Exercise Less for Weight Loss?

By Dietitian, Juliette Kellow BSc RD

Is your workout making you fat?

Ever wondered why you’re not losing weight, despite taking regular exercise and putting in maximum effort each time?

Researchers from the University of Ottawa think they may have the answer. They’ve looked at the effect easy and hard workouts have on the appetites of young women. After each morning exercise session, the 13 women in the study were allowed to eat as much as they wanted from a buffet lunch.

The study found that those women who pushed themselves to the limit with high-intensity workouts ate the most after exercising, consuming more than 90 percent of the calories they’d burnt off. In contrast, those women who’d done low intensity workouts, consumed just 35 percent of the calories they’d burnt.

The authors of the study conclude that women who do high-intensity exercise are more likely to over-compensate by eating more food after their workout, compared with those who do easier workouts.

Eric Doucet, assistant professor at the University of Ottawa's School of Human Kinetics and a co-author of the study says, "Women need to be aware of the fact that after high-intensity exercise, they might be tempted to over-consume food."

Weight Loss Resources says…

This study shows it may be better to ‘tone’ down your workout after all, and aim for gentler activities such as brisk walking or aqua aerobics rather than ‘going for the burn’ on the treadmill or in a spinning class.

Nevertheless, it’s important to bear in mind that this study included just 13 people – and they were all young, fit and a normal weight. More research is needed to identify whether the same results occur with women of different ages, fitness levels and weights.

In the meantime, it’s well established that physical activity helps to burn calories and build muscle. The latter is especially important as the more muscle you have, the faster your body will tick over so that you can maintain your weight on a slightly higher calorie intake.

Ultimately, if you want to lose weight and tone up, it’s essential to get moving – ideally, you should aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise, five times a week. But it’s equally important to make sure you don’t undo all your good work by filling up on sugary drinks, chocolate bars, crisps, biscuits or super-sized lunches or dinners after exercising.

If you’re hungry between meals opt for fresh fruit. And remember, it’s easy to mistake thirst for hunger with the result that you eat when really your body is crying out for fluid. If you feel hungry after exercising, have a glass of water and wait for 15 minutes – you may find you weren’t hungry at all!

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