Friday, October 5, 2012

Why some people do not lose weight after doing exercise or spending time in the gym

For friends who read my earlier posts, the exercise I only performed in my first 2 months of weight loss is actually walking, starting from slow walking for only 10-15min to brisk walking for sometimes up to 1.5 – 2hrs. I am really glad I did not start with jogging or even did my work-out in the gym. This is the reason why.

Fat Burning During Exercise

To burn fat and lose weight, aerobic exercise is preferred. However, it must not be high intensity. The reason being – when you exercise too hard or become breathless during exercise, the energy, which facilitate your movement, is drawn from glycogen in your liver and muscles, not your fat stores.

In the first 20min of exercise, the body burns sugar from the glycogen stores. The next 10min it is a mixture of sugar and fats. Only after 30min does the body burns proportionately more fat (50% from fat).  Hence if your objective is fat burning, you should exercise not hard but long.

More than 90% of our population do not exercise regularly, that is why obesity is a growing concern around the world. Studies have shown that the minimal aerobic threshold to shed fat demands continuous movements of at least 30min carried out at least 3 times a week. If you intend to lose fat but ‘could not afford’ the time, or is thinking 1 day a week in the gym is enough, you must  be kidding yourself. Even if you are exercising high intensity for 1 hr but with 20min break in between, the greater fat-burning effect will not kick-in, as the process will be reverted to burning sugar rather than fats.


To start exercising is tough, to start out the wrong way is even tougher. You may be overweight and have been going to aerobic classes in the gym or jogging in the park, panting like mad. It is time to try out something that is effective for many. Many instructors have a formula that advocate havimg a training heart-rate of 60-70% of the maximal heart rate (220 minus your age). However at that kind of rate, the unfit majority will reach their anaerobic threshold, and the body will burn mostly protein and sugar. The optimal intensity of exercise for fat burning is far lower at 50-60% of your maximal heart rate. It could even be a little lower if you are obese and just starting on your exercise regime after many years of sedentary lifestyle.

What exercise to do?

If the exercise I did is brisk walking for 2 months and losing more than 20% of my weight, and if many people also achieved weight and fat loss (but perhaps not as much as me) through brisk walking, it might be a good idea for you to do it. In my earlier posting, I mentioned where and when I do my walking – at my convenience. You could do it near your workplace, where you stay, a park near you, just anywhere you like. It will be no harm to you, at no cost to you and will only benefit you, not me.

Initially you can start by 10-15min, three times a week, and then build up to 45min more intense brisk walking at least 3 times a week. Once you reached that stage, I am sure with the effects on you, and the energy you actually get after exercising, automatically you will progress to daily brisk-walks at even longer period of time. Of course that is when your own time permits.  Perhaps you have started doing exercise after your work hours, but at some point in time, you may see yourself switching to early morning.  But just bear in mind, your fats do not just appear magically overnight, it is stored gradually over the weeks, months, years. Similarly, your exercise intensity and duration should be a gradual build-up. Progressing too rapidly will result in fatigue, muscle soreness, increased cardiac risk and becoming a de-motivator.

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