In the good old days, the connection between exercise and weight loss was a simple equation. The more you exercise, the more weight you’ll lose. However, modern sports science is increasingly coming to the conclusion that exercise alone is not going to help you lose weight. And the more you look at the evidence, it becomes mystifying that people never saw this connection before.
According to a new study published in the journal Current Biology, exercising alone will not necessarily lead to calorie burn. According to the study, Energy Compensation And Adiposity In Humans, for every 100 calories of energy expended during exercise, your body is actually only losing about 72 calories. The remaining 28 calories get compensated by our bodies almost immediately, which makes losing weight just by working out a more difficult proposition.
Now why is that? As other studies have pointed out earlier, the human metabolism is designed to protect the body from starvation. A 2012 study that looked at the metabolism of African hunter-gatherer communities found that the daily average energy expenditure of an active hunter-gatherer is not much different from that of a sedentary person. This led the researchers of that paper to hypothesize that daily energy expenditure rates in humans all over the world are more or less the same.
This means that, just being active is not going to be enough. You have to lead an active lifestyle, while supplementing it with correct nutrition and proper rest. After all, if you work out for an hour and then drink a glass of cola or have a cookie, you’re wasting all the hard work that you just put in. As Lounge fitness writer Sohini Sen put it so aptly in a story on weight loss earlier this year: “So these are the things that you should not do: overstressing your body, starving, focusing only on a calorie deficit diet, ignoring a good nutrition plan and indulging in mindless cardio workouts. Doing all this might make you lose plenty of weight, but in the process, you will also lose muscle mass.”
So don’t skimp on the exercise. Even if you’re not losing all the calories that you thought you were, you’re still losing enough. But remember to supplement it with proper nutrition and healthy everyday habits to really see good results.