Here is Mel Siff’s response to someone relating a story of cutting calories and not losing bodyfat/weight – a common anecdotal claim!

This is something that we hear so often. Let’s examine this assertion

logically. What are the possible explanations?

1. The body slows down its metabolism so that it can function quite normally

without drawing on stored fat.

2. The reduction in calorie intake is insufficient to cause loss in excess


3. The lower calorie intake makes the person feel lethargic, so she

decreases her expenditure of energy (either obviously or very subtly

throughout the day) to match the available fuel. There was a research

article which showed that thinner people tend to fidget and move around a lot

more than fatter people, so possibly the dieter tends to fidget or generally

move less, even while asleep.

4. The person is nibbling outside the diet or not taking account of

incidental snacks between meals that add to the overall calorie intake.

5. The body is creating more energy from nowhere.

Obviously, the last named item contradicts the laws of thermodynamics, so

this leaves the preceding items. In all probability, the answer lies not in

one factor, but in a combination of several.

Some folk even maintain that if they do not eat anything for a few days, they

do not lose adipose tissue. Scientifically, this is impossible – if you

starve the body, it has to draw on some form of stored fuel and this has to

cause a drop in weight. The problem here, as is well known, that dieting

with inactivity causes a pronounced loss of muscle mass – observe anyone who

has spent a prolonged period in a hospital bed.

This means that reduction in calorie intake must be balanced by adequate

physical stress, not just to “burn off” calories, but to ensure that the body

does not lose muscle bulk. Note the paradox created by many experts who

maintain that it is essential for a fatter person to do plenty of cardio

exercise to “burn off” excess fat. Research and experience show that this

sort of regime tends to DECREASE strength and muscle mass, or at best keeps

them constant. And that is not what a dieting fatter person wants!

On the other hand, progressively more demanding resistance training increases

muscle mass and strength, factors which are exactly what the fatter person

needs to handle greater body mass, prevent muscle wastage and to move a

heavier mass around. To me, that is simple logic, so why the great

overemphasis on cardio work?

If I were a fatter person, the last thing I would feel like is raising my

large mass from a chair and try to work up some enthusiasm to move around,

let alone jog for between 30-60 minutes a day, exposing my already wobbly

joints to some serious impact loading. Being very heavy means that it

requires a great deal of effort even to rise from a chair or bed – are the

cardio evangelists unable to empathise with fatter folk? I can certainly

imagine a fatter person doing 5-10 minutes of several sets of brief interval

work (or recreational sport) with adequate rest spread out in modular fashion

throughout the day, but to embark on what is tantamount to a military style

forced march, little else is so uninspiring.

Ah, but there are those who say that it just requires “willpower”. Indeed it

does, but to work up the enthusiasm day after day is far too daunting if one

has to jog a heavier body around on a calorie depleted diet. It is better to

develop the strength in small manageable modules which do not intimidate one

and which let the gain in strength help to make all movement a lot easier.

Motivating oneself under those conditions is much easier, so in this case,

the body may initially lead the mind until later when the mind can lead the


Maybe far too many exercise physiologists tend to be “string-bean” ectomorphs

and cannot even vaguely role-play being an endomorph. Cardio certainly plays a

vital role in general health but nowhere near the extent implied by the “cardio

doctrine” prescription for all health and fitness.

Where did my insights into this problem come from? Nowhere else other than

the time that I spent recovering after quadruple bypass surgery following a

near fatal heart attack. Just as in the case of obesity management, the

cardio experts recommended cardio exercise and I worked on sheer willpower to

do even a little. I was so weak that even standing without feeling dizzy was

a major achievement – just like many obese folk.

To cut a long story short, I devised my own modular approach using small

episodes of quick exercise several times a day and that scheme was much

easier to adhere to, both physically and mentally. Now that I am back to

normal strength again, I use much the same approach (mixed with swimming and

walking on alternate days when I am not using weights), because it works very

well and requires far less mental effort and time to do a workout. If many

fatter people feel as overpowered as I was by the very thought of prolonged

exercise, then I am sure that they, too, would enjoy this interval modular

approach far more.

Source by Mel Siff