How Exercise Does and Does Not Affect Fat Loss Updated

I previously wrote a post about exercise and fat loss referencing an article in Time Magazine.  In it I state my opinion of fat loss as

  • Everyone responds to exercise differently.
  • A deficit in energy is required.
  • Most affect is indirect
  • Exercise matters enough that it should be customized based on your body type

After reading Gary Taubes book “Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It” my opinion has changed dramatically.  First I would like to add some things that I now believe as well as update previous things that I stated in my last post.

New thoughts:

  • It is all about hormones
  • Excess fat will make you want to be sedentary while being lean will make you want to be active
  • Body composition is a terrible indicator of fitness level
  • Exercise will cause you to eat more to maintain an energy balance

It is all about hormones

This is something that Taubes talks about a lot, but seems to talk about insulin a lot more than any other hormones, which I will discuss in my review of the book.  The one thing that I took from this is that hormones control everything, and we can control our hormones via diet and exercise.  Hence why I think exercise is mostly indirect.

Excess fat will make you want to be sedentary while muscle will make you want to be active

This is an obvious over simplification, but I think it needs to be said because it is an odd catch 22.  This also would explain why as people gain weight and get fat they tend to stay on a linear progression in that direction and tend to do less.  This is probably the main reason why I think regular exercise is important to lose fat, to break that cycle and become more active.  For those of us that are gym rats we know the feeling of not going to the gym for a few days or a week we get antsy.

Body composition is a terrible indicator of fitness level

Now I don’t feel so bad some people bigger than me passed me during the 1/2 marathon I ran.  I always knew this was the case, but after reading the book it became so obvious.  Metabolic training (what most people call cardio) is good for many things, but fat loss it is not.

Exercise will cause you to eat more to maintain an energy balance

This was one of the main concepts in the Time Magazine article as well.  This is one concept that I agree with but don’t.  The thing I think people disregard is what food people eat more of.  If you have good carbs to refill muscle glycogen it is much different than carbs that fill liver glycogen.

Everyone responds to exercise differently

I still think this is true for the most part, but exercise without eating correctly is detrimental.

A deficit in energy is required

I am not so sure about this any more.  I previously thought this was the case after reading a lot of Lyle Mcdonald and Martin Berkhan but with the studies that Gary Taubes talked about it has been proven that people can become obese on a very low calorie diet.  What is required is less carbohydrates which I will discuss in another post.

Most affect is indirect

I now think this is even more extreme that all affects of exercise are indirect for fat loss.  Physiological affects are huge, so are hormonal affects (mostly testosterone) and insulin sensitivity of muscle and fat cells as mentioned above.

Exercise matters enough that it should be customized based on your body type

I really don’t know about this statement any more.  With the affects being so indirect is there really a point to doing HIIT or long durations of cardio?  The one thing I know for sure is that strength training or “Lifting Heavy Things” as Mark Sisson likes to say, is probably the best thing to do for fat loss.  Routines probably only need to be customized for your performance goals.

Here is a video of Gary Taubes debating exercise with Dr. Oz

Who do you agree with?

August 12, 2011Permalink
  • http://twitter.com/FMFBlogger Jason Jacobs

    At least Doctor Oz is civil! :)  I also liked how they presented the debate (Gary on the couch and Doc O on the bike). 

    Taking their words for it, both of them presented solutions for the same problem, but Gary’s seems to actually be the prevention of the problem to begin with.

    -j

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