Monthly Archives: September 2015

The Truth About Weight, Genetics, and Intensity

sunsetThat guy you know from work lost forty pounds in three months by swearing off carbs.  Your spouse dropped four inches from their waist after walking three miles a day for three months.  Your best friend went vegan for three months and seemingly effortlessly melted into the best shape of their life.  But when you try to do what they did for three months, you don’t lose fat.  What gives?

It turns out that genes can have a dramatic effect on the outcome of your efforts.

Unsurprisingly, most people respond to higher intensity exercise (88%) versus a lucky 12% who will be able to lose fat and manage their weight with lower to moderate intensity work.  On the diet side, there seems to be a more even split: about half of people lose fat on a lower carb diet, while the other half responds to low fat eating.

This explains not only why so many people spend hours in the gym and get no tangible results.  Most people cannot rely on a thirty minute, steady pace elliptical workout to create change in their bodies beyond a week or two.  It’s just not intense enough.  Moreover, modes like weight training (with heavy-enough resistance) and Crossfit can deliver results because they have an inherent higher intensity that has the power to produce those results.

The caveat is, however, is that most people should NOT start with a high intensity workout.  To progress in your weight loss as well as overall fitness, you need to dedicate plenty of program time to tissue quality, mobility and stability.  Otherwise, you may be losing weight, but your high intensity moves will only be exacerbating your weaknesses further and pre-disposing you to poor structure and function as well as injury.

Do yourself a favor and work with a knowledgeable trainer who can help you shore up your weaknesses and heal imbalances on the front end.  You’ll avoid pain and injury and feel good in your body.  Then, you can build your workout intensity and continue progressing in your weight management goals.

[Photo: Beach sunset, Santa Cruz, CA]