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Struggling to lose weight through exercise? You might be a ‘non responder’

Jason Greve exercise fitness health non responders weight loss

When it comes to losing weight, everyone hears the same thing over and over again: a balance of healthy eating and exercise is the key to long-term results. 

For many people, once they’ve found the motivation to lose the weight, this recipe of diet and exercise is generally all it takes to change their lifestyle and achieve the results they want to see – just like flipping on a switch. 

For others, variations on the theme are needed to kick start their weight loss. They may have to cut down on specific foods, or cut them out completely. They may have to do more exercise than they initially thought, or find something out of the ordinary that works best for them and keeps them motivated. But, with a little playing around with different things, these people find their groove, too, and slowly but surely the weight comes off. 

And then some people work at their weight loss tirelessly. They try their hardest to stick to a healthy eating plan, with a little success. They visit the gym as often as they can -  before work or after, as many times a week as they are advised. They try out different classes or ways of getting their exercise in – walking to the shops, taking the stairs instead of the lift. Still, after weeks and months, their excess weight won’t shift. 

If this sounds like you, there is a chance you may be an ‘exercise non-responder’. While the initial reaction of many people may be to write off your failure to lose weight as ‘laziness’, or insist you must not be exercising properly, studies suggest that this is not the case for a number of people. For these people, the struggle is very much real – back up by evidence from a number of studies. No matter how hard some may try, the benefits of regular exercise just don’t show - so you could well be one of them. 

The science behind “non-responders” 

Many studies find that how receptive you are to exercise depends largely on your genetics. 

A study at the Louisiana State University over in America found that people can be put into three simple categories – ‘high responders’, ‘low responders’, and ‘non responders’. The findings were from a study of 742 people, put on a twenty-week exercise programme of increasing intensity. 

The study concluded:

"Some people simply respond better to exercise. They have lower heart rates, lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, better response to insulin and a host of other positive responses. Others who exercise the same amount simply don't get all the benefits, and it appears to be in the genes."

A very similar conclusion was drawn by a Horizon programme on the BBC, ‘The Truth About Exercise’. The show’s presenter, a familiar face in the form of TV Doctor Michael Mosley, found after a four-week intensive exercise programme, his fitness hadn’t improved the way he thought it would. The episode, which has been viewed nearly twenty million times around the world since it first aired in 2012, was instrumental in pushing the idea of ‘non responders’ into the public consciousness. 

‘Non responder’ scepticism and how to deal with it

Since studies such as the ones outlined above have been conducted, many sceptics have come forward to rebuke the claims and throw in their own opinions. 

Some people argue that the term ‘non responder’ is misleading – which is, to an extent, a valid point. Studies such as the one at Louisiana State University found that participants didn’t experience no benefits from the exercise regime, they simply didn’t get the results you might expect after twenty weeks – which is exactly the same argument put forward by Michael Mosley after trying out his regime. So ‘non-responders’ is a slightly misleading name for the category. 

Other sceptics argue that ‘non-responders’ simply aren’t trying as hard as they should be and that to get any results they need to push harder. This an argument that is often thrown at those struggling with weight loss. If you encounter someone like this, it can knock your confidence – but it is important to keep in mind that many studies over the years have shown that genetics does play a role in how your body looks and responds to stimuli such as exercise. Some things are out of your control. Plus, no-one knows or can comment on how hard you are working except you. 

So, while some people still remain sceptical about the findings of the ‘non-responder’ research, what can’t be ignored is how true it rings with many people’s day-to-day weight loss struggles. For many people, losing weight can feel like an uphill battle at the best of times, and it becomes even more difficult when you aren’t seeing the results you might expect after a long period of time. 

I’m a non-responder - what can I do? 

If you’ve been struggling for weeks, months, or even years to shift your weight through exercise to no great avail, the chances are your genetics dictate that you’re a non-responder. There are a couple of things you can do to help your weight loss journey if you feel this is the case: 

  • Healthy eating When exercise is failing you, eating well is even more key to keeping you fit and healthy. Try cutting down on the amount of junk food that passes your lips. We know that this is often easier said than done, just like exercise, but there are so many diet plans to choose from out there – so really look around and try different things out until you find one that doesn’t drain the fun out of food but will help you lose the weight. 
  • Supplements – When exercise and dieting alone don’t deliver the benefits you really want then supplements can give you the extra kick that you need. It’s important that you choose pills and tablets that are safe and legal. Here at BHC, we sell fat burning pills that are not only safe and legal, but actually work – helping you to lose weight quicker. We are a trusted UK business, so you know that you’ll always get products that are great quality as well as great value. If you’re considering fat burning pills as an aid to your weight loss, you can browse our great full range via the product link here.

Whatever way you manage to do it, losing weight can transform your life for the better. Countless studies over the years have shown that exercise can have benefits for your mental wellbeing as well as your physical health for many people – so if in all your years of struggling to lose weight you’ve stumbled across a sport or activity you like, there is certainly no harm in keeping it up! 



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  • Jimmy on

    Howdy! This article could not be written much better!

    Reading through this post reminds me of my previous
    roommate! He constantly kept preaching about this. I will forward this article to him.
    Pretty sure he’ll have a great read. Many thanks for sharing! http://yahoo.co.uk

  • Ann on

    I’m so glad I found this! Perfect explanation for exactly what happens to me time and time again. Growing up, in our family we stayed active by playing tennis (all of us), and though my weight never got bad, I certainly wasn’t looking as fit as my sister. And we played the exact same amount and were just as competitive. And she was constantly throwing in my face that I was “lazy”. Now I can show her this article and let her know it wasn’t. And as an adult, my weight has fluctuated, whereas my husband has lost (and kept off) the weight he worked for. But I’ve been able to maintain a range with what exercise I can do and healthy eating. I’m so happy that there is an actual reason for some of us, though we try our hardest, to not respond as well as others. Great post. Thanks for sharing it.

  • Kelly on

    I’ve never come across the term, “non-responder” before, but now that you’ve explained it, it really does make sense, and explains why my body is reacting differently to my partner’s body. We are both very active and try to eat a balanced diet, but no matter what my body weight stays the same, however my partner finds it easy to lose weight and maintain a healthy weight. Thanks for the clarity!

  • galen on

    gud 2 kno :)

  • Crystal Sinnott on

    omg i cant loose weight no matter what i do



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