Could exercise be making you fat?

A controversial blog title I know. But there is in a fact an element of truth to it. Does that mean you shouldn’t exercise, ABSOLUTELY NOT!

But if you’re exercising for reasons other than just getting fitter (i.e. for losing weight, dropping a dress size, streamlining your body, becoming really healthy, living as long as you can etc), you MUST focus on nutrition and lifestyle too, because these are as important if not more so that just exercising alone.

On Monday, I was part of a feature in the Daily Mail that shared lots of pieces of research around why exercise can make you fat (– CLICK HERE to read the article in full) but I wanted to elaborate on this feature a bit more here.

The main three things I’d like everyone to understand are:

  1. Exercise alone doesn’t make your body function properly. It certainly helps your body become stronger, but nutrients, enzymes and hormones are the magic components that help a body have good vitality, energy, balance, immunity, mood and function.
  2.  Many people who exercise can make bad food choices (from over eating healthy food to eating junk food or a mixture of these two) because they are exercising and think they can get away with it or perhaps don’t understand thermodynamics (calories in and out) and nutrition / food management.
  3. Exercising (mainly too much exercise) when your body isn’t balanced or you’re stressed can actually hinder the body’s hormonal and metabolic pathways.

People still seem to put more focus on fitness than they do sleep or balance and I think people would be astounded to see what their bodies (and minds) could do when they incorporate this alongside fitness. This is why I incorporate this into every single one of my programs!

Here’s some advice and information that I hope will inspire you to exercise regularly AND consider food and lifestyle choices, but also make sure that the exercise you do gets you results!

If you run a marathon in around 4 hours, you’d only burn just over 2000 calories. So a 5km Sunday run before brunch could burn as little as 250 calories, but you might choose a bigger breakfast as a result. Not a reason not to run on a Sunday, but people need to be clearer on calories in and out.

Exercise can make you hungry. This is not a reason to avoid exercising, but to focus on better nutrition. Most people are under nourished and over fed, so when you are training, add more goodness in, i.e. a daily vegetable juice, more greens, oily fish, sweet potatoes, NOT increasing carbohydrates too much which is the classic fuel choose of those hitting the gym.

There are many unhealthy fit people. I know plenty of marathon runners who have terrible gut problems, high sugar intake, bad sleep, high stress levels and weak cores and bad postures, but they push and push themselves through it, get addicted to the fitness high but don’t realize that a change of pace, a different focus, more goodness and balance could improve their health ten fold. That’s not to say don’t run marathons, but that marathons can make people very unhealthy AND fatter (See this fab article from the Independent in 2011 called Is running making you fat?)


Fat over fit? Many people have a fat layer over their fit bodies.  This can be from over eating, but in my experience it mainly comes from wine / sugar / caffeine / processed foods and stress. Toxins (from food or the ones that stress create) are stored in water, fat and self made cholesterol around the surface of their body as our body tried to protect it’s vital organs by keeping the toxins away from them. Reduce the toxins and bingo, your body will get a results boost like never before!

The glycogen myth. I see women come to my bootcamps with a sports drink that they sip throughout and then have a banana on the way home afterwards. Well that’s about 500 calories, yet they’ve only burnt 300. They’ll often go home feeling chuffed they’ve done their workout (and rightly so!), but over eat as a result. I get women who train 4 x a week with me and get fit but can’t lose weight and I keep saying ‘let me see your food diaries!’ and when I see them, I know why! Over eating, too much sugar, calories in and out wrong or not understanding the impact of sugar, hidden sugar, the addiction side of sugar (I teach this on the Sugar HIIT for those interested!).

Labels are wrong! Most people don’t understand their daily basal metabolic requirements. They over estimate the calories they need and burn and under estimate the calories in. The UK food labels have a lot to answer for. It states that the average woman needs approx. 2000 calories a day. What a crock of s***.  At 5ft 10, 38 years old and 11 stones my basal metabolic rate is just  1475. (check yours out HERE – Now yes I’m active and yes I burn approx. 400 calories a day with my training and I do have a higher muscle mass than many so perhaps someone like me can get away with eating 2000 calories (for weight maintenance). But let’s take a client I’m working with at the moment. She’s 45, 5ft3 and weighs 9 stones. Her basal metabolism is just 1297. She is fairly inactive (a few bootcamps a week and not much activity) yet thought she could have 2000 calories a day. The older you are, the smaller you are, the more inactive you are, the less your body needs. This is physiology. Please don’t shoot the messenger! The Best Body bootcamp has a whole webinar that teaches women to understand their metabolism

Trend v walking. We walk the equivalent of a marathon less a week than we did in the seventies. In other words, people are walking around 3.5 to 4 miles a day less nowadays. Walking this distance burns around 300 calories if you’re walking at a good pace. So the new trend HIIT class you’re going to may burn 250 cals in 40 minutes, but if you’re only doing that 3 times a week with very little walking, you could be one of the many fit people that go to HIIT classes but aren’t getting their body goals, until they look at activity (AND food / lifestyle). I helped a woman lose 3 stones last year by doing nothing else other than power walking and refining her nutrition / food choices. Nourishment not punishment is what’s needed for many and that’s not to say HIIT is bad for you. It’s fantastic for you. I love it and I teach it. But you need to do more than just a few HIIT classes for long lasting results and health!

Just focusing on calories in and out? That’s also where you could be going wrong! So yes I’ve included some calorie info here, but this is such a small part of getting results. We need to focus on the quality of food, not the quantity. Many diets are low calorie and low nutrient, they may get results short term but mid term, your body will stop working properly (malnourished, bad skin, low immunity, slugglish metabolism) and long term, well you can pretty much be guaranteed for some big dis-eases.

Great abs are built in the kitchen. We’ve all heard sayings like this or  ‘you can’t out-train a bad diet’ and I promise you, that as someone who’s been in the industry for nearly 15 years, these are true! But not only good food choices help great abs and a lean body, but a good digestive system and a healthy gut are absolutely key for getting results. Yes many fit people have bloated tummies, mal-functioning digestive tracts, candida, IBS – the list is endless. Our digestive systems are designed to a) absorb nutrients and b) eliminate toxins and waste. On the Tummy ATTACK I’ll also teach you how hormones, mood, depression and immunity are impacted (both positively and negatively) from the gut. Some exercise can improve digestion, but if you’re training with undigested food in your tummy or are stressed, exercise can massively impact your digestion in a negative way. When you exercise you’re taking the blood supply away from the gut and to the muscles you’re using, so many people who exercise (especially if their food choices aren’t great), have gut terrible issues.

Lack of sleep and too much stress are the big health issues I come across in my practice daily, many clients being ‘fit’ yet can’t shift weight. Lack of sleep means our bodies can’t repair themselves properly, sugar cravings go up and our metabolism slow down. Too much cortisol or estrogen – (CLICK HERE to read my latest more details blog on estrogen dominance) affects our bodies so much, yet many people still believe being fit is the real indicator of health, but it isn’t.

The right level of exercise is real health

The right level of hormones is real health

The right level of nutrients and minerals is real health


So as you go about getting fitter with your exercise routine:

a) make sure it’s not making you fatter and

b) make sure you’re looking at the bigger picture of health!


Want help?
The Tummy ATTACK starts 13th July 2015!

The Best Body starts 13th July 2015!

The Sugar HIIT starts 13th July 2015!


Or why not try the automated FMME or a couple of 1:1’s with me, just contact the office for more details at


 Janey x











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