Is Your Workout Making You Gain Weight

3 Reasons Your "1000 Calorie Burn Workouts" May Be Making You Gain Weight, Not Lose It!

Look anywhere on social media, especially Pinterest, and you will see so many workouts claiming to burn 1,000 calories it will make your head spin.  I even saw one with almost 1 million pins that was titled Burn 1000 Calories in Under 10 Minutes.  With all these impressive calorie burning workouts flooding social media, why are so many people not losing the weight they had hoped, or even worse, why are they gaining weight?  Here are three reasons the 1000 calorie workout may be wrecking your weight loss.


They Don't Actually Burn 1,000 Calories

You may want to sit down for this, but all those burn 1.000 calorie workouts are not really burning that many calories...or even close to it.  This is probably the biggest reason why people are disappointed with the results they are seeing.  The workout expectations are so is really, REALLY hard to burn 1,000 calories!  The average woman burns 100 calories per mile she runs, that means to burn 1,000 calories, she has to run 10 miles!  That puts things into perspective!  10 miles is a long way!  Let's be honest, it would be practically impossible to burn 1,000 in 10 minutes - your heart rate would have to be so high you would need a defilbulator!

One thing to remember when you look at these workouts, is that calorie burn is relative to a lot of factors.  The more you weigh, the harder your heart works, so the more calories you burn.  The more physically fit you are, the more efficient your heart works, so you actually burn less calories.  The higher your heart rate climbs during the exercises, the more calories you burn.  For instance, when my husband and I do the same workout, he weighs more than I do, and he burns more calories, therefore even thought we are doing the same workout, the results are different.  Even for the same person, there are a wide range of factors that can effect your caloric burn, like the level of effort put forth, the length of time it takes to complete the workout, even the temperature in the room can effect your heart rate, and as a result, effect your calorie burn. 

I decided to test one of the most popular " Burn 1,000 calories" Pinterest workouts, which has over 158,000 posts.  It consists of 3 sets of 100 jumping jacks, 100 crunches, 100 squats and 25 push-ups, with the last set switching out the squats for an extra set of jumping jacks.  I did the workout at a reasonable pace, not trying to rush, but I did not stop an exercise once I started, and I did all the push-ups on my toes.  When I completed the workout, which I admit wasn't much fun doing 100 crunches in a took just under 25 minutes and I had burned 168 calories.  I left my fitness tracker on for another 15 minutes to track the after burn, and the total calories burned was a whooping 229 calories!  That is a huge stretch from the 1,000 calories promised!  

Just like the fad diets promising to help you lose 20 pounds in a week, if it sounds to good to be true, it probably is!  I know it is tempting to want to believe that you can burn crazy calories in a short period, but it is really setting you up for failure!  Burning even 500 calories in a workout is hard work!  Just like there is no magic pill for weight loss, there is no magic workout.


You Are Eating Like You Burned 1,000 Calories

There have been several of articles written recently about people gaining weight despite increased exercising.  I read one about how people with Fitbits are gaining weight and another about marathoners that actually gain weight during the training.  The idea behind this is pretty simple.  We tend to OVERestimate the calories we burned during a workout, and probably more importantly, we UNDERestimate the calories we consume during the day.  When people workout, they reward themselves with a few indulgences they may not have eaten otherwise.  After a run they think, "Hey, I ran 5 miles, I can have a few beers and dessert,"  but the calories from the beers and dessert tally up to more than what they burned on their run.  

It is just like when I get a bonus check or a tax refund - it may be $1,000 check coming, but by the time it gets in my hands, I've found 5 ways to spend that $1,000!  That money goes fast...and so do the calories from a workout!  Now imagine thinking you are burning an extra 1,000 calories in a workout, and eating with that in mind, but in reality you only burned under 300.  The results would spell disaster for a weight loss goal.


You Are Not Warming Up or Cooling Down 

We have already established the fact that you are aren't going to burn 1,000 calories in 10 minutes, or even probably in an hour, but you can take advantage of a few simple tricks to help pop up your overall calorie burn with a workout.  One thing we found that makes a huge difference in our caloric burn is doing an appropriate warm up before starting our workout.  This gets our heart rate elevated, and muscles warmed up and ready to work, before we get into the actual exercises.  

While we always do a good warm up with our classes, sometimes Meg and I skip the warm up when we are working out together.  One day we realized that we burned 100 calories less overall during the workout, than we had when we did it with the class the week before.  Without a warm up, it takes your heart rate longer to get elevated and you actually miss part of the caloric burn because it wasn't ready to start.  

Another thing you can do to pop up calorie burn is to go for a walk after you work out.  Keeping moving following your workout keeps your heart rate elevated longer and you effectively burn more calories.  I found if I walk for a mile after I run or workout, I can burn an extra 100 calories easily.  My heart rate is already elevated from the workout and by continuing to move, I can keep it elevated.  It's a much more enjoyable 100 calories than the calories I burned during the actual workout! 

As a fitness trainer it is so frustrating that workouts like the one above have almost 1 million pins and people are doing it expecting miracles.  The best thing to remember, when trying to stay on track with weight loss, is that there is no quick fix.  Unfortunately, there is no fast way to burn 1,000 calories, just like there is no fast way to lose 20 pounds.  They are both hard work, but totally worth it.  

Meg and I have some really good cardio workouts, that combine cardio and core exercises, that will burn calories but won't make you feel like passing out...which is a good thing!  We did this one this week with our class and two of us registered over 550 calories on our fitness trackers.  Your caloric burn may be different, but at least it is a realistic approximate.  Check out the workout HERE!