The headlines are everywhere: Exercise is Useless For Weight Loss. These attention-grabbing reader magnets get lots of clicks, but are they true? Most of them cite one or more studies concluding that exercise alone doesn’t lead to significant weight loss, and some of those studies are actually quite sound. But I’d like you to re-read that last sentence again. Did you notice the two key words? They are “alone” and “significant.”
Let’s take a closer look at the first part: Exercise ALONE doesn’t lead to significant weight loss. That’s true for most people, and there’s a simple reason why. Say you’ve been eating a certain way (whatever that may be) and you haven’t been exercising at all, and you haven’t been gaining or losing any weight. Then one day you decide you’re going to walk for 30 minutes every day. You’d expect that your daily calorie balance would change since you’re burning more calories than before, right? That might happen, but probably not, because the only way you’ll actually burn more calories than you take in each day is if your diet doesn’t change at all. But you’re not paying attention to your diet – it’s exercise ALONE, remember? – so what’s likely to happen is that you’ll start eating a little bit more because, let’s face it, when your body is running a calorie deficit, the automatic response is an increase in hunger, which prompts you to eat more.
Now let’s examine the second part: Exercise alone doesn’t lead to SIGNIFICANT weight loss. Let’s use the same scenario, but this time let’s assume that your eating habits are deeply ingrained and they don’t change even though you start burning more calories and feel a tiny bit hungrier. You WILL lose weight. But that weight loss will be small and slow. Adding a 30-minute walk every day will help you burn an additional 700 to 1,200 calories per week, which is great, but at that rate, you’ll only be losing one pound every three to five weeks. For most people, this small, slow weight loss seems pointless, so they’ll probably abandon their new walking habit a few months into it.
Knowing these things, you’re probably wondering why you should bother with exercise for weight loss. The reason why is that exercise is your secret weapon in the quest to shed unwanted pounds. It’s true that a nutrient-dense diet is the foundational element for any weight loss effort, but exercise is the other variable that you can control, and it’s the one that can help you lose weight faster and keep the weight off forever.
In my book, Reboot Your Body: Unlocking the Genetic Secrets to Permanent Weight Loss, I describe why exercise is so important for weight loss and how you can design an effective exercise program that works with your schedule, your level of fitness, and within the boundaries of any physical limitations you might have.
Reboot Your Body is in bookstores nationwide and available in hardcover, paperback and electronic versions on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and at your local retailer via IndieBound. Get your copy today and learn how to Reboot Your Body.
This is the fourth post in a series about common weight loss myths and misconceptions. To start from the beginning, click here.