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TIME's Great Exercise Debate: What's In It for You?

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
8/11/2009 6:29 PM   :  233 comments   :  101,354 Views

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If you follow health and fitness news, you’ve probably seen the cover story in the current issue of TIME magazine: Why Exercise Won’t Make You Thin.

Unfortunately, this article is riddled with headlines and statements that seem more designed to attract attention and readers than to provide useful information—a common problem in this age of declining readership. But if you can get past the sensational headlines and faulty logic (a connection between two things doesn't mean one causes the other), the actual information in the article is nothing new or surprising.

We’ve known for a long time that, while exercise is clearly one of the foundations of good physical and mental health, it is not by itself enough to produce substantial weight loss. That takes a healthy diet with fewer calories in it than you need to maintain your current weight at your current activity level, whatever that activity level may be. You can exercise ‘til the cows come home, but if you still eat more than you need, you’re not going to lose any of that extra fat you’d like to get rid of. This may be news to Mr. Cloud, but not to the rest of us.

Cloud’s article does go one step further by speculating that exercise may actually be one of the reasons people overeat, and that's where he starts getting into trouble. This speculation is based on the results of several recent studies, described in the article, which indicate that exercise may have three common “side effects” that could, in theory, make weight loss more difficult for many people:

Side Effect No. 1: Exercise increases appetite, often leading people to eat more than they would otherwise, offsetting the calorie burning benefits of their exercise, or even leading to a calorie surplus.

Side Effect No. 2: Exercise weakens your “self-control muscle.” If you use up your limited capacity for self-control by forcing yourself to stay on the treadmill for 60 minutes, it’s going to be much harder for you to resist treats and snacks, and stick to your diet plan for the rest of the day.

Side Effect No. 3: Exercise (especially vigorous, challenging exercise) can lead to tiredness, muscle soreness and other problems which actually reduce the amount of normal physical activity the individual engages in during the day, reducing overall calorie expenditure.

There’s not much doubt that these problems can happen, or even that they do happen for lots of people. But are they inevitable or unavoidable? Do they inevitably have to interfere with your weight loss efforts as much as this article seems to suggest? I suppose they could—IF you were a slave to your appetites, and incapable of figuring out how to feed yourself what you actually need.

But is that what you are? Not according to the tons of scientific evidence and personal testimony from successful weight losers that Mr. Cloud left out of his article.

The real question here, in the end, is whether any of this scientific evidence means you should change your approach to exercise in order to meet your weight loss goals. In this blog and in Thursday’s blog, you’ll find some info you’ll want to know in order to figure this out for yourself.

Part One: Exercise, Appetite & Fat Loss

Pretty much everything we know about human metabolism indicates that exercise should increase your appetite. The basic function of appetite is to generate a balance between energy in and energy out, and to ensure that you get the right “nutritional stuff” for your particular needs. It couldn’t do either job for you if you could go out and burn an extra 500-1000 calories or more without experiencing an increase in your hunger.

This may not be obvious to us as individuals, though, for several reasons. One is that exercise can temporarily suppress appetite. Some people don’t feel hungry until sometime later on, which means they may not make the connection between the exercise and the extra appetite. And being the kind of creatures we are, it's pretty easy to feel the hunger without knowing what, exactly, our body really needs or when we've gotten enough of it. (For a quick introduction to these issues, check these articles on High Performance Nutrition.

Another important source of difficulty here is due to the way our bodies use energy during exercise and then replace that energy. The bottom line, in terms of weight loss, is that fat doesn't play a big role on either end of this process.

Whenever you’re doing some physical activity that is more vigorous than a moderate walk, most of the fuel for that activity is not going to come from your most recent meal, or from the extra body fat you have on board. It’s going to come from specialized fuel sources already stored in your muscle cells, or elsewhere in your body. It would be great if, every time we need some extra energy, our bodies would take some body fat out of our fat cells and use it to fuel whatever we are doing. Sadly, though, that’s not how it works. The more vigorous your activity is (which corresponds roughly to how high your heart rate gets), the smaller the role that fat plays in fueling that activity. The primary energy source your body uses to fuel higher intensity activity is glucose—which it gets by breaking down the carbohydrates (mainly) and protein (to a much lesser degree if your diet is balanced) you eat. Your body actually stores glucose in your muscle cells (it’s called glycogen in this form), and draws on this stored glycogen to fuel your muscles during exercise.

Once you’re done exercising and back in your recliner again, your body needs to replace this used up glycogen so that you’ll be ready for your next bout of exercise or activity. Naturally enough, it revs up your appetite so you’ll eat enough to accomplish this objective. This is necessary because your body can’t turn body fat into the glycogen your muscle cells need. It has to come from the carbs and protein you eat (or from the protein stored in your muscle and organ tissues).

The bottom line here is that the relationship between exercise and fat loss is very indirect. Exercise doesn’t burn very much fat as fuel, and it doesn’t cause your body to use stored body fat to replace all the calories your exercise burned up. Basically, what does happen is that exercise gives your body something to do (ie, making new glycogen) with some of the carbs and protein you eat so that you don’t turn a lot of those calories into new body fat. While all that’s going on, your body is then free to use your body fat to fuel a large percentage of the low intensity activity you’re doing when you’re not exercising—assuming that you have an overall calorie deficit and the kind of diet that keeps your fat-burning hormones and enzymes working right.

Unfortunately, you don’t burn all that many calories while not exercising, which explains why you can’t lose fat at a very rapid rate, even if you exercise like a fiend and diet like you love starvation. There’s only so much fat you can burn in a day, and this is determined more by your BMR and your non-exercise activity than by the amount of vigorous exercise you do, or the size of your calorie deficit. An overly large calorie deficit will mainly increase the rate of muscle and organ tissue loss, not the amount of fat burned. It may look good on the scale, but it’s not healthy and it’s one of the big reasons why so many people regain lost weight.

Practical Implications: If your main goal is losing body fat, there’s no reason to run yourself into the ground with hours of high intensity exercise, and some good reasons not to do this. You do need about 30 minutes, at least 3-5 times per week, with your heart rate up in the 70-85% of max range to get the basic health and functional fitness benefits of cardiovascular exercise. And you need a good, basic strength training routine that works all your muscle groups, at least twice per week. If you have athletic aspirations that require more training than this, you'll need to do more, of course.

Beyond that, you’ll actually burn more fat if you use any extra time you have to increase your lower intensity activity as much as possible with things like moderate walking, taking the steps when you can, and generally moving around as much as possible. The more time you spend sitting still, the more you turn off your fat burning enzymes and make fat loss harder than it needs to be.

And of course, you will still need to keep your eating under control enough to maintain a moderate calorie deficit overall.

In Thursday’s blog, I’ll talk more about Exercise, Will Power & Eating, and what the evidence tells us about how to avoid overeating when you’re physically active. To read it, click here.

What’s your experience with exercise and appetite? Are you doing a lot of high intensity exercise mainly to lose weight? Is that approach working for you, or do you end up eating more and losing less?


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Comments

  • MAINEAMY09
    183
    I ate horrible, absolute crap, and too much of it. About 3000 calories a day. Just exercising alone helped me start losing weight. Of course to keep it off and continue to lose weight I would have to change my eating habits eventually, but the TIME's article can be incredibly discouraging to a person who is just starting to lose weight, a person who does just 90 minutes of exercise a week, and could lose weight from that! Exercise can and will encourage millions of people losing weight this year to eat better. Often it has the opposite effect of what is written in the Time's article and it is very frustrating that this was printed. - 8/19/2009   12:42:39 PM
  • MYKARENA
    182
    I read the Time article with interest. I have long noted that when I increase the intensity of my exercise, my weight increases. When I stop exercising, my weight drops. However, I feel stronger and healthier when I work out.

    After reading the article, I am even more committed to continuing my daily workouts. However, I plan to make sure my meals and snacks are planned in advance to avoid reactionary eating as a reward. I also plan to come up with non-calorie rewards for my workouts to replace the habit of eating as a reward.

    For me, the most ironic thing about the article hits me when I look around at the people at my local YMCA. The vast majority of people who attend on a regular basis (I estimate 90+%) are NOT obese. They may be trying to lose 10-30 pounds, but they are NOT obese. That shows me that the people who work out regularly are keeping their weight in the normal range.

    That's proof enough for me to keep showing up. - 8/19/2009   11:39:03 AM
  • 181
    Too funny! I was just reading this article at the dentist's office yesterday. I couldn't believe what I read. Having just joined the gym, I couldn't get over what this guy was trying to pass off onto people. Unfortunately, for some people, they will read the article, believe it and lose all of their motivation. - 8/19/2009   11:34:17 AM
  • 180
    Let's think about this...exercise may make you hungrier. That's OK. If you are monitoring what you eat, exercising more leaves you more calories to eat in NUTRITIOUS foods. You can then eat an extra piece of fruit, for example and still lose weight.
    I have lost 120 pounds in the past year. Part of the reason I lost so much in only 10 months is that I exercised ALOT. Now that I am maintaining, I don't exercise as much, but still do some form of exercise every day of the week. On my "rest" days, I will walk my dogs for 1 or 2 miles. But along with the exercise, I try to make healthy food choices, which means that along with monitoring how many calories I ingest, it is just as important to choose a variety of whole food--vegetables, fruits, whole grains. It's not rocket science (but for some reason, it took me 50 years to realize!) - 8/19/2009   11:24:48 AM
  • 179
    I don't need John White's article as an excuse not to exercise. I have plenty of my own!

    I'm to tired.
    I'm to busy.
    I don't feel like it.
    I exercised yesterday today is my rest day.
    I'm switching my workout day for a rest day.
    I'm taking my rest day to stay on schedule.
    I'm to old to exercise.
    I'm to young for the senior exercise class.
    I'm reviewing my exercise options.
    I'm watching Biggest Loser.
    I'm watching my Biggest Loser DVD to learn the moves......

    LOL-you get the idea...Naw, as I just blogged, Exercise WON'T 'make you skinny'....but it WILL improve your overal health, make you feel better and should be a part of your healthy lifestyle plan!!!!
    - 8/19/2009   11:07:40 AM
  • HAKIRBY
    178
    This article made me so angry - an excellent rebuttal, Coach Dean!

    So full of opinion, rather than fact and all those people who will read it and be turned off from a healthier lifestyle because it neatly slots into their existing belief system breaks my heart.

    I hear this kind of rubbish all the time - I live in a country with some of the worst cancer, stroke and heart disease in the world. It's hard enough to practice a healthy lifestyle. This article will not help matters.

    The first thing I learned as a weight concious teenager is a walk around the block doesn't justify a banana split. Treats don't have to be food for those who don't find that exercise comes easy. The article never mentioned that rather than buy a muffin, a physical treat such as a cd or a pair of earrings, etc could be a treat instead.

    And exercisers can eat after their workout - it can be a sandwich, a filling salad, something healthy and substantial to fit in with the days' nutrician requirements. I carry dried fruit or make up filled rolls (buns) to eat after my workouts.

    Such lazy journalism. - 8/19/2009   10:32:27 AM
  • 177
    I am a true believer that exercising and eating healthier goes hand in hand for weight loss. You really cannot have one without the other...exercising helps build up muscle and tones you up; and eating healthier helps nourish your body. I started this year off with working out from Jan-May and stopped half way in May because I realized I was not losing as much weight or inches that I thought I would during that time. It occurred to me that I needed to start watching what I eat more and cut out a lot of things. I started back working out in July and did just that and I am losing more weight and inches that I did from Jan -May. So, I know eating and exercise makes a greater difference. - 8/19/2009   10:19:09 AM
  • 176
    Gah, what a stupid article.

    Sorry. Your mileage may vary and all that, but goodness, it's just dumb.

    The whole point of the article, as far as I can make it out, is to state something totally unexpected to catch the reader's attention and then throw some distracting stuff at you that is supposed to make you go "right, I always thought that, too" (including the old "OMG exercising is so boring and expensive and terrible!!!" fiddle) until they finally come with their huge discovery: _Sometimes_, working out makes you hungry.

    Suckers. Sorry, but there's just no other word for it.

    First off, we can get all the side-effects like appetite or loosing self-control from sitting on a couch and eating snacks. The snacks will make you crave more snacks or sugar, your self-control will drop along with your self-respect into a "now that I'm binging anyway, why not finish it with a pizza" hole, and enough time on a couch doing nothing will give you a back-ache at the very least.

    Secondly: all the described effects are what you get if you work out _wrong_. Like that clever writer described: work-outs which you don't enjoy or even hate but still pay a lot of money for, done three days in a row instead of taking breaks in between.

    Grand, spectacular bottom line:

    if you work wrong, you'll get more damage than gain from it.

    **feigned surprise** No, really?

    Seriously, is there any activity for which this isn't true?

    That magazine just made it into my "avoid unless looking for a laugh" list. - 8/19/2009   10:07:19 AM
  • 175
    I've noticed that the days that I have a good hard workout I actually crave those high calorie high fat foods much less. After a good workout I'm looking for a banana or something like that. It's the days when I don't work out that I tend to look toward the artery clogging processed food. Anyone else? - 8/19/2009   9:46:05 AM
  • 174
    It really is a shame that such a popular magazine would print such an article. People really need the motivation to get healthy with moderate exercise and here is a well respected publication telling people to sit on their butts because its not worth it! I'm disappointed.

    On another note, LOVED the section here on Exercise, Appetite & Fat Loss. It was very enlightening. I am training for a 5K and doing a lot of bike riding. I also walk at lunch time which doesn't burn many calories but apparently burns a lot of fat! I will keep it up!

    ~Ang - 8/19/2009   8:15:18 AM
  • 173
    That Time Article is WAY wrong. I was an avid dieter most of my life, and my metabolism always brought me back to being 30 or 40 pounds overweight. One and a half years ago I started a regular exercise program, including weight training several times a week and running about 25 miles a week. I also continued to eat healthy with seven servings of fresh fruits and vegetables a day. I kept my calorie intake to around 1500 to 1800 calories. After I was consistent about the rigorous exercise, I lost all my extra weight in five months. I have kept that weight off for more than a year, but even better my dress size is smaller than it was in high school. I am also tone, strong, and feel great.

    Of course us Spark People folks know you can't lose weight if you only exercise and then eat more because you are hungry. We know it is a whole lifestyle change. In my experience, once you keep the weight off and stay active for a year or more, it becomes a way of life, and a fullfilling one at that. I recently finished the San Diego Marathon, and I love the challenge and thrill it gives me to compete in these types of events. I could NEVER have done this if I only stuck to lower level activities. However, I have also increased my lower level activity level too (walking to work, walking my dog, going dancing, etc), so I think that all makes a difference. But I wouldn't have tone muscles and flat abs at age 44 without my rigorous exercise. Please don't use this as an excuse to not exercise, but do watch what you eat and increase your lower level activities also. It's a great way of life, and SO MUCH FUN! BOO TIME ARTICLE! - 8/19/2009   7:42:48 AM
  • SBROWN1974
    172
    see... reading all these comments it's pretty clear that the article was right about some wrong assumptions people make about exercise. exercise is really good for you and it has some side effects that help with weight control but it will not determine your weight.

    please stop telling people exercise will shed pounds. that is NOT the primary reason people should be exercising.

    the real damage will occur when all the people who got sold the exercise myth realize after after working out conscientiously for a year that they haven't really lost much weight. then what? many people will abandon fitness in frustration, feeling like they were cheated.

    that's a tragedy. we should be working exercise into our lives because it makes us stronger, more flexible, because it's fun, because we'll live longer, because it makes us more in touch with our bodies, have better posture, better self esteem, etc. etc. not because it will directly make us thinner. - 8/19/2009   7:38:29 AM
  • HARTSMART
    171
    I love working out...I love that energized feeling of accomplishment I get when I finish a really tough workout. But after reading this article, I realize I may not actually be accomplishing what I am after!! I have recently started losing weight again, but now I know I can continue to do so, and possibly more productively, by cutting my workouts and upping my training, and have more time to spare in the end!
    It's so great to get GOOD advice instead of far-fetched claims! - 8/19/2009   6:43:40 AM
  • SPRINGBOY
    170
    It's all about the food !! No matter which way you look at it , it's the food people!!! - 8/19/2009   6:21:18 AM
  • ALABBADI
    169
    I have been training regularaly for 4 years now and i have always maintained a good level of fitness and stregth. however until recently i have never tried to get really cut up as they say in bodybuilding as this really takes a lot of meal planning and knowing exact amounts of carbs proteins and fat that you consume.
    so for the last 5 months i have been more diciplined than i had been before, i had reasonable success the first couple of months and lost some fat but i was not happy with the results especially the stubbon fat around my waist.
    i decided to research the reasons and came across an article on a bodybuilding website which explained the way carbs are broken down into glucose and then transported to the bloodstream and how insillin effects the amount of glycogen storage that the body goes through.
    it mentioned that the liver has a capacity of about 100g of glycogen and the Mucles can store between 250-400g so when theses tores are full any extra carbs consumed that the body has to break down into glucose will be stored as fat.
    it goes on to say the trick to burn fat is to tap into the energy or the glycogen that is stored in these cells. so during fitness excercise the body will use the glycogen that is stored in the muscle cells and when this has been used it will used that glycogen stored in the liver. however when these stores are depleted the body still needs energy and has to tap into the fat cells to keep us going. and this is why it is good to do some cardio after you have done training with weights as you would have used most or all the energy in your muscles and will ave to tap into your fat for the extra energy you need to complete your cardio.

    regards
    Yusef - 8/19/2009   5:15:21 AM
  • SJSFRANCINE
    168
    As a trainer for over 25 years and Holistic Lifestyle Coach, I also believe that exercise alone will not make you thin...take a look around at your gym and see those who are "faithful" participants and you'll see them either maintaining their current weight or even packing on more bulge as time goes by? Why? Because we know that the gym is only 20% of your success...the other 80% is what you do outside of that gym. Those that are truly trying to lose weight will comply with whatever "eating plan" their given ... but what happens when they get bored, tired,face cravings? They give in to their old eating habits and what they've lost comes back and "brings a few friends". I totally agree with the Times article and have been saying that for years even before they announced that great revelation..."you can't lose weight (and keep it off) by exercise alone". It's a lifestyle change plain and simple. - 8/19/2009   4:16:25 AM
  • LCMARTIN87
    167
    The more I think about it, I rarely feel famished after a workout. I eat small meals throughout the day so that I don't come home starving after a workout. If anything, my workout helps me stall my hunger and really think about what my body needs rather than my cravings. If you're coming home starving after a workout, then you need to add more protein throughout the day to fill that hunger and give you energy before your workout. - 8/19/2009   2:20:27 AM
  • LCMARTIN87
    166
    The more I think about it, I rarely feel famished after a workout. I eat small meals throughout the day so that I don't come home starving after a workout. If anything, my workout helps me stall my hunger and really think about what my body needs rather than my cravings. If you're coming home starving after a workout, then you need to add more protein throughout the day to fill that hunger and give you energy before your workout. - 8/19/2009   2:19:36 AM
  • 165
    I think that I got a lot out of reading both articles and making my own decisions. I agree that after my Pilates class, I am famished. When I do cardio I tend to be not hungry at all. I feel leaner and have dropped 2 dress sizes while my weight continues to stand still. For me, it's all about finding the exercise that I enjoy and that makes me feel good. I do the Pilates as I feel younger and flexible. It's not just about the scale!. But it is important to know that everyone experiences the hunger after some of their workouts. So thank you for the info. - 8/19/2009   12:59:02 AM
  • ECHOFIVE
    164
    it is all about your calorie in-take and what activity level you are at. Everyone has a different calorie in-take level based on weight, height and age. It all comes down to exercise and what you burn. Apply the five principles of exercise and results will happen. Exercise is not only about losing weight, it is about your over all health and mental happiness. - 8/18/2009   11:49:53 PM
  • MOMSHOME
    163
    Sorry! NO article has to tell you, eat less, move more. No matter which type of exercise one chooses, just DO IT!! All reports still say walking is the best as it's easy to do DAILY!..and that's what counts. If you're looking for mega-muscles, go to the gym, if you're looking for a daily lifestyle, WALK! - 8/18/2009   11:02:27 PM
  • MT2004
    162
    I have been excercising for 20 years, I know excercise help me lose weight but I have to watch what I eat. I use to think because I excercise I can eat what I want but I realized that is wrong. - 8/18/2009   10:53:24 PM
  • HISPEQUE
    161
    The most interesting, eye opening, brain washing and brain storming article. One has to understand how body metabolism works, what body actually needs. Every individual's metabolism is different and one has to understand one's own metabolism to decide on exercise, nutrition and lifestyle to be a healthy person - 8/18/2009   10:17:13 PM
  • 160
    maaan...I read the first paragraph and already knew what the punchline was: you can't exercise and eat like crap! the end. but I always thought that was a given. Why waste your work out on a calorie-laden,nutrient-devoid donut? - 8/18/2009   9:44:54 PM
  • KLONDIKE7
    159
    some of you say that diet and exercise dont help much but i found out 1st hand that between diet and exercise it keeps the fluids moving through your body and it does make a big differance. I have lymphedema and that seems to be the only thing controlling it from getting out of hand. I also went from 216 to 195 in a months time because the doctor said the diet and exercise is what keeps the fluids moving throughout my body. - 8/18/2009   9:34:25 PM
  • 158
    Way to go Mr Time Magazine Writer! You've just given people another excuse not to exercise! You could do more good if you would write something that encourages people to stay active! Those of us who are regular exercisers know that it aids us in losing and keeping off our excess weight. Maybe you should step away from your computer and try it sometime!!

    Okay, I know he probably doesn't read SP, but I feel better after saying this. - 8/18/2009   9:18:21 PM
  • 157
    Talk about misleading! If I don't workout, I see a big difference in my weight loss. - 8/18/2009   8:30:32 PM
  • 156
    I think this is so interesting! I haven't read the TIME article myself, but I am subscribed to a fitness blog that somewhat praised this article for pointing out an argument that the blogger had been making for some time now. However, the blogger made many of the same points that Coach Dean made in his rebuttal. Sure, they disagree on semantics, but I think the message is clear:

    Eat a healthy, balanced diet and maintain an active lifestyle (call it exercise, or call it riding your bike to work every day... to each his own).

    But for those of us here on SparkPeople, well, duh. I don't think that article was meant for people like us. :-) - 8/18/2009   8:06:53 PM
  • REDDOVE1
    155
    I'm not new at exercising, but I do know that there has to be a balance. When I work out at the gym, I've noticed that my appetite is greater.

    So, I'm getting wiser by being aware of my nutrition. When I eat fresh raw vegetables and drink a lot of water, I see results immediately. - 8/18/2009   7:36:34 PM
  • 154
    As a triathlete, I can tell you...You can exercise until the cows come home...but one must watch what they eat! This is where I struggle constantly. I'm an exercise fanatic, but if I don't eat right, the pounds come back on!

    The MAIN benefit of exercise, whether it's high intenstiy or at a fat burning level, is heart health and the reduction of other diseases such as diabetes, some cancers, etc. To read a headline that is negative about exercise only encourages people to continue their couch potato ways! I have the magazine and I think it would make a great dart board! :D

    Thanks for the rebuttle!
    - 8/18/2009   7:28:20 PM
  • 153
    Here is someone else not happy with Time's article
    http://health.msn.com/blogs/get-bac
    k-in-shape-post.aspx?post=1225481&g
    t1=31036
    - 8/18/2009   6:52:20 PM
  • KARENREYBURN
    152
    So true!! My sister (who is a marathon runner) is always telling me this truth - that just because you 'work out' and sweat a lot, doesn't actually mean you are doing more than if you do regular exercise as part of your daily living. Working out like crazy and then sitting in an armchair the rest of the day is much less useful than starting to go for walks more often and taking the stairs! Awesome! - 8/18/2009   5:34:47 PM
  • CPCJONES01
    151
    Thank you Coach Dean for your rebuttal. I read this Time article and couldn't believe what I was reading. It was so contrary to everything here at Spark People. I have educated myself enough to know that the Time article was a bunch of hogwash! I am so glad that you have given us the correct information. Thank you! - 8/18/2009   4:35:57 PM
  • 150
    Huh...Time Magazine working on making America Fat and Stupid...oh wait seems like they already got the stupid part, now morbid obesity here we come....

    People will read this article in the Time Magazine and Believe it all, use it as a self justification to not become active, fit and healthy.....
    its so very sad really.....
    I say stop supporting stupidity, stop buying these magazines.....
    Peace,
    Leah♥ - 8/18/2009   4:25:47 PM
  • RAINDANCE77
    149
    I love this article!!! It is such a nice reality check to have someone remind you that (a) starving yourself really doesn't help in the end, and that (b) it doesn't have to be a huge, intense workout to lose fat, BUT that (c) working out does, indirectly, REALLY help with overall, long-term weight loss and health increase. - 8/18/2009   4:02:47 PM
  • 148
    Apparently I'm in the minority here, but for me -- the scale doesn't move with diet alone. This may be because my work and my school schedule make me largely sedentary for large sections of my day so I need the exercise to increase my body's caloric usage. But, the way I see it, lean muscle is key in weight loss and for good health. I can lose 10 pounds or so with diet alone, but then I plateau. When I exercise regularly, the scale keeps moving downward at a slow but generally steady rate. It also keeps my heart muscle strong, keeps my low back pain-free, releases stress, elevates my mood and so on. I am sure that exercise alone with no modification in diet (if, in fact one is eating surplus calories) would probably not make much difference in the scale number -- though I have to say, television shows like "Biggest Loser" where contestants admit that they exercise 5-8 hours a day (HOURS!) tend to promote the idea that you can exercise yourself into a size 2. - 8/18/2009   3:26:31 PM
  • KFARTHING
    147
    I just read that article yesterday and was so annoyed by it! There are so many statements in it that are just untrue. They take information from research and only provide half of the sentences to make it convey things it didn't intend to. Thank you so much for this article! Please sent it to TIME! =) - 8/18/2009   3:10:08 PM
  • IGUELIGUEL
    146
    After I sustained a grade three ankle sprain, I focused on eating better. My aim is still to have an overall calorie deficeit. The weight scale went down 1 lb in one week. So far that I have not been able to knockout a tough workout. Hopefully by eating well, I won't lose the muscle that I've gained. - 8/18/2009   3:02:33 PM
  • 145
    Articles like the one in Time are simply to tickle the ears of those who don't want to hear the truth - that success in life takes work. Sadly that seems to be the American human condition. I wonder how many pharmacutical companies paid to have their ad in that magazine as well? Remember who profits off this "take a pill to cure it" society we live in. Dr.s and pharmacies! Both are good in their place, but I'm afraid they have recently created a culture of people who don't take their health into their own hands. This Time article is dangerous in my opinion and I find the magazine to have lost much of my confidence. - 8/18/2009   3:00:33 PM
  • 144
    Yep, there is a lot of misinformation out there..and if we aren't careful we will buy into it and once again be left with little encouragement.

    My experience has been that a low fat high fiber diet combined with moderate exercise is the best course of action to lose weight and keep it off. I lost about half my 55 lbs, not exercising at all, but by following the WW plan. I recognized about 1/2 way thru the journey tho, that if I was gonna contine to lose and maintain it, I was gonna have to incorporate some exercise into my routine. Thus, I began walking etc; I reached my lifetime goal...and fell in love with exercise!! I have now maintained my weight for 2 1/2 years...but what I have discovered is exactly what you said in the article...and that is that if I want to lose more weight, I really need to cut back on my activity! Since I have become a runner, I am unable to lose any additional weight!! Granted, I am more muscled up and leaner, my weight pretty much stays the same! - 8/18/2009   2:57:16 PM
  • 143
    It's articles like these that made me feel so hopeless and not even TRY. Once more, it is WRONG! In 1995 I started working out and lost about 70 lbs over 2 years just working out. I did nothing to change the way I ate. I plateaued and maintained for 5 years then gained weight back because I moved away from my hometown and stopped working out. Now because of Spark, I've learned that weight loss happens more quickly and I'm better off if I combine both activity AND a diet lower in calories. Kudos to you Coach Dean for your rebuttal. There is nothing like offering HOPE where there seems to be nothing but darkness! - 8/18/2009   2:39:43 PM
  • 142
    I completely disagree. I feel that the current plateau that I am on is in great part because I am limiting my exercise (recovering from surgery on my hand, unfortunately). When I exercise I feel great, eat less and crave healthier foods. - 8/18/2009   2:23:53 PM
  • MONTAUKER
    141
    A member of Sparkpeople has a tagline quote that says something to the effect that one can exercise 'til the cows come home, but without a change in diet you'll still be a cow coming home. This made a big impression on me, because I feel I exercise conscientiously. But since I haven't made the right dietary changes, the scales haven't moved. I didn't read the article, but it's diet and exercise, not one or the other. - 8/18/2009   2:10:35 PM
  • JANNALEE1
    140
    Two things: One, I had not idea I had a "self-control muscle"....and Two, I had no idea I could weaken it!!!! That is laughable! I think that anyone who has the self control to eat nutritionally and get some regular exercise has a very well defined "self-control muscle" and will succeed!! - 8/18/2009   2:08:45 PM
  • 139
    I didn't see the TIME article but the bottom line is that exercise is the key to being healthy no matter what your weight is. And being healthy is the most important thing we can do for ourselves right?!?! So why wouldn't we exercise everyday? - 8/18/2009   1:59:23 PM
  • 138
    My doctor apparently agrees with TIME as that is exactly what she told me a little over a year ago. I hope coach Dean is right as I told her I would prefer to join a gym vs taking the diet pills she offered to put me on. - 8/18/2009   1:57:50 PM
  • 137
    Bravo to Coach Dean for an unbiased and comprehensive rebuttal to the Time article. Is is no wonder that sedentary lifestyles are becoming acceptable when a magazine like Time tries to give credibility to misleading information. I am so proud to be a SparkPerson. I know I can trust the quality of information I get on this website. Did Coach Dean or SparkGuy send a letter to the editor of Time? - 8/18/2009   1:52:04 PM
  • 136
    Just like magazines with headlines such as "lose your flab in x amount of days" and "foods that make you lose weight" and other nonsense claims, people are looking for reasons to do what they want and not what they should. I'm sure the article made tons of people out there very happy. I'm sure that was the goal---neverminding how irresponsible it may be. I have to say I didn't read it and I'm glad. We've come to accept that kind of reporting and it's sad. All I can say is it will never change my high opinion of being physically active. I find the idea that exercise will make you lose your self control so silly and ridiculous. - 8/18/2009   1:49:23 PM
  • 135
    I have never really exercised a lot until I joined Sparkpeople and I have found that I am not hungry after exercising. I just don't want to eat and if I do feel the pangs I just drink some water and it goes away. I have also noticed that I don't want to eat as much because it makes me feel sick. I have noticed that the choices in what I eat effects how I feel. Yes it is hard to get up the enthusiasm to get on the torture devices at the gym, but I always, always feel better afterward. I may not be losing the fat as fast as I would like, I know that I am building muscle and I can see it showing even if it is still covered by that pesky layer of fat. Thanks Sparkpeople for the useful information and keeping us in the know - 8/18/2009   1:13:10 PM
  • 134
    Wow... I guess I was completely alone in thinking that the TIME article made alot of sense for me and the way I lose weight. When I exercised every day AND was really careful about what I ate it made me lethargic, braindead and prone to panic attacks and moodswings. And that lead to eating alot more, which caused me to GAIN weight - 30lbs in under a year.
    When I stopped exercising and just ate a good diet I lost 20lbs in a month (and NO, it wasn't muscle tone)! When I don't go home and workout I have a LOT more energy during the day and do alot more walking around and getting up from my computer, and feel more productive.
    My anti-exercise metabolism may have had something to do with me having undiagnosed Celiacs and trying to get my carb fix from whole-grains, the way Sparkpeople recommends. Now that I'm gluten-free I may start adding yoga, etc. back into my day's routine to see if I can lose even more. - 8/18/2009   1:12:28 PM

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