The short answer is likely to be that you are consuming more calories than you are expending. I have written about over-rewarding our exercise efforts in previous blogs but let’s look at the question “Why am I not losing weight even though I am exercising?” in more detail.
Many people exercise to improve their health and general wellbeing. These are hugely important factors to living a full and happy life. If excess weight is limiting your wellbeing in any way whether that be psychological or physiological, it is time to understand why the exercise you do does not solve the problem.
Unfortunately for the majority of people it is not the exercise part that matters most when weight needs to be shifted. It is most definitely important but as a study in the American Journal of Medicine put it “isolated aerobic exercise is not an effective weight loss therapy”. Now combine a good diet with exercise and there you have the magic pill!
As you are reading this then it is more than likely that you already exercise. Is it time to examine your diet?
Those little extras that keep us going, or should that be growing?!
We consistently underestimate the amount of calories we consume. A recent study found that almost a quarter of people who were polled underestimated calorie content in fast food by at least 500 calories. That would add up over a week! Have a think about what might take your total over and above what you expend. Even when the food is healthy, if it adds up to more than your body needs guess what it gets stored as? FAT 🙁
An additional factor most people tend to overestimate, is how much they burn through exercise. In a Canadian study, a group of people were told to eat the number of calories they thought they had just burned by exercising. They ate two to three times as much.
How to need less
Another answer to the question is to look not so much at the amount you eat as what it consists of. This is because some foods are much better at filling you up and keeping you feeling fuller for longer. A protein-rich diet – with about 35% of your calories coming from a protein source – seems to be the best way to combat hunger & fight muscle loss which is a natural occurrence as we age.
Please don’t read that last paragraph and believe that “carbs are evil” because that is a myth. Carbs are an important part of a balanced diet, particularly if your chosen form of exercise is endurance-based. They are also needed for energy so please don’t start leaving them out or you won’t feel like exercising!
Just remember you don’t need to fill up with food before an hour of exercise as we store enough in our bodies for 90 minutes. Much better to refuel than risk the dreaded stitch, we might be good at multi-tasking but our digestive system needs our bodies full attention if it is not going to complain.
What exercise should I do?
Which is best for weight loss? My usual answer is probably “the one you enjoy and will stick to”. Cardio burns more calories at the time you are doing it, but weight training encourages your body to burn more calories through the rest of the day. It is generally agreed that if weight loss is the goal, the best approach is to do both.
If you dislike swimming there is some good news. This activity is known to be less effective for weight loss than other forms of exercise. Not least because swimming stimulates the appetite. This leads to an over-consumption of food afterwards. Swimming in cold water would burn more calories in order to keep you warm so just leave the wetsuit at home!
Understand what your goals are, keep up the exercising and make whatever changes are needed to ensure your success.