In a study published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, scientists at Arizona State University reported that healthy (but formerly sedentary) adult women who adopted a regular exercise routine not only gained weight, but increased body fat (not muscle mass).
Is it possible that their exercise routine really made them fat? Before you trade in your walking shoes for a croissant, consider these important points: The women were not asked to change their diets. I don’t know about you, but in my experience, many people who take up a new exercise regimen feel like they’ve received an invitation to eat more when they exercise more. This report does not say whether these women increased their intake to compensate for burning more calories through activity. After all, they could have been hungrier than usual or rewarded themselves with a huge amount of carbs after their workouts! These factors could have caused the participants to experience increased body weight and body fat.
A senior author of the study did point out that, “By deploying a bathroom scale and discipline, along with exercise, you may well lose weight.” This is not news, of course, but scales, discipline, and activity alone will not shed unwanted pounds. What’s on your plate has a great impact on what will appear on your body. And, remember, what the participants actually ate was not looked at in this study. Or how long they slept and how much they hydrated. And here’s a reminder for you: Weight loss is not the only goal of exercising! Being physically fit has a lot of benefits, including strengthening your heart, lowering blood pressure, and helping to stabilize blood glucose levels to control diabetes. It also helps to beat stress and boost circulation to major organs like your brain, heart, and lungs.
It’s important to remember that exercise needs to be realistic to be sustained. Too many of us go the feast or famine route when it comes to physical activity — we swing from many days off in a row to pushing ourselves into a spin class or signing up for a city triathlon! For an exercise plan to work, it needs to be consistent, moderate, and something that you actually DO. If you cannot make it to the Pilates studio, pool, or the gym, try dancing, jumping rope, walking with the dog, or biking with your kids. If you make it fun there’s a greater chance that you’ll do it regularly.
Bottom line: If you want to lose weight, don’t skip moderate consistent exercise and please, take a good look at what’s on your plate! Eat organic, grass-fed, and locally sourced whenever possible. Avoid GMOs. And be sure you are hydrating 8-10 cups of spring water per day (12 cups if exercising or detoxing).
Thanks to Bonnie Taub -Dix for this Nutrition Intuition post from 11/11/14 in Everyday Health.