Have you found that despite a consistent or even rigorous exercise routine, you’re still struggling to lose weight? Undeniably, exercise is important for overall health. However, several studies have shown that exercise alone doesn’t necessarily lead to weight loss. Here’s why.
- Your body adapts to the extra energy loss
This is called metabolic adaptation. In essence, this is your body’s way of taking care of you by making adjustments based on your activity level and caloric intake. Your body may get used to the idea that you’ll be running a few miles every day, and therefore start to expend less and less energy per run in order to preserve and protect you. You may often hear this referred to as the dreaded “plateau.” Metabolic adaptation also has very much to do with the calories you are eating. The less calories you have in you, the less you will burn, and the more calories you have, the more you will burn. Simply put, it all cancels itself out. Our bodies are extremely energy efficient, and this can often get in the way of weight loss goals.
- You’re doing the wrong type of exercise
It is widely believed that doing lots of cardio will burn lots of fat. This is not necessarily true. While cardio remains very good for you when it comes to your heart and overall health, it is not as effective for weight loss as you may think. Think of body fat like stored energy. The only way your body will break down stored body fat is if you reduce your caloric intake, causing your body to fuel itself by taking its required energy out of your fat tissue. Many people try to create this deficit effect by exercising more, but we know now that our energy efficient bodies make that hard to achieve. The most effective weight loss approach is to strength train to build lean muscle tissue paired with a calorie restricted diet. How much muscle you have is directly related to how fast your metabolism is, meaning, more muscle, faster metabolism. Since we want to maintain fast and efficient metabolisms to aid in fat loss, building muscle is key. Consider using an app or a personal trainer to help find the best strength training and caloric intake plan for you.
- Your hormones may be preventing weight loss
According to studies, hormonal fluctuations can influence your appetite, like how much you eat and what you’re craving. Hormonal changes can also even cause you to store more or less fat in your body, depending on their balance. There are four main hormones that can impact weight gain or loss: insulin (stores fat), leptin (makes you feel full), cortisol (stress hormone, often leading to poor eating habits), and estrogen (female sex hormone, often causing weight gain in women during menopause). From getting enough sleep to practicing mindfulness, drinking water to drinking green tea, there are many ways you can keep your hormones in balance while on your weight loss journey.
- What you eat matters more when it comes to weight loss
Already it has been made quite clear through other examples that diet plays the bigger role in weight loss than exercise does. Not only how much you eat, but what you eat matters big time on your weight loss journey. Of course, both diet and exercise paired together will garner the best results, but it may come as a surprise that if you had to pick only one, altering your nutrition will make the biggest impact. Weight loss is generally 75 percent diet and 25 percent exercise. An analysis of more than 700 weight loss studies found that people see the biggest short-term results when they eat well. If you pursue a coach or personal trainer to help you on your weight loss journey, make sure they prioritize and are certified in nutrition so they can help you work out a suitable eating plan to support your fitness goal.
- You may have an underlying condition that prevents you from losing weight
If, despite changes in diet and regular exercise, you still haven’t lost any weight, it is recommended that you see a doctor. It may be an underlying condition like an underactive thyroid or polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) that is making it impossible to lose weight. In those cases, you’ll want to seek the proper care and treatment.
Don’t be discouraged! If you are working hard and not seeing the results you wish for, you are not alone. Everybody is different, and it may take some time to establish for yourself what works best and produces your desired results. Try not to get sucked into diet culture trends and passing fads, but rather, focus on yourself and stay committed to what you know works best.