Can You Lose Weight Through Exercise Alone?

If you've ever embarked on a weight loss journey, you know how difficult it can be. You have probably also heard that incorporating an exercise routine is one way to help you reach weight loss goals. Exercise is good for a variety of reasons, but can you lose weight through exercise alone?

The short answer is that it depends on your current lifestyle. Exercise burns calories, which helps promote fat loss. However, for exercise to make a significant impact, you need to be consistent. Exercising once a week is certainly better than no exercise at all, but that will not make much of a difference on the scale.

To see the benefits of exercise, you not only need to exercise consistently, you also need to do it at a moderate or vigorous intensity level if you want to burn fat (via Healthline). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests adults get 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous activity — or a combination of both — every week.

Weight loss occurs when you burn more calories than you take in, and you have to burn approximately 3,500 calories to lose one pound, according to Today's Dietician. To lose half a pound in one week, you would have to burn 250 extra calories through exercise every day, and for most people, that would be difficult.

Weight loss is easier with exercise and a healthy diet plan

If you modify your diet and find a way to eliminate excess calories while exercising, maintaining a calorie deficit is much easier. However, you have to be mindful. Many people overestimate the amount of calories they burn through exercise and underestimate how many calories they are consuming.

Furthermore, some people tend to reward themselves with food after exercising. A study published in April 2021 conducted by the Technical University of Munich and the University of Nebraska and published in the journal Nutrients, revealed that people often indulge after working out, negating all the work they put in. The study also showed that people who do not exercise generally eat less. This doesn't mean you shouldn't work out to lose weight though (remember, there are so many benefits!), it just means you'll want to develop an exercise and eating plan that works for your health goals. 

While it is possible to lose weight with exercise alone, success seems to come easier and quicker when paired with a healthy diet. The trick is finding a workout regimen and an eating lifestyle you enjoy enough to stick with over time.