If you have been exercise and eating low calories but your extra weight won’t lose, you may be wondering why that seemingly simple technique is not working. The fact is you may need a reality check about what to need from exercise.
Exercise is just part of the weight loss story.
There’s no getting about your label of calories in and calories out. The obese patients Robert Kushner, Clinical Director of the Northwestern Comprehensive Center on Obesity, treats often tell him they are not seeing the effects they desire from exercise.
“They will tell, ‘I have been exercise 03 days a week for 30 minutes for the past 03 months, and I have lost 2 pounds. There is something wrong with my metabolism,'” he says.
Kushner advises patients that exercise is very helpful for them, but for weight loss, he highlights starting with a healthy diet. “First, we have got to get a handle on your diet”-Kushner says. As you’re dropping weight and feel fine and get lighter on your feet, we move more and more toward being more physically active. Then being a physically active lifestyle for the rest of your life is going to be essential for maintaining your weight loss.”
James O. Hill, PhD, Director of the Center for Human Nutrition at the University of Colorado at Denver, tells it’s easier to cut 1,000 calories from a fatty diet than to burn off 1,000 calories by exercise. “But there are many, many studies that explain that exercise is associated with weight loss when done in enough volume and systematically,” he says. “It depends on how much you do.”
Exercise is a must for weight maintenance.
You can not see so many people maintaining a healthy weight who are not regular exercisers. What we see is that people who focus on diet are not quite successful in the long run without also focusing on physical exercise.”
Specialist Hill warns that people can be “wildly successful momentarily” at losing weight during diet simply. But there are lots of data that show that those people regain the weight if they are not physically active.
Timothy Church, Director of preventive medicine research at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, La. says, “When it comes to weight, you can not talk about diet only, and you can not talk about exercise only. You absolutely have the solution both issues at the same time.”
Food splurges may undo your efforts.
“The average people overvalue the amount of activity they’re doing by about 30% and undervalues their food eating by about 30%,” says Kathianne Sellers Williams, a registered dietitian and personal trainer.
“When’ I’m looking at people’s food and exercise records, sometimes things just do not add up,” she says. “People think, ‘Oh, I just did 60 minutes at the gym’ and think that checks a lot of what they are eating? But the reality is our food pieces are big.”
Exercise tools may not tell the total calorie story.
Treadmills and other exercise tools gear often have monitors that measure how many calories you’re burning. Specialist Kong Chen, Director of the metabolic research core at the National Institutes of Health, says those monitors are “close, but for each people, they can vary quite a bit.”
Chen recommends using calorie shows on exercise tools for motivation but not as a guideline to how much you can eat. It does not matter if the monitor says 300 or 400 calories. If you do that every day or rise from that level, then you have achieved your goal. But I would not suggest feeding yourself upon that.
Those tools do not account for the calories you would have burned anyway without exercising. It is not 220 calories for those 40 minutes of exercise versus zero. If you were sitting at work or working with your children, you’re probably burning 70 calories throughout that period of time. You have to decrease what you would burn if you did not exercise. Thus the overall calorie burn becomes much less.
One daily exercise may not be enough.
“It is not just about 30 minutes of exercise,” Chen says. “The message is not that the 30 minutes on the treadmill is not good,” Hill says. “It’s that the 30 minutes on the treadmill is not going to make up for 23-and-a-half settled hours.” Hill encourages people to weave exercise throughout their day.
Chen also recommends setting practical expectations and using “short steps all the time” toward your weight goal. As much as calories in vs calories out matters, don’t forget about anxiety, sleep, and other points that can affect your weight. We must look at someone’s total lifestyle, not just whether someone runs the gym. Weight and obesity are undoubtedly multifactorial, and it really clarifies it just to break it down to nutrition and exercise. Those are really great parts but definitely not the only parts.