There isn’t a one size fits all formula when it comes to losing weight. This may be nothing new to you but the frustrating part for a lot of people is trying to find out what actually does work for them.
Doctors have said for decades that burning more calories than you take in results in weight loss. Well, it is a lot more complicated than that. Just like I already said, different methods work for different people. I also believe that as we age, our methods need to change and adapt as well since our body, hormones, metabolism, etc change over the years as we age.
If you know what works for you, then great (I bet there are still helpful tips in the article that you can cross check with what you do or don’t do, to excel even more at keeping yourself healthy and fit). If you are someone that hasn’t exactly found what works for them, then keep reading.
What the research says.
As the theory goes, one of the main reasons people either don’t lose weight or gain it when they engage in a regular cardiovascular activity is because all that movement makes them hungrier. While this concept has been studied for years, the latest research out of Loughborough University in Britain saw some interesting results.
The small study closely followed 16 healthy young men to see which types of exercise led to increased levels of acylated ghrelin, or the hormone that increases appetite. Interestingly, they found that when these men ran for 90 minutes or longer, their appetites were actually less voracious than the appetites of those who engaged in shorter, more intense bursts of exercise.
Of course, this is a small study, but the bottom line is that we’re all different—and for some people, eating an enormous meal after exercise might have less to do with actual appetite and more to do with other factors.
Why exercise backfires.
Let’s take a closer look at those other factors. Albert Matheny, M.S., R.D., CSCS, and co-founder of SoHo Strength Lab, says that for many of his clients who struggle with their weight, they mistake dehydration for hunger. “While cardio can make people hungrier, I often believe it’s in their heads,” he explains. “First, make sure you are hydrated. Second, make sure you are giving
your body the nutrition it needs.”
He adds that exercise is actually a great way to understand what your body needs, as we need to eat after exercise in order to repair the muscles. But he points out that a lot of people are addicted to carbohydrates, which messes with hunger cues. “Breaking the addiction most people have to carbohydrates is key,” he says.
Exercise as a weight-loss tool.
While exercise has a number of benefits that have absolutely nothing to do with weight loss—from happiness and decreased stress to reduced risk of heart disease—it can be an effective way to lose weight if you do it right.
“Cardiovascular fitness, strength training, and mobility should both be employed in a weight-loss routine,” says Matheny. “There is a right way and a wrong way for each person depending on their current level of fitness and their goals. I still think a blend of the three is the best, but I do think strength training or strength combined with cardiovascular training can be more effective in a shorter amount of time than just cardiovascular activity. The reason for this is that cardiovascular training does not typically build lean muscle mass, which is key for increasing metabolism and helps burn more calories and aids in weight loss.”
But above all, Matheny says, proper nutrition is key. “Exercise is important for so many reasons, but changing your nutrition can be the only thing you need to do if your goal is just weight loss,” he says. “Any sort of exercise will aid in weight loss, but making sure you’re nourishing your body properly is by far the most important thing you can do.”