Why Exercising “More” Won’t Help You Slim Down

Published January 20, 2017

I started my career in the health industry…

I started my career in the health industry as a personal trainer 6 years ago. I was quite active at the time but I was confused about what workouts were best for a more toned, strong and lean body. So I decided to learn more.

I was already studying nutrition therapy when I first began working as a personal trainer, but I couldn’t really write nutrition plans just yet, but I was really eager to help people get fitter so I started training clients at a gym near Sydney CBD.

My excitement to begin working with people was excessive, and when I found out that I just inherited an entire clientele from a PT that just left the gym I was ecstatic.

Until I started training them.

What I was most excited about was to make a permanent difference to their lives. Having been on the other side of the fence being a client before, I knew that the results of working with a PT get you as far as your wallet allows. Because as soon as you stop training with them, you are on your own.

I wanted more for my clients.

Knowing that the results come from 70% nutrition and about 30% training I wanted to help them with their eating and mindset, so that they would get lasting results.

The issue was, most of them didn’t want any part of that.

Majority of the clients at the gym were convinced that if they trained harder, they’d get fitter and lose weight. Therefore they wanted me to flog them at the gym for an hour, so that they could tick a box, and eat whatever they pleased for the remaining 23 hours of the day.

The problem is…it doesn’t work like that.

healthy eating

Healthy eating and exercise go hand-in-hand


Let’s admit it: food is a major  source of comfort for many people. And we’ve been conditioned to think that we can balance out a bad diet with exercise.

Sure, you can always burn a few extra calories by working out more but you can’t achieve weight loss results that actually last if you consider exercise as a getaway from a bad diet.

Exercise is inarguably important for optimal health, and the right type of training can undoubtedly give you improved body composition results, however what and how much you eat have a much bigger impact on your waistline.

Here are top five reasons why exercising “more” alone won’t help you lose weight:


You can’t out-train a bad diet


You might have heard of the sayings “You can’t out-train a bad diet” or “Abs are made in the kitchen,” but what do they really mean?

Well, it comes from the fact that making even small “healthy” changes to your diet yields more long-lasting results, than  focusing only on your training.

We all know that exercise can do wonders for both your body and mind. But exercise alone is not enough to lose weight, especially if you have a sedentary job.

Did you know that exercise can help you burn only about 10 to 30 percent of the calories that come from your diet?

It’s certainly something, but it’s far from 100 percent of energy we get from food. This means that even when you work out every day, the extra calories you burn only account for a tiny part of your total energy expenditure, and leads to very minor changes in your weight.



Skipping post-workout meal can undermine your weight loss efforts


It’s no secret that working out more makes you hungry. Some people skip their post-workout meals because they think that they can ‘save’ themselves from a few calories, not realising that the food we eat after training is one of the most important meals.

After all, your body needs fuel to function.


“If your goal is to get lean and toned, and minimise post-workout muscle soreness, it is crucial that you consume protein before AND after training.”


It is also important to have quality food that fuels your workout. Not eating a proper meal after a workout is kind of like driving a car to empty, and not filling up the tank after. The engine will eventually stop and break down. Your muscles are no different.

Muscles are made of proteins, which are made of amino acids. When you complete an intense workout, you tear the muscle fibres. This is why you are sore the next day. These muscles require 24-72 hours to repair.


During the recovery process your body is constantly burning calories.


This is great news!


Eating protein post-workout is crucial, as it prevents muscle breakdown and stimulates the growth of lean muscle tissue. Hello definition!

For this reason, you should always refuel your body with a meal containing protein and carbohydrates within 1-2 hours. Including carbohydrates post-workout can actually help minimise cortisol production, which is the hormone blamed for stubborn belly fat!

In fact if you want to eat anything ‘naughty’ the 3-hour post-workout window is your best bet, as your body is likely to use these calories for recovery, as opposed to storing them as body fat.

This is why a post-workout protein smoothie with some fruit is a great option after training. Not only does it reduce cortisol levels, but it also helps to restore liver glycogen and improve performance the next day.




Over-exercising signals your body to conserve energy


Studies show that the more stress you put on your body (for instance by exercising too much), the more it holds onto body fat.

We may take things easy after doing a workout and thus, we use less energy in performing other non-gym activities. For example if you do a hard workout that leaves you feeling tired, you might skip taking the stairs, and choose the elevator instead.

These “compensatory behaviours” that you unconsciously make, may be your body’s way to offset the calories burned during your workout and conserve energy.



Have you hit a plateau?


You might have heard of weight loss plateau, which is very difficult for some people to get passed. This is due to the fact that your energy expenditure can plateau at some point.

A study published in 2016 in the journal Current Biology revealed that the amount of energy your body spends in performing its functions and fuelling your daily activities does have an “upper limit.”

After a certain amount of exercise, the rate at which your body burns off calories decreases and your total energy expenditure will eventually hit a plateau.

Also according to the study, the old “calories in, calories out” approach, where your body burns more calories the more active you are, is overly simplistic.

Simply put, the amount of physical activity you do does not directly affect how your body uses energy. According to researchers, your body sets a limit on how much energy it is willing to expend, regardless of how active you are.


Poor nutrition and the lack of non-exercise activity is the blame for the obesity epidemic


The prevalence of obesity is alarming. But contrary to what we’ve been conditioned to think, low fitness activity is not solely responsible for it.

Our body uses the energy from the foods that we eat in three ways. One is for basal metabolism or how energy is used for basic body functions when your body is at rest. Then there’s how your body also uses energy to “break down” food. And then the third one is how your body uses energy to fuel your activities.

We are losing the fight against obesity because right now we are eating more than ever, but we are moving less. We are continuously being told to exercise “more” for good health, but TV ads, billboards and virtually everywhere we look we are encouraging to buy processed foods.

In other words, we are missing the fact that it’s actually poor quality food in large quantities that is making us fat.

Yes, you can spend an hour working hard at the gym, but you should remember that what you do in the 23 hours you spend outside the gym is what makes or breaks your progress. That includes your nutrition as well as any activity other than your training, such as walking, taking the stairs, cooking, lifting things, playing with your kids and so on. So do more of those! 

I’ve got a good news for you. It’s easier to make the lifestyle and dietary changes than you think, you just need to where to start. Download my free guide 3 Little Known Secrets To a Lean Body, here I’ll share with you my top “secrets” to sustainable weight loss!


Nik Toth