Updated: Dec 28, 2021
Losing weight can be a huge challenge both physically and mentally. Added to that, you have to deal with a lot of noise and confusion from sticking to a strict calorie deficit diet routine, controlling cravings, drinking the right amount of water, walking the sufficient number of steps to religiously working out every day, giving you too many things to do usually little to show for it.
Fear not, we’re here to make your journey a little bit easy and debunk one of the greatest and the most long standing myths : You cannot lose weight without exercising.
How did we get here?
While all weight-loss diets fundamentally work at creating a caloric deficit, different diets go about this differently .Traditional low-fat diets are high in carbohydrates which in turn raises blood sugar levels and triggers Insulin secretion.
Insulin is the fat storing hormone and prevents the body from burning fat. While these diets misunderstand how fat works, they also make burning body fat more difficult.
The popular suggestion of exercise was born to address this issue. Exercising would force the body to burn the glucose and inturn reduce insulin levels to a point where the body can start burning fat.
This is like driving with one foot on the accelerator and one foot on the brake.
Why people find it difficult to lose weight with exercise
Let’s face it - exercise is essential for fitness but it is not one size fits all. You may have several reasons to not exercise. For most overweight people - it takes more effort to do the same exercise as a lean person and significantly increases the chance of injury. Weight-gain from hormonal conditions may also make exercising feel like a tiresome chore rather than a refreshing experience. For some people, it’s a matter of time management and consistency.
Having exercising as a mandatory aspect of weight-loss makes it unworkable for many.
Exercise vs Nutrition
Being Healthy and Fit are often used interchangeably. However, being Healthy and being Fit are very distinct. Being healthy has everything to do with the health of your body - this can be roughly quantified through various blood-tests. Being fit has everything to do with your fitness - this can be roughly quantified in terms of your endurance, your strength and your agility.
To be healthy, all you have to do is to manage your Nutrition.
To be fit, all you have to do is manage your Exercises.
While being healthy and being fit are mutually exclusive - which is you can be healthy and be unfit and you can be fit and be unhealthy - being healthy helps in being fit and vice versa.
Weight loss vs. Fat loss
Weight loss and fat loss are often used interchangeably, but they are not one and the same. Whether you realize it or not, fat loss is what you and most dieters wish to accomplish.
Weight loss is a decrease in overall body weight. This weight can include; muscle, fat, and water from the body. Weight loss is simply a loss of overall body weight. Fat loss is a reduction in body fat. Reducing body fat is what most people want to achieve. Fat loss is more specific than weight loss.
In fact exercising actually increases weight as you build new muscles and muscle is heavier than fat.
A caloric deficit does not only cause fat-loss but when incorrectly followed can also cause lean muscle mass loss. From the standpoint of weight-loss, both may seem the same. Hence the quality of food consumed for fat loss is more important. A carefully planned nutrition plan needs to be more specific about our macronutrient intake, i.e. protein, carbohydrate and fat intake.
Let’s now talk a little about Keto and can you lose weight without exercise?
What is a keto diet and how does it work?
The Keto Diet is a low carb (about 5%), moderate protein (about 25%), and high-fat diet (about 70%)
On a low-fat diet, the body metabolizes carbs as a source of fuel for the body which increases insulin levels impeding weight loss. But being on a low-carb Keto Diet lowers your carb intake to an extremely low level, minimising insulin response and enabling the body to metabolize Fats as the primary fuel source.
Burning Ketones in place of Glucose
On a traditional Low-fat diet that is high in carbohydrates. High levels of carbohydrates causes high levels of Insulin in the body. Unfortunately, for most people the primary reason for fat accumulation is high Insulin levels.
High Insulin levels prevent fat burn. The body first needs to bring the levels of insulin to a lower level where fat burn becomes possible.
On a low-carb ketogenic diet, the carbohydrates consumed do not spike the insulin. Due to low levels of Insulin, the body starts burning it’s own stored fat in the form of Ketones. Ketones are used to power every cell in the body including the brain.
Burning ketones for energy directly results in weight-loss. The traditional application of exercise to reduce insulin levels is no longer required on a low-carb Healthy Keto Diet.
Ketones vs Glucose
Our body can store a very limited amount of glucose in the liver called the glycogen store. Any additional glucose that is not burned for energy is converted to fat and stored. When the body is using glucose as the primary source of fuel, it has to rely on regular glucose (carbohydrate) consumption to supply that energy - leading to higher food intake.
On a Keto diet, the body is powered by ketones. As ketones are made from stored body fat - the body has a virtually unlimited source of energy. This leads to a stable & healthy source of energy, not relying on food intake.
Ketones are also more energy dense than glucose. A gram of Ketones contains 9 kilocalories versus a gram of glucose that only contains 4 kilocalories. This makes ketones a more efficient fuel as well.
Ketones are a great source of fuel as well as directly contribute in fat-loss. This makes calorie burn from exercise irrelevant.
Workout on Keto
While diet plays a primary role in fat-loss, exercise can play an important role to support fat-loss. Exercise has a proven effect in raising metabolism, that in turn allows your body to burn more fat and lose weight faster. But not all exercise is effective in producing these results. When it comes to exercising, focus on quality over quantity.
While aerobic exercises increase cardiovascular health, it often leads to chronic injury, bone density loss, muscle weakness, low back pain, knee pain, posture disorders, etc. It is a waste of time to spend more than an hour in the gym. The trigger your body is looking to increase your metabolism and burn fat is exercise which allows you to push yourself harder, but only in short bursts, a few repetitions. This type of exercise is often called HIIT or high intensity interval training.
A stellar HIIT routine 3-5 times a week, can positively impact fat-loss as well help in toning up and building muscles. It is also important to have your nutrition plan fit your workout routine.
While exercise is highly recommended for fitness, it is not the most efficient tool for Fat-loss. Exercising without managing nutrition is one of the worst mistakes one can make that often leads to chronic injury and disappointing results.