Did you know that doctors and researchers now accept that exercise doesn’t help you lose weight? This is a significant change from the advice that everyone, from fitness gurus to the NHS, has been giving out for years. You were supposed to exercise more and eat less, and the two always went together.
Only we now know that the advice wasn’t based on evidence. The push to ensure that all medical information is evidence-based has overturned quite a few accepted truths, but none so entrenched as the “diet and exercise” mantra. Even NHS websites contradict each other, with the ones that have recently been updated giving the new message that only controlling your calorie intake will help you lose weight.
That doesn’t mean that exercise isn’t good for your health – it’s one of the key ways to ward off type 2 diabetes. But it does mean that if you want to lose pounds, going to the gym for an hour and then coming home and over-eating is not a sensible way to go about it.
The Weight Reduction And Regain Rollercoaster
There are several reasons why exercise won’t make us any slimmer in the long term.
One is that extreme and exhausting exercise regimes allow us to continue eating higher levels of calories, when in fact we need to be cutting down on portion sizes. Then when the weather means we don’t want to exercise, or we can’t afford to renew our gym membership, we haven’t changed any of the habits that made us overweight in the first place, and the pounds are soon piling back on.
We now know that it takes about a year after a significant weight loss, for the body to settle down and stop thinking it’s been hit by a major famine and needs to eat everything in sight.
What’s important, therefore, is increased exercise as part of a daily routine that you don’t even think about, like getting off the bus a stop earlier, or walking for short trips when you’d usually use the car. Things that you are likely to continue after the “diet” regime is over. Same with the changes to eating patterns – you need to make changes that you can live with forever. Otherwise, you’ll never get off the weight loss rollercoaster.
The Body Adapts To Extreme Exercise
Among the many studies that have shown no link between exercise and weight loss, some have also pointed out a possible negative role for excessive exercise. As we know, when the body feels threatened it tends to act to protect itself. And when extreme exercise is experienced, the body may make adjustments elsewhere, reducing how many calories it uses for other activities. So it’s possible your resting calorie consumption may fall, counteracting all that effort jogging around the park.
Exercise Is Still Vital For Our Health
Don’t give up exercise because of these findings. It is the most important activity we can do to maintain our health and cut the risk of stroke, heart attack, dementia and a myriad of other diseases. Just don’t expect it to take the weight off – you’ll need to restrict calories to do that.