‘Why am I exercising but still not losing weight?’
When you’ve joined a gym, lost a couple of kgs at first, but now your weight won’t budge. This can be incredibly frustrating.
While this might sound counter-intuitive, exercise doesn’t always equal weight loss.
Here are three things you need to ask yourself…
Are you really in a calorie deficit?
To lose weight, you need to create a calorie deficit consistently over some time. Ultimately, burn more calories than you’re consuming over a long enough time, and you will lose weight.
Burning calories when you exercise must automatically lead to losing weight, right? Not necessarily! Unless you are maintaining that all-important deficit in your food intake. This is why tracking your meals in a food tracking system or diary and monitoring your daily activity levels (whether that be your step count or other daily movement activities) can be useful tools to highlight any areas which might be holding you back.
Are you moving very little outside of the gym?
The main driver of weight loss is NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis). It is the energy used in any activity that does not include formal exercise – walking the dog, cleaning the house, dancing.
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 programme, their NEAT can reduce, lower energy expenditure and eliminate their calorie deficit.
This is why we advise all clients to aim for 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 track your step count each day. Don’t worry if you don’t get anywhere near 10,000 to begin with, for example, aim for 7,000, or 8,000 and move up to 10,000.
Are you eating more without knowing?
Most people will overestimate the number of calories they burn from exercise while underestimating the number of calories they’re consuming day to day.
It’s common for people to think ‘I am exercising, so I should be able to eat more or treat myself. But the extra calories can often outstrip the calories burned from the gym.
Sometimes it can be imperceptible. Slight increases in hunger may mean an extra biscuit here and there or snacking after dinner. Again extra calories add up and can impact your weight loss attempts.
This is why we advise clients to track their food intake. Whether it’s logging their calories 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 Lean Body Training 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 is going to be the most effective and sustainable way of losing the weight you want and keeping it off.