New research has revealed that exercise without dieting does not cause weight loss.
Masking the impact of exercise
After up to eight weeks of intensive cardio training three times a week, participants in the study, conducted by scientists at the Bangor University in the United Kingdom, experience no significant change to their weight or BMI when their diet remained the same.
The aim of the study was to determine whether or not exercise alone would lead to weight loss.
According to one of the lead researchers, Dr. Hans-Peter Kubis of the School of Sport, Health and Exercise Sciences at the Bangor University, people often restrict their diet when they take up exercise but this can mask the effects of the exercise.
“To be effective, exercise training for weight loss needs to be integrated into a lifestyle approach to weight loss, including exercise combined with diet,” said Kubis.
Difficult to achieve goals
Kubis said: “Seeing no change on the scales may be enough to make people give up on their exercise training, not realising that they have actually improved their body by gaining muscle mass.”
“Whether they are aware of it or not, someone undertaking more physical activity or exercise may experience increased appetite as a result and this makes it difficult for people to achieve their goals.”
The study involved two experiments. For the first experiment, 34 participants aged 18 to 32 years took part in a circuit exercise training session three times per week for a total of 4 weeks.
The second experiment included 36 participants of the same age group, all of whom took part in the same training sessions, but for a total of 8 weeks.
At the beginning and end of each experiment, the weight, muscle, and fat mass of each person were measured. The researchers also took blood samples from the participants which allowed them to monitor the levels of appetite hormones that can influence feelings of hunger and food intake.
“Knowing how much fat and muscle we have in our body is much more important than knowing how much we weigh,” Kubis added. “When we focus on weight alone, we miss the improvements achieved via exercise.”