Diet + Exercise = Weight Loss? Not So Fast!
A new study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine claims those battle-tested ways to lose weight usually work and allow people to meet their goals.
You know the drill: eat less, watch your calories, exercise more, and reduce your fat intake… that sort of thing.
Researchers here gathered information from over 4,000 obese individuals based on the 2001-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. One year prior to completing this survey, these adults had a body mass index (BMI) of at least 30.
Many participants reportedly did lose weight in that year’s time. More specifically, about 40% lost 5% or their weight or more, and another 20% lost 10% or more.
Researchers tidily summarized their results. “Those who exercised more and ate less fat were significantly more likely to lose weight,” they said. Structured programs – weight loss meetings, for instance – also helped some people meet their goals.
I find these kinds of studies frustrating. For one, surveys aren’t the most accurate or consistent way to learn how people lose weight. They usually provide very generalized, quantitative, sometimes-biased or confusing questions.
I could go on, but here’s the deal. Some people lose weight just fine cutting their calories and stepping up gym time.
These are the same people who brag they can eat anything they want in moderation and burn off that pancake and mimosa breakfast at the gym.
Their underlying message is that if you can’t do those things, you must be eating too much or not exercising enough or just being lazy.
You may be one of those people who tried reduced-calorie or low-fat diets on countless programs and spent hours on useless exercise equipment to burn fat.
Hopefully, you eventually conclude it’s not your fault you keep regaining weight or can’t lose it to begin with. At some point you probably decide these are lousy ways to lose weight.
Listen, I’m a huge fan of exercise for its zillion benefits, but unfortunately weight loss is probably not going to be one of those benefits.
As experts like Gary Taubes point out, people who exercise often eat more because, well, exercise makes you hungry.
People who exercise for weight loss are also more likely to overestimate how many calories they burn. You see these people at the gym huffing away on an elliptical machine while watching The View and keeping one eye on the calorie counter.
So you’ve done an hour on the treadmill, which promises you’ve burned 500 calories, and you’re famished. You feel like you deserve a reward for your hard work. And there’s a Starbucks around the corner.
I’ll let you predict that outcome.
Exercise and counting calories do matter to a degree, but they’re hardly the whole story for fat loss.
When you eat what nature intended – lean protein, fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds – your body recognizes these foods. Your hormones send your body the right messages.
Your hormone CCK, for instance, tells your brain when it’s full. You also don’t raise your blood sugar, which means you keep steady insulin levels so your body uses, not stores, fat.
Combine these foods with the right kind of exercise (High Intensity Interval Training which takes minutes, not hours, a day)…
… and you’ll burn fat, maintain muscle, and boost your metabolism.
You don’t need to count anything or spend hours exercising. You’re getting optimal nutrients. And you’re never hungry. It’s a win-win for weight loss.