If you work out 5 days a week, will you lose weight fast?
If you're working out five days a week to lose weight, here's what fitness experts want you to know.
You're going all-in with this workout thing, and hitting the gym five days a week. You are unstoppable. While we know working out regularly has a slew of benefits, including increased strength and energy, stress relief, and improved sleep, most people start exercising with one goal in mind — to lose weight. But after a month of five-days-a-week workouts, will your effort pay off and result in weight loss? Here's what experts have to say.
Do genes play a role in weight loss?
If a person is eating a healthy diet and exercising five days a week, they may expect to see results, says Mumbai-based dietician and clinical nutritionist Geetanjali Shah. However, she suggests keeping in mind that genetics and diet play a large role in weight loss. Kabir Khan, fitness trainer and instructor at The Studio, Mumbai, agrees and adds that "five days a week of exercise doesn't automatically ensure weight loss." Khan says the type and intensity of exercise a person is doing will significantly impact weight. Another important point to note is that a person could very well maintain or even gain weight, says Shah, if the person eats additional calories. "It's also important to note that you can lose fat and your body could look leaner but your weight could stay the same or increase if you're gaining muscle from exercise," she says.
How long do you need to work out to see results?
Results can be measured in so many different ways. If a person is looking at the scale, Shah says they should see the numbers going down week after week, as long as they're eating in a calorie deficit. Khan adds that if an individual is participating in a strength training program, he or she may lose body fat mass and gain muscle mass. "Though there has been a decrease in fat mass, the increase in muscle mass may make the number on the weighing machine seem stagnant. You will slim down, but your weight may not change for a period of time," says Khan.
If a person is using the way their clothes fit as a gauge, it could take several weeks to see a difference, depending on how fast the person is working to lose weight. Khan says, "One clothing size is about 5kgs, so you'd need to lose somewhere between 3-5kgs for clothes to fit better." If the way you look in the mirror is the measure for results, then it may take longer — usually at about 8-10kgs of weight loss, the person will see a difference in the mirror, says Khan. He adds that a good tool to see results is to take pictures. "Most people are reluctant, but if you take them every one to two weeks, they're a great way to see changes in your body," says Khan.
Khan says that within a month or two of strength training, a person will start to see muscular changes. He noted that consistency is key for exercise. "If you aren't consistent, then you absolutely won't get any results. It's also important to be patient and recognize that body change takes time," says Khan. According to him, the person will most likely see results before other people notice, and will also feel better almost immediately.
What weekly exercise routine should you follow if you want to lose weight?
If you want to lose weight, your exercise routine needs to include strength training in order to build lean muscle, says Khan. He explains that lean muscle is metabolically active, meaning that it draws energy from our fat stores throughout the day in order to function. "The more lean muscle we possess, the more calories we burn at rest, which will result in a lower body fat content," says Khan. He adds that strength or resistance training will not only help you lose weight, but it will help you tone and change the shape of your body. As for cardio, Khan suggests you complete 150 to 300 minutes of activity per week at a moderate intensity. "The higher the intensity, the less cardio that you will have to complete to achieve the same benefits," he says.
Khan recommends high-intensity interval training (HIIT), which gets your heart rate up in a shorter amount of time. "Performing exercise that kicks metabolism into gear is responsible for afterburn, allowing our bodies to burn more calories up to one to two hours after the workout is complete," he says. Shah agrees and points out that a study showed how just six minutes of HIIT training can increase calorie burn for the following 36 hours. For a balanced weekly workout routine, Khan says you can focus on strength training three days per week and cardiovascular interval training (such as HIIT) the other two. However, he warns: "Make sure you enjoy it, though. Boredom can make you give up on exercise, so find workouts you like and build your exercise routine around them."
Does what you eat matter?
"Working out is only one piece of the puzzle in weight loss — the most important piece is food and diet," explains Shah. Most people want to exercise to just lose weight and not make any adjustments to their food intake, but this is an error in the mechanics of weight loss, says Shah. Food and diet are the drivers for weight loss, and exercise is meant to support the calorie deficit that you need to lose weight. "Regardless of the number of days of exercise, the person must be in a calorie deficit to lose weight," she says.
Do you have to exercise five days a week to lose weight?
"Weight loss is a marathon, not a sprint," says Khan. To be consistent with weight loss, he says you have to maintain whatever level of activity you started doing to lose that weight, and if you hit a plateau, sometimes you have to increase the exercise activity to get through it. But that doesn't mean you have to work out five days a week. Khan doesn't think it's necessary to commit to five days a week to make significant goals. "If an individual can commit to three hour-long sessions of well-planned and moderately intense effort per week, significant gains can be made in just a few months," he says. You want to start a routine that you both enjoy and that's sustainable over time. Exercise has amazing benefits for overall health from mental health to heart health. However, "it is actually more effective for weight maintenance rather than weight loss," says Shah.