Will losing weight without exercise make you gain fat?

Melissa Eide

Do you plan to just follow a strict diet to lose those extra kilos? Well, think again, as losing weight just by means of dieting can make you gain weight instead. Yes, you read that right. Explaining the science behind weight loss, social media influencer Dr Siddhant Bhargava said: “Losing weight without exercise will make you fat”.

In an Instagram video, he explained that when you are losing or trying to lose weight, you just don’t purely lose fat. “Rather you lose some fat, some muscle, and some water retention. If your total calorie deficit is created only by eating less, you’re causing your body more harm,” he explained.


Decoding the reason behind the same, he added, “When you’re in a calorie deficit, your body tends to burn muscle as well. If your muscle mass goes down, your metabolic rate slows down. If your metabolic rate slows down, you might hit a weight loss plateau early and even a small amount of over-eating will make you put on weight”.

A weight-loss plateau is a metabolic set point where the person’s weight does not change. Everyone who attempts to lose weight eventually finds themselves at a weight-loss plateau. Even so, most people are surprised when this happens to them because they continue to eat healthily and exercise regularly.

Sharing the golden tip to overcome weight loss plateau, Bhargava advised to focus on strength training. He said, “When you’re on a diet, skipping cardio is fine but make sure you get in strength and resistance training where your muscles are active, so you can minimise the muscle loss that occurs”. Doing so, he said, will make your weight loss sustainable and responsible.

Speaking with indianexpress.com, Dr Sukhvinder Singh Saggu, Director, Minimal Access, GI and Bariatric Surgery, CK Birla Hospital (R), Delhi said, “The weight loss journey doesn’t only constitute being calorie deficient. Our body has different components such as fat, muscle, water, minerals, etc. So, when a patient loses weight, they generally look at it in the form of kilograms. However, it is important to determine whether one is losing fat or other important components such as muscle mass which can lead to fatigue and weakness”.

He added that a healthy method of losing weight comprises different things which promote the loss of excessive fat from the body. “Therefore, it is important to do physical exercise, increase muscle mass along with maintaining a diet so that the metabolism of the body is well maintained even if one loses some kilos,” he said.

Agreeing with Dr Bhargava, the expert said that strength and weight resistance training help one lose weight and keep it off by building muscle tissue. “The greater one’s muscle mass, the higher their metabolic rate. More muscle also helps the body burn more fat than muscle, which is important if one wants to lose weight and keep the strength in the body. Additionally, they also help in improving the quality of life and the ability to perform daily tasks. Strength training can also help to keep the joints healthy,” he shared.

Stress management for better and sustainable weight loss

Dr Saggu concluded by saying that weight loss can be made sustainable by controlling diet, following a suitable eating pattern, consuming adequate liquid, doing physical exercise, and most importantly by managing stress. “Stress management plays a key role in weight loss as when we are under stress, our body releases hormones like adrenaline and cortisol, which are responsible for weight gain. Another important component is maintaining a healthy sleep pattern, which constitutes deep and stress-free sleep. All these factors together can help one to lose weight in a healthy and sustainable manner,” he says.

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