The articles published recently about the questionable effective relationship between exercise and weight loss mirror my experiences.
It’s funny because I have worked things out for myself for a long time now regarding weight loss based on how it feels for my body, and it has led me to the place I am now – happy, healthy the weight I want to be without much effort at all.
It helped me wade through the information overwhelm which is mostly conflicting and arrive at my truth. First it was about sugar which is now mainstream, then it was grains thanks to the Paleo crew who made that more well known and here is just another thing that my body taught me first.
The new paradigm is…
…that exercise plays a smaller part in weight loss than everyone has made it out to be.
In fact how about this…
“Exercise for weight loss is so ineffective that it is a waste of time. In a second or two we can easily eat hundreds of kilojoules and it would take hours to exercise those off.” John Glynn, Exercise Specialist.
And the reasoning behind this switch in view is not so much that exercise never works to lose weight but the sheer volume and intensity of exercise required to ‘burn off’ excess calories is so out of proportion that normal people would have no hope in doing this or continuing to do it for ever after.
“In theory, of course, it’s possible that you can burn more calories than you eat,” says Dr Susan Jebb, head of nutrition and health research at the Medical Research Council…”But you have to do an awful lot more exercise than most people realise. To burn off an extra 500 calories is typically an extra two hours of cycling. And that’s about two doughnuts.”
From a practical perspective, then, exercise is never going to be an effective way of slimming, unless you have the training schedule – and the willpower – of an Olympic athlete.
And I knew this to be true as none of the exercise regimes worked for me for weight loss – it didn’t help that I hated most of it – but even this was a sign from my body that it was the wrong way.
So the answer lies in your food and not just caloric reduction. Others are now starting to talk about the composition of your diet as an important factor – which I worked out as well. Calories from sugar and carbs react differently in your body than do calories from good fats, protein and vegetables. Some help your hormones and others hinder it, some foods easily regulate your appetite so you automatically know when to stop eating and some never satisfy you and keep you eating.
Which is why I eat the way I do.
And I am not suggesting that you don’t exercise at all. Exercise is great for many things like…
- cardio-vascular health,
- state of mind,
- wards off depression & dementia
- helps your lymphatic system move waste products through the body,
- builds muscle,
- reduces risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes
But just be really clear on why you are exercising – if it’s for fitness, then go for your life. If it’s weight training to shape your body with certain muscles, then again no-one is stopping you. However if your goal is weight loss specifically, then don’t be seduced by the promises, the motivational spiel, the ‘inspiration’ of people who have lost weight through diet and exercise because truth be told, if they had just altered their diet and did none of the exercise part, their weight loss result may have been exactly the same.
So bottom line – if weight loss is your goal, use the spare time and energy you do have figuring out the correct foods for your body. Make food prep a priority to be able to grab the good stuff on the run. And don’t feel bad about the exercise you are not doing.
Drink your water, sip your herbal tea, get lots of sleep, love your friends and family, have fun and only after that, factor in the exercise that you enjoy like a walk or hike, stretching with yoga, lift a few weights or even run if that rings your bells – whatever easily fits into your lifestyle. Just know that your weight loss progress is already in process with the fantastic food choices you’re making.