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Does Exercise Result in Weight Loss?

Look at any magazine in the grocery store check out line. Listen to the health segment of any morning television show. Or ask just about any health expert, dietitian, nutritionist, fitness trainer or family doctor this simple question: How do I lose weight?

Chances are, you'll be given this advise: Eat less and exercise more.

Yet as many dieters can attest, this formula leaves sincere people frustrated and just as fat as when they started.

Few people realize how much exercise is needed in order to lose weight. In his book, The Six Week Cure For The Middle-Aged Middle, Dr. Michael Eades says,

"The average 150-pound, not-particularly-overweight person's body carries enough fat to provide the energy required to walk from New York to Miami without eating and still have fat left over. If this is the case - and it is - does it seem reasonable to think you could lose much weight by taking a brisk walk for a half hour or so daily and eating even a reduced-calorie diet?"

Yet, that's exactly what the U.S. government and so many other well intentioned experts recommend in order to lose weight. Just eat a little less and move a little more.

While exercise does have a number of health benefits, long-term, working out will not make you thinner until you first correct whatever hormonal or metabolic imbalances that have made you fat.

The key is to control insulin, which is a storage hormone. Restricting the number of carbohydrates you consume, especially the processed carbs, goes a long way because these particular foods spike your insulin levels.

So where is the evidence showing the 'exercise more' strategy to be a dismal failure? According to this article in Time magazine,

"In general, for weight loss, exercise is pretty useless," says Eric Ravussin, Chair in Diabetes and Metabolism at Louisiana State University and a prominent exercise researcher.

"Many recent studies have found that exercise isn't as important in helping people lose weight as you hear so regularly in gym advertisements or on shows like The Biggest Loser - or for that matter, from magazines like this one."

"The basic problem is that while it is true that exercise burns calories and that you must burn calories to lose weight, exercise has another effect: it can stimulate hunger. That causes us to eat more, which in turn can negate the weight loss benefits we just accrued. Exercise, in other words isn't necessarily helping us lose weight. It may even be making it harder."

So is there other evidence showing exercise to have an extremely limited effect on weight loss?

In this article, Big Fat Lie, science journalist Gary Taubes discusses a number of studies that show why exercise doesn't work for weight loss.

(For more information by Gary Taubes on this subject, check out his book, Good Calories, Bad Calories, as well as this New York Times article, "What If It's All Been A Big Fat Lie?".)

The bottom line? It's what you eat, not how hard you workout, that matters most when it comes to losing weight. Yes, you should exercise on a regular basis to improve your health. However, because vigorous exercise stimulates appetite, it can lead to weight gain.

Since exercise does not lead to weight loss for the majority of people, what can you do?

To lose unwanted fat and weight, learn to eat differently. A real food plan (no pills or shakes required) does much more to burn fat, especially around the waist, than does exercise.

Folks on a low carb program have lost weight and inches, without changing their exercise habits. The lack of exercise is not because they're lazy. They simply are busy with work and don't have the time to consistently exercise every day.

If it's weight you're trying to lose, it's right food first. Then if you like, exercise.