Great news! Stop Running!
Well… . in and of itself, running doesn’t make you fat; butt (ha, ha), after a period of time, the hormonal impact on your body, as a result of running, can (and typically does) tell your body to store fat in many unflattering places.
During the first eight weeks you’ll get leaner; you’ll make some headway. After that, you’ll plateau at which time your metabolism will slow and you’ll begin to increase your body fat percentage: you’ll get fatter! You may get smaller, or lighter, because you’ll be losing muscle as well. That’s a result of your decreasing testosterone and HGH (human growth hormone) levels. Essentially, you’ll gradually become a skinny fat person! There aren’t many men out there, over 30, who can afford lower testosterone.
It’s the result of increasing cortisol levels. According to Dr. James Wilson (author of Adrenal Fatigue – The 21st. Century Stress Syndrome,) when one does too much continuous aerobic exercise, the adrenal glands are stressed and secrete a greater amount of cortisol. The hormone, cortisol, is one of the least understood but most crucial hormone to consider during a training program. Cortisol is a hormone released from the cortex of the adrenal glands. Cortisol is catabolic, which means it works against testosterone, HGH (human growth hormone) and IGF by breaking down the proteins in your muscles and organs, and by using the amino acids that are released for energy. With cortisol being elevated too long the result is adrenal fatigue. Adrenal fatigue is associated with such symptoms as tiredness, fearfulness, allergies, frequent influenza, arthritis, anxiety, depression, reduced memory, and difficulties in concentrating, as well as insomnia, feeling worn-out, loss of muscle mass and most importantly the inability to lose weight after extensive efforts. It has been shown through numerous studies that cortisol levels following several months of aerobic exercise are far higher than when weight training is used for body fat loss.
As if it’s not bad enough to discover continuous cardio can prevent you from losing body fat, it has also been shown to increase oxidative stress—you get older faster—resulting in poor recovery from your workouts. As a long-distance runner, you may actually look older than your lazier peers.
What’s the answer? Don’t jog; sprint! Do intervals. Or, train with weights. Or do both. Consider the facts, guys: when you were younger, you were able to run and get leaner. Why? Because you were overflowing with testosterone. As you age, you’re finding it more and more difficult to get that flat belly back. If you’re a male over 40 and you’re not doing anything about it, you’re well on your way to becoming bankrupt—hormonally speaking.
So, take my advice and change what you’re doing: as you transform from a marathon runner’s body to a sprinter’s body, you’ll know you’re making headway. You’ll also get that old swagger you once had when you were younger as your cortisol levels drop and your testosterone levels increase. Do you remember that? Your swagger? C’mon, it wasn’t that long ago.
-Todd Vande Hei