Can You Really Lose Weight Just By Exercising?

Can You Really Lose Weight Just By Exercising?

Can You Really Lose Weight Just By Exercising? Hello everyone, I hope you are well. In today’s post, I will be sharing a guest post from fitness expert James Staring of Fit to Last. James will answer this question and look at what you need to consider. One of the most common health and fitness goals is weight loss. The usual weight-loss strategy is to increase the amount of exercise we do or to start exercising if we aren’t already in the habit. But can you lose weight purely by exercising?

Can You Really Lose Weight Just By Exercising?

Let’s put weight loss aside just for a moment and talk about body fat. If you’re carrying excess body fat, reducing it will improve your health and fitness. Losing body fat means changing your body shape (which is what most people want when they talk about ‘losing weight’), not the number on the scale.

Body fat loss is a much more reliable measure of progress than chasing pounds or kilos. If you focus on the number on your weighing scale, you might see the number decrease and therefore think you are improving. However, if the weight you’re losing is muscle mass, this can be detrimental to your health rather than an improvement. It also may not give you the shape you are hoping for. The simplest way to measure body fat loss is to try the same outfit regularly and see if it fits differently. If it’s getting looser, you’re on the right track.

So, can you lose body fat just by exercising? The answer will depend on your current situation.

Are You New To Exercise?

The newer you are to exercise, the more initial success you will have. This is called the ‘Novice Effect’ by powerlifting author Mark Rippitoe. When you expose yourself to a new fitness routine (for example, lifting weights for the first time), you’ll achieve some change at first because you’re doing something new and different. Your body will respond quickly to new challenges; trying an exercise you haven’t done before is a great example.

However, this will be a short-term change until your body gets used to the new fitness regime. When this happens, and you stop changing, you must adapt your fitness routine to ensure it remains challenging. Generally, exercise regimes should be changed every four to six weeks.

Can You Really Lose Weight Just By Exercising?

If You Are More Experienced, But You Have Been Doing The Same Exercise Routine Without Change Or Progression, It’s Time To Change Things Around.

An excellent example of this is running. If you want to lose body fat, and running is your weapon, think about your usual running workouts.

If it’s the same type of run each week (i.e. same route for 30 minutes, same pace, twice weekly), it’s time to throw your body a curve to stimulate change.

This could include adding a new fitness class, a higher-intensity interval run, or, better still, adding strength training. Strength training is preferred because you’ll run faster, and your body will get stronger. Also, gaining lean muscle helps you lose body fat and keep it off.

Whichever way you choose, adding something different or mixing up your current exercise routine is crucial to losing body fat.

Can You Exercise Consistently Each Week?

To lose weight, you must exercise consistently weekly and weekly.

The key is to be realistic about what you can commit to every week and then make weekly appointments with yourself so you keep doing it.

These regular appointments will give you a routine that leads to losing body fat.

Over-commitment leads to under-delivery.

It is also important to set weekly workout targets for sufficient recovery time.

Professional athletes usually focus on three things 24/7:

  • Exercise
  • Sleeping
  • Eating.

As a non-professional athlete, you need enough recovery time between exercises to maximise the benefits bearing in mind that you also have other commitments (not just sleeping and eating!)

So, ensure you give your body what it needs to recover.

The ‘workout-heal-adapt’ cycle

Recovery is essential because it’s during recovery that your body rebuilds following exercise.

When you exercise, your muscles are slightly damaged due to the stress of your workout. This is why you feel sore after.

During recovery, your body heals the damage from your exercise. This healing results in those sore muscles adapting to make you a little bit stronger to meet the challenge of your next workout. Recovery takes time between workouts and needs to be planned, just like your exercise.

So, as you plan your weekly workouts, plan recovery time between them. This is essential to losing body fat, as the changes you seek to make will happen because of the ‘exercise-heal-adapt’ cycle, not because of the exercise itself. I recommend a 24 to the 48-hour recovery period. This doesn’t mean sitting on the sofa and doing nothing. Recovery is light activity, like walking or yoga, nothing too intense. Light activity during the recovery time will benefit you more than no activity. If you’re aching and don’t feel like moving around much, try walking around as much as possible to loosen up your muscles and prepare them for movement again when your next workout.

Do You Have Any Injuries?

You must move well to get the most out of exercise.

If you’re injured, you can’t move fully when you exercise. As such, the benefits you get from exercising will be limited. This is because the entire exercise movement helps you become stronger and fitter. If you can’t move fully, your shortened movements can lead to further injury. What these shortened movements won’t do is contribute to your goal of losing body fat.

If you feel pain when you exercise, seek professional guidance to help find out the cause and a possible solution. Don’t try to push through the pain. This can lead to more significant problems.

Are You Cutting Lots Of Calories To Lose Weight?

The choice of increased exercise is often accompanied by (sometimes extreme) calorie cutting. The thought process is that if you exercise more and eat less, you’ll burn more body fat, right?

Why extreme calorie cutting doesn’t always help you lose body fat (especially when you exercise)

Extreme calorie cutting is an ineffective strategy to lose weight when you exercise regularly. This is because you need to feed yourself enough energy to fuel your workouts and the changes you want your body to make.

By drastically cutting your overall energy intake, your body will burn muscle and fat to maintain itself. This means the effort you put into your exercise will be undercut because you’ll lose the muscle tissue you’re trying to build.


Can you lose body fat through exercise alone? In the immediate short term, possibly.

But if you want to lose body fat and keep it off, you’ll need a strategy combining supportive eating habits and a progressive exercise routine.

It would be best to feed the change you want your body to make. By concentrating on eating consistent quantities of healthy, whole foods alongside an exercise regime that includes recovery, body fat loss is much more likely than exercise alone.

I hope you enjoyed that.

Talk soon


James Staring is the founder and lead fitness coach at Fit to Last Personal Trainers, which offers a high-end, all-inclusive fitness solution for those who’ve tried everything in the past; crash diets, exercise fads, regular gyms etc., all with little to no success or results. Fit Last works with you to create a personalised programme of exercise, nutrition (no calorie counting or weighing) and small, simple lifestyle changes to keep you on track to your goals, injury free and bursting with energy. See:


Twitter: @fittolast


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Working with Strong women, I help empower women not to give up on their goals and find true happiness within themselves. #lifestyle #womenempowerment #selfcare


  • Lasonia

    This article is very informative. In order to live a healthier life, I think we should all incorporate some form of daily exercise into our routines.

  • Alita Pacio

    I am new to exercise and yes I noticed that my body changes quickly. I will try and challenge myself with exercises I’ve never done before.

  • Rose Ann Sales

    This is such a really great and very informative article. I’m glad that I read this thanks for sharing this with us

  • Monidipa

    Your article on losing weight through exercise is informative and well-written. I appreciate how you highlight the importance of both exercise and diet in achieving weight loss goals.

  • Stephanie

    Glad I read this article on exercising and weight loss. I have an exercise routine that is too mundane so I need to incorporate your tips on mixing it up. I think my body needs a bit of a ‘shock’ – so I will try to change it every six weeks as you mention. Thank you as always for great fitness tips!

  • Rosey

    I have lost weight without trying just by exercising. I had a lot of walking I was doing and the weight was just dropping. It was nice!

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