Serious Gyms: The Real Judgment-Free Zone

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The expression “you cannot judge a book by its cover” applies to many things in life, including fitness centers and gym. In the last couple of weeks, in discussing training and diet with a couple of folks, each of them, when talking about the gym I train at, mentioned they have heard of that gym and were “afraid” of it. I have heard that several times before…and “afraid” is actually the word used by them. The gym I train at and train people at is a serious facility called Destination Dallas (formally Metroflex Plano) in suburban Dallas. It got me thinking about the “you cannot judge a book by its cover” wisdom. Because it is friendly to people who compete in various iron sports (bodybuilding, powerlifting, strongman, and so on) or people building strength for high school or college football, track, and hockey, many on-line references to the gym feature videos of lifting sessions with top-level and pro competitors, particularly on the physique and bodybuilding side. Despite the appearance, however, places like this tend to be the least judgmental when it comes to new members.

Is Fasted Cardio Superior In Maximizing Fat Loss?

As a member of a wellness team at my workplace, I gave a recent seminar on basic nutrition. In follow-up chats with people who attended, a couple of people asked about fasted cardio (doing cardio on an empty stomach).

As with many exercise and diet topics, there seems to be strong feelings one way or the other. As with most of those topics, proponents can point to conflicting studies to support their argument…so, conclusively proving one is better than the other is not always clear cut.

Destination Dallas

The theory behind fasted cardio is that doing at least 20 minutes of cardio upon rising has greater fat loss effects because the body’s glycogen (stored form of glucose in the muscles) stores are low, so the body will shift energy utilization to stored fast. Countering that is, that even if so, the fat has to be converted to fatty acids and that has to be converted to fuel for the body to use. The body does that process slower than the fatty acids becomes available, so some of the fatty acids are not converted for energy end up being re-stored as fat after exercise. Given the number of studies and data available, however, it is not really possible to conclusively argue that either fed or fasted cardio is superior over the other form. (Schoenfeld, Brad. “Does Cardio After an Overnight Fast Maximize Fat Loss?” Strength and Conditioning Journal, Feb 2011, Vol 33 Issue 1.). Other critics of fasted cardio are concerned that some amount of muscle may be burned off in addition to fat.

I am fortunate to work out at and train people at Destination Dallas, a serious training facility in suburban Dallas. We have a several dozen pro and top-level amateur competitive bodybuilders who desire an edge to get to extremely low body fat levels for competitions, where the difference between 4% and 5% body fat is huge. Many work with well-known contest prep coaches. The result — some do fasted cardio and some do not. So, there is not a consensus in the real life either. Typically, most coaches use the cardio options (fasted or not, steady state or HIIT) as prep tools to choose from depending on a person’s schedule, preference, etc.