“The law of thermodynamics describes the principles that govern the energy exchange including heat exchange and performance of work” – from ISSA Nutrition
Basically, the laws of thermodynamics determine if weight is gained, lost, or remains the same.
Yes, if you eat less and burn more you will lose weight and if you eat more than you burn you will gain. But there is more involved than ‘energy in” vs “energy out”.
Energy in is when food is taken in to the body as calories through food and drink.
Your Own Personal Thermostat
The body’s job is to maintain homeostasis. Consider it your thermostat for your body. There is a great deal going on at the cellular level that includes your metabolism, hormonal balance, and mood.
Positive energy balance – you are taking more in than you are burning.
Negative energy balance – you are burning more than you are taking in.
So, is it just that simple for you to burn more than you are eating?
Yes and no.
A drastic cut in calories and massive increase in activity will have you lose weight. But what weight are you actually losing and how is it affecting your body on a cellular level?
When you go on extreme diet(s) and do tons of cardio you are setting yourself up for failure. All that weight that you see coming off is not 100% body fat. On drastic fad diets you are losing muscle mass, water, and some fat. The body will sacrifice muscle way before it will utilize body fat.
Testing your laws of thermodynamics by having a large negative energy balance (more out than in – a.k.a. way too much cardio) your body thinks you are starving. Your body being the perfect thermostat signals functions to slow down and start shutting off all “unnecessary” tasks. Your body is in survival mode so your reproductive function, metabolic function, and brain function (and more) get shut down.
Now if you were to do the opposite in the laws of thermodynamics and have a positive energy balance (more in than out – a.k.a. eating more and moving less) you will start to gain weight. With too much food intake your blood pressure may increase along with cholesterol, insulin resistance, and higher chance of cancer and other diseases.
To avoid these excessive swings in either direction we need to work with the laws of thermodynamics.
What it comes down to is what do you want to look like or how do you want to perform?
If you would like little to no muscle tone then cardio is the way to go (think long distance runner physique).
But if you would like to be able to do something besides being able to run, you need to have a resistance program. Nothing against long distance runners but most of them have wasted away their precious muscle. What is going to happen to them when they are in their 70’s and 80’s. Your daily activities of life I find are more important. Wouldn’t you like to be strong enough to live independently in your golden years? Again, I am not picking on endurance runners because I am sure there are many runners out there that are incorporating strength training into their programs.
Growing up in the 80’s time frame, it was more than likely ingrained in your head that cardio is the only way to get leaner and fit. This is not the whole picture. It is not as simple as that. You have to take in account your personality, what you are willing to change, how much do you desire to change and what your goals are. Because let’s get real for a sec….if you aren’t where you want to be right now ….then you need to change to get to were you want to be.
Think of the quality of life ahead of you. I don’t know about you but I would like to be as independent as I possibly can as I age. To not rely on someone to carry in my groceries or open a jar of food for me. I want to have the strength to do it on my own. This is why muscle is so vitally important.
If you would like to read more of how to make the laws of thermodynamics work for you please click here.