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You cannot out run your fork… I believe that whilst physical activity is important to health and wellbeing, hitting the gym is no substitute for having a good diet.

Now, a study shows that a quarter of gym users actually gain weight when they start exercising! Why? Because the new gym-goers allow themselves a “treat” after working out.

Going to the gym can make you fat!

The survey found that 39 per cent of people burn as little as 300 calories during each visit to the gym making them susceptible to weight gain if they then treat themselves to a high-calorie snack.

Diet firm Forza Supplements polled 1,000 gym users on their diet habits. It found that 26 per cent of gym users actually put on weight after starting regular exercise. A further 49 per cent said that their weight had stayed the same while just 27 per cent said that they had lost weight.

The survey revealed that most keep fit fans go the gym between three and four times a week – exercising on average for between 40 minutes and an hour. Four out of ten users burn between 300 and 500 calories in a session – though a quarter manage only 200 to 300 calories, 10 per cent just 100 to 200 calories and four per cent less than 100 calories.

More than a third of people allow themselves a treat after going to the gym – most typically a chocolate bar such as a Kit Kat – 233 calories for a four finger bar – or a glass of wine – 190 calories.

Shane at RunningOnJuice.com recently wrote about how he calculates the exercise needed to burn off the calories when he has a craving for foods such as chocolate and cheese. Shane says “if  I am at work and fancy a flapjack at 3.30  I would tell myself that I would have to run 40 minutes to burn that off – that’s before anything else get blasted off by the run”. He also highlights that the humble banana is only 10 minutes worth of running to burn off and banana gives you energy which may be why it many people’s favourite workout snack.

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Increased Appetite

Another reason why going to the gym can make you fat is that users have far bigger appetites than people who do not exercise. The poll revealed that 53 per cent said their exercise sessions substantially boosted their appetite.

Many gym users also exercise regularly ahead of a night’s partying.

Almost half of fitness fans said they would work-out prior to a big night out to ‘compensate’ for the calories they would consume later and 42 per cent of gym goers felt that by exercising regularly, they had earned the right to deviate from controlled diet plans. Many celebrities admit to using the gym to earn ‘brownie points’ prior to a night’s partying. Luisa Zissman, runner-up in The Apprentice, said: “Who hasn’t had a guilt inspired exercise session? We all do it – work out furiously in the gym to get “brownie points” ahead of a night on the town. You know you are going to consume a stack of calories by boozing and drinking – so why not burn off a load beforehand.”

Forza Supplements managing director Lee Smith said the survey showed many dieters struggle to lose weight despite exercising. He said: “Battling the bulge is the toughest thing many of us do. Lots of people go the gym because they know they have no control over their eating habits. They figure, ‘I am going to pig out anyway so I may well do my best to limit the damage’. Many gym goers underestimate the level of exercise the need to do to shift fat. To lose 1kg of body fat, you need to burn about 8,000 calories – that is around 80 miles of running to cover just 1kg in weight.”

Sources: 

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