What if I told you that most exercise does not cause long term weight loss?
This is a secret the fitness industry of gadgets, DVDs, and commercial fitness clubs don’t want you to know. In their defense though, few of them may understand just how wrong they are and why. Let’s start with a simple question. Do you know why you are exercising? There are a small few people that will say for sports, strength, or to build muscle, but over 90% of people will say to lose weight. The reality is that people who use moderate exercise to burn calories achieve on average just over a 2 lb. weight loss over 6 months. Increase to vigorous exercise and you might lose an additional pound. On top of that, only a very small percentage of people are able to maintain the weight loss. This research is from studies done using aerobic exercise, which if you have read much of my work, is not something I use much of in my training.
Years ago, when obesity research was in its infancy, there was a split in opinions. The debate was whether obesity was an energy excess, or a hormonal issue. Without going deep into the research, the energy excess was the one that took momentum because much less was known about hormones back then. Basically, we accepted one truth due to lack of evidence. The theory (and I say theory not law, because this has never been proven) of thermodynamics states that basically whatever you eat in terms of calories, you need to burn off. So basically if you eat it, you better burn it off or you will get fat. It seems like a very simple idea… too simple in fact. This idea assumes that everyone does the same thing with everything they put in their body. So you could eat the same amount of calories worth of sugar, broccoli, butter, or chicken and it will have the same effect. On top of that, this theory requires you to accept the idea that everyone’s body does the exact same things with the exact same efficiency with their food. Do you really think an 18 year old male athlete is doing the same metabolic activities with his food as your 70 year old grandmother?
Fast forward to the 21st century and it’s very clear that all previous science in regards to obesity was very wrong. This issue alone cuts through some of the biggest mistakes of the past. Obesity is a hormonal issue. This is why counting calories, counting points, and weighing food are some of the most ineffective ways to lose fat, not to mention those diets absolutely suck. I wonder who decided it would be a good idea to make people tired, hungry, and irritable, and then make them obsess about the very thing being taken away from them. Restrictive diets are better termed as torture techniques than nutrition.
Exercising for weight loss is no different. If you are going to play the game of trying to burn more calories than you take in, you are just starving your body in reverse. Trying to burn more energy than you eat is no more healthy than starvation diets. It’s a recipe for failure. 20 minutes on the treadmill is about 1 chocolate chip cookie. That’s 20 minutes erased by 20 seconds. It’s not a fair fight. This is why people who try this system inevitably fail. There are those who do have some success, but always only initially. One popular TV show has it’s participants exercising 6 hours per day on this system. For anyone who doesn’t get to go live on a ranch and have everything paid for, this isn’t practical, and luckily so, because it’s horrible for your health and will age you very quickly. As an added bonus, almost 100% of these people gain back more fat than they lost.
Notice that I keep using, “lose fat,” not just weight, because that is going to be a big theme in this article. Losing weight is often a bi product of losing fat, but you can lose weight without decreasing your body fat %. In fact you can lose weight and get even fatter! In fact one of the fastest growing trends which just makes me sick is the skinny fat. It has become somewhat prevalent to find people who have managed to diet or overexercise themselves down to a reasonable weight while still managing to have a high body fat percentage. They are losing muscle which is extremely unhealthy. Other people that commonly lose muscle are cancer patients, people dying of AIDs, or those with severe infections. Healthy people have muscles and low body fat. You don’t have to be a bodybuilder, but having bags of lard hanging off a skeleton is no picture of health.
What can you conclude from this? You can’t lose weight by exercising to burn calories. It’s not healthy or practical, and leads to long term-failure and rebound. So why do some people lose weight when they start exercising? Exercise helps your body on a hormonal level. There are a lot of hormones involved in body composition: thyroid hormone, growth hormones, estrogen, testosterone, cortisol, and insulin. Proper exercise has a positive effect on all the above, while restrictive diets and over-exercising lead to negative affects on all of them. Resistance training is the most effective way to create a positive hormone balance that will provide long term weight loss. A study using aerobic exercise vs. resistance training showed that both could decrease body fat percentage, but after 6 months of returning to normal activity, participants in the aerobic group lost all progress in strength and endurance and gained back the fat. The resistance group kept a good portion of the progress and gained back significantly less fat. Proof that expending calories is an effect of exercise, but not the cause of long term fat loss or body composition change.
Exercise is still not the most effective way to manipulate all of your hormones though. Food consumption has the biggest role in what your body does hormonally. This is why the success of the modern diet era lies in the low carb diet. It addresses insulin. The fewer carbohydrates you make, the less insulin you make. Insulin is the most powerful fat storing hormone. The majority of people will have success with losing fat if they manage insulin better by eating less carbs and doing resistance training. However, some people may still need more help because of other factors affecting their insulin sensitivity, or other hormones being involved. This is the reason I became a BioSignature practitioner. The BioSignature Method developed by Charles Poliquin, is perhaps the best fat loss break through in the modern era. The BioSignature Method is a way of measuring how the body is responding to its current hormonal balance and nutrient levels. For the first time, an exercise, nutrition, and supplement program can be made to be effective and precise to the individual. The BioSignature is not a diet program. When you know which hormones to address and how to address them, the results are much faster, easier, and lasting.
If you don’t know why you’re exercising, or want to know how to exercise, eat, and nutritionally support whatever your goal is, the BioSignature is the best way to get there. Read more about Biosignature at www.HansonPerformance.com/BioSignature. Or Click HERE to find a coach near you.