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At least you're not eating too little.
Rejoice! It's not the end of the world if you let yourself go this holiday season. The other end of the spectrum, in which caloric restriction, low-carb and low-fat diets, and fasting are prevalent, looks far more bleak in terms of being potentially detrimental to achieving health and fitness related goals.
When people are partaking in a fat-loss program, often the first thing that comes to mind is the need to reduce caloric intake. That is all well and good, except that it should only be 300-500 calories below what is needed. Oftentimes, it seems people will go to the extreme and double or triple that deficit, whereby causing other deleterious effects.
For instance, they begin to impact their normal metabolism, and make it difficult for their body to maintain homeostasis. So instead of fat burning taking place, we see the body, instead, conserving calories in order to prioritize and regulate the physiological processes and hormones necessary for survival.
Specifically, a few examples would include reduced thyroid hormone production (helps regulate metabolism), reduced sex hormone production (Testosterone and GH response are responsible for GAINZ), and elevated levels of the stress hormone Cortisol (which is the bane of any exercising person, ever, and will be discussed in another post at some point).
Even if you mess with one of those variables, your progress in the gym is likely to come to a screeching, neck-jarring, tread-mark leaving halt. Nobody wants that, and that is without even considering the rest of the incalculable interactions that are being thrown out of sync. So what systems are better served by being well-fed, or in our case over-fed?
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Luckily, there are arguments and even SCIENCE to partially support being a pig.
There is an entire sub-culture within the resistance training community dedicated to the phenomenon referred to as "bulking" that gives credence to the notion that being full isn't always a bad thing. Hereafter, we will delve deeper into what that entails, but generally speaking this is going to be terrible advice and information for anyone who is looking to lose weight. The theory is, it will just help you to not feel quite as bad about the unfettered gluttony that we all partook in during the holidays.
If you are getting enough calories, we can assume that the aforementioned negative effects are going to be reversed, but in addition to that, there are also a slew of other more practical benefits for you when exercising.
For instance, muscle glycogen (one of the main energy substrates for most types of exercise) replenishment will be much higher, muscle protein synthesis will increase above normal/resting levels (which accounts for the growth, development, and repair of muscles that have been exercised and broken down), higher levels of protein sparing will take place (due to ingested fat and carbs being prioritized as energy substrates as opposed to proteins).
With just a few examples we can see that by simply eating enough, we can optimize rest, recovery, and subsequent performance, which are all going to determine our overall progress and results. This is merely because we are providing our body with ample fuel to be able to work efficiently and as intended.
So even with neglecting to get into the myriad of other undesirable symptoms and effects of not eating enough while participating in regular exercise, we see that perhaps eating more than recommended is the lesser of two evils. That being said, get back on the horse and give 'em hell. The holidays are no longer an excuse for anyone!
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