“Burn more calories” is the default advice from fitness professionals if you ask them about how to achieve fat loss.
The how and what typically includes “exercise and eating right”.
True, exercise/training/working out will cause you to burn (more) calories.
But you burn calories by simply being alive too.
So how come, after years of hard training, you’re somehow gaining weight again?
Know the biggest single consumer of calories in your body?
Hint: It’s not your muscles…
It’s your big, beautiful, brain.
It consumes about 20% of the energy produced in your body every day.
Exercise does help burn more calories
Most people lose weight when they start working out!
Another thing that’s true about that period of their life..?
Exercise is probably not the only thing they changed.
People rarely decide to “get in shape” and simply start exercising, without also “going on a diet”, paying close attention to what and how they eat.
The diet chosen doesn’t actually matter.
Sure, calorie burn from exercise does help, a smidge.
Before you start protesting…
That device/app you have on your wrist, the treadmill, or on your pocket/phone is not an accurate measure of your metabolic rate (calorie burn).
According to the article, the rated measurement tools are off by +/- 10 to 20 or more percent.
That, in turn, assumes the formula used to calculate the calorie burn is accurate.
It represents an average.
That average can be off by as much as another 20+ percent.
Feel enlightened and depressed yet?
Back to how much more energy you burn during exercise.
Calories burned during exercise
Frankly, the number of calories burned during exercise is normally pretty small.
When I used to guesstimate my calorie burn I found that
Actually, if you “carb load” before/after your class, we can pretty much guarantee that whatever extra you burned during got replenished in full (plus a bit more).
On the other hand, that minimal increase in the daily calorie burn from that new shiny exercise class is not what brings the number down on your scale.
Oh, and that “afterburn” (EPOC) thing they talk about in fitness circles…
It doesn’t last for 24-48 hours (oops!) and the amount of extra calories burned as the result of EPOC isn’t all that significant either. (PS: I’m guilty of touting “Afterburn” as a benefit of weight lifting, sorry!)
That typically comes from the fact that most of us are suddenly also paying attention to what we put into our pie-hole.
And that our body starts shedding some water.
Mostly due to the sudden increase in available water.
All that fruit and vegetables, plus lean protein, equals a more consistent supply of water from the food.
Plus, depending on the specific changes, there could also be an improved inflammation response.
Less inflammation means less water retained by the body.
Then the number on the scale starts dropping.
(Paying close attention to the number isn’t all that good for your overall health either, but let’s talk about that some other day!)
It’s quite simple, really.
Fat loss hinges on your nutrition.
There is no such thing as out-training poor nutrition choices.
What makes for a good nutrition choice?
My favorite “quote” in this area has always been:
Don’t eat foods that have ingredients. Eat foods that are ingredients.
I.e. Eat vegetables, lean meats, fruits and whole grains.
Then, because training does help you look good naked, hit the gym and complete your HIIT training for today.