Does Exercise Speed Up Weight Loss: Is It faster To lose weight ?

Exercise and physical activity are important parts of a healthy lifestyle, but does it really lead to faster weight loss? There are mixed opinions on this topic among nutrition and fitness experts. On the one hand, exercise burns calories and helps create a calorie deficit needed for weight loss. 

couple exercise to lose weight

Does exercise speed up weight loss, And is it faster To Lose Weight than dieting? In theory, the more calories you burn through exercise, the more pounds you should lose. However, some research suggests that exercise may not have as big of an impact on weight loss as many people expect. But it’s proven that exercise can speed up weight loss. But how? Read on to find out.

Will Exercise Speed Up Your Weight Loss?

Exercise alone typically burns relatively few calories for most people. But exercise can help accelerate weight loss through several mechanisms when combined with a reduced-calorie diet.

Studies show that exercise used in conjunction with calorie restriction can result in 5% to 10% greater weight loss over months compared to dieting alone. This may not sound like much, but it can make an important difference for people aiming for significant weight loss.

The various physiological effects of exercise can facilitate fat loss and preserve lean mass, even if exercise alone burns relatively few calories for most individuals. Moderate daily exercise, especially resistance training, can amplify the benefits of a nutritious, reduced-calorie diet for accelerated fat loss and improved health.

How Does Exercise Help Speed Up Weight Loss?

While exercise alone is not very effective for weight loss, exercise combined with a reduced-calorie diet can help speed up weight loss in several ways. Exercise can:

  • Increase Energy Expenditure

One of the simplest ways exercise can facilitate weight loss is by increasing the number of calories a person burns daily. When a person exercises, whether by walking, jogging, swimming, or any other activity, their body must work harder and burn more calories to fuel the movement. While exercise alone doesn’t burn enough calories for dramatic weight loss, even moderate amounts can help contribute to a negative calorie balance when combined with a reduced-calorie diet.

  • Preserve and Build Lean Muscle Mass

Resistance training exercises like weight lifting can help preserve and even increase a person’s lean muscle mass as they lose weight. More lean muscle mass means the body burns more calories around the clock, even at rest.

More muscle mass can accelerate weight loss by improving the body’s basic metabolic rate. Cardiovascular exercise like running or swimming also uses muscle tissue to burn calories, contributing to this overall effect. Read: How To Lose Weight Easily While Staying At Home?

  • Lower Insulin Levels and Appetite

A person’s exercises, particularly aerobic exercise, can reduce insulin levels and suppress appetite compared to a non-exercise state. Lower insulin helps the body release stored fat for energy more efficiently, while reduced appetite makes it easier to stick with a calorie-controlled diet.

Both factors can potentially accelerate fat loss when exercise is combined with a reduced-calorie diet to create a negative calorie balance. However, exercise can also increase appetite for some individuals.

  • Reducing Unhealthy Fat Deposits

While exercise may not target weight loss from any particular area, it preferentially reduces unhealthy visceral fat surrounding organs and subcutaneous fat just under the skin. Exercise also helps retain muscle mass during dieting, improving the appearance of physique changes that come with weight loss.

Though difficult to quantify, these shaping effects can make a person look and feel leaner even before significant numbers show up on the scale. And looking and feeling better may boost motivation to stick with an exercise and diet routine until more rapid weight loss occurs.

How Much Exercise Is Needed to Speed Up Weight Loss?

While exercise combined with a reduced-calorie diet can help accelerate weight loss, the amount of exercise needed varies from person to person. Studies show [2] that 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week was associated with the greatest weight loss over two years. Read: How To Make Weight Loss Fun And Easy?

This amount of exercise equated to roughly 30 minutes, 5 days per week. Moderate-intensity exercise includes brisk walking, jogging, cycling, and swimming. However, only 15% to 30% of weight loss can typically be attributed to exercise. The other 70% to 85% comes from reducing calorie intake.

Furthermore, a higher frequency of exercise each week may provide additional benefits. Another study showed that exercising 6 days per week resulted in nearly twice the amount of weight loss after 6 months compared to 3 days per week when combined with calorie restriction. Exercising more frequently allowed participants to burn more total calories through exercise.

The type of exercise matters too. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts provide the biggest bang for your buck in speeding up weight loss. A 2020 study [1] found that obese women who incorporated HIIT workouts while dieting lost a significant amount of weight, compared to those who performed traditional steady-state cardio.

According to Health.Gov, an average 154-pound person needs to run 7 miles to burn 1000 calories—the equivalent of three Big Macs. To lose one pound, you have to burn roughly 3500 calories. This means running roughly 25-30 miles weekly to lose 1-2 pounds through exercise alone. For most people, this level of exertion is unrealistic to sustain.

That said, pairing exercise with an appropriate calorie deficit can lead to weight losses of 1% to 2% of total body weight per week, which corresponds to 2-4 pounds. The gold standard for losing weight and keeping it off involves reducing caloric intake by 500 to 1,000 calories daily and engaging in 200 to 300 minutes of physical activity weekly.

Resistance and high-intensity interval training are the most effective exercise routines for weight loss. They help preserve muscle mass during dieting, ensuring most of the lost weight comes from body fat. Every pound of muscle burns an estimated 6 to 7 additional calories daily at rest.

Can You Gain Weight While You Exercise To Speed Up Weight Loss?

It can be frustrating if your weight doesn’t budge or even increases temporarily despite regular exercise aimed at helping you lose weight. However, several factors contribute to this phenomenon, which explains why it’s common and not necessarily a cause for concern.

Your body needs time to adapt when you exercise more, especially if you increase intensity or switch up your routine. In the initial weeks or months, there are a few things happening under the surface that impact the number on the scale:

  • Increased Appetite and Calorie Intake

One of the most common reasons is increased appetite and calorie intake after exercise. Your body needs more fuel when you start exercising regularly, especially more intense workouts. This can cause your appetite to increase. If you’re not careful, you may end up eating more calories than you burned during your workout, which can lead to weight gain.

  • Muscle Gain Outweighing Fat Loss

One reason you may gain weight while exercising is muscle gain. You build muscle mass by engaging in resistance training or weight lifting. More muscle means your body weighs more, even though you are losing fat simultaneously. This is a good thing! 

Muscle is metabolically active tissue, meaning it burns more calories at rest than fat tissue. So even though the number on the scale may go up temporarily from muscle gain, you are laying the foundation for long-term fat loss.

  • Water Retention

Another reason for temporary weight gain is water retention. When you start a new exercise program or increase your activity level, your muscles undergo microtears. Your body retains water as part of the repair and recovery process. 

This water retention can cause your weight to increase for a short time. However, as you adapt to your exercise routine, your body needs less water for muscle repair, and your true fat loss will become evident on the scale.

  • Hormonal Changes

Exercise can impact hormones like cortisol, insulin, and human growth hormone. A spike in these hormones during or after exercise can signal your body to hold onto more fat stores for energy. However, over the long term, exercise does help stabilize hormone levels to aid in weight loss.

  • Increased Appetite

Some people experience an increased appetite when starting a new exercise program. If your calorie intake and activity level increase, you may gain weight while exercising. However, with mindful eating and monitoring your portions, you can keep your calorie intake in check to accelerate fat loss.


Does exercise speed up weight loss? Exercise combined with a calorie-controlled diet accelerates weight loss. It burns extra calories, builds muscle to boost metabolism, and reduces fat storage. While the scale may temporarily rise due to water retention and muscle gain, over time, exercise aids in lasting weight loss as long as your calorie intake remains in check. How your clothes fit and how you feel are better progress measures.

Medical Discalimer: The information provided here On Geeks Health website is for general informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you have or suspect a medical problem, promptly contact your healthcare provider. Reliance on any information in this response is solely at your own risk.
Vanessa Roberts
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