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"Why Exercise Won't Make You Thin"

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Old 07-05-2011, 03:54 PM   #1
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Default "Why Exercise Won't Make You Thin"

This is a couple of years old, but it's very interesting:

http://www.time.com/time/health/arti...4857-1,00.html

Two salient points I got from this article:

1) Exercising makes us hungrier, making it more difficult to make healthier food choices and/or eat sensible portions. This might seem easy to overcome if you calorie count (as I do), but I know that if I'm physically hungry, I more easily give in to temptation.

2) Formal exercising tires us, and we may compensate by doing less activity throughout the day that we normally would have. I can bear witness to the truth of this. Many a time when I used to do a bootcamp class at the local gym, I would come home wiped out and plop on the couch. Even though there was always housework to do, I would make one excuse after another for putting it off until "tomorrow."


Now, some might find the article discouraging, but I had the opposite reaction. For years, I would start a diet AND exercise program (because the two always went hand in hand) and be gung ho about it for a while. Then, eventually, all the energy required to keep up with it all would discourage me. The exercise would become drudgery, a chore, no matter what I did---treadmill, elliptical, bootcamp classes, spinning, etc. Then, I would just give up on it all---including the eating habits.

I think because exercise has been marketed right along with diets, it was ingrained in my mind that one was irrevocably linked to the other. I never imagined until the last couple of years [when these studies started appearing about exercise's negligible effects on weight loss] that I could lose weight without busting my butt doing formal exercise. It is such a relief to me to know that I can. Now I'm more focused on working activity into my everyday routine rather than having to set aside 1 - 2 hours, 5 - 6 days a week for formal exercise. Obviously, I care about my health and exercise helps with that, so I'm conscious of moving more---I have my treadmill set up so that I work on the computer while walking (2.5 mph, 5 elevation), I bike to the library when the weather permits, I park my car in the farthest parking spot from where I shop, etc.

The one exception I make to all this is strength training. That type of exercise can actually change your shape, so I believe in it. I've seen it firsthand with my sister. She is about 180, but she looks MUCH smaller than that and is tight and toned because she has regularly done strength training for at least three years now.
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Old 07-05-2011, 04:31 PM   #2
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I think the title should be why cardio won't make you thin. Walking into a gym makes that very clear, just compare the people who only do cardio with the people who use weights. The people doing endless cardio and nothing else are usually the people who are not that thin! Regular strength training alone will definitely make a person thin, almost regardless of that person's diet.
It's certainly not the healthiest way to be thin, but it is a doable way to be thin.
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Old 07-05-2011, 04:38 PM   #3
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And see for me:

1. Exercise is an appetite suppressant. I'm not any hungrier with exercising and if anything, it suppresses my hunger and I NEVER eat back exercise calories and I don't feel I've earned a snack, whatever because I have exercised.

2. I am much more active the rest of the day if I have exercised. It gets the blood moving and the adrenalin up and then I feel great and want to do more!

And for me, every single time I have gotten more physically active - even from things like walking more, I drop weight and drop it fast.

Last month was the first month that I didn't lose a lot of weight in one month and even though my caloric intake was low, I didn't exercise 6 times a week, but more like 4 times a week AND I was less active at home overall too.

For me exercise is key to losing weight and for feeling better, but that makes sense for me - less hungry, more active overall. How could it not help me lose?
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Old 07-05-2011, 04:41 PM   #4
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I think the title should be why cardio won't make you thin. Walking into a gym makes that very clear, just compare the people who only do cardio with the people who use weights. The people doing endless cardio and nothing else are usually the people who are not that thin! Regular strength training alone will definitely make a person thin, almost regardless of that person's diet.
It's certainly not the healthiest way to be thin, but it is a doable way to be thin.
Yes to this. I'd even take it a step further. Also, not changing our eating habits to account for needed protein can make you a lot hungrier too. When I'm exercising I DO get hungrier but that's a pretty good sign for me that I need to increase my protein intake, since I've started really eating more meat I've noticed my hungry levels have decreased drastically.

one thing to consider too is that just changing your eating habits is going to make you lose fat AND muscle (and you don't want to lose that muscle), strength training will help you maintain that much needed muscle and certainly improve your look at a higher weight. You probably can't tell I'm a big proponent of weight lifting or anything.
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Old 07-05-2011, 04:41 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by berryblondeboys View Post
And see for me:

1. Exercise is an appetite suppressant. I'm not any hungrier with exercising and if anything, it suppresses my hunger and I NEVER eat back exercise calories and I don't feel I've earned a snack, whatever because I have exercised.

2. I am much more active the rest of the day if I have exercised. It gets the blood moving and the adrenalin up and then I feel great and want to do more!

And for me, every single time I have gotten more physically active - even from things like walking more, I drop weight and drop it fast.

Last month was the first month that I didn't lose a lot of weight in one month and even though my caloric intake was low, I didn't exercise 6 times a week, but more like 4 times a week AND I was less active at home overall too.

For me exercise is key to losing weight and for feeling better, but that makes sense for me - less hungry, more active overall. How could it not help me lose?
Agree 100%
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Old 07-05-2011, 04:43 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by berryblondeboys View Post
And see for me:

1. Exercise is an appetite suppressant. I'm not any hungrier with exercising and if anything, it suppresses my hunger and I NEVER eat back exercise calories and I don't feel I've earned a snack, whatever because I have exercised.

2. I am much more active the rest of the day if I have exercised. It gets the blood moving and the adrenalin up and then I feel great and want to do more!

And for me, every single time I have gotten more physically active - even from things like walking more, I drop weight and drop it fast.

Last month was the first month that I didn't lose a lot of weight in one month and even though my caloric intake was low, I didn't exercise 6 times a week, but more like 4 times a week AND I was less active at home overall too.

For me exercise is key to losing weight and for feeling better, but that makes sense for me - less hungry, more active overall. How could it not help me lose?
Same here to the bolded. I'm actually not just more active but I'm more organized too and it helps to regulate my mood. My house is waaaayyy cleaner when I'm exercising consistently!
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Old 07-05-2011, 04:44 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by berryblondeboys View Post
And see for me:

1. Exercise is an appetite suppressant. I'm not any hungrier with exercising and if anything, it suppresses my hunger and I NEVER eat back exercise calories and I don't feel I've earned a snack, whatever because I have exercised.

2. I am much more active the rest of the day if I have exercised. It gets the blood moving and the adrenalin up and then I feel great and want to do more!

And for me, every single time I have gotten more physically active - even from things like walking more, I drop weight and drop it fast.

Last month was the first month that I didn't lose a lot of weight in one month and even though my caloric intake was low, I didn't exercise 6 times a week, but more like 4 times a week AND I was less active at home overall too.

For me exercise is key to losing weight and for feeling better, but that makes sense for me - less hungry, more active overall. How could it not help me lose?
I have to agree with this! Although I understand the points made in the article, however for me without exercise, eating right is nearly impossible. I don't think that it is necessarily the cardio/weight lifting that makes me lose the weight but it what motivates me to eat better. If I'm exercising, I feel better about myself and that leads me to making better food choices.
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Old 07-05-2011, 04:55 PM   #8
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Eating healthier and exercise aren't married in my mind, but I recognize that together they are... almost like kindred spirits.

When I exercise I don't want to "undo" all my hard work by eating things I'd rather not, and when I eat better I don't want to "waste" all the glorious energy by loafing about.

When I eat better I want to exercise more. When I exercise more I want to eat better. In that sense, to me, they are linked.

I get why there's an article like this, though. For most people exercise alone is not enough to reach their goals. It might be good for a start, and movement is great for the body, but at some point food intake comes into play. Or what types of exercises a person is doing.
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Old 07-05-2011, 04:56 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by berryblondeboys View Post
And see for me:
. . ..
Exercise is an appetite suppressant. I'm not any hungrier with exercising and if anything, it suppresses my hunger and I NEVER eat back exercise calories and I don't feel I've earned a snack, whatever because I have exercised.
Actually, immediately following exercise, I'm not hungry. However, an hour or so later, I feel very hungry. Case in point: I rode my bike to the library this afternoon. Prior to that, I wasn't hungry at all. It took me 20 minutes to get there. I stayed only about 20 minutes. Then, obviously, the ride home took 20minutes. I came home, took a 30-minute nap, and by the time I got up, I was SO hungry.
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Old 07-05-2011, 04:58 PM   #10
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Yes to this. I'd even take it a step further. Also, not changing our eating habits to account for needed protein can make you a lot hungrier too. When I'm exercising I DO get hungrier but that's a pretty good sign for me that I need to increase my protein intake, since I've started really eating more meat I've noticed my hungry levels have decreased drastically.

one thing to consider too is that just changing your eating habits is going to make you lose fat AND muscle (and you don't want to lose that muscle), strength training will help you maintain that much needed muscle and certainly improve your look at a higher weight. You probably can't tell I'm a big proponent of weight lifting or anything.
Can't tell at all!
Currently, I am in "vacation mode" (which, for me, comes with eating a lot of not so healthy foods) and I will be for another 4 weeks or so. I've been focusing on strength training and this morning I was able to comfortably wear a top that I've never been able to pull down past my tummy/hips area.
I'm getting smaller while eating less healthfully than normal and I know it's because I faithfully complete my AM/PM strength training/sculpting workouts.
The bad thing about cardio is someone can do 1 hour of cardio and ruin the workout with one piece of cake, but it doesn't work that way with strength training.
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Old 07-05-2011, 05:12 PM   #11
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. . . for me without exercise, eating right is nearly impossible. I don't think that it is necessarily the cardio/weight lifting that makes me lose the weight but it what motivates me to eat better. If I'm exercising, I feel better about myself and that leads me to making better food choices.
See, that's the way I used to feel, but it wasn't a lasting feeling for me --LOL! I would soon tire of the drudgery of formal exercise, and when that happened, I would just throw up my hands in the air and give up on it all. I'm so glad that I'm starting to see that I can do one (eating right) without the other (formal exercise).

Losing weight is such a mind game. I'd love to see more studies done on that.
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Old 07-05-2011, 05:14 PM   #12
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What I took from this is that different things work for different people, and you just have to find the combination that works best for you.

When I began WW in January, I decided to give myself a month to adjust to the dietary changes. I felt that one of the mistakes I'd made in the past was to try and do everything at once. Also, knowing that sore muscles retain water, which can cause the scale to tick up, I wanted to see the numbers drop a bit before exercising in the hopes that a lower number would motivate me to keep going. I know, for sure, if I didn't see any changes, or even an increase and I'd throw in the towel.

I think it's extremely important for women to strength train. I see women come into the gym, do 30 minutes on the cardio machine of their choice, then leave. I suspect these same women wonder why they don't get the results they want. Lift the weights, ladies. You aren't gonna look like a female version of Arnold!

At the end of the day, it really is all about calories in vs. calories out. I have a good friend who lost 60 lbs on WW in 14 months with little to no additional exercise. It can be done, for sure. However, now she's unhappy with flabby areas. I keep telling her to lift the weights.
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Old 07-05-2011, 05:25 PM   #13
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I thing the article's main point is (or should be) that you can't expect to lose weight through exercise alone, not that exercise is bad for weight loss (if that's there point, they're misinformed).

My husband believed that he could lose weight through exercise alone. He didn't like controlling his food, so whenever he wanted to lose weight, he'd go nuts with exercising (sometimes spending 4 or more hours at the gym), and eat more because of it. Then he'd get frustrated that the exercise "didn't work" (he still was a very active guy, even at his highest weight, even without formal exercise).

I don't think you have to become a gym rat to lose weight, but I think that it's just as wrong to believe that exercise is bad or unnecessary (for health, if not weight loss).

Becoming more active has been a very important component not only of my weight loss, but to my health as well. I started this journey with accidental weight loss (a happy side-effect of sleep apnea treatment). The first two years of my commitment to making healthier choices, I focused on what I was eating (not how much) and exercise. And while I didn't lose weight for those two years, I experienced a great deal of improvement in my health. I went from being essentially bed-ridden to "just" very sedentary, but that still felt like a miraculous change. Just not needing help to get dressed, and being able to leave the house was an amazing life-changing experience, even without weight loss.

Would I have made faster progress if I'd started with diet and not bothered with exercise? I can't really say that, because every time I dieted that way, I ended up giving up. 40 years of failure inspired me to try something different. Maybe I had to focus on activity first, in order to succeed.

Yes, for weight loss, exercise does little for me (when diet isn't also involved). But for feeling good about myself, for strength and stamina and general well-being, activity was important. I never felt the pride or sense of accomplishment for sticking to a calorie budget as I do for accomplishing physical tasks I couldn't before.

Do you have to exercise to lose weight? No. You can lose weight without it.

Can you be healthy without exercise? I don't think so. I think it's just as dangerous for a thin person to be very inactive as a fat person (maybe more so, because thin folks may assume they're healthier than they are, because they "look ok").

That doesn't mean you have to sweat for three hours to be healthy or to lose weight. Just doing a little more today than you did yesterday or last week, moves you towards better health. But that's true of dieting too. You don't have to go on a starvation diet ot lose weight, you just have to eat fewer calories than you usually do. And when the weight stalls, you have to cut a few more calories.

Eating less and burning more doesn't have to be done together. You can eat less. You can burn more, but you can't eat more and burn more. And neither can you eat less and burn less. I've often done the latter - eaten so little that I had virtually no energy to move (and then I'd wonder why I wasn't losing).
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Old 07-05-2011, 05:38 PM   #14
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Kaplods, what sort of exercise did you do when you were at the bedridden stage? I'm curious because of the usual controversy with exercise for ME/CFIDS. As far as I can tell, one of the crucial things is going at your own pace, instead of letting someone else dictate it (e.g. graded exercise programmes, renowned for making people worse), and when you hit points where the exercise is causing you to get worse, stop immediately, rest it out, and then build it back up very slowly only once you really can. And of course, for us exercise can be anything from turning over in bed upwards. Right now I've had to take about ten days off my exercise regime, where I'd previously built up to five minutes, and am just now starting back with 1 min on the exercise bike and shortish periods of quilting.

Going back to the original post, a good point I saw on the Hacker's Diet website was that a lot of people think that they can lose weight simply by increasing their exercise levels and not watching what they eat. There tend to be a few problems here. They are rarely exercising to the tune of a 500 calorie deficit daily, which requires a lot more exercise than most people will do, and indeed is more than you need if you're just trying to increase strength and generally make your body happier (not that it's bad to exercise that much, but you can get happily fit on less). Then there are the people who don't realise how easy it is to eat back the calories you burned, especially the ones who do get hungrier after exercise (which isn't everyone). I hear that swimming is particularly bad for making you ravenously hungry. So he recommended that you don't use exercise as a way of losing weight, you do that with the calories, and add in 15 min daily of exercise as a general measure for good health and improving metabolism (bear in mind he's writing for a target audience which is generally quite sedentary). Of course, he also thinks that what you eat is completely irrelevant as long as you have that calorie deficit, which most of us here would disagree with.
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Old 07-05-2011, 05:46 PM   #15
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The most important factor, to me, is that if you only cut down on calories your metabolism will just drop and compansate, which means you will lose slower your weight and have to lower calories even more, until you go crazy and overeat just a bit and gain a lot of weight because you have the metabolism of a baby at that stage and you gain back twice the weight plus you have a ruined metabolism.

Imo excersize is important to keep your body alert, healthy and burning.
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