Part 8 | Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started


Part 8 | Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started


If you're late to the game and want to hear more from Nick Cheadle, check out the rest of Gymshark Central for his eight part series! 

So today?

I’m going to tell you exactly why high intensity interval training (HIIT) doesn’t burn muscle mass & assure you – it’s entirely ok to drink Coke Zero, because artificial sweeteners aren’t nearly as scary as you might think.

1. High-Intensity Cardio Doesn’t Burn Muscle Mass

I give a wide berth to sprints & high-intensity cardio in my early days for fear they would ruin my gains.

I thought the best way to burn fat was with long, slow cardio.

You know those old school bodybuilders that spent a good hour on the treadmill, walking slowly on an incline?

I thought they were onto something.


High-intensity cardio can be stressful, sure, but provided you balance your weight training, your nutrition and recovery, you burn calories a lot faster by going harder.

When I say stressful – sure in the generic sense, but also on your body. 

If that means less time doing cardio and more time with weights (or even more time spent chilling) that’s a bonus in my book.

Just a note though, and something to keep in mind – fat loss is only going to occur when you burn more calories than you consume, whether or not performing (any sort of) cardio is a part of your routine.

That means HIIT, or any sort of cardio, could impact your ability to maintain muscle mass if by incorporating it, you’re sending yourself into a large calorie deficit, whereby you’re making it more difficult to hold onto muscle mass.

The act of cardio alone? That won’t burn muscle – but burning so many calories that you lose weight very quickly? That will – so aim to lose weight slowly when trying to get lean. 

1. Diet Drinks Won’t Make You Fat

Diet drinks and artificial sweeteners in general get a bad rap.

Clean eating zealots proclaim they’re unnatural, and that they make you fat.

But the research to support that just isn’t there.

You’ll also hear all the usual stuff about how aspartame, acesulfame K, and any other man-made sweeteners can cause cancer, kidney and liver damage, and all other kinds of terrible conditions.

But once again, the science says otherwise. 

Here’s what the Journal of Toxicology and Pharmacology said -

“The studies provide no evidence to support an association between aspartame and cancer in any tissue…. the weight of scientific evidence confirms that, even in amounts many times what people typically consume, aspartame is safe for its intended uses as a sweetener and flavor enhancer….” (3)

Personally, I include artificially-sweetened and ‘unnatural’ foods pretty much daily, and still manage to get lean and build muscle, as do my clients.

Plus, most of those studies that suggest you can get cancer from drinking Coke Zero? Performed on rats. By injecting copious amounts of the stuff directly into their brains. And by copious amounts? I mean a similar amount of artificial sweetener that you’d get from around 9000 litres of Coke Zero.

Drinking the odd 600ml bottle is probably going to be ok.


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