Exercise may make you GAIN weight: People eat nearly a quarter more after a work out because ‘they feel like they deserve it’
- Volunteers upped their lunches by 150 calories after working out
- Repeating this at dinner would more than outweigh any benefit, scientists warn
- Chocolate consumption went up by 20%, particularly among the women
Many of us complain of slaving away in the gym without seeing any benefit to our waistline.
But scientists may finally have the answer to this phenomenon.
Although it may seem counter-intuitive, research suggests exercising could cause people to gain weight.
A group of volunteers increased their portion sizes by nearly a quarter following a sweaty work out.
Researchers believe people overindulge after a gym session because they believe they ‘deserve it’.
Although it may seem counter-intuitive, exercising could cause us to gain weight (stock)
And this may explain why people can struggle to lose weight even after exercising regularly, they added.
The research was carried out by Loughborough University, which boasts Sebastian Coe, Paula Radcliffe and Clive Woodward among its sporting alumni.
‘[When it comes to weight loss] aside from what we eat, a critical factor is how much we eat,’ study author and senior lecturer in nutrition Dr Lewis James said.
‘The results of the present study suggest that knowledge of a future exercise session results in an increase in planned energy intake at a meal after exercise, at least in habitual exercisers.’
The researchers had 40 volunteers, half of which were women, take part in an aerobic class at least three times a week.
HOW MUCH EXERCISE DO I NEED TO DO?
The NHS recommends all adults aged between 19 and 64 should take part in at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity each week.
Examples of such activity includes brisk walking, cycling, rollerblading, hiking or volleyball.
Alongside the 150 minutes, each adult should perform strength exercises on at least two days each week, targeting the major muscles.
However, the NHS also says that 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity is fine for those who cannot commit to 150 minutes of moderate activity.
Examples of aerobic activity include running, tennis, football, rugby or rope skipping.
A mix of moderate and vigorous aerobic activity is also recommended.
The participants were also weighed, and asked how much they eat after a work out and on a ‘rest day’.
Writing in the journal Appetite, the researchers said: ‘Individuals chose a larger portion size – a 24 per cent increase in energy content of food served [after classes].
‘This increase in planned energy intake might attenuate the negative energy balance induced by exercise, and consequently might reduce any weight loss with chronic exercise training.’
The participants also upped their lunch-time portions by 150 calories after working out, the research found.
And the scientists warn repeating this at dinner would more than outweigh any benefit of exercising.
Chocolate consumption was also up by 20 per cent, with the female volunteers helping themselves to slightly more than the men.
Speaking of the effect this has on people’s figures, the researchers wrote: ‘Typically, there is an initial weight loss.
‘However, after this, the rate of weight loss attenuates, or weight becomes stable over time.
‘This finding suggests aerobic exercise might impact meal planning, at least in regular exercisers, which might account for some of the reasons behind stabilisation of weight loss.’
But when exercise is combined with a healthy diet, it is an effective way to lose weight, they stress.
‘Statistics suggest the prevalence of overweight and obesity continue to rise, with 61 per cent of UK adults currently classified as overweight or obese,’ Dr James said.
‘Weight gain occurs due to energy intake greater than energy expenditure, leading to accumulation of fat in adipose tissue.
‘Increasing physical activity, particularly aerobic activity, is one method of increasing energy expenditure that has been suggested to assist with weight management.’