Cut calories over upping exercise to drop weight
When there’s a big event like a summer holiday or a special party coming up, many of us head to the gym to shift those stubborn pounds. But now scientists are saying exercising often makes people hungrier, meaning it’s essentially ineffective when trying to lose weight.
Instead, they advise controlling calories if you want to slim down – with or without the addition of exercise.
“Physical activity is crucially important for improving overall health and fitness levels,” Dr Richard Cooper and Dr Amy Luke, from Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, wrote in the Journal of Epidemiology.
“But there is limited evidence to suggest that it can blunt the surge in obesity.
“This crucial part of the public health message is not appreciated in recommendations to be more active, walk up stairs and eat more fruits and vegetables.”
According to the scientists, clinical trials have shown that restricting calories alone achieves basically the same weight loss as a regime of calorie restriction AND exercise.
Of course they didn’t dismiss working out, but they did admit it wouldn’t be a quick fix for those trying to lose weight.
“While physical activity has many benefits, multiple lines of evidence lead to the conclusion that an increase in physical activity is offset by an increase in calorie intake, unless conscious effort is made to limit that compensatory response,” they concluded.
But it’s important not to think this makes exercise pointless or something you can skip. Instead, it’s a warning to check your diet if you’re working out hard and still not slimming down.
To curb post-gym cravings, eat a small, protein-based snack about two hours before working out. Our favourites are a Greek yoghurt-based smoothie or a peanut butter on one slice of wholegrain toast. Just make sure anything you consume comes in at under 300 calories.
It’s also recommendable to use a calorie-tracking app on your phone to keep an eye on your intake.