Do you use MyFitnessPal religiously?  Swim, bike, run, weight train or exercise all the time?  Not losing fat or slimming down?  It’s a pretty common occurrence so you aren’t alone and the solution is pretty simple.

Simple Science

The body stores enough energy in the muscles for 2-2 ½ hours of moderate to intense exercise.  Moderate to intense being the key words; heavy breathing, panting, sweating hard, racing, eyeballs out, redlining, zone 3-4.  Ask yourself, are you working out this hard for this long?

Your body also stores days’ worth of energy in the form of fat.  This gets used burned up during less intense exercise.

Bottom line, if losing weight is a problem, there’s no need for extra calories to perform the exercise, there’s plenty of energy coming in plus what is stored up, at least until you’ve achieved your weight loss goals.

I am hesitant to mention that stunted metabolisms can be the root cause of stubborn weight loss.  However, as a dietitian it’s worth mentioning that life-long yo-yo dieting and starvation will complicate weightloss, but this is not the rule.  Instead, these situations are the exceptions, but are often used as an excuse.  Being compassionate about weight loss issues is one thing. Letting someone deceive themselves and ignoring the real issues like lack of awareness for appropriate portion size, daily energy intake, or a general lack of effort to improve the quality of the diet is being practical and honest. 

Stop This Do That

Stop eating during exercise.  Don’t bring energy bars, sports drinks, gels, goos, sandwiches, or granola bars.  Taking a bike ride, run or hike for up to 2-2 ½ hours; bring plenty of fluid in the form of an electrolyte drink with few or no calories.  When you’re done, eat a well-balanced meal that includes lean protein and carbohydrates.

Stop using protein shakes and smoothies before and after workouts for fueling the workout.  Simply eat a balanced meal with lean protein and then, 1-2 hours afterwards, go exercise.

If you haven’t eaten for 3-4 hours and workout than eat real-food within 60-90 minutes of finishing your workout.  Want more information on how the anabolic window works read this.

Stop eating back workout calories. Stick to individual daily calorie needs.  Those built up calories from exercise aren’t a reserve for alcohol, lattes, sweets, or extra helpings at meals.  Instead, those calories are being used to burn up the unwanted stored energy, aka fat.

Stop using generic calorie estimators.  Depending on BMI, fat mass, and other unique issues the calorie estimators may be hurting more than helping.  Spend some time with a dietitian and get energy needs specific to you and your life.

Check out tips on nutrition for the aging athlete.