Exercise and Fat Loss Revisited

Recently Matt Stone posted Does Exercise Work for Weight Loss? which details how his body responded to higher levels of exercise. He mentions two times when he got very lean using high levels of exercise and higher calories. The interesting part is what happened next.

…I had a substantial drop in resting body temperature (about 2 degrees F) with other signs of a reduced metabolic rate.

Followed by:

Then, when I stopped exercising so much at the end of the summer, I experienced a great deal of fatigue and rebound hunger, leading to a quick replenishment of my fat stores with usually 5-10 pounds of extra blubber compared to where I was at during the spring.

In short, he got lean, then colder, then heavier.

In 2012, I did a 5 part blog series on how exercise fails to work for fat loss because we aren’t looking at a long enough time horizon to judge its effectiveness. In the post How Exercise Indirectly Kept me Fatter, I explained how my experience was similar to that of Matt.

Although in the short term, it appeared at times that exercise helped me get leaner, when looked at over a longer time frame it didn’t. Exercise increased my appetite and as long as I kept exercising my weight was in check. However, whenever volume increased past my body’s ability to recover, I was sidelined. During the periods of being sidelined, my appetite always exceeded activity and fat gain occurred.

I wonder if my body temperature was lower. Almost wish I could go back in time and find out, but I did have other signs of reduced metabolic rate, so I suspect it might have been.

Many top fitness professionals disagree with the premise that exercising more can lead to weight gain. I think it all comes down to recoverability. If you can increase activity and calories and still recover fully in time for the next exercise sessions, then all is well. However, if you can’t, exercising more is likely to create problems down the road.


I believe that higher volumes of exercise increased my appetite and reduced metabolism, which lead to weight gain later.

From my post Fat Loss and the Case For Less Exercise:

1. The limiting factor in exercise is not desire, it is recoverability and results. Without sufficient time for recovery, results will be limited and risk of injury will increase.
2. Some people have amazing recoverability skills. Modelling your workout with the gifted is a mistake.
3. During periods of injury recovery, appetite does not fall to baseline.
4. The #1 way to maximize results is don’t get injured.
5. Injuries are most likely to happen when volume is too high and recoverability time is too short. The importance of quality sleep can not be overstated. Never sacrifice sleep for exercise.

At the time I wrote this post I did not know about the metabolic cost but it fits perfectly. If your metabolic rate is falling while you are leaning out with high volumes of exercise, your results are unlikely to be sustainable.


Add yours

  1. “Not looking at a long enough time horizon”

    Excellent phrase MAS. Given sufficient time to account for the body’s REACTION to various changes, half the scientific health studies ever conducted would show opposite results.

  2. Derek Hammonds

    Apr 8, 2015 — 8:01 am

    All the time people tell me about their great new fitness routine. When asking about their goals they almost always list losing weight near or at the top. When inquiring about their diet they usually claim to have made little changes.

    My un-requested and always un-heeded advice to them regarding weight loss is to focus on these top 3 priorities:

    1. Diet
    2. Diet
    3. Diet

    Exercise might be in the top 10.

    But it goes against the grain of popular culture and the mindless minions watching the latest season of ‘biggest loser’.

  3. @Derek – Speaking of the Biggest Loser, this article talks about how 90% regain the weight due to lowered metabolism.


  4. I would think that, especiall with, but not limited to, cardio exercise, most people go too hard, too much of the time.

    This is the metabolism killer.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.