Weight Loss and ExercisePor Leslie Rodríguez, RD, LD, Specialist in sports nutrition and physical activity at MyDiet™ -
People often complain that they don’t see the results they want from exercise. We mostly exercise to lose weight, right? We expect that exercising daily will help us in the weight-loss process, but sometimes we are sorely disappointed. Some say they don’t lose weight, but instead gain weight after beginning an exercise program. Why does this happen?
When you want to lose body fat, you must create a calorie deficit. To do this, you have to be burning more calories than you are consuming. Increasing physical activity often leads to an increased appetite. If you indulge your appetite and eat more, you are negating the calorie-burning effects of exercise.
Men who exercise are much more likely to lose weight than women. Men’s bodies are typically leaner than women’s, and therefore more efficient at burning calories. A study in the International Journal of Sports Medicinein 1989 had a group of men and women train for a marathon over a period of 18 months. These were people of normal weight who were normally sedentary. In the end, the men lost about 5 pounds of fat, while the women hardly lost any weight at all.
Even if you gain weight, you may still be losing body fat. Muscle weighs more than fat and takes up less space. Pay attention to how your clothes fit. You may weigh more, but your clothes will probably fit better. That’s definitely a sign that you are moving in the right direction.
Take your measurements. Use a measuring tape to measure your chest, waist, hips, arms and thighs. Every four weeks or so, re-take the same measurements to track your progress. If you're losing inches, you are doing something right.
If you have gained weight and haven't slimmed down, it’s time to
take a good look at your diet. You may think that you are eating
fewer calories. The only way to know for sure is to keep a journal
of what you eat every day. Look over it to see what can be cut out.
Maybe you can eliminate juice, soda, alcohol, and extra snacking.
Even if after weeks of exercise and healthy eating you do not lose weight, don’t get frustrated and quit. Focus on the immediate benefits of exercise. How do you feel while you're working out?
Hopefully, you feel energetic and alert. You may notice you sleep better, your body feels stronger, and you're less stressed and more confident. The benefits of exercise go way beyond weight loss and appearance!
Losing weight takes time, patience, and daily dedication. When you feel like you want to quit, remember that what you're doing (or not doing) now will affect your quality of life in the future.
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