Updated: 2/28/2020, Marc Woodard
Although your favorite fitness guru or celebrity may be the picture of health and you want to look just like them… Keep this in mind, they make a lot of money selling fitness products and services they don’t necessarily use; and may actually cause you to gain weight rather than lose it. Which may be just the opposite of a desired result you hope to achieve.
Regardless of exercise equipment and dietary products that guarantees weight loss by these professionals – The odds are not in your favor these programs will work long term for you. Why? Unless you have a customized fitness program relevant and specifically designed for your weight loss expectations, weight gain may be the result.
Relevant fitness programming should include individual lifestyle and cultural assessments that include: behavioral habits, medical condition/history, genetics, body type… fitness goals and expectation. For example, do you want to be body fat lean, increase muscle mass, or strength; improve cardio and/or muscular endurance and flexibility? The aforementioned assessments will help define, relate and apply a fitness program that’s right and will work for you.
For those whose fitness goal is to lose body fat – science shows us how exercise can add on pounds if other lifestyle factors are not considered within the programming process especially as we age. But for this exercise we’ll specifically focus on exercise and fuel source to burn more body fat weight.
It is interesting to note, regardless of the billions of dollars invested within the fitness industry our nations population is becoming fatter. So we are either becoming more sedentary, sick with disease, exercising incorrectly and/or our dietary and addictive habits – which also influence bad behavior.
Which is it? I say a combination of all the above. And this reality has a lot to do with not understanding the human anatomy and physiology and marketplace fitness and diet gimmicks that promise to fix us. In my opinion these health illiteracy issues should be addressed within our K-12 education system. If this occurred, future generations would learn to value a healthier lifestyle – which would help reduce the obesity and connected disease problems now plaguing the nation.
With that being said consider the following statistics.
45 million Americans now belong to health clubs, up from 23 million in 1993. We spend some $19 billion a year on gym memberships. One major study illustrates – The Minnesota Heart Survey found more of us say we exercise. From 1980 to 2000, 47% of respondents exercised regularly and then these figures increased to 57%, ending the 20 year survey. Even with 45 million people today using fitness centers obesity figures increased during this period. The Federal government’s definition of obesity classifies 1/3 of all Americans as obese. Those that participated in the survey admitted after they exercise, their hungrier and eat more. This is not to discount the notion that those who may not participate in gym activities may weigh more otherwise.
Let’s look at a significant study that specifically addresses the compensation effect on body after exercise and what this really means for your weight management program.
In general, for weight loss, exercise is pretty useless, says Eric Ravussin, chair in diabetes and metabolism at Louisiana State University, a prominent exercise researcher. Although exercise does burn calories, it also makes us hungrier. Exercise, in other words, isn’t necessarily helping us lose weight. It may even be making it harder.
The compensation Problem “ The PLoS (Public Library of Science) published a remarkable study supervised by a colleague of Ravussin’s Dr. Timothy Church. Four groups totaling 464 overweight women who didn’t regularly exercise were selected for this study. Women in 3 of the groups worked with a personal trainer for 6 months; Group 1 exercised – 72 minutes/wk, Group 2 exercised- 136 minutes/wk and Group 3 exercised – 194 minutes/week. Although the study did not specify the exercise routines, one gets the notion exercises were balanced between aerobic and anaerobic activity with a personal assigned trainer.
The women in the 4th cluster did not change their lifestyle activities, but did fill out a monthly health questionnaire. The results were surprising. All groups of women lost weight, even the control group. It is most likely the control group through the use of monthly questionnaires learned more about their health and thereby modified their diets by eating fewer donuts, muffins, Starbucks coffee, for example. Some of the women in each group actually gained weight, some up to 10 pounds. Church calls this the compensation effect. Whether exercise made them hungry, or they wanted to reward themselves. Most of the women who exercised ate more than they did before they started the experiment!
Church states, we all need to move toward proper weight control, but stressing and depleting the body’s muscles in short bursts using stressful exercise is not necessarily the best way to loss body weight. Also the brain may feel greater entitlement to eat fast foods after we’ve exerted most of our high intensity energy at the gym. Instead, energy would have been better served by increasing daily activities like walking, healthy food shopping, preparing wholesome meals, gardening, a balanced mix using gym activities, walking, biking, etc.
[Quote excerpts posted above, Published by Time Magazine, August 17, 2009, Why Exercise Won’t Make you Thin, by John Cloud]
Exercise Science shows us anaerobic activity during weight lifting activities increases muscle mass with less stimulation of the fat burning metabolism. Muscle mass increases do occur when muscle bulking exercise out-paces aerobic fat burning exercise. The goal of burning more body fat weight requires a greater commitment to daily aerobic exercise activity within the low-medium intensity effort. So on a scale of 1-10 effort, if you exercise within a perceived physical exertion of ~4-7, you burn more body fat during aerobic exercise.
Optimizing weight loss results while toning the body requires a relevant fitness training program that will work for you. For example, if you find an aerobic exercise program you enjoy participating in daily, the odds are you’ll experience sustainable weight loss success.
For nearly anyone who wants to lose more body fat weight without experiencing extreme hunger spikes, a low-medium intensity aerobic activity such as daily walking, jogging or biking and hiking will help achieve the objective. This is because our aerobic metabolism prefers burning fat fuel during low-intensity, long duration exercise. During high-intensity exercise, the body prefers burning carbohydrates. The carbohydrates present a limited fuel storage source compared to stored body fat. Once carbohydrate fuel is spent through high-intensity exercise – the body feels hungry.
Regardless of exercise program chosen,
Having a balanced and nutritious diet in place prior to starting an exercise program is important to achieve the weight loss results you desire.
If your not sure how to custom design a fitness and nutrition program to achieve a natural weight loss objective – might I suggest investing in a professional fitness trainer or fit healthy lifestyle consultant with a degree in Exercise Science/physiology.
Once the encompassing being [mind, body and spirit] achieves a sustainable fit healthy lifestyle balance of diet and daily exercise… achieving any fitness goal is possible. Including loss of unhealthy body weight that has a direct connection with illness and disease.
Author: Marc T. Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, ARNG, CPT, RET. 2018 Copyright. All rights reserved, Mirror Athlete Inc., www.mirrorathlete.org, Sign up for your Free eNewsletter.