Exercise is amazing.
In fact, it is so amazing, I have spent lots of money building a gym at my house.
If you want to live a longer happier life, then you should exercise, and you should do it often.
…for weight loss, exercise isn’t that great.
Now I have reeled you in with the click bait title, let me explain.
Calories and stuff...
For people looking to shift a few pounds, exercise is viewed as a method to burning calories.
Unfortunately, exercise doesn’t burn that many calories (sorry but your smart watch is lying to you)
There are lots of other things that is better at burning calories than exercise.
BMR – Basal Metabolic Rate
The biggest amount of calories comes from BMR. To keep you alive, your body is doing some weird and wonderful things. Your heart is beating, the cogs are turning in your brain (I’m fairly certain that’s how it works) and your lungs are taking in oxygen.
This all burns calories and lots of it. In fact, it makes up about 60-70 % of your total daily calories.
NEAT – Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis
That sounds fancy, but it means all your activity in a day that isn’t typical exercise. Walking, cleaning, wrestling your toddler. This burns lots of calories. In fact, it burns more calories than your gym session or spin class. Your 1 hour in the gym 3 times a week is no competition for the other 23 hours in a day.
EAT – Exercise activity thermogenesis
This is the part most people focus on. Intentional exercise of your choice. Depending on your activity, this is probably going to burn around 10-15% of your daily calories.
TEF – Thermic effect of food
To digest food, it burns calories. This is only small and makes up about 5-10% of your daily calories.
Now, we can very quickly see that exercise makes up a very small portion of our total daily calories. Most of our calories are burned from just staying alive and living.
What if I do hours of exercise?
Have you ever heard the saying you can’t out train a bad diet?
Well, it’s not technically true. You certainly can, but it will take a very long time.
Let me give you can example.
To lose a pound of fat, you need to be in a 500 calorie deficit per day, or 3500 calories per week (this is rough estimation, but let’s run with it).
To burn 500 calories from exercise per day, you will need to be running roughly 10 km, every single day.
About an hour of your life.
Every single day.
To lose 1 lb a week. That sounds miserable.
For most people with a life, a job, kids and maybe some hobbies, that is not going to be achievable.
Well, there are a few others things we need to consider.
When we exercise, we tend to eat more. Our hunger increases which forces us to make less than ideal decisions. We feel that we can justify eating a little bit more, as we have been for a big run. Whilst we need to eat to survive, this goes against our reasoning to exercise in the first place.
We also tend to move less. Knowing we have been for a run, or been to the gym, we feel the need to rest, recuperate and recover. In turn, this means we are less likely to take the stairs, go for that walk or move from the horizontal position on the sofa.
Do you remember we mentioned NEAT earlier? Well, our NEAT burns more calorie than exercise. If by exercising we reduce our NEAT, we are also going against our reasoning for exercising in the first place.
This puts us in a bit of a predicament.
So, I should just quit the gym?
No, please don’t.
Exercise on its own may be a terrible solution to weight loss, but it has loads of other physical and mental health benefits.
Exercise can in fact help maintain or supplement your weight loss, but should not be relied on solely to do so.
Focus on your diet, walking and lifestyle to help control your weight. Exercise to be strong, fit and fast.
If you would like to work together and put a sensible plan in place to achieve your goals, then drop me a message and lets have a chat.
The brains, brawn and beauty of Dackattack (basically it’s just me). A personal trainer with a private gym in Norwich, dedicated to giving out simple, actionable advice that will give you outstanding results.