How Exercise CAN Make You Thin.By Russell Branjord
When I first read the Time Magazine article called “Why Exercise Won't Make You Thin” ,by John Cloud, I was surprised that a mainstream magazine would go against the grain with an article that spoke a lot of truths but would also upset the fitness community.
The truth is, no matter how much we exercise, if we don’t eat right we will not lose weight.
This is a fact and the author is right that many people use exercise as a way to justify their unhealthy “treat”. The amount of calories we burn exercising pales in comparison to the amount of calories in most foods. For example, to burn off the calories in a typical “healthy” sub sandwich you would need to do aerobics for an hour. To burn off the calories in a typical fast food salad you would need to walk for a couple of hours, and to burn off the calories in a medium sized ice cream treat...get ready to run stairs for an hour! These are facts; the calories in food are far greater than the calories burned exercising. No one can argue against that but I think he is missing a few important thoughts.
I want to go against-against the grain as I believe exercise CAN make you thin.
Just remember-we do not have to reward ourselves with a treat for exercising.
In my long history of dieting I was 100% more likely to follow my diet when exercise was a regular habit.
I did not want to waste my time, money, and effort working out with poor food choices. Every time my exercising stopped my diet would inevitably fail later.
Exercise has many weight loss benefits:
- Exercise can help us build and maintain lean muscle tissue which is the driving force for our basal metabolic rate or, simply put, our metabolism.
- Exercise enhances our mood by releasing good hormones and lowering our stress hormones.
- Exercise does burn calories! It may not be body fat calories but it burns what we eat therefore increasing the deficit gap. While we are resting we will then need to use even more body fat to make up the difference. For example; if you were to jog for 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week and eat the same amount of calories, that would be a difference of 22 pounds a year!
- Exercise increases our blood oxygen level, which increases our energy level and our body needs oxygen to process fat into fuel.
If we attempt to lose weight dieting without exercise we will lose muscle along with fat, and this will send our metabolism in a downward spiral- to the point where we need to eat less and less to even maintain a weight.
Exercise is not the only cause for us being hungrier; it’s just as simple to say dieting causes us to be hungry. BIG SHOCKER THERE! The truth is it’s all about energy balance. Our brain does not like us using body fat for energy for long periods of time.
When we have a negative calorie balance through diet or exercise for an extended period of time our metabolism will slow down and our CRAVINGS will increase in an attempt to get us to eat more.
Body fat is our “battery back-up” when it comes to calories/energy, and it’s our brain’s job to get the most life out of it in the name of survival.
Starvation Mode is a very real thing. If we had a food shortage it would help prolong our lives, but if we are trying to lose weight it is downright mean and nasty.
We should not eat more because of exercise, and it is a bad idea to try and calculate your daily calorie needs based on exercise and activities, because the numbers may be off. Remember a calorie deficit equals weight loss.
If you want to lose weight now and keep it off forever I recommend a lifestyle of having a daily calorie goal based off your basal metabolic rate. That way exercise is a “bonus” to your healthy eating.
My magic formula I followed in losing 100 pounds plus pounds and keeping it off:
- Diet: Daily calorie goals based on basic metabolism. 6 days a week.
- Indulge: One day a week eat a surplus to keep Starvation Mode away, and satisfy all cravings. This way you won’t feel like you are depriving yourself, and it’s a fun, guilt free day of indulgent eating.
- Exercise: 3-4 days a week. You don’t need to go extreme; you can get results with 30 minutes of lifting weights and 15-30 minutes of cardio.
- Be active, get up and move around. Take the stairs and go for walks. Every little bit counts and the calories you burn add up.
A well planned diet along with exercise is the perfect match for true fitness.
So don’t quit your gym membership just yet, exercise CAN help you be thin.
Russell Branjord, Certified Personal Trainer, Loser of 115lbs, and author of the Spike Diet.
The Spike Diet is available now on Amazon, but its official worldwide release will be November 4th, 2010.