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Why Exercise Won't Make You Thin

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Why Exercise Won't Make You Thin

Old 08-24-09, 04:35 AM
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Why Exercise Won't Make You Thin

Interesting article in TIME Magazine about exercise and how some people binge after burning calories.

https://www.time.com/time/health/arti...914857,00.html

Comments?
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Old 08-24-09, 04:59 AM
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Exercise made me thin .... when I was cycling 10,000+ km a year plus walking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and weightlifting.


When "they" recommend 90+ minutes of exercise a day in order to lose weight, "they" aren't kidding around. If you want to lose weight, you've got to get active ... really active.

Last edited by Machka; 08-24-09 at 05:17 AM.
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Old 08-24-09, 06:03 AM
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its all about balance....energy in vs energy out. Always has been, always will be (excluding surgery)
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Old 08-24-09, 07:01 AM
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I think it feeds, dangerously so, into the idea that "I'm fat but its not my fault". Not all of us have to have a jelly donut because we worked out today. And no one ever got fat eating too much broccoli after a workout.

Also theres something irresponsible about letting yourself get quoted dismissing the value of exercise when you chair a committee for diabetes.

I waded through it to find the idea that we need to be more generally active (at minimum) and that increasing our caloric load in parallel with target exercise won't result in weight loss (duh?). What they really are selling though, and doing so to get people to read I assume, is that exercise doesn't work so sit on your ass and watch TV instead (which presumably the target audience wants to do anyway, so thanks for the excuse). And if you do workout, dont feel bad about the 5 slices of pizza you throw on top of it. You skipped 5 slices yesterday after all, and you can resist for only so long. I mean hey, you're only human.

Ugh...
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Old 08-24-09, 07:21 AM
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Originally Posted by Citizen78 View Post
I think it feeds, dangerously so, into the idea that "I'm fat but its not my fault". Not all of us have to have a jelly donut because we worked out today. And no one ever got fat eating too much broccoli after a workout.

Also theres something irresponsible about letting yourself get quoted dismissing the value of exercise when you chair a committee for diabetes.

I waded through it to find the idea that we need to be more generally active (at minimum) and that increasing our caloric load in parallel with target exercise won't result in weight loss (duh?). What they really are selling though, and doing so to get people to read I assume, is that exercise doesn't work so sit on your ass and watch TV instead (which presumably the target audience wants to do anyway, so thanks for the excuse). And if you do workout, dont feel bad about the 5 slices of pizza you throw on top of it. You skipped 5 slices yesterday after all, and you can resist for only so long. I mean hey, you're only human.

Ugh...
I agree with Citizen78 on this too. That's why I posted this article this morning. I saw the same TIME magazine cover story in the grocery store check-out line this weekend and bought a copy just as the magazine people wanted me to. Then I read it and got a little iritated at how they handle the content.

I started back on the bike again, so I could do a century ride in October. I knew that the outcome of the training would be weight loss and better fitness. Both are good benefits of the original training goal; to complete the century.
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Old 08-24-09, 08:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Citizen78 View Post
I think it feeds, dangerously so, into the idea that "I'm fat but its not my fault". Not all of us have to have a jelly donut because we worked out today. And no one ever got fat eating too much broccoli after a workout.

Also theres something irresponsible about letting yourself get quoted dismissing the value of exercise when you chair a committee for diabetes.

I waded through it to find the idea that we need to be more generally active (at minimum) and that increasing our caloric load in parallel with target exercise won't result in weight loss (duh?). What they really are selling though, and doing so to get people to read I assume, is that exercise doesn't work so sit on your ass and watch TV instead (which presumably the target audience wants to do anyway, so thanks for the excuse). And if you do workout, dont feel bad about the 5 slices of pizza you throw on top of it. You skipped 5 slices yesterday after all, and you can resist for only so long. I mean hey, you're only human.

Ugh...
I agree. The article blurs the line between "Excercise won't make you lose weight" and "Excercise ALONE won't make you lose weight". I don't think anyone is recommending excercising with a lousy lifestyle and eating habits. Everyone seems to be looking for the one (and only one) thing that will make you lose weight and stay young.
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Old 08-24-09, 09:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Citizen78 View Post
I think it feeds, dangerously so, into the idea that "I'm fat but its not my fault". Not all of us have to have a jelly donut because we worked out today. And no one ever got fat eating too much broccoli after a workout.

Also theres something irresponsible about letting yourself get quoted dismissing the value of exercise when you chair a committee for diabetes.

I waded through it to find the idea that we need to be more generally active (at minimum) and that increasing our caloric load in parallel with target exercise won't result in weight loss (duh?). What they really are selling though, and doing so to get people to read I assume, is that exercise doesn't work so sit on your ass and watch TV instead (which presumably the target audience wants to do anyway, so thanks for the excuse). And if you do workout, dont feel bad about the 5 slices of pizza you throw on top of it. You skipped 5 slices yesterday after all, and you can resist for only so long. I mean hey, you're only human.

Ugh...
exactly right, what I got out of it was "gee, if you consume more calories than you burn, you'll gain weight!"

Unfortunately, they decided to take it too far and say that in some cases, you'd be better off not exercising at all and just eating less. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Yes, exercising stimulates your appetite, but that doesn't mean you can suddenly eat junk, just feed yourself clean calories and stay under your daily calorie allotment. I mean, watching TV stimulates your appetite with all the food commercials, why not put out an article condemning watching TV? Guess is wouldn't sell as many magazines...

Between biking and lifting weights, I went from 260 lbs to 180 lbs, and I'm still dropping (going to get to 170 by the end of the year).

Last edited by pchopper; 08-24-09 at 09:06 AM.
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Old 08-24-09, 09:27 AM
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This article has told us nothing that we haven't known for decades. Exercise has been, and always will be, just a tool in the arsenal of weight loss.
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Old 08-24-09, 10:16 AM
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The National Weight Control Registry maintains a database of people who have lost weight and then maintained the weight losss. There are two factors that continously have been found to contribute to dieters sucess.

1.) Exercise

2.) Portion Control

According to their research, you could even be on a high-fat diet and still lose weight if you control your calorie count and exercise

It takes 3,500 calories to burn one pound of stored fat, if you're burning 2,000, and eating 3,500, you're not going to lose weight no matter how much you excercise.

Liquid calories are also a diet killer.
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Old 08-24-09, 04:25 PM
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Exercise and good nutrition habits are the key to losing weight. Not just weight, but body fat. Exercise helps with the calorie burning process, but good nutrition is 80% of the battle.
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Old 08-24-09, 07:31 PM
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Junk science spouted to boost magazine sales and generate free publicity through controversy, imo.
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Old 08-24-09, 07:51 PM
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Exercise won't make you thin? That's odd... a few years ago I seem to remember losing about 40 lbs. in a few months by cycling (usually 20-30 km) every day. No big diet changes (started drinking beer instead of Diet Coke ). After I got to a good weight, I ate like crap, kept riding, and maintained it.

This year, I got fat in winter, started riding in spring, and lost 4 kg. Now I'm just on the brink of being overweight (25 BMI, but ~16% body fat) and I've hit a plateau; just cycling doesn't seem to be doing it anymore. I'm not riding as much as I should be though (usually only 4-5 hours a week).
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Old 08-24-09, 07:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Citizen78 View Post
I think it feeds, dangerously so, into the idea that "I'm fat but its not my fault". Not all of us have to have a jelly donut because we worked out today. And no one ever got fat eating too much broccoli after a workout.
I've heard a lot of people (coworkers, people I've overheard in restaurants and grocery stores, etc.) make comments that they've done a whopping 5, 10, 15 minutes of casual exercise and that they must have burned at least 1000 calories doing so and therefore can eat whatever they want next. Things like climbing 3 flights of stairs, for examples, seems to burn enough calories so that a person can have a couple chocolate bars in some people's heads.

I always say ... estimate low on the calories burned, and estimate high on the calorie content of food, and you'll probably get it about right.


That said, when I did all the exercise I mentioned above and was averaging 2+ hours a day, every day, of exercise ..... I could eat whatever I wanted and would still lose weight. So if the goal is to eat whatever you want .... you've got to get out there and exercise a lot.
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Old 08-25-09, 01:09 AM
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haha i read this a few weeks ago and it struck me as a fluff article, i guess i'm not alone in noticing this.
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Old 08-25-09, 05:16 AM
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Originally Posted by Machka View Post
I've heard a lot of people (coworkers, people I've overheard in restaurants and grocery stores, etc.) make comments that they've done a whopping 5, 10, 15 minutes of casual exercise and that they must have burned at least 1000 calories doing so and therefore can eat whatever they want next.
I hear this all the time also. I have even gone so far as to tell people, "today I ran on the treadmill at 6.5 mph for an hour and burned 1,000 calories, you must be a super athlete to burn that many in 15 minutes."
I need to start carrying a camera for the looks I get. Hey the truth hurts.
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Old 08-25-09, 06:08 AM
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I vote for nutrition and exercise, we all realize they are both important and they are not instinctive for most of us. But they are not hounded into our brains with constant advertising. It's more the opposite (bad eating, bad choices of activity) that is apt to catch our attention on the tube. Just cut down on TV watching (and net surfing, for that matter). That's bound to help.
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Old 08-25-09, 02:07 PM
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Also, psychology. I've been really good about my diet because I recognize that hill climbing will be easier with more of the pudge gone.

And effort level. If you were to tell me that a long low-effort ride was better for weight loss than a short intense ride, I wouldn't be surprised in the slightest.
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Old 08-28-09, 07:37 PM
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You can make "scientific studies" say just about anything to sell a magazine.
Until a hundred years or so ago, most everyone was doing something active all day long, and generally had much healthier food (at least in America and Europe).
Seems like a bunch of psuedoscience.
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Old 08-29-09, 06:16 AM
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I think this is more a case of "Why Reading Time Magazine Won't Make You Smart"

(I just lost 10lb in a month of half-assed interval interval training without even trying to watch what I ate, except to make sure I got lots of fruit and salad and avoided the really bad stuff like bacon and fruit juice.)
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Old 08-29-09, 06:27 AM
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Originally Posted by DX Rider View Post
It takes 3,500 calories to burn one pound of stored fat, if you're burning 2,000, and eating 3,500, you're not going to lose weight no matter how much you excercise.
Actually calories expended directly in exercise are relatively unimportant in weight loss. What matters is adding more muscle - because muscle burns energy even at rest, unlike fat - and upping your metabolic rate even outside of exercise. It's because of this that protocols like HIIT work so much better for weigh loss.

Liquid calories are also a diet killer.
It's certainly easier to forget that you're taking them in. And they're more likely to be fructose, which messes up your liver metabolism and doesn't trigger the "I've had enough now" signal the way that other energy sources do. But if you care about your health you shouldn't have any drinks with fructose in the house, including fruit juice.
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Old 08-29-09, 06:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Machka View Post
When "they" recommend 90+ minutes of exercise a day in order to lose weight, "they" aren't kidding around. If you want to lose weight, you've got to get active ... really active.
No. 40 minutes 4 times a week will do it if you use HIIT or a similar protocol. Assuming that your heart will take the load of interval training at close to maximal effort, which probably isn't true of a lot of people who most need to lose weight:

https://www.exrx.net/FatLoss/HIITvsET.html

Plus you need a pretty high motivation level to take the pain...
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Old 08-29-09, 07:07 AM
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it's a stupid article...

anyone who doesn't realize that 20 minutes on the treadmill, followed by a blueberry muffin will not lead to weight loss, is an idiot, and is likely to remain overweight.

Most people I see on treadmills at the gym, aren't even running...

There is a huge difference between what most people call "exercise", and say, 90 to 120 minutes at 15-16mph on a road bike.

Anyway, I usually find that when i get in from my rides, it's meal time - either lunch or supper, so I just eat a normal meal.
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Old 08-29-09, 07:50 AM
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Originally Posted by meanwhile View Post
Actually calories expended directly in exercise are relatively unimportant in weight loss. What matters is adding more muscle - because muscle burns energy even at rest, unlike fat - and upping your metabolic rate even outside of exercise. It's because of this that protocols like HIIT work so much better for weigh loss.



It's certainly easier to forget that you're taking them in. And they're more likely to be fructose, which messes up your liver metabolism and doesn't trigger the "I've had enough now" signal the way that other energy sources do. But if you care about your health you shouldn't have any drinks with fructose in the house, including fruit juice.


As the article points out, it's pretty hard to add enough muscle to have a large effect.

the article cites 2, and 4 calories respectively as the number of calories burned per day by a pound of fat or muscle.

it then argues that turning fat into muscle results in a net increase of 4 calories per day per pound of fat converted to muscle, for a person's daily calorie requirement.

I agree that this can add up - 50 calories a day for a year will make a difference, and every little bit helps.

on the other hand, it's not hard that hard to achieve a 500 calorie deficit for a day, through cycling.

The point of the article, is that this will be hard to sustain, because in the long run, you will end up eating more.

My take on it is that's a good thing, otherwise you will starve to death - of course you will eventually need to be in equilibrium - duh!

The question is: can one sustain a meaningful calorie deficit for long enough to loose weight, and does exercise help?

I think the answer is yes, but it helps if the exercise is at a higher level than most people are willing to endure. Even the author seems to admit in the article that 60 to 90 minutes a day "most days of the week" will actually help weight loss, but goes on to say that this level is "unrealistic".

if "most days" = 4 days, I don't think it's all that unrealistic.

Oh.., I agree with the point about fruit juice - way too much sugar, and too many calories, for people with a sedentary life-style to drink. Servings should be small. It's unfortunate that somehow fruit juice has come to be seen as a "healthy" thing to drink.

40 years ago, when I was a little kid, we had a family doctor who was hugely concerned with nutrition, and gave patients lots of nutritional advice at every visit. One of his strongest recommendations was to stay away from fruit juice - he always said to just eat the fruit instead..., an orange instead of orange juice.., an apple instead of apple juice...,

one of his other recommendations was baked potatoes - he liked them, as long as you didn't load them up with butter.
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Old 08-29-09, 08:11 AM
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Originally Posted by meanwhile View Post
No. 40 minutes 4 times a week will do it if you use HIIT or a similar protocol. Assuming that your heart will take the load of interval training at close to maximal effort, which probably isn't true of a lot of people who most need to lose weight:

https://www.exrx.net/FatLoss/HIITvsET.html

Plus you need a pretty high motivation level to take the pain...
That and ignore every recommendation that HIIT should only occur at most twice a week.
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Old 08-29-09, 08:18 AM
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Originally Posted by jgf310 View Post
As the article points out, it's pretty hard to add enough muscle to have a large effect.
Perhaps I'm lucky, but I've never had a problem adding muscle. I was already 180lb when I was 20 and since then I've added 30lb and I'm probably leaner. Even at base rate metabolism 30lb of extra muscle will burn an extra 150 calories a day, which means a pound of fat gets dissolved in every 20 days. Given that I work out in a way that keeps my metabolism higher I'd expect to do quite a bit better - that my extra muscle mass has stopped about a stone (14lb) of fat from being added to my body every year for the last 10 years. (Although I probably would eat less if I exercised less!)

..the article cites 2, and 4 calories respectively as the number of calories burned per day by a pound of fat or muscle.
Those figures are for a resting metabolism and based on one piece of research.

If you up your rest metabolism rate, as with HIIT, I'd suggest the difference in burn will be much bigger. We know that HIIT and similar protocols do increase metabolism - and I won't believe that metabolic activity in fat increases significantly without real evidence - it'd just be too weird!

And (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basal_metabolic_rate) the generally accepted Katch-McArdle formula has lean mass burning almost 22 calories per kg at base rate, with a multiplier of up to 1.9 - for a whopping 40 calories per kg. (Of course the journalist didn't mention this - it would have ruined his story.)
Call that 15 calories per lb, which means that with a HIIT pump metabolism those 30lb of muscle can eat a lb of fatty body mass in less than two weeks.


Even the author seems to admit in the article that 60 to 90 minutes a day "most days of the week" will actually help weight loss, but goes on to say that this level is "unrealistic".

if "most days" = 4 days, I don't think it's all that unrealistic.
But the research - and my personal experience - shows this will be several times less effective that half the time spent on HIIT.

Oh.., I agree with the point about fruit juice - way too much sugar, and too many calories, for people with a sedentary life-style to drink. Servings should be small. It's unfortunate that somehow fruit juice has come to be seen as a "healthy" thing to drink.

40 years ago, when I was a little kid, we had a family doctor who was hugely concerned with nutrition, and gave patients lots of nutritional advice at every visit. One of his strongest recommendations was to stay away from fruit juice - he always said to just eat the fruit instead..., an orange instead of orange juice.., an apple instead of apple juice...,
He was very right - the problem is that the fructose in juice is unbuffered by roughage and so hits fast enough to cause an insulin spike and even to cause the liver to convert the fructose to fat deposits inside itself. Which is to say cirrhosis.

Anyway, the bottom line for me is that weight loss requires a good diet, upping the base metabolism rate (steady state exercise doesn't!), and building some muscle. These last two especially interact. Oh, and muscle is a long term investment, not a fast cure. But long term investment matters - getting fat or not is usually a battle fought in the long term.

Last edited by meanwhile; 08-29-09 at 08:32 AM.
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