Why Your Old Exercise Routine May Suddenly Stop Making You Lose Weight

Why Your Old Exercise Routine May Suddenly Stop Making You Lose Weight

A new gym-goer finds an exercise routine, sticks with it and the kilograms start coming off at a regular clip -- until something changes. Not the person; they're still exercising as hard as ever, sometimes harder, but the weight loss has stopped. What happened? A study coming out in Current Biology today looks at the problem that has plagued some (though not all) exercisers and concludes that it probably wasn't anything they changed that caused the problem. Instead, it was something that they didn't.

Essentially, non-exercisers see a big benefit in weight-loss right at the start of a new exercise regime. But, once they have made the transition over to becoming a regular exerciser, their exercise routines (although they may stay the same or increase) are suddenly no longer showing big results. Even if they keep upping their exercise levels, sometimes by quite a lot, the jump in the energy they burn when going from almost no exercise to some exercise is never really replicated. Hence, there is a plateau in weight-loss, to the frustration of many exercisers.

It's no big surprise that a regular runner -- as legs and lungs get stronger -- starts to find the routine less and less taxing to the body. But what can we draw from all this about how weight-loss really works? According to the study authors, while the change from not exercising to exercising is a big one, after that, our bodies tend to find ways to adapt to increases in activity to keep our energy levels roughly in-check. Even regularly-increasing exercise is unlikely to burn up so many calories to drive weight-loss on its own.

So trying to figure out how much weight-loss exercise can cause may simply be the wrong question to ask. Perhaps there are better reasons than weight-loss for people to exercise. It can help with weight-loss, but it has much more measurable gains in improving strength, stopping loss of muscle or bone mass as you age and even improving your mood.

So, does exercise help people lose weight? The best answer seems to be yes, to a point -- but the reasons to keep doing it reach much further than that.

[Current Biology]

Image: Dean Drobot / Shutterstock

WATCH MORE: Science & Health News


    I think a lot of people pay too much attention to the numbers on the scales.
    I believe that they get body fat % gains and losses and simply weight-loss on a set of scales confused - and believe that (probably because its a simple explanation) that lower number on the scales is what they want, completely forgetting that exercise will create muscle mass gains to a point, depending on your regime, and muscle weighs more than fat.

    you exercise, loose weight, get used to your regime, increase your exercise, there-fore increasing your muscle gain - also another angle for a plateau "weight loss" results.

    Just a thought.

    you plateau and you have to do something different

      Eat less?

        Eating less is a terrible mistake to make. Eating less only ensures your body tries harder to hold onto whatever fat stores it has. Eat more of the right stuff. Whole foods is a good start.

          Depends on how much you're eating to start with.

            Depends on a lot of things. Everyone is different. As long as we are achieving fat loss and lean muscle mass gain we are winning.

              You can't achieve muscle gain and fat loss at the same time. It's impossible.

                Newbies will. Which is who we are talking about here. I agree with you 100% otherwise. An intermediate lifter will not see both of these at the same time.

    TLDR ; You get fit and the body adapts. Change your routine. Keep the intensity. Ensure caloric intake is sufficient for your goals.

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now