2

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Is Cardio so bad?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created January 18, 2012 at 2:20 AM

Is the lack of complex carbohydrates in eating Paleo the reason why people advocate against "chronic cardio" or is it because they believe it to be detrimental?

What is so bad about "chronic cardio" like distance swimming? Will I find difficulty in continuing to swim while eating paleo?

Ac367d3a93ed0bc2655ff33659b5cf34

(0)

on January 23, 2014
at 12:12 AM

+1 for citing a reference!

Ccacf7567273244733bc991af4ac42ed

(5198)

on January 19, 2012
at 05:30 PM

No rush though, unless I'm struggling to gather enough food won't the glucose in other carbs do the job well enough?

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on January 19, 2012
at 04:51 PM

And if you wanna check this out from the anti-chronic cardio guy himself....http://www.marksdailyapple.com/how-to-fuel-a-marathon/

6b8d12fc3e43179f9ae1765a4d1a9dc2

(5914)

on January 19, 2012
at 01:55 AM

It very well could Danny. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18799989. And glucose & fructose are more effective at replenishing liver glycogen http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21407126, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21223589

4781cf8ae1bfcb558dfb056af17bea94

(4359)

on January 18, 2012
at 02:52 PM

You've presumed two propositions erroneously in your questions. First, paleo is not per se low carb. Second, paleo advocates don't per se advise against cardio, chronic or otherwise. In fact, I've never even heard that before.

Ccacf7567273244733bc991af4ac42ed

(5198)

on January 18, 2012
at 09:59 AM

Sisson's experience was that the training involved in competing at marathons is chronic and often counter-productive. There are reasons for running hundreds of miles a week, but it's not the healthiest thing.

Ccacf7567273244733bc991af4ac42ed

(5198)

on January 18, 2012
at 09:56 AM

I've read that liver glycogen will replenish muscle glycogen...

Bf57bcbdc19d4f1728599053acd020ab

(5043)

on January 18, 2012
at 09:24 AM

I think there are a lot of recreational runners - even many running marathons - out there who don't "get" the rest/recovery part well at all. When they don't get the times they want or the fat loss they're expecting, they dial it up a notch thinking that will help. That's the problem, I think.

Aa5e411ac90ac543cdb7d06a812a908d

(446)

on January 18, 2012
at 09:08 AM

I personally have a little problem with this term of "chronic cardio"... Sisson seems to have it well defined, but many people still refer to any cardio at all as "chronic". People who run marathons, for example, know very well that easy workouts and enough rest have to be added in to the mix to succeed. So maybe chronic cardio is only practiced by those who do it just to lose weight?

6b8d12fc3e43179f9ae1765a4d1a9dc2

(5914)

on January 18, 2012
at 08:15 AM

I have read that fructose will only replenish liver glycogen, not muscle glycogen.

Bf57bcbdc19d4f1728599053acd020ab

(5043)

on January 18, 2012
at 06:49 AM

There is a reason why Roger Federer always eats a banana in the middle of a tennis match. It is the fastest way to replenish glycogen ever, better than gatorade, etc etc. A banana is nature's pre-packaged, potassium-rich energy bomb.

F4a6fc9f0b701e12cdf2ad5dadaeb2dd

(360)

on January 18, 2012
at 04:24 AM

Potatoes have complex carbs, but not all of the dangerous toxins that accompany the complex carbs in grains.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on January 18, 2012
at 03:55 AM

I read the abstract of a study last night that said the quickest way to replenish liver glycogen after cardio is to include some fructose.

Cc99c6d42c46c48fa1c83e765ab6477d

(30)

on January 18, 2012
at 03:55 AM

Complex carbs are things like whole wheat I thought, potatoes would be carbs but not complex, am I right?

F4a6fc9f0b701e12cdf2ad5dadaeb2dd

(360)

on January 18, 2012
at 03:39 AM

Our saliva has chemicals that allow us to break down the carbs in tuber like potatoes and carrots with ease, so indulge!

6fe2a1979e1a00366193cc0d1995f422

(0)

on January 18, 2012
at 03:34 AM

sweet potatoes!

Cc99c6d42c46c48fa1c83e765ab6477d

(30)

on January 18, 2012
at 03:04 AM

I thought the staple of the paleo diet was that complex carbs are a no-go?

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9 Answers

4
Bf57bcbdc19d4f1728599053acd020ab

(5043)

on January 18, 2012
at 07:03 AM

Cardio in itself is not so bad. It's the chronic part, where you train at a consistently intense level and don't recover enough to allow cortisol levels to come back down, that is bad, according to Sisson. The key to good exercise appears to be allowing sufficient recovery, mixing up high-intensity and low-intensity and adding in some resistance training. Sufficient recovery seems to be the main issue for recreational cardio-addicts. Every run is a hard run, and after a while you wear yourself down.

I'm no exercise expert, but it seems to me with a bit of common sense cardio is great. Listen to your body while you exercise. If you feel drained at the start of a workout, quit (that can be a sign of overtraining). Don't obsess over weekly mileage or laps swum. On slow days, really go slow. A heart rate monitor can keep you honest there. Mix intervals in once a week or so and shorten that workout. Give the old bod a break after a tough workout, and most of all, ditch the watch and remember to have fun.

Bf57bcbdc19d4f1728599053acd020ab

(5043)

on January 18, 2012
at 09:24 AM

I think there are a lot of recreational runners - even many running marathons - out there who don't "get" the rest/recovery part well at all. When they don't get the times they want or the fat loss they're expecting, they dial it up a notch thinking that will help. That's the problem, I think.

Ccacf7567273244733bc991af4ac42ed

(5198)

on January 18, 2012
at 09:59 AM

Sisson's experience was that the training involved in competing at marathons is chronic and often counter-productive. There are reasons for running hundreds of miles a week, but it's not the healthiest thing.

Aa5e411ac90ac543cdb7d06a812a908d

(446)

on January 18, 2012
at 09:08 AM

I personally have a little problem with this term of "chronic cardio"... Sisson seems to have it well defined, but many people still refer to any cardio at all as "chronic". People who run marathons, for example, know very well that easy workouts and enough rest have to be added in to the mix to succeed. So maybe chronic cardio is only practiced by those who do it just to lose weight?

3
47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4

(9647)

on January 18, 2012
at 08:50 AM

Hi Alex H. I think what Gydle said about cardio is great. About complex carbohydrates: That's not a term that's used so much in the paleo world. I suppose that mainstream nutrition would describe it as any chain of three or more glucose-fructose-galactose-type molecules (anything that's C6-H12-O6). But that includes a whole lot of stuff, and doesn't really divide up the conceptual world of carbohydrate in a useful way. For one, it includes starch like potatoes, and we love potatoes, and potatoes will probably refuel you nice and good, so ...

Basically there are grains, which are to be avoided. (With the major exception of white rice, for many if not most of us.) Then there is fruit and there is starch. Basically starch is just a whole bunch of glucose molecules strung together. You'll find it in potatoes, you'll find it in sweet potatoes, you'll find it in squash, you'll find it in ... white rice. Fruit will have a mixture of glucose and fructose generally (both separately and combined into sucrose -- not that it matters much).

Fruit may not be a "complex carbohydrate" according to the definition above, but who cares. Both fruit and starch will probably be excellent sources of fuel for you as an athlete. As for refilling glycogen and how quickly that goes, I'm not an expert, but I'm guessing that once you cut grains out of your diet you'll probably be able to listen to what your body tells you. If you crave bananas with your meal after you work out you should eat them. If you take a liking to potatoes with your meat, you should eat them.

So if you mean by "complex carbohydrates" anything bigger than a disaccharide (anything bigger than sugar, basically), then yes, eating a paleo/ancestral/human diet can include complex carbohydrates, and in great quantities: starch! If you mean by "complex carbohydrates" the "heart-healthy" whole grains, then no, you won't be getting those. And if you're wondering if you'll have enough fuel for swimming, then yes, you will: both starch and fruit.

(Many people profit from eating low-carb, of course. I was one of them. But it sounds to me like you are very active and don't have glucose tolerance problems. If you do, then that's another story.)

3
6b8d12fc3e43179f9ae1765a4d1a9dc2

(5914)

on January 18, 2012
at 08:20 AM

Depending on your level of training you can adapt to a keto diet without performance issues -

http://www.nutritionandmetabolism.com/content/1/1/2

2
E57d8e182251b61ccc6ada197c359d7e

on January 18, 2012
at 03:46 AM

You should go to www.marksdailyapple.com and look search for chronic cardio. He discusses this a lot. I think the post from yesterday or today is a good start.

2
F4a6fc9f0b701e12cdf2ad5dadaeb2dd

on January 18, 2012
at 02:49 AM

You will most likely find difficulty, like I did in cross-country running. If you ever feel excessively weak one day, make sure you get some complex carbs in your body, because you are probobly running dangerously low on your glucose storage. The average human body can only store about 2000 calories of carbs in his/her muscles so a few intense swimming workout has the potential to drain you of that instant energy which is burned during intense cardio.

I think the paleo community frowns upon frequent bouts of intense cardio because of Dr. Harris's article. Dr. Harris explains how some studies show that marathoners and other cardio athletes have more heart scarring and heart disease rates than non-marathoners.

After long workouts, make sure you have eat some complex carbs for quick recovery. For the quickest recovery after workouts, eat complex carbos within 30 minutes of the end of your workout, because your body stores the carbs 3x faster in this time frame.

I hope I answered your question. :D

6b8d12fc3e43179f9ae1765a4d1a9dc2

(5914)

on January 18, 2012
at 08:15 AM

I have read that fructose will only replenish liver glycogen, not muscle glycogen.

Cc99c6d42c46c48fa1c83e765ab6477d

(30)

on January 18, 2012
at 03:04 AM

I thought the staple of the paleo diet was that complex carbs are a no-go?

F4a6fc9f0b701e12cdf2ad5dadaeb2dd

(360)

on January 18, 2012
at 03:39 AM

Our saliva has chemicals that allow us to break down the carbs in tuber like potatoes and carrots with ease, so indulge!

6fe2a1979e1a00366193cc0d1995f422

(0)

on January 18, 2012
at 03:34 AM

sweet potatoes!

Ccacf7567273244733bc991af4ac42ed

(5198)

on January 18, 2012
at 09:56 AM

I've read that liver glycogen will replenish muscle glycogen...

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on January 18, 2012
at 03:55 AM

I read the abstract of a study last night that said the quickest way to replenish liver glycogen after cardio is to include some fructose.

Bf57bcbdc19d4f1728599053acd020ab

(5043)

on January 18, 2012
at 06:49 AM

There is a reason why Roger Federer always eats a banana in the middle of a tennis match. It is the fastest way to replenish glycogen ever, better than gatorade, etc etc. A banana is nature's pre-packaged, potassium-rich energy bomb.

6b8d12fc3e43179f9ae1765a4d1a9dc2

(5914)

on January 19, 2012
at 01:55 AM

It very well could Danny. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18799989. And glucose & fructose are more effective at replenishing liver glycogen http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21407126, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21223589

F4a6fc9f0b701e12cdf2ad5dadaeb2dd

(360)

on January 18, 2012
at 04:24 AM

Potatoes have complex carbs, but not all of the dangerous toxins that accompany the complex carbs in grains.

Cc99c6d42c46c48fa1c83e765ab6477d

(30)

on January 18, 2012
at 03:55 AM

Complex carbs are things like whole wheat I thought, potatoes would be carbs but not complex, am I right?

Ccacf7567273244733bc991af4ac42ed

(5198)

on January 19, 2012
at 05:30 PM

No rush though, unless I'm struggling to gather enough food won't the glucose in other carbs do the job well enough?

Ac367d3a93ed0bc2655ff33659b5cf34

(0)

on January 23, 2014
at 12:12 AM

+1 for citing a reference!

1
Ccacf7567273244733bc991af4ac42ed

on January 18, 2012
at 10:06 AM

It's because chronic cardio is detrimental, but a lot of that is actually more the observation that it's not worth it. So for people who spend hours a day chugging along trying to lose weight or improve their health, we overstate the case as there are better more effective and natural ways to exercise.

Others have explained about the food situation. Paleo isn't low carb, it just doesn't use grains (ie. anything that has to be ground/refined in order to be eaten) as a staple. You shouldn't have difficulty distance swimming - endurance events often benefit from training with less reliance on glycogen (carbs) in any case once you get the hang of it.

0
510bdda8988ed0d4b0ec0b738b4edb73

(20888)

on January 19, 2012
at 05:44 PM

0
3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on January 19, 2012
at 04:49 PM

It depends why you want to do extended cardio. If its to lose weight, improve physique/muscle, or be healthier and more metabolically fit then its does not work as well as resistance training and HIIT.

IF its cause you love that runners high or because thats the form of competition you enjoy, well then have at it! Yes you are more prone to that emaciated look and overuse injuries, but do what you love. And as peter pointed out carbs are not your only source for energy.

0
0df0b1c6ae16bbb75b4a5efa3d876765

(2240)

on January 18, 2012
at 07:25 AM

+1 on reading through Mark's site. Being a former triathlete definitely has to count for something.

Also worth reading is a post by Kurt Harris called "Cardio" Causes Heart Disease. It's fairly long, but here's an excerpt from his conclusion:

"I think a modicum of repetitive physical activity can improve your mood. I like to a run a 5k every now and then. It feels good and cross-country seems good for your coordination with all the varied terrain. A little cross-country and some sprinting sure seems to make me more functional. I am not under the delusion that it will improve my overall health or my longevity, though. Same goes for eating vegetables, fiber, antioxidants, and most supplements. No magic foods. The good kind of exercise, resistance training, makes you more functional and stronger. That is the only sensible definition of fitness if we follow the hippocratic oath with ourselves."

It seems to come down to the "all things in moderation" idea.

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