By Christina | August 14, 2009
A new study has just come out, echoing what some obesity experts have been saying for years, that diet is the key to weight loss, not exercise. In fact, there was a startling finding that exercise might even make you gain weight.
Now to a fitness nut like me, this is troubling and I think harmful to people if they heed this advice. The research doesn’t deny that intense exercise burns calories. But, it cites the fact that exercise stimulates hunger to such an extent that its weight loss benefits are trumped by overeating. The problem with research like this is that successful weight loss is predicated on many factors. It is not an either/or scenario of whether you should eat well or exercise more. Both are necessary for good health.
The truth is that exercise might not make the scale budge the way a low calorie diet will, but it will drop inches off of your body and you will look leaner, stronger, and healthier. Not to mention, exercise will make your clothes fit better and you make you feel better in the process.
Furthermore, you should incorporate daily exercise into your life for reasons way beyond weight loss. It has been shown that exercise wards off diseases like cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. Exercise also acts as a natural antidepressant and has been shown to have an effect with slowing down the onset of Alzheimer’s. Resistance training is also critical in the fight against developing osteoporosis.
Shouldn’t longevity and good health be just as important as the number you weigh on a scale? By the way, I maintain daily, intense exercise will make you lose weight too. Exercise on its own is not enough to effectuate the change you are looking for in your body. But combined with a healthy eating plan, exercise is vital to losing weight and keeping it off.
The idea that exercise can actually make you gain weight is absurd to me. I have always believed that I exercise so I can eat. I love food and I am not just talking about broccoli. That said, exercise is not a permission slip for gorging on junk food and stuffing yourself with excess calories just because you took a spin class that morning. Exercise might make you hungrier, but it does not leave you out-of-control ravenous. In fact, for me sometimes food is the last thing I want to think about after an intense workout. After a hot sweaty run or boot camp, cheeseburgers and french fries don’t sound appealing.
As long as you properly fuel your body with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins, you will not gain weight as a result of eating a little bit more than you usually would because exercise might have left you hungrier. I’ll even go a step further. If you exercise hard and incorporate both cardiovascular training and resistance training into your workout, go ahead and eat a brownie if you want…as long as its not a plate of brownies!