Why Don’t I Lose Weight When I Exercise?

It’s natural to feel hungrier when we exercise, which means we might sneak in a couple more snacks. However, this can mean that we end up gaining weight when we’re trying to lose it! A recent study looked at the weight loss journey, tracking how much people ate and moved after starting to exercise regularly. They found that many people failed to lose weight or even gained it because they changed their lives in other ways as well.

A lot of us tend to compensate for the calories lost by either eating more, moving less or both. As we start to lose pounds, our resting metabolic rates may also decline as we start to lose weight. Both these things can mean that we end up gaining weight. The study aimed to find out whether it was the extra food or lack of movement that was causing the weight gain by tracking how their daily habits changed.

Measuring Exercise and Weight Gain

They measured multiple factors including aerobic fitness, food intake, and the energy expenditure of 171 sedentary, overweight men and women. Psychological studies were designed to ascertain whether participants felt that their healthy actions now justified less virtuous decisions later on. They split the group into three. One was the control group, and then the other two were taking part in an exercise programme. The first to burn around 700 calories a week, and the other burning nearer 1700 per week. They were also allowed to eat as they chose.

After 6 months, they found that most of the control groups weight didn’t change, as expected, but most of the exerciser’s weight hadn’t dropped at all. A few of them had dropped pounds, but about 2/3 of the shorter workout group, and 90% of the longer workout group lost less weight than would be expected.

The study found that they had compensated for the extra calorie burn by eating more. The extra calories were only slight (between 90 and 125 calories a day) but it was significant enough to undercut the weight loss. The people who had lost the least weight were the ones who believed that good health habits gave them license to make bad choices.

Resist The Extra Snacks

The good news is that those exercisers who avoided an extra cookie or handful of crisps did lose weight! Even though it was just a small amount of calories, it made all the difference in weight loss. So it’s important to pay attention to everything you are eating when you are trying to lose weight and resist that extra few bites of food – it will be worth it!


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