Weight loss: Why exercise isn't guaranteed to make you lose weight

Exercise is beneficial for your body, but there's more effective ways to start losing weight

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There's a common saying in the fitness world: abs are revealed in the kitchen. Essentially, it means that diet is more important than exercise when it comes to losing weight. A new study is lending scientific weight to this old saying, providing a great explanation for people who are trying to lose weight with exercise, and are frustrated with their lack of progress.

The study, conducted by researchers from Missoula, MT, examines the difference between physical activity and physical exercise. Physical activity is all movement throughout the day that causes us to expend energy, while physical exercise is deliberate, structured energy-expending movement. 

Logic dictates the more calories we burn, the more weight we'll lose. However, the researchers conducted an experiment to identify whether this is really the case. 

Thirty-six overweight people were assigned to a calorie-restricted weight-loss diet for six months, and half of them were also instructed to do regular exercise in addition to the diet. Both groups lost around ten percent of their starting weight, regardless of whether the participants did exercise or not. 

Real life weight loss

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The research shows that exercise play an important part in improving cardiovascular health, maintaining muscle tone and keeping fit, so it clearly results in multiple benefits and is still very important when it comes to staying healthy. However, when it comes to weight loss, calories in is much more important than calories out.

This is very clearly shown in some of our real life weight loss stories. Darnell Settles, 38, weighed an estimated 560lbs at his heaviest, but after losing an incredible 260lbs, he now weighs 309lbs - evident by his loose skin. He began his journey by through his fridge, looked at the nutrition labels of all of his foods, and began throwing out the foods that didn't fit his new low-carbohydrate diet. 

Want to get started on your weight loss journey? We've got a whole host of healthy-diet content below:

Matt Evans

Matt Evans is an experienced health and fitness journalist and is currently Fitness and Wellbeing Editor at TechRadar, covering all things exercise and nutrition on Fit&Well's tech-focused sister site. Matt originally discovered exercise through martial arts: he holds a black belt in Karate and remains a keen runner, gym-goer, and infrequent yogi. His top fitness tip? Stretch.