Last week we asked: “Is it true that starting an exercise programme will automatically and unconditionally cause you to lose body fat?”
The answer is: FALSE.

We’ve mentioned this many times before, and it cannot be overstressed. To lose body fat, you need to create a calorie deficit for the entire day, everyday, over weeks to months. Often people go to gym for an hour and spend the rest of the day engaged in sedentary activity, because they are too tired. Exercise can contribute to the calorie deficit, but also tends to be overrated as a sure-fire way of losing body fat.

Exercise should more accurately be viewed and used as a tool to help prevent weight gain, and maintaining a goal weight. Only to a lesser extent, does exercise directly impact active weight-loss. Here, diet is absolutely instrumental.

Exercise also helps relieve stress, boost your metabolism and leave you feeling emotionally more content. Over time, regular exercise leads to a change in mindset, augmenting your lifestyle holistically, eventually lowering random cravings for “bad” food.

With all that in mind, some of my clients still complain that they have not lost weight following hours and hours of training. This often happens because they are rewarding themselves afterwards with glutinous amounts of calories, undoing all the work they’ve invested burning these off at the gym!

Another factor that influences the effectiveness of exercise as a weight loss tool is the relation to total daily activity. In order to lose weight, one has to increase his TOTAL calorie expenditure. So its not enough to focus solely on diet and the gym, but also on what your life’s activity levels are like during the remainder of the day. Whether it be sitting the whole day at your desk, working a physically laborious job, or simply being constantly on the move.

If your job requires a lot of sitting, try and squeeze in frequent walks. If this is still impossible, simply running around the garden with your kids when you get home is enough to contribute significantly to the calorie deficit you’re trying to make.

As a closing remark, if you want to use exercise to promote weight loss, do more resistance training. Unlike aerobic exercise which burns calories only during the activity, strength training builds muscles which increase your metabolism at rest. The relation is: the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn!

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