Saturday, August 15, 2009

Whoa, Nelly

Fascinating article in TIME magazine last week about exercise and how it won't make you thin.

Some choice bits:

"The basic problem is that while it's true that exercise burns calories and that you must burn calories to lose weight, exercise has another effect: it can stimulate hunger. That causes us to eat more, which in turn can negate the weight-loss benefits we just accrued. Exercise, in other words, isn't necessarily helping us lose weight. It may even be making it harder.

After we exercise, we often crave sugary calories like those in muffins or in "sports" drinks like Gatorade. A standard 20-oz. bottle of Gatorade contains 130 calories. If you're hot and thirsty after a 20-minute run in summer heat, it's easy to guzzle that bottle in 20 seconds, in which case the caloric expenditure and the caloric intake are probably a wash. From a weight-loss perspective, you would have been better off sitting on the sofa knitting.

Could pushing people to exercise more actually be contributing to our obesity problem? In some respects, yes. Because exercise depletes not just the body's muscles but the brain's self-control "muscle" as well, many of us will feel greater entitlement to eat a bag of chips during that lazy time after we get back from the gym.

This explains why exercise could make you heavier — or at least why even my wretched four hours of exercise a week aren't eliminating all my fat. It's likely that I am more sedentary during my nonexercise hours than I would be if I didn't exercise with such Puritan fury. If I exercised less, I might feel like walking more instead of hopping into a cab; I might have enough energy to shop for food, cook and then clean instead of ordering a satisfyingly greasy burrito."

This time last year, I was hitting the treadmill like a madman, walking an hour every two to three days. Though it felt good, I can't say it did much to help me lose weight. If I'd eaten a bit less, I'm sure I would've had more favorable results, but fact is, I'm at a healthy weight and if anything, should work more on reducing saturated fat from my diet.

Over the past few months, I've been getting about 10 to 15 minutes of exercise each day (nothing strenuous), eat about the same amount of food, and have maintained my weight for the most part. I'm more than cool with this. Though the treadmill just sits, unused, it makes an awfully good coat rack.


Randy said...

Exactly why I don't exercise...

Timothy Smith said...

Exercise has benefits but weight loss is all about food. If you exercise AND diet your body just lowers its standing metabolic rate. A nice 30 minute walk a day and shorting your body 500 calories from normal is all you need to do.

I am back under 160 and did NO exercise to get there. But exercise, especially strength training is something I need to do as we lose 5% muscle mass per decade and I dont want to fall down and not get back up!

Thomas said...

Good one, Randy.

Tim, you're certainly right about exercising and dieting being the key. That's how I did it back in 2000, when I was on the verge of becoming obese. Congrads on losing a few. Your boys are gonna remember you as a very svelte dude.

Rocketstar said...

Yep, it is a simple equation...

calories eaten - calories burned.

Weight lose is sooo simple, not easy but simple.

Start exercising and do not ioncreas amount of food, intake better food in the same amount.

Timothy Smith said...

I hear ya Tom, I was also on the verge of being Obese if not Obese back around 2000. I also got big around 2005 again. Exercise seems to slow down my weight loss but I know it provides other benefits, increased blood flow, cardio conditioning, strength and flexibility, mental benefits etc etc.

But for weight loss I just limit calories to 1500 a day and make them mostly veggies and the weight just falls off.

My problem is I have no real muscle mass anymore. No problem now but like I said....when I am older it might be. I will most likely start a 30 minute, three time a week strength training routine to keep flexible and strong when I am older.

Right now chasing kids and moving has me still losing weight. Around 150 I have to work on eating more and gaining, then I get to 250 and have to lose. I cant seem to find a nice stable toned 170.

Thomas said...

Wow. Too bad you can't seem to stay at a steady weight. Maybe if you weighed yourself more frequently, you'd have a better idea on if things are getting out of hand. That's what I do.

Timothy Smith said...

Yes, I bought one of those fancy medical scales with the slides like they have at the doctors office. It was 200 bucks and you are right, it went smoother when I weighed myself at least once a week. I suppose I will get back to doing that.

Of course when you are gaining you know it and don't want to have that confirmed.

I have been better not getting too fat since the addition of more children. Now I can tell by my face. My cheeks fill in around 180 pounds and I know I am getting too big.

Thomas said...

I weigh myself at least thrice a week so that if I am gaining, I can put the brakes on it right away by reducing the calories I'm taking in and/or exercising a bit more.

Timothy Smith said...

Sounds like the way to go about it.