Why is exercising the most famous type of weight-loss activity? Does it really matter that much? What does it do to your body? When people advise us to work out, do they mean cardio, stretching, weight lifting, or participating in sport? Does weight loss results depend on the exercise intensity?
If you have ever asked yourself those questions, this article is for you! It doesn’t matter if you love your workout time, or you persistently intent to avoid exercise as an activity for weight management, knowing what happens to your body when you do sport is very important.
Let’s get started!
Table of Contents
Working out = calorie burn
Working out has become a popular option for weight loss, due to the fact that by exercising our bodies burn more calories than they would in a passive or steady position.
And according to the nutrition law, if you burn more calories than you consume in a day, you start burning fat (this is also called “caloric deficit” condition, as, at the end of the day, you have used more energy than you have received). Precisely for this reason, increasing physical activity to burn calories sounds very promising, especially if we think about high-intensity workouts.
It’s true that the most intensive exercises are (running, aerobics, tabata, cardio in general), the more calories we burn for a shorter period of time. In that sense, doing sports seems like a promising way to improve our weight.
Why exercise is not effective?
Burn not enough calories
Even though we consume 100% of our daily calories from food, we burn them in different ways. Depending on our metabolic rate, we burn between 60 and 80% of the food we consume by simply existing. The body naturally uses energy from the calories to maintain body temperature, proper organ function, blood circulation, cell reproduction, breathing, etc.
If you are curious, how do we lose weight by simply breathing properly, check our dedicated blog post!
In fact, we burn only 10-30% through physical activity (excluding professional athletes), as the maximum percentage is “doable” only for men who are involved in highly intense physical activities. This information was shared by the Obesity-researcher Alexxai Kravitz in the National Institutes of Health. In addition, we burn 10% when we walk, cook, clean, fidget, or do other regular activities, such as chores.
Taking all those data into account, scientists believe that exercise alone is not an effective way to lose weight due to a caloric deficit. Instead, working out in combination with cutting down daily calorie intake and boosting your metabolism can show an effective end result.
2. People who work out usually eat more
If you are not on a diet but have decided to lose weight by increasing your physical activity, you have entered the “treat myself” zone. And I’ve been there myself many times.
First, after it has used calories for energy, the body automatically wants to replenish the lost “fuel.” Often this happens because our organisms are used to receiving a specific number of calories, and when the usual amount is decreased, we start feeling hunger (the body gives us an alert that it needs to fill in the calorie gaps).
In this case, if we are on a diet, we will manage to keep our caloric deficit. However, what usually happens is that we almost immediately recover the burned calories by having a snack or a meal (even if it is a healthy one).
On the other hand, researchers from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo found out that when exercising, people tend to treat themselves more.
For example, people who workout are more prone to eating high-calorie, unhealthy meals and desserts because they like to treat themselves for the good job done in the gym. On the contrary case, a person who hasn’t done any exercise wouldn’t reach for a doughnut or a cake with the thought of treating himself/herself, but would rather choose a healthier alternative, such as fruit or a smoothie.
Even though exercising is not an effective option for weight loss, that doesn’t mean it’s not healthy! In fact, working out gives us plenty of benefits, such as better night sleep, more supple and glowing skin, faster metabolism, better mood, and more!
So don’t ban it from your daily routine just because it doesn’t make you slimmer!
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, and I do not aim to give any medical advice. The information presented in this article is based on scientific research and personal experience and aims to give information about the topic.