Exercising for Weight Loss

I ran across a NY Times article on the effectiveness of exercise for losing weight.  Now, I am not one to weigh myself each day (or even monthly) and I exercise for the mental benefits as well as the physical – but as the Nike commercial goes “The Truth? I want to look good naked.  Doesn’t Everybody.” So yes, I do think about how exercise makes my body look in addition to how it makes me feel.

The the article reports a different link between exercise and losing weight than most of us probably thought.  The studies point to evidence that suggests exercise alone will not help people lose weight – for a variety of reasons it suggests that calorie reduction or a change in eating is also need to lose extra weight.  Most interesting though, the article points out the effectiveness of exercise to maintain a weight loss.

“In one experiment from last year, 97, healthy, slighty overweight women were put on a 800 calorie diet until they lost an average of about 27 pounds each.  Some of the women were then assigned to a walking program, some were put on a weight-training program, and others were assigned no excercise; all returned to their old eating habits.  Those who stuck with either of the exercise programs regained less weight than those who didn’t exercise, and even more striking, did not regain weight around their middles.  The women who didn’t exercise regained their weight and preferentially packed on these new pounds around their abdomens.”

While I appreciate that these findings point out exercise helps maintain weight loss, I have some major issues with the particular study the article quotes:

1.  A 800 calorie diet for a grown woman, WHAT?????  This is hugely insufficient for a woman with even an average activity level.

2.  More so, when it says all the women went back to their old eating habits, I find that hard to believe.  I have never only eaten 800 calories a day for a continuous period since I have been old enough to feed myself, but from what I know of eating a clean, vegetables, and whole grain based diet – it’s hard to return to your old lifestyle of junk food and heavy meat once you have felt the effects of a clean simple diet.  So what where these people fed on the 800 calorie diet?  And what kind of food was included in their “old habits” diet?

Maybe I am too focused on the details of this one study, but I feel it’s disingenuous to put this information out there for the world to consume and offer a very extreme example. While I understand this article is meant to examine the effects of exercise on weight loss – it’s first conclusion states that weight loss won’t happen unless you analyze your diet.

I believe a diet, filled with calories of

Compared to a diet filled with

and / or

Wins any day.

I think exercise is very important but just like this article points out what you put into your body to fuel it counts just as much as how much you exercise.

What do you think of this article?  What about this study?

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