If we had a penny for every time we or a friend said: "I'm going to the gym loads but not really losing any weight" we'd have well, a lot of pennies. And new research has revealed the reason why.
A report by the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation reported The Daily Mail, found that although Americans say they are more active, it has not impacted the obesity epidemic much. The findings from the US-based study can be applied to Britain as like the US, more than one third of adults are obese.
Dr Khandee Ahnaimugan, weight loss expert and author of Slim and Healthy without Dieting: The Weight Loss Solution for Women over 40 says: "A big mistake people often make is "rewarding" themselves after a workout with food or drink. You might burn 300 calories after a 3-mile run, but then have a large latte which might be 350 calories, or a 500 calorie muffin. You can easily completely cancel out the workout benefit with a poorly chosen "reward"."
"There's a war between exercise and nutrition in our heads," said Jonathan Ross, spokesperson for the American Council on Exercise, talking to Reuters Health. "People tend to overestimate the amount of physical activity they get. They work out a little bit and treat themselves a lot. We put exercise in a box and once that exercise box is filled in we don't do much the rest of the day."
How Much Exercise You Need To Work Off The Following Foods:
- Big Mac (560 cal): 50 minutes of running
- Coca Cola (140 cal): 12 minutes of running
- 1 piece of Godiva chocolate (110 cal): 10 minutes of running
- Ice cream (201 cal): 18 minutes of running
- Glass of 175ml white wine: 20 minutes of aerobics
Part of the problem in Britain may be when people misintepret the official guidelines for keeping fit. The NHS recommends 150 minutes a week or 20 minutes a day, however this is with regards to maintaining weight as opposed to losing weight.
There is also a disconnect with the amount of time we spend in the gym and the calories we're working off, compared with what we then eat for dinner afterwards. To successfully lose weight, a person needs to create a calorie deficit - that is, consuming fewer calories than their body needs for the day. If you eat, say, a pizza for dinner after a workout, you would have had to cycle for an hour in the gym for the calories to cancel themselves out.
The 'box-ticking' that Ross is referring to is supported by the news that our increasingly sedentary lifestyles means we are finding it harder to lose weight, and as a result we are gaining roughly a quarter of a kilogram each year.
The 'denial' about calorie intake was highlighted perfectly in the Channel Four programme Secret Eaters, which looked at overweight families and their eating habits.
Most families are 'mystified' as to how they are gaining weight, but a closer look at their diet reveals that they either aren't aware of how many calories are contained in certain types of foods or they indulge in practices like eating while standing up or in front of the fridge, so the brain finds it harder to register that the body has eaten.
So what should you eat after a workout?
Bodydoctor and celebrity fitness trainer David Marshall says: "My philosophy when you exercise is that you work muscles, and muscles are made of protein, If you don’t replenish your protein after 90 minutes, you miss the window. You can have a protein shake or good quality protein such as meat, fish, chicken, eggs, and if you're vegetarian – pulses."
Sam Feltham, health expert, says: "My favourite meal after a workout is my healthy fish and chips. Mackerel fillets, avocado chips and mashed peas with butter. Plenty of omega 3 fatty acids to improve body fat burning alongside a good amount of protein to rebuild muscle."
Unlikely Things That Are Making You Fat
Research by psychotherapist Dawn Billings discovered that snooping at your partners phone or Facebook can lead to piling on the pounds. Billings claims that if you find something you didn't want to see, the stress of it all triggers the cortisol hormone, which interferes with the appetite-regulating hormone, letin. This can lead to an increase in hunger, making us lean towards emotional food binges.
Scientists from the <a href="http://www.mountsinai.org/" target="_hplink">Mount Sinai Medical Center</a> claim that phthalates, the chemicals found in 70% of cosmetics including shampoo, throw the body's weight control system off kilter. These chemicals are also linked to depressing testosterone levels in the body, which can increase the risk of weight gain
Recent research by the<a href="http://www.nia.nih.gov/" target="_hplink"> National Institute of Aging</a> found people who are highly emotional, organised and disciplined are more likely to be overweight. They also found that impulsive people have higher BMI's than those who are more relaxed and laid back.
Although its sole purpose is to disguise any unsightly lumps or bumps, it could give wearers a false sense of security, meaning they ditch diets as they know their pair of <a href="http://www.spanx.com/home/index.jsp" target="_hplink">Spanx</a> knickers will hold in their muffin top.
Those who guzzle diet fizzy drinks in the false hope that they're being healthier than drinking the full fat version, are still at risk of gaining weight. According to a study by the <a href="http://www.utexas.edu/" target="_hplink">University of Texas</a>, people who drink diet drinks see their waistbands expand 70% faster than those who drank normal fizzy drinks. This is because they believe they can drink more because of its lower calorie-count.
Falling in love can make you fat, research by the <a href="http://www.uconn.edu/" target="_hplink">University of Connecticut</a> has discovered. Otherwise known as the 'boyfriend layer', when a relationship becomes more established, couples tend to relax their fitness regime, eat out more - and eat more food. This is because new couples 'bond' over food and spend a lot of time doing sedentary things, like lounging on the sofa or in bed.
Women who are fed up at work are more likely to comfort eat, a study by the <a href="http://www.umassmed.edu/index.aspx" target="_hplink">University of Massachusetts Medical School</a> has found. Those who are hacked off with their everyday routine find comfort in 'emotional eating' when stressed and anxious rather than eating when hungry.
Lack of sleep disrupts the body's natural circadian pattern, which controls moods, alertness and appetite over a 24-hour period. If this is altered, it causes an imbalance in the leptin hormone (the hormone that tells us when we're full) and the ghrelin hormone (the hormone that tells us when we need food for energy). If these are out of control for regular periods, it can lead to weight gain.