‘Why am I exercising but not losing weight?’
When you’re working hard in the gym, but your weight won’t budge, it can be incredibly frustrating.
While it sounds counter-intuitive, exercise doesn’t always equal weight loss.
Here are three questions you need to ask yourself…
1. Are you really in a calorie deficit?
To lose weight, you need to create a calorie deficit consistently over time. Essentially, burn more calories than you’re consuming over a long enough period, and you will lose weight.
Exercise burns calories so it must automatically lead to weight loss, right? Not always!
Unless you are maintaining that all-important deficit in your energy balance. This is why tracking your meals in a food diary and monitoring your daily activity levels with step count can be useful tools to highlight any areas which might be holding you back.
2. Are you moving less outside the gym?
A big driver of weight loss is NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis). It is the energy expended in any activity that does not include formal exercise – walking the dog, playing with the kids, washing the car, fidgeting at your desk.
Your NEAT can account for anything up to 50% of your daily energy expenditure if you’re active throughout the day.
Studies show that when people start an exercise program, their NEAT can drop which will lower energy expenditure and wipe out your calorie deficit.
This is why we advise all clients to aim for a minimum of 10,000 steps per day consistently to keep their NEAT high. You can track this simply with a pedometer, fitness watch or smartphone app to monitor your steps day to day.
3. Are you eating more without knowing?
Most people will over-estimate their calorie burn from exercise, while underestimating the amount of calories they eat day to day.
It’s common for people to think ‘I am exercising and burning more calories, so I should be able to eat more or treat myself’. But the extra calories can often outstrip the extra calories burned.
Sometimes it can be imperceptible. Slight increases in hunger may mean an extra biscuit here and there, or a slightly larger portion at the dinner table. Again, extra calories add up and can negate your weight loss attempts.
This is why we advise clients to track their food intake. Whether that is logging their calorie intake or monitoring portion sizes, having an honest and objective view can prevent unconscious overeating.
Exercise is an important component of weight loss. Progressive weight training and increasing your daily energy expenditure is a big part of what we do at Ultimate Performance to help people achieve transformation results.
But exercise isn’t the magic bullet for weight loss on its own.
Combining effective diet and training strategies together is going to be the most effective and sustainable way of losing the weight you want.