The Big Workout Mistake That Leads to MORE Fat

Amy Kuras

couchEverybody hits a workout slump ... vacation, a busy period at work, general lack of motivation, whatever. But if you want to keep yourself from gaining a bunch of weight while you're slacking, you'd be smart to keep right up with your healthy eating plan.

This was kind of awful news for me: I've been in a big workout lull what with being busy this summer, and while it's been too hot to eat much, an ice cream run has been an occasional part of my week, as has a nice cool glass or two of chardonnay.

I definitely notice a loss in fitness, but not a huge weight gain. As it turns out, though, going from fitness goddess to couch potato can have long-lasting effects on your body.

A group of young, fit people limited their exercise and ate 70 percent more food. They must also have been pretty relaxed about their body image -- they had to agree to gain a good bit of weight in the name of science, since this was for a research study done at a Swedish university. They slacked off and ate with abandon for four weeks, and at the end they'd gained an average of 14 pounds. Interestingly, both their body fat and lean muscle mass increased, too.

Six months later, they'd lost much of the weight, but still had higher body fat, although their muscle mass went back down to normal levels. That's bad, because it means it would be harder for them to lose weight in the future, with more of their body being taken up by fat.

Eating 70 percent more food is a big jump; that translates to more than 5,000 calories for most of them. That's a lot of food; you'd have to eat at least one really high-calorie meal to get that far, or snack on ice cream and cupcakes versus fruit and nuts. I don't think most of us could maintain that big of a splurge for a whole month. Still, this makes me want to get back to the gym pronto.


Image via mikebaird/Flickr

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