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Here's why you're not seeing results from 'working out'

It can be discouraging when it seems as if you've worked so hard for something, but never see any results.

Being informed of how your body needs to be fueled, and how it burns energy, is crucial to any successful fitness journey.  While each body and metabolism is unique, the following tips are a general set of guidelines good to have on-hand.


In an age where almost everything is marketed to us, this means that even our fitness regimen may be prone to the effects of capitalism. Think about it, you've seen ads for FitBits, Apple Watches, and other activity trackers that promise to remind you to move, and congratulate you for daily milestones like 10,000 steps. Some even have heart rate monitors and the ability to track calories exerted. These features all make us feel good about ourselves, so that's why we purchase them. Marketing strategies for gyms, studios, and workout genres play on insecurities and people's desires to get the most results from the least amount of effort.


For example, in Pilates and Lagree fitness, a so-called 'Pilates-on-steroids', you definitely 'feel the burn' as different muscle groups are targeted and toned, and class-goers often feel sore the next day. So, imagine starting your day off with a 1-hour Pilates class. Toned muscles, no shortness-of-breath from running around or jumping, and no excessive sweating and red face before class or work. Ideal, right? The problem is that many have been convinced that Pilates, and other similar workouts, are 'miracle' workouts, and people overestimate how many calories they burn in a class. This leads to the 'I-went-to-Pilates-so-I-deserve-this-biscuit/cake/chocolate' mentality, where people believe they have a high caloric deficit, so the empty calories in their desserts don't hurt anything. There are multiple problems with this mode of thinking.

First, it was most likely the way in which the workout was marketed to the consumer that led to this; brochures and advertisements with pictures of women doing Pilates (most of whom probably train in a multitude of other ways and eat a very clean diet) who look lean and happy, as well as vague promises of workout outcomes. This creates a mental association of the lean women in the picture with only the Pilates class, and not necessarily the rest of the lifestyle that gave those women their physique. Of course, Pilates is only the example in this scenario, and there are dozens of other workouts in which people over-estimate their calorie burn.

Think about all of the 'quick ab sets for busy people!' and other articles online that promise to keep you in shape, even if you're not willing to put in the time to exercise. Celebrities (many of whom, again, have personal trainers and chefs that help them keep their bodies in shape) often endorse 'quick-fix' ab circuits, and other workouts of that nature, that often only last 10-20 minutes. Caloric exertion varies from person to person, but myfitnesspal estimates that a 20-minute abdominal circuit burns 68 calories for a person weighing 10 stone 10 pounds. While it's better than sitting around and doing nothing, 68 calories is not a lot in the grand scheme of things. But, because people associate the workout with the image of a slim celeb, they feel as if they have done a lot more. This can be detrimental to those who are closely monitoring their waistline or hoping to achieve weight loss goals.

The following table outlines calorie burns for 60 minutes of the specified exercise for a person weighing 10 stone 10 pounds. Click here to change weight and look up other exercises.


It's important to remember that these are estimates, and proper technique is crucial. That plank and those sit-ups won't change a thing if you have improper form, and you may get hurt in the process.


So thankful for my complete nutritional plant based whole foods lunch ?

A post shared by Katlyn (@spice_up_organic) on

The problem isn't only the lack of quality exercise, but also caloric intake. After we work out, we are marketed with protein shakes, protein bars, and other quick-fixes of this nature. Often times, protein bars and shakes are filled with sugar, and perhaps even more calories than what we burned in class. Imagine you've just attended a 1-hour Pilates class. Good for you! You've burned roughly 204 kcal. On your way out of the gym, you decide to grab a 'Grenade Carb Killa High Protein Bar' that claims to be low in sugar (2g) and high in protein (22g).

Surely you need protein after working out your muscles, right? While this is true, protein bars are not necessarily the best way to go after a low-intensity workout. The aforementioned bar contains 215 kcal (9 more than you just burned in Pilates), and artificial sweeteners (which research suggests inhibits the ability for your gut culture to process real sugar and could lead to further problems), and probably won't keep you full longer than an hour or so. So, this bar cancelled out your workout already, and what are the chances you'll enjoy some sweets later 'because you've gone to Pilates'?

When it comes down to it, weight loss is based on a caloric deficit: exerting more calories than you've consumed. Besides individuals who are training 2+ hours a day and high-level athletes, you're best off refuelling with a piece of fruit and a small handful of nuts. Make sure you get enough protein in your next meal to help with muscle recovery.

The wrong kind of calories

While it can be helpful to enjoy a treat every once in a while to keep yourself on track with your goals, eating high amounts of empty calories could be what's keeping you from achieving them. When you feel hungry, that's your body's way of asking for nutrients, not necessarily just calories. Empty calories are foods that offer little-to-no nutritional value, like fizzy drinks, milk chocolate, sweets, and white bread. A Fanta (355mL) contains 160 calories, 44g of sugar, and NO nutritional value whatsoever. 'Diet' versions of fizzy drinks are no better, as the artificial sweetener in them leads to other complications, as mentioned before.

Beware of hiding sugar as well; that serving of yoghurt that seems like a healthy source of protein could be packed with upwards of 16g of unnecessary sugar. Instead, buy plain yoghurt, and add fresh or frozen berries for extra flavour. When you're hungry, snack on nutrient-dense foods, like carrots and houmous, rather than reaching for the crisps or biscuits.  Read your food labels, and be informed about what is going into your body.

The bottom line(s)
  • There's no such thing as a magic, quick-fix, miracle workout.
  • Be conscious of how workouts are marketed to you and might be convincing you that you're burning more calories than you actually are.
  • There's no such thing as magic weight loss tea.
  • Eat your plants.
  • Obtaining a lean body comes from dedication inside both the gym and the kitchen.
  • It is important to get a good mix of cardio as well as strength training (not to mention the fact that bodily maintenance of muscle burns calories in itself).
  • Keep in mind the intensity of your workout when refuelling.
  • Be honest with yourself-- don't justify a huge slice of cake because you did a 10-minute ab circuit.
  • EAT. Your body needs fuel to function normally.
  • Weight loss is the result of a caloric deficit, so feed your body nutrient-dense foods instead of wasting calories