Exercising Too Much Can Wreck Your Metabolism — Here’s How
When you’re keeping a close eye on the scale, it’s tempting to log an extra session on the treadmill or sign up for that additional spin class to get that much closer to your goal that much faster. But if you take this over-exercising approach to weight loss or even weight maintenance — working out more so you can “eat whatever you want” — you could actually be wreaking havoc on your metabolism rather than making it more efficient.
Why is that, exactly? Well, it comes down to your body’s cortisol production, the major stress hormone is notorious for slowing the metabolism and encouraging the storage of body fat. Biologically, your body can’t tell the difference between cortisol inspired by a negatively stressful situation and cortisol inspired by major physical exertion. So if you’re constantly doubling up on your fitness load and not letting your body rest, recover and detox otherwise, your stress levels are sitting at an all-time high, making it extra difficult for your metabolism to do its job properly.
Now, that’s not to say that you shouldn’t stay active. It’s just important to vary the kinds of activity you’re performing, rather than sticking with high-intensity workouts like running and HIIT all the time. Yoga is a great way to tend to your muscle’s strength and flexibility needs while also soothing your nervous system as opposed to sending it into stress mode. Even a nice nature walk can do the trick. But without that variety, your body doesn’t get a chance to fully bounce back and let your metabolism rev once the stress response is complete.
And we can’t close out this discussion without mentioning diet. When it comes to weight loss, nutrition is often more important than physical activity. So instead of trying to shortcut your food limitations and just “burn off the extra calories” at the gym, rework your nutritional plan so that the foods you’re eating are both satisfying to your taste buds and sustaining of your wellness goals. The same logic follows for the crowd that does back-to-back spin classes to eat a double cheeseburger at brunch and not worry about potential consequences. Just stick to one class, cut the burger in half and you’ll fare just fine.