Sunday, March 4

The Truth About Exercise

Gym-Hell
Doesn't look much like fun.
Whether needing to lose weight or just desiring to be a little leaner, the advice is the same. Eat less, exercise more! Simple,, right? Well it seems not and looks like we've all been pretty well brain washed by the propaganda put out by the media and governments alike. It's time to reveal 'the truth about exercise' and it's role in weight loss.

Adding aerobic exercise to a restrictive diet rarely works for the long-term shedding of fat....ever wondered why?

There is no doubt that exercise can be beneficial for general health and well-being.  Resistance exercise will also enhance the strength and appearance of your body but fat loss?


Watch television shows such as Obese: a Year to Save My Life or the biggest loser and the like, you will come away with the notion that the best form of exercise for fat loss is "aerobic" activity that is any form of exercise that can be sustained for long periods: running, jogging, cycling, walking, body pump. zumba.  The theory is that exercise will increase the amount of calories burned by the body and that this combined with a restrictive diet will result in weight loss, this is of course wrong as shown by BBC 2 Horizon programme - The Truth About Exercise.

This conventional wisdom is yet another diet myth and certainly needs challenging. The following review Long Term Effectiveness of Diet plus Exercise versus Diet Only For Weight Loss takes into account several studies and concludes that in each case, regular exercise (specifically including aerobic exercise into the diet plan 30 minutes for 4 -5 day per week) had only a tiny impact, a total average additional fat loss of no more than 1 kg over the year per person.

Let's look a little deeper.  Take 30 minutes of jogging at a good steady pace.  This will burn 300 calories over the half hour.  Surfing the internet over the same period of time will burn approximately 50 calories.  The additional calorie burn through physical activity is therefore 250 calories per day and over the week, 5 days of exercise equates to 1,250 calories.
Hoping that each calorie burnt is fat and hoping too that the additional exercise will not make you hungry and eat more and noting that to lose one pound of fat you have to burn 3,500 calories: over the week you will have lost a third of a pound of fat.  Is the trade-off worth it?

However one of the most obvious problems for losing weight through aerobic exercise is the fact that the exercise itself can bring on hunger.  Go home from the gym and eat a couple of digestive biscuits or drink a pint of beer on the way home and the hard work is undone.  Many others are caught in the trap of using food as a reward following effort and it can be hard to break free from this habit particularly if the exercise is not something you would choose to do.

Prolonged exercise can increase your stress levels which will lead to increased levels of the stess hormone cortisol in your body.  Raised cortisol levels will predispose the body to fat gain.  Look out for a new post we are currently writing on the effect of raised cortisol levels on the body.  Finally, pushing yourself aerobically at the gym can be exhausting particularly if you are very overweight.  The natural consequence of which is that you will be more sedentary during the day than you might otherwise have been and give yourself more opportunities to eat (if sitting in front of the television is one of your eating triggers).

Wait a minute...look at any marathon runner or long distance cyclist: they're not fat!  Exercise must make you thin!  Well no..current research suggests that those of us who are more naturally fit and lean are more likely to take up these sports..kind of obvious really?  Some of us accumulate fat first and then become more sedentary thus the effort of running a marathon is less appealing.

Aerobic exercise is terrific for elevating mood and will help reduce the risk of chronic disease.  It is not however advocated for fat loss.

So there you have it, the truth about exercise and weight loss. Did you know that there is a form of exercise that is genuinely effective for fat loss?  What do you think this it is?