You Can’t Burn it Off

Despite some recent reports that strength training can reduce body fat, there is a growing consensus that exercise has no impact on weight loss.

New York magazine reports on science’s growing realisation that there was never a scientific basis to the belief that exercise can promote weight loss.

The problem, as he and his contemporaries saw it, is that light exercise burns an insignificant number of calories, amounts that are undone by comparatively effortless changes in diet. In 1942, Louis Newburgh of the University of Michigan calculated that a 250-pound man expends only three calories climbing a flight of stairs—the equivalent of depriving himself of a quarter-teaspoon of sugar or a hundredth of an ounce of butter. “He will have to climb twenty flights of stairs to rid himself of the energy contained in one slice of bread!” Newburgh observed. So why not skip the stairs, skip the bread, and call it a day?

When we exercise our bodies compensate by making us hungrier. We eat more and weight tends to remain stable. Worse still, when we stop exercising, our appetites are slow to respond causing a tendancy to gain weight.

This does not mean there are no reasons for exercising. There are plenty: improvements in fitness, potential longevity and reduction in cardiovascular disease. But to enjoy these benefit exercise should be a life-long pursiut and should not be relied upon as the basis of a weight-loss programme.

The improvements in muscle mass and body composition caused by exercise may help you cope with dieting better, but the bottom line is that if you want to lose weight, you need to EAT LESS than you burn. Period. Furthermore, if you are genetically predisposed to a higher body mass index, you should be prepared for the reality that to maintain the “new slim you”, you may have to be constantly be in a state of slight calorie deprivation and thus hungry.