Case Study #07 The Compensator
More isn’t always better. Church and Martin are publishing a new study that arrives at a surprising conclusion: those who exercise an average of half an hour per day on a treadmill don’t lose any more weight than those who spend 15 minutes on the same task. The team measured participants’ energy intake and expenditure and concluded that, though the more committed runners were burning more calories, they were eating more food as a “reward” for their good work. If your weight barely changes, even when you increase your training, you likely fall into this category. The Prescription Wearable activity trackers offer a good starting point. Your body burns about 1kcal per kilogram of bodyweight per hour at rest, equating to roughly 2,160kcal per day for a 90kg man. If you run for half an hour, you might burn an extra 300kcal – a figure that sounds impressive until you realise that it’s equivalent to a slice of toast with peanut butter. Factor your post-workout refuel into the rest of your meal plan. It’s not a “treat”.
Church and Martin noted that this sort of behaviour is particularly prevalent among those with high blood sugar and an impaired insulin response, who were three times more likely to overeat after a workout. They believe that the drop in blood sugar after training increases appetite. One solution is simply to ride it out: over time, a steady training programme improves insulin sensitivity, while encouraging your body to burn more fat for energy.
There’s a second possible culprit: if your training leaves you so burned out that you barely move over the next two days, you’ll be lucky if your weekly calorie balance breaks even. Build low-impact activities such as walking or cycling into your rest days. A little extra sweat, we know – but it could be a game changer for your body.