Updated: May 27, 2020
You may not realize this from all my talk of walking, but I used to utilize a LOT of endurance training. In high school and college, I competed in triathlons, half marathons and marathons. I loved it! I still enjoy the occasional long run. But as I've shared in the past, while addressing my hormone imbalance concerns, I completely dropped running for 6 months. My reasons were focused around my anxiety at the time, but I also experienced a surprising side effect that I wasn't expecting... my body fat percentage decreased 🤯
This goes against all traditional knowledge on weight loss - I mean, typically the first thing anyone thinks of when looking to lose weight is to increase cardio... right?! Turns out, not only do you not HAVE to run in order to lose weight, the miles you're logging may actually be hindering your weight loss goals completely.
Get ready... we're diving into some science-y deets and hormones today 🤓
1. Running decreases your testosterone.
You may only associate testosterone with men trying to bulk up, but women naturally produce testosterone as well. In fact, low testosterone leads to fatigue, fertility issues and weight gain. High levels of running (such as long distance training) has been found to reduce testosterone production.
This is classically exemplified in #AENpeeps, Xiomara. For years, Xiomara was experiencing weight gain and low testosterone. After multiple months of utilizing the Level Up Guide and swapping her running for walking, her test results came back as NORMAL for testosterone! AND she was experiencing weight loss again!
Check out Xiomara's full story HERE.
2. Running increases your cortisol.
I talk a LOT about cortisol (the stress hormone) with you guys on my YouTube channel, Instagram and Blog. But if you're unfamiliar with cortisol, too much of it will lead to weight gain around the belly and poor sleep habits. Exercise and running done properly can actually help to reduce your cortisol. However, studies have found that endurance runners tend to have elevated cortisol. Walking, on the other hand, helps you tap into your fat burning mechanisms while simultaneously lowering your cortisol levels.
Get the deets on walking HERE.
3. Running increases sugar/carb cravings
I used to train for half marathons and full marathons. I remember during that time, I craved a LOT of chocolate covered raisins. When you have chronically high levels of cortisol, this can result in larger spikes and falls in your blood glucose levels. When you have a steep drop in your blood glucose, this triggers hypoglycemia which leads to insatiable sugar cravings. As a result, the higher your carbohydrate and sugar intake, the more insulin (storing hormone) that is produced, which leads to weight gain.
Does this mean you have to give up running forever? Not at all. However, you may want to re-evaluate how you utilize running in your training program. If you're looking to achieve weight loss, try incorporating 1-2 long walk days per week instead of running. This will help to switch up your workouts while reducing your cortisol levels, increasing testosterone and tapping into fat burning mechanisms.