Cardio And Water Retention

November 18th, 2011 by


Does too much cardio cause you to hold water? I do 2 hours a dayof low-intensity cardio and my diet is the keto-diet. However, I see my weight has gone up a little bit. Can you explain?


First off, you probably already know or have an idea that I am vehemently opposed to this style of approach – no carbs + massive cardio. (which 14 hrs/week is …). Throw in low calories on top of that and you’ve got a looming problem coming. While a person doing this may ‘win’, I don’t consider it a winning formula and have seen time and time again, bodies that simply become less and less responsive with time.

That said, there are hormonal implications here. You didn’t mention caloric intake, but I’m going to assume it’s on the lower side given the other two aspects mentioned. You’re going to see a larger drop in metabolic rate from the combo of low cals/carbs and high volume cardio than just low cals and normal/sane cardio.

Cortisol is a player here as well, as large amounts (ie. traditional high volume cardio preps) of activity/cardio cause cortisol to rise. Throw in low carbs/calories and it’s even worse.

What do you get with that? Water retention. (cortisol / mineralocorticoid receptor action), which could account for your weight gain. You also get more leptin resistance, which is the last thing we need more of, as we get enough of a leptin drop with dieting already as it is.

Solution is easy – cut the extreme approach and do less cardio. (since no one technically HAS to do that much cardio to get in shape … regardless of who says you do).