Often, we take it as a given that by burning calories in the gym we should be losing weight, even when using the calorie counters in the gym or trackers. But it’s not always the case. I delve a little deeper into the reasons why.
1. Many people know how to work out their BMR (basal metabolic rate) using online calculations or fitness trackers. But there are also multiples involved when working out our energy expenditure. They range from 1.2-1.75 depending on or energy levels. I find that some people think that by going to the gym or doing a class once or twice a week that their energy expenditure multiple should be 1.4, but in fact this level of exercise may only warrant a multiple of 1.2. e.g. for a person who has a BMR of 2000kcals this multiple could increase your daily calorie need by 400kcals.
2. Gym equipment isn’t accurate. When you step onto a cross trainer or treadmill there are options to enter your weight, age and sex. These factors can make an enormous difference to the number of calories that you burn. I am guilty of getting on a treadmill and just pressing the “quick start” button. This overpredicts my calories burnt as I am a 50kg woman and it’s set at an average calorie burn. If you were not aware of this you may think that you have burnt 500kcals, when in fact it may be 400kcals based on your individual statistics. Burning 500kcals according to the gym equipment does not necessarily mean that you can eat that number of extra calories.
3. You’re getting fitter! If you work out often then your body becomes more accustomed to the strain on your body. A 5km run is no longer pushing you, your heart rate doesn’t raise as high and therefore your calorie burn will be lower. As we improve we need to ensure we are increasing our level of exercise to avoid plateauing and to continue to push ourselves.
4. You’ve lost weight! Great achievement, firstly commend yourself. Secondly remember that as you lose weight, the number of calories that you burn (our BMR and daily energy expenditure) will decrease. This means that you need to reassess your eating habits as you celebrate your successes.
Just remember there is no norm. One 31-year-old, lean 88kg male could burn 700kcals in a personal training session yet a very similar session for a 55-year-old female who weights 63kg could be only a 300kcal burn. I hear what you are saying… It’s not fair. Calories have a direct correlation with lean muscle and the younger you are and bigger as well as age will generally always be in favour of male over a female.
My advice. Wear a tracking system where you are regularly updating your weight changes. Always air on the side of being conservative when using machines to track calories. Be careful with the calorie dense foods you choose as well. Pete always uses the comparison that it takes 60 seconds to consume a 220kcal Mars Bar where it can take up to 40 minutes to burn that amount (depending on all the variables listed above). Bottom line is, if you are hoping to lose weight solely on what you do through exercise and not tweak eating habits it’s going to be a long, slow old road!!
Good luck in your fitness journey,
Whether you’re looking to stay active and strong during pregnancy, tone up, or lose weight, Nikki has the tools and dedication you need to achieve your goals.