Exercise Alone is Almost Useless for Weight Loss
Hear me out. The benefits of exercise are real. Don't get me wrong. While exercise can lead to modest weight loss, it can have a range of health benefits, including reducing blood pressure and triglycerides in your blood.
Exercise reduces the risk of Type 2 diabetes, stroke, and heart attack. A number of studies have also shown that people who exercise are at a lower risk of developing cognitive impairment from Alzheimer's and dementia. They also score higher on cognitive ability tests. If you've lost weight, exercise can also help weight maintenance when it's used along with watching calorie intake.
Very simplistically put, a pound of human fat represents about 3,500 calories. Therefore, cutting 500 calories per day, through diet or physical activity, can result in about a pound of weight loss per week. Now that's VERY simplistic. The human energy balance as "a dynamic and adaptable system", but when you alter one component, let's say cutting the number of calories you eat in a day to lose weight, doing more exercise than usual, it can set off a cascade of changes in the body that affect how many calories you use up and, in turn, your body-weight.
The 80/20 rule applies to exercise as much as it applies to many other things in live. Only about 20% of total energy expenditure come from exercise. Roughly 70% are used via basal metabolism - energy used for basic body functions at rest and about 10% are used to metabolize food. The rest, about 20%, is used up via physical activity. Which is not nothing, but it's definitely not a major part of weight loss.
Now, exercise can undermine weight loss in other subtle ways. How much you move is connected to how much you eat. Calories in and calories out are not independent of each other. If you exercise a lot, you might consume more calories than you burned off. Therefore, watch what you eat after an intensive workout. One slice of pizza could undo the calories burned in an hour's workout.
There may also be an upper limit of energy expenditure via exercise. After a certain amount of exercise, you might don't burn calories at the same rate anymore - total energy expenditure can eventually plateau.
One more thing…don't be fooled by the food & beverage industry. They keep telling us to "move more" while selling their sugar-loaded products. You just can't outrun a bad diet. We're losing the obesity battle because we're eating too much, and too much of the bad, processed stuff. Physical activity is vital to health, YES, but paying close attention to what you eat & drink IS MUCH more effective for losing weight.
As the article states: "But this focus on calories out, or the calories we can potentially burn in exercise, is an inadequate and a potentially dangerous approach, because it is liable to encourage people to ignore or underestimate the greater impact of energy-in, an obesity doctor and professor wrote in the journal Public Health Nutrition."
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