all forms of cardio reduced performance in the weight lifting session performed immediately after with squat seeing the largest decrease in performance immediately following lower body cardio.

cardio fat loss

Therefore, if you are going to lift weights and do cardio exercise within the same session, be sure you are lifting weights first to maximize performance.

What about intensity? If you look at the person walking uphill on the treadmill and the person on the spin bike next to them doing sprint intervals, the individual on the bike clearly appears to be working harder. However, which approach is best?

Oftentimes individuals will do cardio exercises at lower intensities because a greater percentage of fatty acids are oxidized for energy during lower intensity forms of exercise, whereas a greater percentage of carbohydrates are oxidized during higher intensity forms of exercise. When we are dealing with our clients, we choose the best cardio for your lifestyle and goals.

However, studies have found that low-intensity cardio exercise does not result in more fat burned throughout the day due to higher intensity forms of cardio exercise increasing fat oxidation post-workout [6, 7]. Therefore, the “fat burning” heart rate zone that so many people target during cardio truly doesn’t result in a more efficient fat loss.


best cardio exercise for fat loss


What’s the Benefit of High-Intensity Cardio Exercise?

Although the intensity of cardio has no effect on fat loss, a recent meta-analysis has found that high-intensity cardio interferes less with muscle size and strength gains than lower-intensity forms of cardio [2]. This is likely due to higher intensity forms of cardio exercise resulting in muscle adaptations that are more related to weightlifting than lower intensity cardio. It also suggests that higher intensity forms of cardio should be performed by those looking to maximize muscle retention during a fat loss phase.

Non-exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT) – Calories burned from all other activity during daily life.

One item that is often overlooked is that high-intensity cardio exercise is more demanding and difficult to recover from. In addition, it may also increase the risk of injury, especially in those who have a history of joint issues.

Therefore, for maximum muscle retention during a fat loss phase, an individual should perform high-intensity cardio if possible. However, if doing so interferes with lifting performance and recovery, lower-intensity forms of cardio exercise are recommended. Ultimately, the intensity of cardio that allows an individual to stay consistent with their exercise plan, expend enough energy to create a calorie deficit and recover to keep performance high during weight lifting will be best for that person.

Should I Do Cardio Exercise Fasted?

Many individuals perform cardio exercise first thing in the morning in a fasted state because they believe it will burn more body fat, but is this true? Should we all be doing cardio first thing in the morning before eating to maximize fat loss?

Looking at the scientific literature, fasted- and fed-state cardio exercise has shown to burn the same number of calories per session [8, 9].

Whether you perform fasted or fed state cardio exercise, you need to make sure that your nutrition post workout is on point. Have one of our coaches create a Custom Macro Blueprint built for your lifestyle

A recent interventional study compared the effects of 3hrs of fasted-state cardio vs. 3hrs fed-state cardio during a weight loss trial in young women. After 1 month both groups lost body weight and body fat; however, there were no differences between groups [10].

Taken together, these studies suggest that there is no significant difference between doing cardio before breakfast or after a meal. Whether cardio is performed in the fasted- or fed-state should be based upon individual preference.


cardio exercise helps weight loss


What You Need to Know About NEAT

To this point, our discussion of physical activity during a fat loss phase has focused on formal cardio sessions performed in the gym; however, activity performed outside of the gym also plays a large role energy balance.

Total daily energy expenditure (the number of calories burned daily) is the sum of:
– Resting Metabolic Rate – The number of calories burned at rest to keep you alive.
– Exercise Activity Thermogenesis – The number of calories burned during exercise. By increasing the amount of formal cardio an individual does during a fat loss phase they are increasing their exercise activity thermogenesis.
– Thermic Effect of Food – Roughly 10 percent of calories consumed is expended to digest and absorb that food.
– Non-exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT) – Calories burned from all other activity during daily life.

Let our coaches dial in your Macro Blueprint based on your TDEE, taking into account all of your daily activities!

NEAT includes calories burned through involuntary activities like fidgeting, which can differ greatly from person to person [11]. It also includes activity performed while at work, grocery shopping, doing housework and any other activity performed outside of the gym.

When an individual enters a calorie deficit, the body adapts to prevent excessive weight loss in an attempt to maintain homeostasis and stay alive. One of the ways the body adapts is by reducing NEAT [12].

Some of the reduction in NEAT occurs through a decrease of involuntary activities like fidgeting which we have no control over. However, some also occur through the feeling of sluggishness that accompanies a caloric deficit resulting in an individual being less active during daily life.

Therefore, it is important to maintain physical activity levels during daily life throughout a fat loss phase in order to help prevent a large decline in NEAT and maintain a calorie deficit.

Take Home Points

– Cardio is a tool that can help create an energy deficit along with a reduced caloric intake. To preserve muscle mass, the focus of the time spent in the gym during a fat loss phase should be resistance training.

– Aim to do the least amount of formal cardio necessary to achieve an appropriate rate of weight loss.

– There is no “best” cardio for fat loss. Find a type of cardio exercise you enjoy and incorporate variety to keep things fun.

– If you do cardio and weightlifting within the same session, lift weights first.

– Fasted cardio is not superior to fed-state cardio for fat loss. Whether cardio exercise is performed before breakfast or after a meal should be based on personal preference.

– Remain active outside of the gym during your cut to help reduce declines in energy expenditure through NEAT.



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