This Common Weight Loss Strategy Is Surprisingly Ineffective, Says Science
If you’re all about that gym life (or just trying REALLY hard not to bail on your New Year's fitness resolutions), and think the only road to weight loss is one paved alongside as many workouts as you can manage a week, you could actually be working against yourself. According to The Telegraph, a study that measured the daily calorie expenditure and activity levels of more than 300 men and women found that when the body is faced with higher activity levels (i.e. you sign up for a different exercise class every day) it eventually adapts. In layman's terms? Your metabolism gets crazy-efficient and learns to do everything you need it to on fewer calories. If you're trying to slim down, or even maintain your weight, that's exactly the OPPOSITE of what you want.
Interestingly, the study also found that people who maintain moderate activity levels (such as walking to work and hitting the gym twice a week) were found to burn roughly 200 more calories per day than total couch potatoes. Unexpectedly, for this group of people, adding on extra exercise didn’t necessarily make a difference in their calorie expenditure. To explain this anomaly scientists described a "sweet spot" of activity, which once passed didn't always result in more calories burned, and as a result could actually cause a weight loss plateau.
The lead scientist Dr. Herman Pontzer said the findings showed that exercise alone wasn’t enough to prevent or reverse weight gain. He also reiterated that people with "moderate activity levels" which included incidental exercise and a few workouts per week, were found to expend the most calories overall. Our take? These findings add weight to the popular theory: "You can’t out-train a bad diet", which is to say healthy weight loss is a combination of solid nutrition, exercise and other important factors like sleep. It’s also food for thought next time you feel like you absolutely *need* to hit the treadmill—turns out watching Netflix can be just as good for you as a workout. (Kind of.)
N.B A wellbeing diary like this one from Kikki.K ($35) is a good way to keep track of your daily activity.