Working out and Not Losing Weight? Here's Why.


Working out like a maniac, yet not losing weight? Science shows us that diet, not exercise is the key to losing weight more quickly and efficiently.

Why Working Out Alone Doesn’t Lead To Large Weight Loss

If you are the type of person who bribes yourself over food and workouts: “I will eat this (insert junk food) and then run on the treadmill for an hour and it will be like nothing happened,” you may want to switch up your strategy.

The idea that you can eat whatever you want as long as you exercise and still maintain a healthy weight is one that’s commonly held, yet not actually proven. It’s one that is repeated over and over again in the media. For example, parents and politicians complain that the lack of gym class is linked to the obesity epidemic, Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign focuses on exercise as the centerpiece for combatting childhood obesity, and fitness magazines often tout things like “workouts for weight-loss.”

The Science

Numerous studies have shown that physical activity does not have a significant effect on weight. For example, a meta-analysis published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics which included over 1,000 people, found that when diet stayed the same, increasing workouts from less than 1.5 hours a week up to 3-5 hours a week, over the course of one full year, lead to an average weight loss of 3-4 pounds. You could healthfully lose that in as little as two weeks by changing your diet.

Another meta-analysis published in PLOS One that examined the relationship between fat mass and physical activity in children found no association between the two, and concluded that physical activity may not be the key determinant of unhealthy weight gain in children.

The True Benefits of Exercise – And Why you MUST Still Do It

There is no questioning that exercise is a critical part of a healthy lifestyle.

It has many proven benefits including:

  • supports the immune system
  • helps balance blood sugar
  • aids in elimination
  • protects against heart disease and certain cancers
  • lowers stress levels
  • boosts mood
  • supports hormonal health, and perhaps even
  • prolongs your life.

But weight loss? While it certainly doesn’t hurt and can help to a limited extent, the science just doesn’t show it has as large an impact on the scale as the junk food industry would like you to believe. This myth is one perpetuated across the food industry.

This is an excerpt from my book, The Real Food Grocery Guide. For a more in depth look at why we truly are what we eat, and how to choose the healthiest foods in every single aisle of the grocery store, check it out.

Not All Calories are Created Equal

More and more research shows it’s not only the quantity, but—more importantly—the quality of calories that counts when it comes to weight loss and overall health. In other words, you should be more concerned with the ingredients you’re eating than the calorie count on the nutrition facts panel.

For example, a study by Harvard researchers published in the Journal of the American Medical Association demonstrated that when calorie intakes were equal, diets made up of low glycemic foods (those that have a minimal effect on blood sugar) led to the most desirable weight loss and health outcome, compared to low-carb or low-fat diets. Low glycemic foods include unrefined, minimally processed foods such as vegetables, fruit, whole grains, beans, nuts, and fish.

When calorie counts are equal, the source of the calories influences your metabolism, and how easily you lose—or gain—weight.

So, What Is the Best Way To Lose Weight?

Eating real, whole, plant-based food is the key to losing and maintaining a healthy weight. 

This doesn’t necessarily mean 100% plant based, but I do suggest about 75-90% plant-based, and the remainder made up of high quality, organic animal proteins, as desired.

A real food diet aids in weight-loss as it regulates hunger and keeps you satiated while delivering an abundance of nutrients through a relatively low number of calories. When you eat real foods, they take up your stomach space, so to speak, and crowd out other less healthy foods in the diet, like processed foods, which tend to be lower in nutrients and higher in calories.

If you feel like you’re working out like a maniac, yet the scale isn’t budging, take a look at your diet.

One of the best places to start is removing sugar and refined foods, and adding in more vegetables and fruit. I know, I know, easier said then done. Browsing my recipes section is a good place to start, however if you want a roadmap completely laid out for you, support, and guidance, join us for EatSLIM.

EatSLIM, is a 10-week online crash course in eliminating bad food habits and replacing them with healthy ones, as painlessly as possible. If you want step-by-step guidance, meal plans, and a support team to help you quit junk food, improve your digestion, and lose weight (in a fun and entertaining environment!), join us. I guide you through every step of the way, have regular Q+A sessions with the group, and provide you with all the resources you need to get healthy for good.



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Hi, I’m Maria and I’m an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach.

I help busy women lose weight or clear up their acne by developing healthier eating habits, based on a plant-based paleo diet.

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