Skip to content

Do you have to exercise to lose weight?

Do you ever wonder why your friend is able to lose weight on a specific diet, but when you try it for yourself you gain weight? Or, does it feel like even thinking about food is causing you to gain weight? Your aren't alone! Here, our Registered Dietitian is here to answer these questions and more.

Trying To Do The Right Thing

More often than not, the reason for a client's nutritional visit is weight loss. Recently, I met "Alice," who wanted advice on how to eat and how much exercise she would need to lose weight. Alice found our clinic online while searching for a Registered Dietitian in Ottawa, Ontario. Alice has seen nutritionists over the years but continues to struggle with weight management. 

Alice's questions and confusion about healthy eating and exercise are quite common. Orthorexia is a relatively new form of disordered eating defined as an obsession with “proper” healthy eating. People become fixated on "healthy eating"  and discovering what foodsa re best for them while unnecessarily restricting their nutritional intake. In addition to finding the right foods to eat, people often search for the best fat-burning exercise. 

The Variables

There are many variables at play when talking about nutrition and metabolism for losing and maintaining your weight. One size of diet approach won't work equally well for everyone. Finding the diet that works best for you may tae some trial and error and, even when something does work, it may stall and you may require new options. 

Do you ever wonder if you exercised more or ate less that you would be able to lose weight? Do you ever wonder why your neighbour can lose weight on a specific diet, but when you try, you gain weight? Or maybe you feel that thinking about food makes you hungry and you gain weight?

You are not alone.

Reasons You May Not Be Losing Weight

Some reasons that you may not be losing weight include:

  • Mindless eating
  • Overeating or under-eating 
  • Chronic stress and lack of sleep
  • An underlying medical condition 
  • Consuming too many calories or high caloric snacks
  • Not enough physical activity to burn your caloric intake

Or  … You are not in sync with your genes

Genes & Weight Loss

Physical activity comes with many benefits for your mental health, for maintaining your weight and for preventing a wide variety of chronic diseases. You may wonder why some people lose weight and others don't when they exercise. Research shows that some have a genetic advantage over others when it comes to weight management through exercise. 

There is no debate that we should all be exercising for our health. But how does exercise affect your metabolism? 

The Fat Mass & Obesity-Associated Gene (FTO)

Individuals who have a specific genetic profile experience enhanced weight loss from higher physical activity. Those people also experience greater fat loss. This phenomenon is a result of the Fat Mass and Obesity-associated gene (FTO).  

The FTO gene’s role in the body is related to your metabolism, energy expenditure and energy balance. It is also expressed in regions of the brain involved in the regulation of energy or food intake. Individuals with a particular variant of the FTO gene variant lose more body weight, including fat mass, when consuming a moderate-to-high protein diet, but not when consuming a lower protein diet.

The Fight-or-Flight Gene

Another gene that has been identified in the fight-or-flight response to stress contributes to the mobilization and breakdown of fat cells and that its activity increases during exercise. A study of obese, sedentary people found that this variation in the "fight opr flight" response predicts fat loss in response to cardiovascular exercise. Women who had this genetic variation had an enhanced response to a cardiovascular exercise program, losing over three times more body fat than women who had a typical response. 

The Science of Nutrigenomics

Nutrigenomics (sometimes called nutritional genomics) analyzes genetic profiles to optimize health-related outcomes by examining how individual genetic differences modify their response to diet. Discoveries in the field of Nutrigenomics have helped us uncover the answers to question like the one posted by Alice: “Do I have to exercise to lose weight?”. 

The Bottom Line

Everyone should be participating in physical activity. Exercise shouldn't be considered only for weight management! The Heart and Stroke Foundation recommends adults should accumulate at least 150 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity per week in bouts of 10 minutes or more. Older adults should add muscle and bone-strengthening activities using major muscle groups at least two days per week to enhance balance and prevent falls.

Please reach out for an appointment with our Registered Dietitian if you want to learn more about personalized nutrition, meal planning or healthy eating. 

Are you struggling with weight loss, or health issues related to diet?

Our Orleans team of registered dietitians can help you to manage health conditions and lose weight.

Book Now

Check in with the Motion Works Physiotherapy Orleans blog regularly for helpful tips, news, information and advice about physiotherapy treatment and your health.

Contact Us Virtual Appointments

We are accepting in-person and virtual appointments.

(613) 714-9722