We all seem to know someone who goes to the gym religiously but never seem to be able to get the weight they want, or if they do they have to try really hard to keep it there and as soon as they take time off the gym they start putting the weight back on again. It seems to be a constant battle.
That’s no way to live! So what’s going on?
In a study in the Journal of the International Association for the Study of Obesity (2002) a group of women were put into three groups and assessed over 7 days.
One group did no exercise over the week, one group were asked to do ‘easy’, moderate level exercise (e.g. walking and slow cycling) over the week, and the third were asked to do high level exercise (e.g. long distance running and cycling). The results showed that there was no change in appetite in the first 2 groups, but the third group had a significant increase in reported appetite and urge to over eat, (usually more or the same calories as the calories they had expended during their exercise).
So we can actually overdo the amount and the type of exercise we do and can completely ruin our weight loss efforts.
Our ancestors never expended more energy than they needed to. Their daily life consisted mostly of walking to find food, occasionally climbing or lifting something heavy and very occasionally sprinting as fast as they could for a short amount of time to catch food or get to safety. They most definitely did not run for long distances.
So when did we decide that 50 minute long intense spin classes and aerobics classes were what we needed to do? And running marathons?
The Dangers of Excessive Exercise
Not only can ‘chronic cardio’ cause damage to our joints and muscles, it can cause dehydration and premature ageing.
It has also been proven to significantly increase our appetite, the urge to ‘reward eat’ and trigger a stress response in our bodies (the flight and fight response) that causes our body to hold on to our fat stores because it thinks there’s a crisis going on!
This is pretty much the opposite of what we’re hoping to achieve right?!
So whats the answer? In order to get to our goal weight and to maintain that weight, we need to find the perfect balance of activity that we enjoy doing that doesn’t stress our body and cause it to go in to panic mode. What’s the point in struggling to get through your exercise regime every week just to maintain your weight?
Luckily, the amount of exercise we need to do in order to lose weight is surprisingly easy.