This entry is part 19 of 26 in the series Weird Faithful Fitness

fat gainIs it possible your workouts are causing you to GAIN fat? Say it isn’t so!

The Cold Hard Truth

There is only one way to gain fat: Eating too much.

Here is another truth: Anyone can lose weight.

Wait, you might be thinking. What if I have a thyroid condition? What if I am diabetic? What if I have injuries or health conditions that make vigorous exercise difficult? All of these factors are valid, but none negate the fact that at the end of the day, weight loss and gain is not about exercise. It’s about diet.

About 4 years ago I was a participant in a fascinating research study at the University of Colorado about weight loss. I learned a great deal from the study as well as from the doctor leading the study. One of the points she said to me was, “Put anyone on a desert island without food, they will lose weight.” Tough truth to hear, but it’s reality. As much as I complain about my genetics, my slow metabolism, or whatever else, I can and will lose weight if I eat the proper diet.

Exercise does burn calories. The trouble is, even when I am busting butt training for a half ironman, distance cycling, hiking a 14er, or whatever else crazy athletic adventure I’ve taken up, I can always out-eat my exercise calorie burn. Call me a gifted eater, but I have a strong feeling I’m not the only one.

The Truth about Workouts

A typical daily workout — let’s say one hour at the gym, outside running, or doing a video at home, is very important for overall fitness. It’s also a huge component in mental health and mind-set. However, let’s not kid ourselves about how many calories we are burning and use it as a justification to eat too much. This can lead to gaining fat. For me a typical workout in an hour might burn anywhere from 300-400 calories depending on the type. (Not 600 like the machines or some class instructors claim.) That’s not a lot of food, friends. Some larger protein bars have 300+ calories.

The other pattern that can happen is that some of us end up being MORE sedentary after a workout, whether from fatigue or because we feel we “got our workout in” so it’s not necessary to continue moving. I’m guilty of this. I’m a big fan of trackers like the BodyBugg or FitBit because I believe these devices show just how much daily life activity really matters. Regular active movement really does add up, and I think it doesn’t give quite as much reason of justified overeating.

Have you ever used exercise as a justification for overeating? How might you go about making small changes to move toward healthier eating?

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