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PostPosted: Sat Aug 21, 2010 11:09 am 
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I started working out with a trainer in May with my goals being to improve my cardio and also increase my lean muscle. At the time, I was 102 lbs at 5'3 with 11% body fat. I'm a 34 y/o female.

For 2 months we focused on weight training entirely. I would do 1 hr of weights with him and then do 25 min of cardio on the elliptical - average intensity 3 times a week. I began eating protein at every meal and started eating a larger breakfast (oatmeal and fruit) on the advice of my trainer. Although I didn't check my body fat percentage in those 2 months I do know that my weight didn't change.

I was then on vacation for 3 weeks and when I went back to training he switched my workouts from weights to cardio. In the last 3 weeks, I've been doing cardio for 1 hr, 3 times a week with him and once a week on my own where I really push myself on the elliptical doing intervals. In 3 weeks I've gained 4 lbs and my body fat percentage has gone up to 14%.

I know a few pounds shouldn't concern me but it does because it's not normal for me to gain weight like this. My trainer seemed dumbfounded as well but then suggested that I'm not eating enough carbs to keep up with my cardio so my body is now storing fat to make up for it.

Does this make sense to anyone? Is he right or is there something else I'm doing wrong here? My diet hasn't changed, i.e., I'm not eating more or less, I'm still eating protein and I'm not pregnant.

Any thoughts would be very much appreciated! :grin:


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 21, 2010 12:01 pm 
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OOH YEAH!!
a third female member!!!!
Helena's message for more female members has worked!
:notworthy:

On a more related note, BS advice from the trainer.
And I read somewhere on T-nation that cardio can indeed make you fatter, but I do not know the context anymore, so don't just stop doing cardio.
And add in the weight training again.

I'll let the rest of the bunch tackle the questions more deeply cause my brain function is impaired at the moment.

(And for the mods: Isn't this question better moved to the general section cause it's more about workouts than it is a pure diet question? More people will check it and offer their advice.)


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 21, 2010 1:08 pm 
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rottenapple wrote:
My trainer seemed dumbfounded as well but then suggested that I'm not eating enough carbs to keep up with my cardio so my body is now storing fat to make up for it.


That is the weirdest explanation I've ever heard. If you're not eating enough carbs to keep up with your cardio, you will lose weight, simple as that. You can only store fat in an excess of calories. Generally, eating carbs will cause more fat storage because of the hormonal response. Minimise carbs as much as you can, there's no real need to eat much carbs if you're looking to lose weight. If you do feel the need to eat them, then try to aim for before or after your workout, or in the morning for breakfast. During these times the carbs will stored in your muscles/liver or utilised for energy, but you wanna be burning predominantly fat not carbs for energy so the less carbs you eat, the more fat you will be burning.

Fat storage is increased in a high carb diet so I'd just stick to minimising carbs and making sure you get plenty of fats and protein (if you do feel the need to eat carbs, watch fat intake). If you do this you will find that your appetite just goes, and you will never really get hunger cravings because your blood sugar's going to be a lot steadier.

Look on the diet sticky for some good low carb ideas of snacks and meals.


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 21, 2010 1:25 pm 
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Your heavy cardio may be increasing your appetite so you're eating more subconsiously. It's probably the lack of strength training that is shifting the weight from lean to fat since your body needs a reason to hold on to the muscle. I would suggest that you cut the cardio back to 3 intense sessions of 20-30 minutes each and get more consistent with the strength training. Your intense cardio sessions should get your heart to about 85% or more. This is not the just-talk level, working this hard sucks. Along with that do about 30-40 minutes of light pleasurable activity a day as stress release. get out of the gym for this. Walk in a park or do gardening or play a game.


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 21, 2010 1:54 pm 
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rottenapple wrote:
I started working out with a trainer in May with my goals being to improve my cardio and also increase my lean muscle. At the time, I was 102 lbs at 5'3 with 11% body fat. I'm a 34 y/o female.


A bodyfat percentage of 11 is pretty lean for a woman. Going below 10% bodyfat in conjunction with a heavy duty exercise program might lead to menstrual irregularities in a woman of childbearing age. Is your training goal worth taking that risk?

It's also possible that the earlier bodyfat measurement was erroneously low. Don't place too much stock on any single measurement

rottenapple wrote:
My trainer seemed dumbfounded as well but then suggested that I'm not eating enough carbs to keep up with my cardio so my body is now storing fat to make up for it.

Does this make sense to anyone?


No, it doesn't.

Most likely the heavy cardio is depressing the amount of muscle-promoting testosterone that you're secreting (and yes, women DO secrete some testosterone, though not nearly as much as men do) while increasing the amount of cortisol. Among other things, cortisol wastes muscle and increases fat storage. You don't want that.

Cut the length of your cardio sessions if your intention is to build muscle. Muscle building is enough of a chore for women without a 800# cardio monkey on your back. Do interval training of 15-20 minutes rather than long slow distance cardio sessions of an hour or more.

And you would do well to avoid junk carbs (sugars, refined flours and white rice) as much as possible. The only exception is if you drink a simple carb/protein shake within 30 minutes after working out. A 3:1 or 4:1 ratio of carbs:protein (especially whey protein) works out well.


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 21, 2010 3:13 pm 
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rottenapple wrote:
I started working out with a trainer in May with my goals being to improve my cardio and also increase my lean muscle. At the time, I was 102 lbs at 5'3 with 11% body fat. I'm a 34 y/o female.


rottenapple,

First of all, exactly how did you determine you are 11%? I question that number.

Secondly, 11% for a woman is extremely low.

Quote:
For 2 months we focused on weight training entirely. I would do 1 hr of weights with him and then do 25 min of cardio on the elliptical - average intensity 3 times a week. I began eating protein at every meal and started eating a larger breakfast (oatmeal and fruit) on the advice of my trainer. Although I didn't check my body fat percentage in those 2 months I do know that my weight didn't change.

I was then on vacation for 3 weeks and when I went back to training he switched my workouts from weights to cardio. In the last 3 weeks, I've been doing cardio for 1 hr, 3 times a week with him and once a week on my own where I really push myself on the elliptical doing intervals. In 3 weeks I've gained 4 lbs and my body fat percentage has gone up to 14%.


Once again, how do you know that your body fat percentage is 14%? What protocol are you using to measure it?

If your body fat percentage was 11% at one time, that would mean you had 11.22 lb of fat (102 X 11% =11.22).

If your body fat percentage is 14% that would mean you have 14.84 lbs of fat (102 + 4 lb weight gain = 106 X 14% = 14.84)

Thus, 3.62 lbs of you 4 lb weight gain would have been fat. (14.84 - 11.22 = 3.62).

That make NO sense. I question those body fat percentages readings.

I don't understand the reasoning for dropping your weight training completely and performing all cardio.

I question the need for an hour of cardio, as well. Exactly, what it the reasoning for a hour of cardio?

Quote:
I know a few pounds shouldn't concern me but it does because it's not normal for me to gain weight like this. My trainer seemed dumbfounded as well but then suggested that I'm not eating enough carbs to keep up with my cardio so my body is now storing fat to make up for it.


Like everyone here has posted, that makes NO sense. Decreasing carb intake does NOT create fat storage!

Quote:
Does this make sense to anyone? Is he right or is there something else I'm doing wrong here? My diet hasn't changed, i.e., I'm not eating more or less, I'm still eating protein and I'm not pregnant.


I suspect that you body fat percentage reading are INCORRECT. Very few individuals or devices are able to provide accurate body fat percentage readings.

Even under the right conditions, there is a plus or minus factor with EVERY body fat percentage reading taken.

Kenny Croxdale


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 21, 2010 3:25 pm 
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Yea, I have to question the 11 and 14% figures. However if you are a figure girl or bodybuilder and trying to get ripped for a contest, than maybe. For a woman 10% is contest shape. 14, is typically the lowest you can maintain for any length of time.

Cardio can make you gain fat by stimulating appetite. If you can get ripped eating oatmeal and fruit in the morning, you excellent genetics and don't need to worry about that sort of thing. Just go back to what you were doing before and you'll be fine.


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 21, 2010 4:39 pm 
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Thanks for your reply! The body fat measurement was done using bio-impedance analysis. I know it's not perfect but I would expect it be somewhere around where I'm actually at. I'm naturally lean.

I believe my trainer decided to switch things up because I told him that I wanted to improve my cardio performance. However, I do agree with you that it doesn't really make sense to drop the weights altogether. I have a feeling I may not have chosen the best trainer.

In any case, I'll be doing weights on my own and decreasing my cardio and hopefully this balances things out a bit.



Kenny Croxdale wrote:
rottenapple,

First of all, exactly how did you determine you are 11%? I question that number.

Secondly, 11% for a woman is extremely low.


Once again, how do you know that your body fat percentage is 14%? What protocol are you using to measure it?

If your body fat percentage was 11% at one time, that would mean you had 11.22 lb of fat (102 X 11% =11.22).

If your body fat percentage is 14% that would mean you have 14.84 lbs of fat (102 + 4 lb weight gain = 106 X 14% = 14.84)

Thus, 3.62 lbs of you 4 lb weight gain would have been fat. (14.84 - 11.22 = 3.62).

That make NO sense. I question those body fat percentages readings.

I don't understand the reasoning for dropping your weight training completely and performing all cardio.

I question the need for an hour of cardio, as well. Exactly, what it the reasoning for a hour of cardio?

I suspect that you body fat percentage reading are INCORRECT. Very few individuals or devices are able to provide accurate body fat percentage readings.

Even under the right conditions, there is a plus or minus factor with EVERY body fat percentage reading taken.

Kenny Croxdale


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 21, 2010 5:31 pm 
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rottenapple wrote:
I told him that I wanted to improve my cardio performance.


Welcome to the forum. I usually either answer first or after everyone else has, since I live on the "back side" of the world, and I've been sleeping while the others chime in.

I really agree with what the others have said. You have gotten really goofy advice from your trainer. I promise you that if you increase your carbs while you keep everything else consistent you will gain fat.

I wanted to specifically address your comment above, since it's a pretty common sort of statement. I don't want to judge whether or not this is a good thing, but I want you to really think through what you said, and then decide for yourself if you mean it.

This is important: WHY do you want to improve your "cardio performance"?
-Do you do a sport (or other activity) that requires a high level of conditioning and endurance? Then great! This should be a primary goal of training.
-Do you specifically enjoy the cardio activity that you are doing? Do you really love the elliptical? (please notice the sarcasm) If so, great! This too can be a good reason to make time on the elliptical a priority. It is more common for people to run or in-line skate or bicycle because they love to do those things.
-Are you doing this much cardio to "burn" fat? If so, there are better ways to do it. And besides, why would you want to burn fat? You're already very lean!
-Are you doing this much cardio because it is "healthy"? If so, you (and probably your trainer) have been deceived by the "common wisdom". "Everyone" now just accepts that cardio improves general health, and that the more the better. Not true. 4 hours of cardio per week will not improve your general health any more than 20-30 minutes 2-3 times per week.

If you don't have a "good" reason to do that much cardio, don't feel guilty about cutting it out.

You need the weights.

You need a new trainer.


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 22, 2010 7:33 am 
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Thank you for the reply and the welcome. :smile:

You make some excellent points and you're right, I don't love the elliptical! There are 2 reasons I wanted to improve my cardio:

1) General health. There is a lot of heart disease in my family and I'm not getting any younger.
2) I enjoy pushing myself to see how far I can go/how much I can do. This applies to many things in life, not just cardio.

But you are right, in that my main reason was for health. I think I will cut back a bit on the cardio and do more weights.



Jungledoc wrote:

I wanted to specifically address your comment above, since it's a pretty common sort of statement. I don't want to judge whether or not this is a good thing, but I want you to really think through what you said, and then decide for yourself if you mean it.

This is important: WHY do you want to improve your "cardio performance"?
-Do you do a sport (or other activity) that requires a high level of conditioning and endurance? Then great! This should be a primary goal of training.
-Do you specifically enjoy the cardio activity that you are doing? Do you really love the elliptical? (please notice the sarcasm) If so, great! This too can be a good reason to make time on the elliptical a priority. It is more common for people to run or in-line skate or bicycle because they love to do those things.
-Are you doing this much cardio to "burn" fat? If so, there are better ways to do it. And besides, why would you want to burn fat? You're already very lean!
-Are you doing this much cardio because it is "healthy"? If so, you (and probably your trainer) have been deceived by the "common wisdom". "Everyone" now just accepts that cardio improves general health, and that the more the better. Not true. 4 hours of cardio per week will not improve your general health any more than 20-30 minutes 2-3 times per week.

If you don't have a "good" reason to do that much cardio, don't feel guilty about cutting it out.

You need the weights.

You need a new trainer.


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 22, 2010 9:06 am 
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Work on the intensity of your workouts, not the volume. Some heavy duty sprints will keep you young far more than hours of elipticals.


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 22, 2010 12:48 pm 
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I agree. Sprints can increase lung capacity as well. Also keep in mind, weights get your heart beating pretty fast too. So your cardiovascular system gets worked on every set.


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 22, 2010 1:07 pm 
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Perfect..thank you!!

Ironman wrote:
I agree. Sprints can increase lung capacity as well. Also keep in mind, weights get your heart beating pretty fast too. So your cardiovascular system gets worked on every set.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 23, 2010 5:57 am 
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I gained 40 pounds training for a marathon. It wasn't the cardio that did it. It was me eating everything in site because - hey I'm training for a marathon and I need energy.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 25, 2010 5:43 pm 
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Quote:
The body fat measurement was done using bio-impedance analysis. I know it's not perfect but I would expect it be somewhere around where I'm actually at. I'm naturally lean.


Unless they are using a dunk tank, the way they are measuring your bodyfat will have a greater margin of error than what you are seeing. Testing impedance will definitely have a margin of error of at least 5%

I'm assuming this is probably what you're seeing. Just keep in good shape -- if you try to be all analytical about it you're going to start worrying over things that don't matter, like a couple lbs or a couple percentage points of bodyfat when you're probably doing just fine.


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