Exercise doesn’t always reduce body fat. As a registered dietitian nutritionist, I’ve seen this many times before: someone takes up exercising in an attempt to lose weight – and the exact opposite happens! They get fatter! Has this ever happened to you?
A recent research study took 81 sedentary, but healthy women, through a vigorous but manageable supervised exercise program. After 12 weeks of aerobic training, they were certainly more fit – but many weighed more. And, no, it wasn’t all muscle!
Why? The senior author of this study suggests that it’s likely that those who gained weight began eating slightly more and moving less when they weren’t on the treadmills. And, it’s easy to do. It doesn’t take much to put on a few pounds. Here’s my advice:
- Consider what else you’re doing for the rest of the day. Are you moving less (sitting more, fidgeting less) during the day to “rest” legs after your run or workout? Are you eating more to reward yourself for the exercise you did?
- Remember, it’s often just the little things. Weight gain is typically from very small things. There are approximately 3500 calories in a pound of fat. So, eating just 10 extra calories a day (the calories in a mint), will result in an extra pound over a years time.
- Weigh yourself every day. Research from Dr. Brian Wansink suggests that daily weigh-ins are associated with weight loss, while monthly weights are linked to weight gain. It’s easy to tell yourself a story about how you’re putting on weight because you’re adding on muscle, but if you’re overweight your goal should be to lose fat and replace it with muscle.
- Take action – sooner, rather than later. If you’re putting on weight, take action before it gets out of hand.