I Don’t Exercise, So How Much Weight Can I Expect To Lose?

There was once the belief that losing weight depended majorly on the amount of exercise that one would do. However, over time and with greater research, we’ve learned that the weight loss ratio is actually 80% nutrition and 20% exercise. And as you can see, the most important part of this ratio (and that which has a higher impact on weight loss) is nutrition.  So if you don’t exercise (or can’t) all is not lost! Let’s take a closer look…

When it comes to exercise, what do we know?

1) Exercise is brilliant for our health

The benefits are real! For those who are exercising regularly, many experience a reduction in high blood pressure, reduced risk of Type 2 diabetes, stroke, heart attack and it can also lower our risk of cognitive impairment for dementia and Alzheimers. When we make exercise a part of our daily lives, we feel energised, we feel productive and more confident, we sleep better and it has a positive impact on our mental health. So many wins right there (in as little as 1 week!)

2) Exercise accounts for a small amount of our daily calorie burn

When we consider our daily energy expenditure, there are 3 components:

  • a) our basal metabolic rate or BMR which is the energy our bodies use for many of our basic functions when at rest (60-80%);
  • b) the energy used to digest our food (10%);
  • c) the energy we expend while being physically active which includes incidental and structured exercise (10-30%)

While the energy expended during exercise is still something, it is small when we consider that 100% of our energy intake comes from food.

You can learn more about Total Daily Energy Expenditure here. 

3) Exercise has a tendency to undermine weight loss

What can often happen when we introduce exercise into our lifestyle, is a tendency to make some other subtle changes.

There is evidence to suggest that many people often eat more- which may be as a result of feeling hungrier after they have exercised OR they fall into the trap of “I have exercised and burned xx calories, therefore, I can eat xyz”. ‘Eating back’ those calories burned can have a detrimental impact on weight loss.

With these things in mind, when we embark on losing weight, it’s really important that our nutrition takes priority.

The 12WBT Approach

Here at 12WBT, we focus on creating healthy habits that can become a way of life for the long term. Our Meal Plans focus on REAL FOOD and we offer a number of calorie levels. For our male members who have a +30BMI, we suggest 2000 calories, and for those with a below 30BMI, we recommend 1800 calories.  This is regardless of whether they don’t exercise (or can’t exercise), or they’re exercising regularly. Meaning, they are still able to lose weight on these calories without exercising. Exercising would speed up their fat loss, however, as shown in the Energy Expenditure equation above. For our women with a below 30BMI and weight to lose, we’d tend to lean towards a 1500 calorie allowance. However, some members may find 1200 calories preferable if they plan to be less active. You might like to use an online calorie calculator to input your measurements to find the allowance that could work best for you. 

Knowing that our nutrition can play such an important role also gives reassurance to those who may be limited in their ability to exercise. This could be due to injuries or medical conditions, pregnancy or those who may be time-poor.

Generally speaking, a nutrition focus alone will help in achieving weight loss. However, when we do look at the best long term results with regards to weight loss and weight maintenance, combining healthy nutrition with regular exercise is the way to go!

For more help and guidance on your personal calorie needs and to discover a healthy meal plan that’s perfect for your lifestyle, join the 12WBT team here!


Dane Pollock, BPED
Dane is an experienced Support Crew member in our Trainer/Fitness team and has always been passionate about helping people to live their healthiest and most rewarding lives. After completing a Bachelor in Physical Education, her initial plan of becoming a PE teacher took a turn as she started teaching Group Fitness at Les Mills and went on to train as a Personal Trainer. Group Fitness then took her travels globally as she worked as a trainer and presenter for Les Mills in Australia, the UK and NZ and as a Group Fitness Manager across various clubs around the world. As an avid runner, Dane loves looking after our 12WBT runners.

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