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Why Diet & Cardio Can Cause You to Gain Weight

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What It Actually Takes to Lose Fat

Recently a close buddy of mine hit me up on Facebook to shed some light on a conundrum that has been eating at him for sometime. He’s been dieting like a model and training like a beast, but is stuck. His weight has plateau’d and he can’t seem to get any leaner.

He wanted to know if there were any foods or substances that were causing a holding pattern, rendering him unable to lose fat. As we know, no specific food in and of itself, is responsible for fat loss or fat gain. The only way to ensure fat loss is to create a calorie deficit.

I explained to him the law of thermodynamics. However, he had been eating very little and exercising rigorously and was surely in a deficit, yet he was not losing any weight. And I quickly uncovered the dilemma.

Why Excessive Cardio & Low Calorie Diets Stop Weight Loss

I’ll first precede by saying that low calorie diets combined with cardio works great for overweight people. The problem surfaces when you start to get leaner and leaner. Your body becomes much more sensitive to calorie deficits because your energy reserves are low. With low levels of body fat comes increased risk of starvation and death in the case of a famine.

This may not sound like a concern today, but we still have the same genetic code as our hunter gathers. So when you are in the sub 13% body fat range, and dieting hard with lots of cardio, you are doing more damage than good. You are essentially setting yourself up for a big rebound.

Moreover, in the lean state, big calorie deficits place an incredible amount of stress on the body. The body is essentially fighting off starvation and to do so, it starts to pull more energy from muscle tissue and less from fat. Extreme dieting and high amounts of exercise also increases cortisol levels. Cortisol is strongly linked to water retention. When cortisol goes up, your body holds more water weight.

Cortisol, Water Retention & Holding Patterns

So the reason my buddy wasn’t able to lose weight on extreme dieting and cardio anymore was because he was holding lots of water. He knew there was a holding pattern in place, he just didn’t know what exactly was causing it. He thought it must have been a food or food substance.

It turns out he was pushing his body too hard. Not eating enough and training too much. I since told him to smarten up and relax on the training and dieting. I got him eating significantly more carbs (russet potatoes wedges baby) and refining his training down to three lifts per week.

Within the next three days, he flushed out 4-5 lbs of water weight, made gains on his lifts and his muscles became fuller and tighter. Not to mention, he started sleeping like a baby at night. He was pretty darn well astonished. Since eating more and training less sounds so counter productive. But it works!

Why So Many People Can Never Get Ripped

This water retention dilemma is quite possible one of the biggest reasons why so many people can’t break through that last barrier. Every time they get close, they get stuck. When they’re stuck, they train harder and eat less. When in actuality, they have to do the opposite.

Once you realize that you can’t pound your body to shredded status… That you have to coax it there… Well, finally you’ll be well on your way to a shredded physique.

And if you want my full course to leaning down, be sure to check out The Warrior Shredding Program.

BONUS: Access the free bonus guide to losing weight with cardio… properly .

Greg O'Gallagher

Greg O'Gallagher is the founder of Kinobody, a site dedicated to helping men and women achieve the lean, muscular, and aesthetic "Hollywood" physique. His fitness programs have helped hundreds of thousands of people transform their bodies and change their lives in the process.

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