The fitness industry is continuing to thrive, as more and more people adopt a workout regimen into their daily routines. There is a niche workout for everyone out there and we will continue to see exponential growth as new workout styles and trends pop up everywhere. The obsession with weight loss and achieving the ideal body surrounds our culture and has unfortunately created unhealthy relationships with food and exercise. Over the past decade, the percentage of people adopting a workout habit has gone up, yet our obesity rate has not come down. The notion that moving more and burning calories will create weight loss has been tricking people into over-exercising and not seeing the results that they set out to achieve.
Of course there is a place for having a movement practice. It keeps our musculoskeletal system healthy and strong, and does help to burn calories. But relying on this solely is not the way to get ahead. Let’s talk about some common reasons exercise can cause more harm than good when it comes to achieving that ideal body.
Exercise increases hunger levels:
Especially over-exercising. Our body requires fuel to perform at its best and recover. When we are running on a caloric deficit, our body signals to replace them. If we don’t properly feed ourselves to fuel the exercise we are partaking in, it can leave us shaken and starved. The best way to handle this is to understand pre-workout foods and post-workout foods. Make sure to eat something at least 2 hours before exercise and within 1-hour post-workout. Planning portion-controlled snacks and meals around your activities will help you to not become too ravenous and overeat.
Too much exercise and not enough food can slow down your metabolism:
Most of us are concerned with overeating, but more often than not I encounter clients that are under-eating. The concept of less is more has been etched in our minds and we embark on rigid exercise routines, accompanied by low calorie diet plans. This deficit can put major stress on the body and psyche. Our body is always trying to reach a state of homeostasis and keep us alive. It can interpret our energy consumption decrease as starvation, which will slow down the metabolic rate in order to protect the body. Weight loss can feel threatening to our system, when not done properly. Consuming the right amount of food with the amount that you are exercising will lead to optimal fat burning capabilities. So how much exercise is too much? There is no set amount that would work for every single person. You just need to be making sure to adjust the amount of food for the amount of energy you are burning. Athletes, for example, take in at least 2-3x more than the average person and we all yearn for their bodies (remember Michael Phelps 10,000 calorie diet?). So if you love exercise that much and want to train like a professional, then I recommend you start eating like one.
It only takes seconds to eat an excess of calories and hours to burn them:
We underestimate the amount of calories food has vs. the amount of calories exercise burns. We use this information a lot to trick ourselves into eating more. One of the most popular trends in workouts right now is tracking the heart rate, steps and calories burned in each session. I find people using this as a way to justify their next meal and allow themselves to indulge more than they need to. One large chocolate chip cookie containing 400-500 calories will take an avid exerciser 45 min- 1 hour to burn off. Let’s face it, that 1 cookie was probably accompanied with other poor food choices. We are acting like a hamster on a wheel in thinking that we can out-exercise our food intake.
Abs are made in the kitchen:
When it comes to weight loss and weight management we need to rely on our nutrition more than our exercise. This can be the bigger challenge for people as 1 hour in a gym feels like an easier feat than 1 hour in a kitchen. It sounds silly, considering chopping vegetables and baking chicken never made anyone sweat, burn and hurt. Creating better eating habits and routines is where you will finally see results. If you’re not sure where to start, try working with a nutritionist and have them create a menu plan for you. In the same way you hire a personal trainer or take a group fitness class, having a plan to follow can be extremely helpful.
Exercise is a diet’s best friend:
They need each other to feel whole! The food will shed the pounds and the exercise will build lean muscle, increase your metabolic rate and give your body a leaner look.