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Why you won't always lose weight even by exercising a lot

Updated on December 16, 2010
C.V.Rajan profile image

C.V.Rajan is a retired Engineer and a spiritual seeker. He writes on a variety of subjects that interest him.

Just like your savings is the difference between your income and expenditure, the body weight you gain is the difference between what you accumulate by eating and what you spend by exercising. The scale of measure is the calories. If you do not seem to lose your weight even if you exercise a lot, it means the “income” side (namely, your calorific intake) is also quite a lot, more than your spending!

The problem with most of us is that we are too stingy to give adequate weightage to the quantity of our intake calories, but we are too generous to boast about our quantity of exercise!  This psychological reality apart, there are certain practical issues that we should know to understand why we do not always lose weight irrespective of our regular exercising and controlled eating habits.


Aging reduces our metabolism rate. A reduction in metabolism rate means less calories getting burnt. As we age older, we tend to become less brisk in our activities.  While we tend to accept reduction of physical activity on account of aging as normal, we do not consciously reduce our food intake proportionately. The reason behind it is that we are all along used certain level of “stomach full” feeling without attaining which we do not get satisfied.

 We generally get exercise by two channels: one, by conscious and enforced exercising regimen, and two, by the indirect and informal way by engaging in regular domestic and day to day activities.  As exercise-conscious people age more, perhaps they continue with their regular exercising practice, but tend to do much less of day to day normal physical activity.

 With aging, Increased affordability to comforts in life (for example, a two wheeler or car replacing a bicycle ride, a lift in the apartment tempting us to avoid walking up the stairs, affordability of servants and availability of machines for doing domestic chores etc) relieves us of physical work. It means accumulation of unburned calories, which was not the case when we were younger.

 Aging also poses restrictions on the intensity with which we do our exercises.  Perhaps the duration of exercising might remain same, but not the intensity. See the next point.

Inadequate intensity of exercise

 Ideally for weight loss, the intensity of exercise must be strong. Metabolism is revved up considerably through intense exercises like jogging, aerobic exercises and muscle building exercises.  A 20-minute jogging can burn much more calories than a 45-minute sedentary walking.

 Muscle building exercises actually burn up calories not only during exercise but also while resting. Because in such exercises actually break down muscles, the body needs more calories to build them up and it happens while resting too.

 Many times people are conscious of the duration of exercising rather than the intensity of exercising, to get a feeling that they are exercising a lot. The reality is that they are not.

 As already discussed, aging does pose restrictions in the intensity of exercising, though the time allotted for exercise may remain same. That’s one of the reasons why weight loss is not achieved.

Poor eating habits

 How many people do possess adequate knowledge about the calorific values of different food items, the role of fats and carbohydrates in adding calories, the need for fiber in food intake, the importance of fruits and vegetables in positively influencing the metabolism rate etc? In practical reality, when succumbing to taste buds, even people knowledgeable about these tend to look the other way!

 Another common mistake many people do in eating is to consume less food during breakfast and eat sumptuously at dinner. Research has shown that eating a sumptuous breakfast, even if it is heavier in calorific value does not cause serious weight gain but can even aid in weight loss.  An empty stomach in the morning can easily burn up the excess calories and a good breakfast efficiently provides the energy needs for the day. A nutritiously rich breakfast also has a commendable effect in controlling any subsequent craving for food and snacks during the course of the day, thus preventing accumulation of unwanted calories.

 Thus practically, even if someone is exercising really a lot, poor eating habits could be pumping far excess calories in to the body, preventing weight loss.

Role of Thyroid gland

 The thyroid gland situated in the human neck is known as the master gland of metabolism. It produces two hormones (T3 and T4) and if the production of these hormones is reduced too much, it is a problem known as hypothyroidism.  Hypothyroidism reduces the body’s metabolism rate and it leads to weight gain, despite the fact that eating and exercising are being done in the normal way.

          Thus in finding an answer to why there is no weight loss despite exercise, we have to look into several aspects of our nature including the physiological and the psychological.


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    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

      The Academy has defined your article so well that I can only repeat it.

    • C.V.Rajan profile image

      Disillusioned 7 years ago from Kerala, India

      Thank you, Academy!

    • The Academy profile image

      The Academy 7 years ago

      A well written articlw which explina why some people may struggle to lose weight. I do believe that weight loss is not beyond the realms of any individual, but your article describes well why certain people may find the process more lengthy.