Great! But the reason you are probably reading this article is, because you want to lose weight while or even through exercising. I hate to be the one to tell you, but first let me burst this bubble, because you probably won’t. The title of an editorial in the scientific journal ‘British Journal of Sports Medicine’ actually says it all: “You cannot outrun a bad diet”.
Your weight and therefore overweight is just the simple balance between your energy intake and your energy expenditure. So it seems logical that when you increase your energy expenditure through exercising you will automatically drop weight. However, unfortunately it’s not that simple. To explain why this is the case, we first need to focus on the different types of energy intake.
Do I need to burn fat to lose weight?
Your body can rely on three types of energy; carbohydrates, fat and protein. The latter is not such a good idea, because those proteins are actually essential for muscle recovery. This only happens when the first two options has run out. You might have experienced this after a (too) fiercely ride and your clothes smell like ammoniac.
The second option, carbs, is the most efficient one. The problem with carbs is that the storage is not that big. An untrained body has about 300 to 400 grams of carbs stored in the liver and muscles while a trained individual can double this storage capacity. The higher the intensity gets the more your body relies on burning carbs. When you exercise at your power or heart rate threshold you will ransack this storage completely in about a hour, but the maximum uptake is only 90 grams a hour. But don’t be mistaken your body only relies on carbs on a high intensity, because your body also burns some carbs at a low intensity or at rest. For example your brain can only function on carbs.
How to burn fat?
The real energy bomb is fat. The storage is nearly infinite even when you have a low percentage of fat. The only problem with fat is that it takes a lot of oxygen to let energy to originate. Exercising on a high intensity your body almost solely depends on burning carbs, but on a low intensity your body burns mostly fat. If you want to lose weight exercising at this low intensity is the only way to do it. With burning carbs, you just don’t drop weight, because your body will just be craving for replenishing your carb storage in the liver and muscles. This process cannot be a altered and even runs mostly unconscious. Take also into account that the better your stamina gets the higher the intensity will be at which your body can still rely on burning fat. So especially for those who start exercising with the idea to lose weight the intensity should be really low to actually burn fat. Even that low that it doesn’t feel like exercising at all and the duration should be enormous to perceive any effect.
Don’t forget the calories!
Here we have addressed the problem in why you probably don’t lose weight through exercising. But there is more. If you exercise you cannot just add those burned calories on top of the normal energy expenditure. Studies show that the basic metabolism of people who exercise is lower. It seems that when we have done a workout we seem to have a tendency to reward ourselves by being less active and even sin with not that great food. By now you are probably thinking that the above does not apply for you. You are probably someone who will beat the statistics and start exercise on the exact low enough intensity with a long enough duration and will also conquer the mental hurdles.
Keep it fun
Even then losing weight through exercising just doesn’t make sense. It’s like eating soup with a teaspoon. It can work but it takes ages and you will probably don’t even enjoy the soup. If you want to enjoy exercising, exercising on a extremely low and monotonous intensity for a long duration is not the way to do it. Enjoyment in what you do is actually one of the strongest and even scientifically proven motives for exercise persistence. Finally, it’s just a pity when you only exercise on a low intensity because you will miss all the other benefits for your stamina by also exercising on a high intensity.
So if you want to lose weight you need to change what and how much you eat. If you’re coping with overweight there is something wrong with your diet. And start exercising because of all the associated benefits and the fun of it. Just don’t try to eat the soup with a teaspoon although you will probably lose weight by doing so.
If you want more information nutrition advice you can contact our sports dietician Mariette or check out our personal nutrition plans over here. If you want to be better prepared for your event you can check out our coaching services our download our app JOIN Cycling.