It’s a phenomenon that many have already experienced: You get up to exercise, have a boost in motivation, and do sports several times a week, but the pounds just don’t want to drop. The scale still shows the same weight. Researchers have found out why this is often the case.
It should work quite simply: You will boost your metabolism if you don’t do sport and suddenly start doing it. As a result, you use more calories than before and lose weight. That’s the theory. However, in practice, it often turns out that overweight people do not achieve weight loss despite exercising.
Researchers at the US Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, wanted to know precisely why. To do this, they examined 171 overweight men and women between 18 and 65 years. All of them did not move much at the beginning of their studies. They were measured precisely: weight, calorie metabolism, the feeling of hunger, and their fitness were recorded. They were also asked about their eating habits.
The Subjects Were Observed For Six Months
The researchers then divided the subjects into three groups. The first group could continue to live normally as before. The second group had to move on the treadmill or exercise bike three times a week under instruction until they burned about eight kilocalories per kilo of their weight. On average, that was around 700 kilocalories per week and subject.
Subjects in the third group had to move similarly to the second but burn 20 kilocalories per kilo of their weight, a total of around 1760 kilocalories per week.
The test subjects should observe the guidelines for a full six months. In this re- metabolism, calories basal metabolic rate, fitness, and calorie intake are logged. In addition, they were allowed to eat whatever they wanted.
When all test subjects were measured again after the test period, something astonishing came to light: Groups two and three, who had to move more, lost little or no weight at all compared to group one with little movement. Two-thirds of Group 2 and more than 90 percent of the even more active Group 3 lost less weight than the researchers expected.
Problem: The Reward System
This is simple: the subjects did not experience any weight loss despite exercising: they ate more. But not just out of a pure feeling of hunger, but because they rewarded themselves for their efforts. In particular, the test subjects who lost the least weight stated at the beginning of the study that they sometimes went overboard because healthy habits allowed it.
The researchers concluded that their test subjects were carrying out a kind of barter trade in their heads according to the motto: If I do sport now, I can treat myself to something unhealthy afterward and even eat more.
But it was also interesting that there weren’t that many more kilocalories: participants in group two averaged around 90 kilocalories and those in group three around 125 calories more per day than the subjects in group one. For comparison: a medium-sized banana has about 100 kilocalories.
No Weight Loss Despite Exercise: Conclusion
It doesn’t take much to become overweight. Even a calorie surplus in the form of two sugar cubes (27 kilocalories) per day leads to more than ten kilograms of excess weight in just ten years!
If you want to lose weight through exercise, you shouldn’t indulge in the seductive thought of being able to hit hard while eating. Instead, you should maintain or slightly reduce your calorie intake despite exercising because you can only lose weight if you burn more calories than you consume.
You should pay attention to a balanced mixed diet. For healthy and long-term weight loss, it is advisable to either take in 90 or more kilocalories less per day or increase endurance training. Optimal fat burning is achieved in basic endurance training, i.e., at a moderate pace, for example, when jogging or cycling.