We all know at least one person who is dedicated to the gym, but who – in spite of all the working out – can’t seem to lose much weight.
Science says there’s a reason why: As a weight control tool, exercise is ineffective unless it’s combined with a calorie restricted diet. And that’s because exercise burns calories. And this makes you hungry. So if you’re not being strict about what goes into your mouth (and in what quantities), you’ll find yourself gaining weight, if not simply maintaining it.
The proof is in the pudding: A study in weight-loss
One study divided 646 overweight women who didn’t exercise, into three groups.
Group 1 was asked only to exercise.
Group 2 was asked only to cut back on calories, but not to exercise.
Group 3 was asked to do both – cut calories and exercise.
After six months, the results were interesting.
Group 1 hardly lost any weight – a mere 1kg, on average. These ladies found that the exercise stimulated their appetite, so they unconsciously ate more. And they rewarded themselves with sweet treats and snacks when they had exercised. So the calories they burned through the exercise were quickly replaced.
Group 2 lost an average of 8kg. This is because they literally took in fewer food calories. And their daily activities were sufficient to burn off even more calories. Remember that a one hour workout will not burn as many calories as you burn over the course of a regular day (walking up and down the office stairs, etc). So it makes sense that the one hour workout at the gym won’t be sufficient to make a difference to the numbers on the scale.
Group 3 lost an average of 10kg. And it’s simply because they ate less AND moved more. They burned more calories and they also took in fewer calories.
The message is clear
If you want to lose weight (and keep it off!), you have to stick to a regime of exercise plus calorie controlled diet. And the most effective way to do this is to literally count the calories.
Author: Tanja Schmitz
Founder and Editor of Fitness Magazine. You’ll find her behind her computer or on her bike, dreaming up new ways to improve or create content for you.