“Cardio Compensation” – Certain Cardio Workouts Cause Intense Food Cravings

June 7, 2009

I used to be shocked at the number of people I saw in the gym who put so much time into cardio workouts without seeing any results. Many of these people are putting forth much more effort than me, but don’t have the results to show for it. I feel bad, because I know their challenge comes down to diet. Did you know that the type of cardio you do, can play a big role in your craving for food? It is possible that many people are sabotaging their ability to lose body fat, by choosing a type of cardio that makes them desperately crave food.

cardio workouts

[Have you ever been so hungry that you ate everything in sight? I have had problems with hunger in the past, but adjusting my cardio has helped a ton in this regards. The wrong type of cardio can make dieting a tough deal!]

Cardio Compensation – Eating More Calories Than You Burned

Some people have a tendency to crave more food after a cardio workout and “compensate” for their calories burned. They may burn 300 calories each and every cardio workout, but increase their daily calorie intake to make up for those calories burned. This is why a large percentage of people doing cardio workouts, get stuck at the same weight for long periods of time. Note: Studies have shown that longer, steady state cardio workouts are the type of workouts shown to increase craving for food (in some people).

Willpower Plays a Role, By Why Torture Yourself?

It takes a certain amount of willpower and discipline to lose weight, but why make this harder than necessary. What if there was a way to burn a lot of calories in your workout without having stronger-than-normal food cravings? There is!

Interval Training Has Been Shown to Reduce the Appetite

I’m a big fan of interval training for fat loss. Things like HIIT and body weight circuits are an extremely efficient way to jack up your metabolism and drop body fat quickly…they can also reduce your appetite! Australian Professor Steve Boucher has shown in research that interval training increases hormones called catecholamines. These hormones actually reduce your appetite. So instead of compensating with calories, you eat less than normal.

Reminder…You Can Lose Fat Without Cardio

To be honest, if you were on a strict diet you could get as lean as you wanted without cardio or any type of interval work. Believe it or not, it doesn’t require typical “fat burning exercise” to lose body fat. I recommend intervals as a way to stay healthy while getting lean and to experience quicker results, but it really isn’t mandatory. If you were crunched for time, you could 2-3 resistance training workouts each week and diet hard and get pretty darn lean. The resistance training would insure that you maintain muscle while on a low calorie diet.

Intervals and Cardio Should Just Speed Along the Process

I like to look at intervals and cardio workouts as a way to accelerate fat loss results that are already happening. My outlook is that my diet is already getting the job done, but the intervals and cardio are going to help me reach my goals much quicker than diet alone…plus I like being “in shape”. I think this is different than how a lot of people view exercise when it comes to fat loss.

Your Workouts Should Not Cause You to Crave More Food

If your workouts are causing you to crave much more food than normal, you may want to consider changing things up. Another thing that happens is that many people use exercise as an excuse to eat more calories. If you do this, then you will always have a tough time getting lean. My suggestion is to eat “as if” you weren’t going to do intervals and cardio…but add in intervals and cardio to turbo-charge your fat loss results.

A Way to Do Steady State Cardio Without The Food Cravings

People who have read my blog for a while know that I recommend 15 minutes of Interval Training followed by 15-20 minutes of steady state cardio. I’ve outlined this approach in a few pages in this online mini-course. Besides the add fat burning this combo provides, the intervals insure the release of catecholamines…which should reduce your appetite.

Note: Some people have the ability to do long cardio workouts without craving extra food. This post is just geared towards people who have an increased appetite from exercising. Also, I’m a big fan of intervals, HIIT, and cardio…done strategically with the proper diet is the best way to quickly and easily get lean.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Martin July 2, 2011 at 12:54 pm

Hi Rusty.
How many times per week should your combination of HIIT and steady state cardio be done?
Great site by the way, really informative and helpful. Put a few of my friends onto it and they love it

"How To Reduce Thigh Fat" August 24, 2011 at 11:00 am

the right exercise program will get you the body you want provided you make a few changes, put a little time aside &

Tara June 5, 2012 at 8:47 am

I have been doing hiit cardio And my appetite has been completely out of control I been doing 20min of interval training and 20 to 30 minutes of steady state on 5mph and 10 min of walking but I cannot stop eating should I change up my cardio routine and also can I compensate after over eating by doing that work out or will that cause weight gain? Sorry for all the questions but thank you

April June 21, 2012 at 6:23 am

love the post. I’ve totally given up Cardio. Not even doing interval training anymore. Just strength training 3-4 times a week. Keeping my diet in check. (doing leangains style intermittent fasting) I now sit at my computer typing this in a cute half top with my abs showing.

I used to run marathons and easily would gain weight during. I also found runnign daily packed on the pounds. I would eat anything and everything I could find and make excuses that I earned and deserved it. No more. Now that I don’t do hardly any cardio except for a quick sprint around the track (nver more than 20 min) or some kettlebell swings..my appetite has gone down. And I’m fasting on top of that!

I’m a believer now that it’s mostly diet for weight loss and strength training for body recomposition. As a female changing to that train of thought was HUGE! I think I shall save Cardio in the bank for if I have to go on a vacation. I find now that I’m a bit inefficent with the cardio, I burn more when I surprise my body by throwing it in and can drop weight a bit quicker now.

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