In the good old days, the link between exercise and weight loss was a simple equation. The more you exercise, the more weight you will 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 have never seen this connection before.
According to a new study published in the journal Current biology, exercising alone will not necessarily result in calorie expenditure. According to the study, Energy compensation and adiposity in humans, for every 100 calories of energy expended during exercise, your body actually only loses about 72 calories. The remaining 28 calories are compensated by our body almost immediately, making weight loss just by working out more difficult.
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Now why is that? As other studies pointed out earlier, the human metabolism is designed to protect the body from starvation. A 2012 study that examined the metabolism of African hunter-gatherer communities found that the average daily energy expenditure of an active hunter-gatherer is not much different from that of a sedentary person. This led the researchers of this article to hypothesize that the rates of daily energy expenditure in humans around the world are more or less the same.
This means that just being active will not be enough. You need to lead an active lifestyle, while supplementing it with good nutrition and good rest. After all, if you work out for an hour and then drink a glass of cola or a cookie, you’re wasting all the hard work you just did. Salon Fitness writer Sohini Sen put it so well in a story about losing weight earlier this year: indulging in insane cardio workouts. Doing all of this might cause you to lose a lot of weight, but in the process, you will also lose muscle mass.
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So don’t skimp on the exercise. Even if you don’t lose all the calories you thought you were losing, you are still losing enough. But don’t forget to supplement it with good nutrition and healthy daily habits to really see good results.
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