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What do we first think of doing when we realise we are not fit? We start eating less and exercising more. But have you wondered why we can’t sustain weight loss for long, and why is it easy to maintain our weight when we are young? Time and again it has been proven that ‘eat less and work out more’ is not a successful strategy for maintaining a toned body.
While weight is a valid factor to measure the success of a ‘get-back-in-shape’ intervention, it is not a decisive one. It’s important to know that when body tissues associated with shape—such as skeletal tissues—grow, we start looking more ‘in shape’. It is only when shapeless tissues (fat) grow that we add inches to our girth. Evidence from scientific studies that tested the ‘eat less and work out more’ strategy suggests that although participants lost weight quickly, they were unable to sustain it in the long run.
So, how did we remain toned so effortlessly in our childhood and adolescence? It not only depends on the food consumption habits and physical activity, but also on the body’s biochemistry. When we are young, our bodies not only expend energy to fuel organs and muscles—which they also do during adulthood—they also expend energy to grow those tissues. This plays a significant role in keeping us in shape. So, the question now is: How to maintain tissue growth even in our adulthood?
To reduce weight, aerobic activities such as running can be appealing. However, weight loss achieved this way cannot be sustained. These activities elevate calorie expenditure for a short period, but soon the metabolic rate returns to its former level and eliminates the effects of exercising. Also, such activities don’t trigger the biochemical reactions that are responsible for improving basal metabolic rate (BMR).
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(This story appears in the 16 February, 2018 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)