Bodybuilder, powerlifter, and creator of the vertical diet, Stan Efferding, holds multiple all-time powerlifting world records, including the raw (w/wraps) bench press and total in the Masters 40-44 and 45-49 125-kilogram weight class. Efferding also won the 2010 Mr. Olympia Worlds Strongest Pro Bodybuilder with a 1,428-pound total.
On the Sept. 12, 2023, episode of the Modern Wisdom podcast, Efferding delved into the benefits of staying active throughout the day over opting for a single extended training session. Check out the video below, courtesy of Chris Williamson’s YouTube channel:
Williamson asked Efferding if sleep was more important than cardio for fat loss. Efferding explained that a lack of sleep spikes ghrelin release, which increases one’s appetite. (1) It also compromises insulin sensitivity, leading to elevated blood glucose levels (hyperglycemia), which, over time, could result in type 2 diabetes.
Sleep deprivation in a calorie deficit can create a catabolic environment, potentially resulting in a loss of muscle tissue rather than fat. (2) Muscle mass can help with weight loss by increasing metabolism, improving insulin sensitivity, and contributing to fat oxidation.
“Just being awake more hours in the day gives you another opportunity to get hungry and eat,” said Efferding. “Sleep through one meal, and you’re probably better off.” A MDPI study concluded that “disturbed sleeping patterns, in terms of quantity and quality, have been documented to lead to an increase in energy intake, mainly from snacking, especially on foods rich in fat and carbohydrates.” (3)
Efferding doesn’t recommend cardio for weight loss as, in his experience, many people tend to overeat after an intense cardio workout. Instead, Efferding prescribes non-exercise activities like walking.
Efferding suggested doing multiple 10-minute walks throughout the day instead of a single HIIT (high-intensity interval training) cardio workout in the gym. Non-exercise activities are more convenient, sustainable, and, most importantly, can be integrated into an individual’s existing routines without disrupting work or family commitments.
A JAMA Internal Medicine study found that individuals who walked 4,400 steps daily had a 41 percent lower risk of death (mortality) than those who took 2,700 steps. This risk decreased until about 7,500 steps when the effect leveled off. (4)
Efferding opined that moving for short periods throughout the day is better for one’s overall health than exercising 30 minutes once a day. These smaller movement sessions should be intense enough to achieve a zone two threshold heart rate (65–75 percent of max heart rate). Zone two cardio training helps build an aerobic base, boosts endurance and physical performance, and promotes overall fitness.
Achieving a zone two threshold heart rate while walking requires deliberate effort, such as wearing a weighted vest while walking at a brisk pace, as Williamson mentioned. Efferding recommended planning walks after meals as they are twice as effective as metformin in Type 2 diabetes prevention or reversal (5). Walking after eating can also improve digestion and gut health and help with lower-body joint recovery.
- Ibrahim Abdalla MM. Ghrelin – Physiological Functions and Regulation. Eur Endocrinol. 2015 Aug;11(2):90-95. doi: 10.17925/EE.2015.11.02.90. Epub 2015 Aug 19. PMID: 29632576; PMCID: PMC5819073.
- Lamon S, Morabito A, Arentson-Lantz E, Knowles O, Vincent GE, Condo D, Alexander SE, Garnham A, Paddon-Jones D, Aisbett B. The effect of acute sleep deprivation on skeletal muscle protein synthesis and the hormonal environment. Physiol Rep. 2021 Jan;9(1):e14660. doi: 10.14814/phy2.14660. PMID: 33400856; PMCID: PMC7785053.
- Papatriantafyllou E, Efthymiou D, Zoumbaneas E, Popescu CA, Vassilopoulou E. Sleep Deprivation: Effects on Weight Loss and Weight Loss Maintenance. Nutrients. 2022 Apr 8;14(8):1549. doi: 10.3390/nu14081549. PMID: 35458110; PMCID: PMC9031614.
- Lee IM, Shiroma EJ, Kamada M, Bassett DR, Matthews CE, Buring JE. Association of Step Volume and Intensity With All-Cause Mortality in Older Women. JAMA Intern Med. 2019 Aug 1;179(8):1105-1112. doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2019.0899. PMID: 31141585; PMCID: PMC6547157.
- Colberg SR, Sigal RJ, Fernhall B, Regensteiner JG, Blissmer BJ, Rubin RR, Chasan-Taber L, Albright AL, Braun B; American College of Sports Medicine; American Diabetes Association. Exercise and type 2 diabetes: the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Diabetes Association: joint position statement. Diabetes Care. 2010 Dec;33(12):e147-67. doi: 10.2337/dc10-9990. PMID: 21115758; PMCID: PMC2992225.
Featured image: @stanefferding on Instagram