It’s a sad sight but a common one, nonetheless: the same people sweating on the treadmills – week after week – without making an inch of progress.
No doubt you’ve witnessed this, first-hand, if you’re a regular gym-goer. And if you’re not, you probably know someone that fits the profile (i.e. the chronic exerciser who’s always battling their weight).
So, what gives? Why can’t these people drop the pounds despite so much physical fitness?
For the most part, it has to do with a very damaging myth: believing that you can eat whatever you want as long as you work out. In fact, not only will this stop you from losing weight, it will likely cause you to gain it.
For starters, working out burns far few calories than you think. How much fewer? Here are a couple of examples to put things in perspective:
- A 163 pound woman (the average weight of an American woman according to NHANES) walking at a speed of 3 miles/hour for 45 minutes will burn about 242 calories.
- That same 163 pound woman will burn approximately 313 calories running on the treadmill for 30 minutes.
Now, keeping these numbers in mind, take a moment to think about what people usually do after exercising: they “reward” themselves – maybe not immediately after, but later in the day (or the next one) nonetheless.
So, if our hypothetical woman decided to eat a Snickers after her walk (packing 271 calories per bar), she’d essentially cancel out the calorie burn… and add 29 more to her daily total. If she decided to drink a Gatorade (310 calories / 12 oz.) after her run to rehydrate, again, she’s back to square one.
To make matters worse, consider the fact that people don’t just stop at Snickers bars and energy drinks. They go on to indulge far more than – believing that they’re burning it off. And that’s how the pounds stay on despite constant bouts of activity. It’s simple math (for the most part).
Listen, if you’re trying to lose weight no amount of exercise can make up for a poor diet! Furthermore, exercise alone is the worst way to go about it. Sure, it does help but much less than you think (and for reasons other than calorie burn; e.g. it increases your tissue’s insulin sensitivity). In fact, as far as fat loss is concerned, about 80% of your results come from the foods you eat, while 20% can be attributed to exercise.
Therefore, get your diet in check first, and then focus on working out. By having a sensible eating program in place you’ll be able to really reap the benefits of exercise. So unlike the “treadmill junkies” mentioned at the beginning of this article, you’ll make progress that you (and everyone around you) can be proud of.