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Could it be that exercise does not aid weight loss?

(32 Posts)
SunshineMuffin Fri 12-Apr-19 09:41:31

Please don't slam me. I know all of the science in so many different forms (cals in v cals out/high intensity calorie burners/building muscle to burn calories) but I am really struggling. Here is my experience.

Used to go to gym almost obsessively. Looking back, I was toned. The lowest I could get my weight was sitting just within the 'healthy weight'. That to me was my low weight but when I told people, their reaction was always 'well you don't look that heavy'.

Babies etc later (10 years has gone by), I have kept up with a variety of exercise approx 3-5 x per week. I am a stone heavier. I have been to the 2 main slimming groups and this is what I have seen.

People who do not exercise lose weight quickly.
People who do a significant amount of exercise struggle to lose.

It's not the muscle weighs more than fat thing because if you are building muscle, it will help to burn calories and unless you are super toned, you should still lose fat weight. There might be a plateau then a loss.

I just want to know whether anyone else has experienced an easier loss when they don't Exercise?

Doyoumind Fri 12-Apr-19 09:44:15

When I was younger I managed weight loss without exercise but only with exercise as I get older. The way you exercise is really important though, not just the fact you do.

Amongstthetallgrass Fri 12-Apr-19 09:44:26

I went to CrossFit for six months, ate healthy and only lost one pound.

I started a restricted calorie diet and I’ve lost 10lbs in three weeks. I dont do any exercising as my calorie in take is low.

purplelass Fri 12-Apr-19 09:48:15

I read somewhere that weight loss is 80% diet 20% exercise.

I lost 1/2 stone in 4 months after starting running, then I started WW and lost another 1/2 stone in just 2 months, so I guess that kind of proves the point!

LuxLucetInTenebris Fri 12-Apr-19 09:50:45

I find it easier to diet when sedentary! I don't need the energy so I can manage on 1200 cals if I'm not running around busy/ working/ exercising.
My exercise is swimming- and afterwards I probably eat twice the calories I've burned. I swim for health and fitness not weightloss. I can stick to 1200 cals on days I don't swim - and that is the only way I have ever lost weight in my life.

SunshineMuffin Fri 12-Apr-19 09:51:28

I know about the range of exercise and I do metafit and HIIT, team sport, boxing and running.

When I was slim and toned I did resistance Exercise, circuits, boxing, running and gym circuits. I was way more toned but did not lose weight. I msintained a high in average weight band. Im 5ft 3 and was 10st 3 as 'skinny' weight. I'm now 11st 4, have tried various approaches and can't shift. But exercise consistently and always have done. I can't imagine giving up exercise but in terms of weight loss,I don't factor it in (I never increase cal intake because a have or am due to exercise).

BendingSpoons Fri 12-Apr-19 09:51:56

I also read it is 80% diet, 20% exercise. The danger with exercise can be overeating afterwards and overestimating how many calories you have burned.

Weirdly I have always found for me exercise is what makes the difference. This is probably because I have a large appetite and am not that good at moderating calories in!

BendingSpoons Fri 12-Apr-19 09:53:16

Cross post. Sounds like you are doing a great job so I understand your frustration at not loosing weight.

Lifeaback Fri 12-Apr-19 09:53:46

I’ve read a few times that weight loss should be 80% diet and 20% exercise (no recollection of any scientific knowledge to back this up!) so if that figure is true then it makes sense that exercise wouldn’t be having much of an impact. My experience in the past of losing weight has always been that calorie restriction and tracking macros has worked well and I’ve been able to shift 2 stone in a matter of months from this but when exercising and not watching my weight I maintain.

I also remember hearing that your body gets used to the amount of exercise you do, so this could also be impacting it?

Here’s a study which agrees with what you’ve noticed well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/09/19/is-30-minutes-of-daily-exercise-a-sweet-spot-for-weight-loss

FaithInfinity Fri 12-Apr-19 09:55:23

Yes I’ve heard it’s 80% diet and 20% exercise too. Look at someone like Any Murray, at one point he was measured to be only 18% fat! He said he was very strict with his diet to be at optimum health and fitness. After a tournament he would blow out and eat a massive pizza but then straight back on it the next day.

It depends what you’re losing too. If you’re exercising you’ll be gaining muscle, you should be aiming to lose fat but not muscle mass. I reckon most slimmers at slimming groups aren’t losing weight in a healthy way.

I used to go to Curves and they would weigh and measure you - so weight, measurements and body fat % (not sure how accurate the last one was). Some months I wouldn’t have lost much weight but I’d have lost inches and body fat from toning up. Focusing solely on weight loss isn’t necessarily the best thing for long term health. But then I don’t think slimming clubs really want people to be successful long term or they’d lose their money!

SunshineMuffin Fri 12-Apr-19 09:56:32

Thanks @LuxLucet honestly am thinking about reducing the frequency and intensity of exercise and completely changing the way i live. All the exercise I do is time consuming and I'm in a constant rush fitting things in around the kids. I have done exercise like this for so many years now that I'm scared to lower the intensity/frequency. I know it makes no sense and many people reading this will think I'm looking for an excuse not to exercise. Im not, I just want to see lbs drop.

Dimsumlosesum Fri 12-Apr-19 09:57:40

My dh has lost a huge amount of weight, but he completely changed his diet, stopped drinking, and does a ton of cardio throughout the week. I have started running and given up, pretty much, alcohol, and I know I would lose more if i also totally toned down my calorie intake but I can't do that right now. I think at our age it's the calorie intake that makes a huge difference.

PanGalaticGargleBlaster Fri 12-Apr-19 09:57:47

I think a lot of people drastically under estimate quite how hard they work at the gym. It's almost as if 'going to the gym' aids weight loss rather then 'what you do at the gym'. I always see people wondering around aimlessly down my gym, not working up a sweat or pushing themselves very hard. I found wearing a heart rate monitor kept me very honest insofar as how many calories I was burning.

SunshineMuffin Fri 12-Apr-19 10:04:42

Thanks @lifeaback. Interesting article.
I know I shouldn't let the scales tell the whole story but I really do want to see the numbers drop or just learn to be happy the way i am.

MorrisZapp Fri 12-Apr-19 10:09:57

It's a simple equation of calories in and calories out. I run in the gym, and burn 600 calories in a one hour session. I don't eat this back.

Effectively I've burned off my evening meal and my daily curly wurly.

I only manage two sessions a week, but it makes me hyper aware of calories and not wasting them. I find it absolutely invaluable.

The more muscle you have, the faster you burn calories, even when asleep.

BendingSpoons Fri 12-Apr-19 10:11:12

Lifeaback that's a really interesting article. I have found I get better weight loss doing weights rather than lots of cardio. I dislike the cardio (running, cycling) so probably do less exercise and lie in the sofa for longer when I get home. The weights get my heart rate up, but less, but I feel energised after rather than exhausted.

SunshineMuffin Fri 12-Apr-19 10:12:32

@PanGalacticGargleBlaster
Something along the lines of:
Sprint/jog interval training .2,.4,.6,.8 1k and back down.
Supersets (arm/leg/core focus 3 exercises back to back, 1 min rest, repeat 3 times)
Speed bike (1.6 I'm with aim to reduce time taken each time).
Explosive jacks, rotation push ups, plank & alternating arm plank, reverse plank, burpees and mountain climbers.

Some variation

ChipsAreLife Fri 12-Apr-19 10:17:11

I burn around 450/500 cals a day through exercise but I don't eat this back, if I do I can't lose weight. I think that's where I've gone wrong in the past.

That said since I've started exercising in Jan I've lost 12 lbs through watching Diet, stopped drinking but I'm fitting into clothes that normally I would need to weigh less to get into. So I think I'm slimmer as I'm more muscle. My body shape is changing too.

I think it's more 70/30 for me personally, but they say you can outrun a bad diet

ChipsAreLife Fri 12-Apr-19 10:17:42

Oh I know the cals as I use a monitor that is strapped to my chest so really accurate

TheRumor Fri 12-Apr-19 10:41:24

@SunshineMuffin

I too have seen people at WW and SW that start exercise and their weight loss stalls.

I don't particularly think it's all to do with diet, but then again I'm not an expert on these things.

I think whatever exercise you do should be something you enjoy, not just for weight loss. I also think that restrictive diets can lead to weight gain in the future if they are not easily maintained beyond the honeymoon period.

When it comes to loving yourself... please cut yourself some slack. Your body is doing amazing things everyday and you are choosing to move it. This is good! Embrace what makes you feel good!! A number on a scale is arbitrary really. What matters is how you talk to yourself and love yourself - which is a journey in itself but it should be gentle and full of kindness.

Amongstthetallgrass Fri 12-Apr-19 12:59:48

If you have always exercised it might be muscle

EBearhug Fri 12-Apr-19 14:05:42

About a million years ago, I worked in the tropics for a few months. When I came back, the scales said I weighed just the same as I had before I left - but my clothes were very definitely looser. Spending days doing physical work had toned me up and built muscle. In any case, fitness isn't just about weight. I'd rather be fitter, more flexible and stronger even if it meant I weighed a bit more.

TheHoundsofLove Fri 12-Apr-19 14:26:00

I think a huge part of it is that doing no or very little exercise means you can much more easily keep to a lower calorie intake. I do quite a lot of exercise (am a runner, but also do HIIT, weights, bootcamps etc.) and find it really hard to eat enough to give me energy for longer workouts, but not so much that it cancels out weight loss. i do sometimes wonder whether it would be easier to just do a really strict diet (something like the Blood Sugar Diet) and no exercise... But, I've no intention of stopping exercising, so it's a moot point, really. And having said all of this, I genuinely do think that exercise massively helps speed up my metabolism, so I don't think it's all down to food either... confused

PanGalaticGargleBlaster Fri 12-Apr-19 16:52:52

It's probably worth checking body fat % alongside your weight

LoubyLou1234 Fri 12-Apr-19 18:05:23

I don't eat back the calories I burn with exercise I also under estimate rather over estimate. I don't diet and I don't weigh myself as it becomes obsessive. I eat healthily at least 5 days a week. I eat treats too. I drink a small amount of alcohol and eat out too. ( life is for living)

I swam for years but my body shape stalled so I started spinning it changed again. I'm doing a mix of cardio yoga and resistance/strength and it's never been this shape I have a defined stomach and I can see arm muscles! but I probably don't weigh that much less!

Everyone's body is different we should accept that. I don't understand the need to be a certain weight or a few vanity pounds lighter. Eating well most of the time and exercising too are both good for us in so many ways. We shouldn't stop exercising just because it doesn't help us lose a stone on 2 weeks....

StandUpStraight Sun 06-Oct-19 21:50:53

@SunshineMuffin just wondering whether you did end up reducing your exercise, and if so, how it went? I’m a fairly obsessive exerciser but as I get older I’m finding it exhausting. I’d like to cut it back but I’m a bit scared to - always feel so guilty if I miss a day! Intellectually I know missing a day or two is fine and even desirable. But I think I need to find a better balance and get comfortable with doing less.

Dyrne Mon 07-Oct-19 08:20:53

I agree it’ll be people eating back their calories. I only burn 200 calories on a run - if I were to have a mars bar (232 cals) it would completely undo all the calorie burning; and I would in fact be 32 cals up!

I wonder how many people in your slimming group are having extra snacks/bigger portions as they’ve exercised that day?

Clipperclopper Tue 15-Oct-19 16:43:13

It certainly helps IF you are on top of your diet. Diets trumps exercise.
It is the icing on the cake as long as you do not over eat.

Clipperclopper Tue 15-Oct-19 16:45:04

Best advice i got was.
Ignore the cals you burn through exercise.
Do not thin oh great i burnt 600 cals i can now eat an extra 600 cals.
I saw a lot of overweight people in the gym.

BIWI Tue 15-Oct-19 16:48:35

Exercise is undoubtedly good for you - both for your physical and your mental health. But it's much harder to lose weight just through exercise.

The 80:20 figure is quoted a lot on this thread, but Dr Jason Fung, who wrote The Obesity Code, suggests it's more accurately 95% diet and only 5% exercise.

What is your diet like?

QRCode Wed 16-Oct-19 13:30:44

Another interesting read is The Diet Fix by Zoe Harcombe. She is very clear about the 3500 calorie myth and the CICO theory - both rubbish.

Rachaelw02 Wed 16-Oct-19 16:34:23

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

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