Weight Loss Tips & Tricks: Exercise Not Enough, Study Reveals

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Jan 29, 2016 04:30 AM EST

MIAMI, FL - JULY 10: Yoga instructor Sarah Henry leads a class during a paddleboard yoga session at Adventure Sports Miami on July 10, 2011 in Miami, Florida. The paddle board is said to give the body’s core more of a workout then in a gym since the platform is unstable and one must use the muscles to remain balanced on the board. (Photo : Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

A new study published suggested that exercise alone does not guarantee weight loss; one should focus on diet instead.

Most individuals who want to achieve their dream bod hit the gym and enroll in fitness classes. They push their body by working out for long hours until they can't take it anymore. Unfortunately, this strategy might not be efficient enough to lose weight.

The researchers learned that exercise is not enough to shed the extra pounds. The body reaches a plateau where working out more does not necessarily means burning more calories, The Guardian reported.

"It's time to stop assuming that more physical activity always means (expending) more calories," the journal said, per The Australian. "There might be a 'sweet spot' for physical activity - too little and we're unhealthy but too much and the body makes big ­adjustments."

Dr. Herman Pontzer of the Department of Anthropology at the City University of New York and lead author of the study was surprised with the results. However, he noted that the new study is a part of a growing body of evidence that debunks beliefs that, the more active you are, the more calories you burn, CBC reported.

"Our bodies adapt to higher activity levels so that people don't necessarily burn extra calories even if they exercise more," Pontzer explained.

The team measured the daily energy expenditures and activity levels of over 300 individuals from five countries, including U.S., Jamaica and South Africa, for over a week. They learned that the number of calories burned during exercises reaches a plateau.

"As we move from moderate activity levels up to more and more activity, our bodies adapt, so that energy expenditure per day stays basically the same, even as we're more and more active," Pontzer said.

The new study revealed that concentrating on the number of calories you burn with exercise is not a good investment for those trying to lose weight, Dr. Mark Tarnopolsky of McMaster University in Hamilton said.

Tarnopolsky focuses on the potential for exercise as therapy for people with genetic neuromuscular diseases. He is not involved in the study.

For those who want to lose weight, sweating is not enough; the focus should be on diet.

"Being physically active is good for your physical and mental health and also helps to maintain a healthy weight," said Dr. Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at Public Health England. "However, the evidence shows the most effective way of losing weight is to reduce calorie intake through a healthy balanced diet."

Even if exercise is not that efficient in losing weight, one should still incorporate it into his daily regimen because it is good for the heart, immune system and mental health, Pontzer stressed.

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