One underappreciated fact about exercise is that even when you work out, the extra calories you burn only account for a small part of your total energy expenditure.
Exercise alone is not enough to lose weight because our bodies reach a plateau where working out more does not necessarily burn extra calories, researchers have found
A new study shows a possible reason. People who are very physically active do not necessarily burn more calories than people who are moderately active. The body seems to adapt, possibly by resting more after exercising.
It may be one of the main reasons why exercise is not useful for weight loss. Exercise is good for health, strength, well-being, and so forth. But when it comes to weight loss, it’s almost all about what you eat.
In the study, published by Current Biology, they suggest that there might be a physical activity “sweet spot” whereby too little can make one unhealthy, but too much drives the body to make big adjustments to adapt, thus constraining total energy expenditure.
Experts say that although exercise is good, it won’t help you lose weight. We also need to focus on diet, particularly when it comes to managing our weight and preventing or reversing unhealthy weight gain.
The results could help explain why people who start exercise programmes with the aim of shedding weight often see a decline in weight loss—or even a reversal—after a few months.
Doctors say that being physically active is good for your physical and mental health, and also helps you to maintain a healthy weight. However, evidence shows that the most effective way of losing weight is to reduce calorie intake through a healthy balanced diet.
Physical activity has many health benefits, ranging from reducing the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer to improving mental health and mood. But contrary to common belief, exercise does not help you lose weight, according to public health scientists.
If you increase your activity, your appetite increases and you compensate by eating more food. So with or without increasing physical activity, calorie control remains key to losing or maintaining weight.
Dr Gerald Ruzindana, a wellness expert at Amazon Wellness Centre, Gasabo, says that exercise only covers 30 per cent of the body’s wellness. Restoring and maintaining health requires a comprehensive strategy with proper nutrition being the foundation.
He also notes that several studies have indicated that short-term intermittent fasting, which is up to 24 weeks in duration, leads to weight loss in overweight individuals.
However, he adds that it is important to know that there are no quick fixes when it comes to weight loss. The best way to reach and maintain a healthy weight is to eat a nutritious, balanced diet. This should include 10 portions of fruit and vegetables, good-quality protein, and whole-grains. It is also beneficial to exercise for at least 30 minutes every day.
A July 2018 review of previous research, published in Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases, breaks down what you might expect to lose initially with different types of exercise.
For instance, resistance training only – zero to one per cent weight loss, aerobic exercise only – zero to three per cent weight loss, aerobic and resistance training – zero to three per cent weight loss, diet (or caloric restriction) combined with aerobic exercise – five to 15 per cent weight loss.
But clinical guidelines recommend that people who are overweight or obese lose at least five per cent in order to see improvements in risk factors like lipid levels and insulin sensitivity.
Healthline states that weight loss studies in the laboratory aren’t the same as what happens in the real world, so there is no guarantee that you will lose weight with exercise. There are also other factors that can affect how much weight you lose, such as gender, body size, exercise type, and metabolic changes.
To turn exercise into weight loss, you have to stick with it, which is also true of dietary changes.
It’s not surprising that combining exercise and dietary restriction leads to greater weight loss, as you are burning more calories and at the same time reducing your intake.
One study found that people who focused on both in the beginning did a better job of meeting their physical activity and diet goals in the long run. However, people who started with only diet had trouble meeting their physical activity goals later on.