According to a new revolutionary study, burning more calories than you eat may not result in changes to the scale, as expected. It has always been assumed that if you exercise consistently, fat will melt off and muscle will form in its place. But what if things actually work the other way around?
The study, conducted by scientists at Arizona State University in Phoenix and published last month in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, enlisted 81 healthy but sedentary adult women. Based on B.M.I., all the women in the study were overweight and none had exercised regularly in the past 12 months. They had been told were told they were involved in a fitness study and were instructed not to change their eating habits. The fitness regime included walking on a treadmill for 30 minutes at a pace that matched 80% of their endurance. They had to do this for 12 weeks.
After this constant routine, all the women were more fit, but many of them were fatter. About 70 percent of the women added mass from fat and some gained as much as 10 lbs. of fat during their 12 weeks of exercise.
“Some past studies of dieting had indicated that women who weigh more at the beginning” of a fitness program “tend to lose more weight during the program,” said Glenn Gaesser, a professor of nutrition and health promotion at Arizona State and lead author of the study.
In other words those who started losing weight after 4 weeks continued to lose some more, but those who didn’t lose any weight weren’t likely to lose weight later. Dr. Glenn Gaesser, the study’s lead author, told The New York Times that someone wanting to lose weight should weight themselves after four weeks of exercise because the study’s participants who were losing weight after four weeks of exercise tended to continue to lose weight, while the others did not. He also explained that if you didn’t see results after that period of time, you should “look closely at your diet and other activities.”
“Fitness matters far more for health than how much you weigh,” Gaesser concluded. But keep in mind the fact that just because the study found that working out alone could cause weight gain, the benefits of exercise will aways outweigh this downside.