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This is a controversial topic!!!   I share my experience as a professional figure athlete and a coach of over 20 years.  This blog also is backed up with sound scientific research.

I write a lot about the metabolic and hormonal impact of excessive cardio or training a stressed body.  ProComp relies on Pro-Metabolic nutrition to drop body fat rather than performing cardio.  We rely on weight training to chisel and shape a physique. 

As ProComp coaches, we prefer your body gets rest and remains nourished.  Unfortunately, this view is not shared by the fitness industry and there is still a common practice of the philosophy that…”more is better”…”deprivation instead of nourishment”…”harder and faster not smarter”…”grinding and pushing”   I have no doubt that this sounds so familiar to most!!!!!!

ProComp experiences athletes and fitness folk who have exercised to the extreme and now find they are experiencing metabolic and hormonal issues.

Unfortunately, when it comes to exercise, more is NOT always better!!!!! 

EXERCISE IS A STRESS ON YOUR BODY!!!! Yes…it stresses the body. People that engage in the typical fitness industry advice are at risk of the exercise-stress cycle. This will quickly ruin your thyroid gland health, damage metabolic rate, cause havoc with hormonal health and actually slow down fat loss.

The body produces and releases stress hormones from ALL exercise

Below are listed ProComp’s best tips to prevent exercise and training from having a negative impact upon health.  Most people never even realise the damage their exercise regime is doing to their health.  I know that I certainly never understood or knew.


Avoid Cardio, Aerobics, Bootcamps, Spin Classes and Other Endurance or exhausting forms of Exercise – OK I know this one is controversial but read with a open mind!

When the body is performing an exercise that requires constant high energy demands without rest, our fuel supply is burnt really fast and then the body starts to produce the stress hormones cortisol and adrenalin.

Putting it simply, if you want to avoid an increase in cortisol you need to stop the stress response from occurring. I encourage everyone to read through last week’s blog. It describes how stress results in the down regulation of thyroid gland functioning and circulating levels of thyroid hormone.

Any exhausting and excessive cardio creates a huge stress response on the body.

Elevated hair cortisol concentrations in endurance athletes.

“These data suggest that repeated physical stress of intensive training and competitive races among endurance athletes is associated with elevated cortisol exposure over prolonged periods of time.”

It’s an even worse picture if you are already hypothyroid or have some sort of metabolic damage because then your body cant store fuel effectively and so it takes very little exercise to induce the dreaded stress response.

IF YOU ARE OUT OF BREATH FOR A PROLONGED PERIOD OF TIME, or need to resort to rapid mouth breathing like panting, your body is likely overproducing lactic acid and shutting down your thyroid gland functioning.  This result in the downregulation of metabolic rate and often a steady increase of weight.

Quite simply, stress hormones suppress your thyroid gland functioning and exhausting cardio type endurance activities are going to drive stress hormones even higher.

This is one of the main reasons that ProComp moves to phase out cardio when we start working with our personalized clients and athletes.  Our Pro-Metabolic meal plan program offers a schedule on how to reduce and eliminate cardio. Cardio is simply not conducive to thyroid gland health or metabolic function.

2.  Never Skips Meals or perform fasted training or cardio.

It is my personal opinion that fasted cardio is the worst advice that can possibly be given…and I hear this advice recommended all of the time.

Remember…we just covered how a lack of fuel is what drives the thyroid-suppressive stress response when exercising.  The body NEEDS fuel to perform so that it can remain calm and not stressed. The fuel comes directly from the food that you eat.

Fasted cardio sets people up to fail! It also results in additional hunger throughout the entire day.

We recommend having some protein and carbs before any type of exercise. For early risers, this can be something as simple as a coffee meal. It is coffee with gelatin, sugar and cream – or even a pulp free orange juice and gelatin will adequately do the trick!!! 

Carbohydrates pre training is extremely important as these carbs are most correlated to prevent the exercise-stress cycle.

Influence of acute vitamin C and/or carbohydrate ingestion on hormonal, cytokine, and immune responses to prolonged exercise.

Skipping meals or exercising on an empty stomach is a quick way to drive your stress hormones even further through the roof.

‎”Incidental stresses, such as strenuous exercise combined with fasting (e.g., running or working before eating breakfast) not only directly trigger the production of lactate and ammonia, they also are likely to increase the absorption of bacterial endotoxin from the intestine. Endotoxin is a ubiquitous and chronic stressor. It increases lactate and nitric oxide, poisoning mitochondrial respiration, precipitating the secretion of the adaptive stress hormones, which don’t always fully repair the cellular damage.”


“Exertion and stress have in common the need for more fuel.”

“Many factors, including poor nutrition, climate, emotional or physical stress (even excessive running) and toxins, can cause a progesterone deficiency.”

“Besides causing stress, estrogen levels are increased by stress. For example, a male runner’s estrogen is often doubled after a race. 

“Stress uses progesterone and can cause menstrual periods to stop. Girls who begin regular exercise (such as dancing) before puberty have later sexual development.”

“Lactic acid and carbon dioxide have opposing effects. Intense exercise damages cells in ways that cumulatively impair metabolism. There is clear evidence that glycolysis, producing lactic acid from glucose, has toxic effects, suppressing respiration and killing cells. Within five minutes, exercise lowers the activity of enzymes that oxidize glucose. Diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and general aging involve increased lactic acid production and accumulated metabolic (mitochondrial) damage.”

“The stressful conditions that physiologically harm mitochondria are now being seen as the probable cause for the mitochondrial genetic defects that accumulate with aging. Stressful exercise, which has been known to cause breakage of the nuclear chromosomes, is now seen to damage mitochondrial genes, too. Providing energy, while reducing stress, seems to be all it takes to reverse the accumulated mitochondrial genetic damage. 

Anaerobic exercise (getting out of breath) increases the release of, or activity of, a large variety of inflammatory mediators, beginning with lactic acid and interleukin-6 releases from the exercised muscle itself, and including factors released from various cells in the blood, and hormones including estrogen, prolactin, and sometimes TSH.”

“I’m not sure who introduced the term “aerobic” to describe the state of anaerobic metabolism that develops during stressful exercise, but it has had many harmful repercussions. In experiments, T3 production is stopped very quickly by even “sub-aerobic” exercise, probably because of the combination of a decrease of blood glucose and an increase in free fatty acids. In a healthy person, rest will tend to restore the normal level of T3, but there is evidence that even very good athletes remain in a hypothyroid state even at rest. A chronic increase of lactic acid and cortisol indicates that something is wrong. The “slender muscles” of endurance runners are signs of a catabolic state, that has been demonstrated even in the heart muscle. A slow heart beat very strongly suggests hypothyroidism. Hypothyroid people, who are likely to produce lactic acid even at rest, are especially susceptible to the harmful effects of “aerobic” exercise. The good effect some people feel from exercise is probably the result raising the body temperature; a warm bath will do the same for people with low body temperature.”


If you are feeling exhausted whilst exercising, then please…listen to your body.  Strenuous exercise promotes stress.   I am a great supporter of a lovely walk or even an awesome cycle outdoors…I’ve just finished cycling with my daughter through the mountains of Vietnam…but I’ve made sure my body is adequately fueled!!!!

I am also a huge advocate of resistance training with rest between sets. It really comes down to exercising smarter and not harder. Anyone can get his or her bodies super shredded with no cardio when metabolism is running fast and nutrition is on point!!!! Of course…that nutrition consists of Pro-thyroid food only!!!!

Check out our Pro-Metabolic meal plans which are designed to fuel your body for energy, training, fat loss and muscle gain

And don’t hestitate to contact us if you have any questions.

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