5 Fat Loss Questions that Have NO Answer…Yet

bally-056Was walking Bally the Dog the other day, thinking about your fat loss programs and some of the fat burning questions you’ve been asking…

Here are ones that don’t have a good answer…yet.

1) What’s the best interval workout

I’ve talked about this one before, but I don’t think anyone has a really good answer. In science, they’ve focused on very short intervals for fat loss (but these workouts are impractical for regular machines in gyms that can’t change the resistance fast enough). robyn2

Fortunately, in the real world, we’ve found that men and women (like Robyn ==>) can lose a lot of fat with a wide variety of interval training programs and interval training methods…from kettlebells to stationary bikes.

I doubt we’ll ever see a research study dedicated to this problem…or at least not anytime soon, so until then, choose intervals that you enjoy, but also choose ones that challenge you. Train hard, but safe.

2) Is it better to do intervals on off-days or right after your workout

This is a real common question because a lot of folks only want to do 15-20 minute workouts each day, and would rather split up their interval training and resistance training.

I don’t see any problem with that…and you probably won’t get better results one way or the other. But if you have any experience with both schedules, let us know!

3) Do you need a post-workout drink for fat loss? Or is all that sugar a bad idea? Can you get by on protein alone? And is that even necessary?

There are dozens of questions going through my mind about the best “post-exercise workout drink” for fat loss. But there are few, if any answers, and only theories…and it seems like everyone has their own idea.

I’ll say this…

It doesn’t make sense to “force” 30-50 grams of sugar into someone’s diet after exercise, if all they are doing is exercising three times per week and trying to lose fat.

At the end of the day, it’s all about “Calories in and calories out”. So if you are stuck at a plateau and you have been committed to high-sugar post-workout drinks, then you should definitely experiment with cutting these from your diet.

Should you stick to a protein shake? Or should you just say, “Screw it. I’ll eat after my workout when I get hungry, and I’ll just eat real food, because I don’t want to waste any daily calories on a sugar drink that doesn’t fill me up.”

That’s another thought to consider…why waste precious calories on a drink and then spend the rest of your day hungry? Does a post-workout drink really matter that much to the average, busy person with 30-40 pounds of fat to lose? The truth is…probably not. ep_craig_ballantyne_chocolate_milk-150x1501

So why do I drink chocolate milk after my workouts?

Because I like chocolate milk. And I’m not trying to lose fat. If I was trying to get lean, it might be one of the first things to go from my daily meal plan…

But if a post-workout drink is necessary…then what’s the best amount of protein (research suggests 20 grams is enough)? And what’s the best amount of carbohydrate? And do I need to drink the calories or is real food fine?

Anyways, so many questions, so little time. I’ll cover this one in greater detail another day.

4) Is there really such a thing as “starvation mode”?

I don’t know…but I’ll bet one thing, it’s not as easy to reach “starvation mode” as most people think it is…

If you miss a meal and don’t eat every3 hours, or even if you are on a diet for 12 weeks, I think its a stretch that you’ll go into “starvation mode”. food

After all, the literal definition of starving is “extreme hunger”, and there aren’t a lot of folks – even on diets – that are going through extreme hunger. Heck, you don’t even get extreme hunger on a 24-hour fast.

So starvation mode…probably a lot harder to achieve than most people think. Too many folks underestimate the resiliency of the human body.

5) How little can you workout and still get amazing results?

That’s the million dollar question right there, isn’t it. And it’s something we’re going to be exploring a LOT here in the Turbulence Training workout world in the near future. Look for the first experiment to begin in June!

Bonus Question on Everyone’s Mind…

What % of fat loss results are due to diet?

80%, of course! After all, that’s what the bodybuilding magazines say, right?

In reality, impossible to answer. But as you know, you simply can’t out-train a bad diet.

You have any other “impossible to answer” fat loss questions? Or even an answer to the ones I’ve posted?

Let me know below.

Looking forward to hearing from you,

Craig Ballantyne, CSCS, MS

  • Hey Craig, these are all great questions that still stump me, so I’m glad you are acknowledging them and hoping to find some answers for all of us at some point. For me it’s actually physically easier to knock out my intervals at the end of my resistance training while I’m already revved up, but, I find that I do more overall exercise in a week if I leave my interval assignment for my off-days followed by some bodyweight circuits. I’ve not yet hit a balance where I can exercise only 3 days a week and get as lean as I want (which is also a nutritional issue), so people that might find it easy to talk themselves out of exercise on the off-days might do better assigning those as interval days. If I ever hit some magic combo you’ll hear me yelling all the way from Tennessee!

  • Craig,

    I like doing intervals right after resistance training just for time efficiency. I like to get it all done at once. As far as being more effective, I don’t know either. Solid post!


    PS: I love the cardio vs food videos. Why are they making you exercise all the time? Your turn to grub down!

    • Craig Ballantyne

      I get to eat next video!

  • It seems to me, and this is just my own personal opinion, that most individuals are looking for the easiest way out??!! The quick fix, the silver bullet. How little can I do with the greatest return?
    Whatever happened to getting what you work for? I absolutely empathize and understand the challenges we all have with time management, but isn’t there a limit to the quality and quantity of work -to-benefit ratio?
    Sorry, just my (semi) humble opinion.
    As always, great stuff.

    • Craig Ballantyne

      But why spend more time in the gym than you have to?

      You don’t get any boy scout badges for it.

      You aren’t cheating anyone.

      What is wrong with getting the maximum return on your investment?

      I don’t get your argument.

  • Pingback: Work-To-Benefit Ratio | Be The Next Step()

  • Alex

    Excellent stuff again, Craig.
    I’ve always thought that “starvation mode” was a misinterpretation of the simple fact that when you’re not eating as much, the thermal effect of food is less, even though the effect doesn’t even begin to give back the calories you just ate. I have also found that I have gotten great results by just doing 2 sets of an exercise with low reps, and limiting total sets to no more than 12.

  • Good on you for not pretending you have all the answers to fat-loss. We have enough ignorant know-it-all gurus already 🙂

  • Ivan

    The “starvation mode” question is answered in the “Eat Stop Eat” book which I got via your site. From memory there are studies which show that there is a starvation mode, but it takes 3 days of not eating anything to reach it.

  • I have tried both ways. When I first started doing harder TT-style workouts I simply could not manage to do my intervals straight after. My husband usually had to pick me up of the floor, peel the wet clothes of me and put me in the shower! So I used to do my intervals on different days to weights, and follow them up with between 20 to 40 minutes of additional lower intensity steady state cardio. So I agree with the poster above who said she gets more exercise when she does them on separate days.

    BUT, as I get fitter, I have switched to doing them after my resistance workout and then try to do more fun-type cross-training activities on my off days. I play badminton (badly), have some dance DVDs, yoga, go for a walk with hubby (no Bally the Dog 🙁 ).

    I find there is a very small performance disadvantage to doing your intervals right after weights, rather than fresh on a different day, but this is more than compensated for by the psychological benefits of only having to do three days a week of really intense training, giving your legs a proper rest between hard workouts, and having more time (and aerobic capacity) to do more fun things and lead a more generally active life. And there is always the option if for reasons of time, sore muscles etc. you want to split them up again temporarily.

    • Craig Ballantyne

      Great stuff Angela, thanks!