Science Proves Exercise Alone May Promote Weight Gain

24 10 2009
Walk Through Nature... The best aerobic exercise is walking

Walk Through Nature... The best aerobic exercise is walking

To get the full story on how exercise may promote weight gain, first read “Is Exercise for Weight Loss a Myth, published in Sep 09 Newsletter. Find the article in MAE Health Repository and Health Blog, Sep 09 articles.

Although your favorite guru-celeb may be the picture of health, they make a lot of money selling you products you believe will have positive results for you. At least you believe this because you trust what they say to be true, or you most likely would not buy the exercise products. Regardless of exercise equipment product(s) that guarantees weight loss benefits… The odds are stacked against significant weight loss results. This is because exercises alone will most likely result in weight gain! Now science supports the fact that exercise can add on the pounds if other considerations are not modified within healthy living as we age. Let’s look at a significant study that specifically addresses the compensation effect on body after exercise and what this really means for your weight management program.

“45 million Americans now belong to health clubs, up from 23 million in 1993. We spend some $19 billion a year on gym memberships. One major study illustrates – The Minnesota Heart Survey found more of us say we exercise. From 1980 to 2000, 47% of respondents exercised regularly and then these figures increased to 57%, ending the 20 year survey. Even with 45 million people today using fitness centers obesity figures increased during this period. The Federal government’s definition of obesity classifies 1/3 of all Americans as obese. Those that participated in the survey admitted after they exercise, their hungrier and eat more. This is not to discount the notion that those who may not participate in gym activities may weigh more otherwise.”

“In general, for weight loss, exercise is pretty useless,” says Eric Ravussin, chair in diabetes and metabolism at Louisiana State University, a prominent exercise researcher. Although exercise does burn calories, it also makes us hungrier. “Exercise, in other words, isn’t necessarily helping us lose weight. It may even be making it harder.” “The compensation Problem – The PLoS (Public Library of Science) published a remarkable study supervised by a colleague of Ravussin’s Dr. Timothy Church. Four groups totaling 464 overweight women who didn’t regularly exercise were selected for this study. Women in 3 of the groups worked with a personal trainer for 6 months; Group 1 exercised – 72 minutes/wk, Group 2 exercised- 136 minutes/wk and Group 3 exercised – 194 minutes/week. Although the study did not specify the exercise routines, one gets the notion exercises were balanced between aerobic and anaerobic activity with a personal assigned trainer.”

“The women in the 4th cluster did not change their lifestyle activities, but did fill out a monthly health questionnaire. The results were surprising. All groups of women lost weight, even the control group. It is most likely the control group through the use of monthly questionnaires learned more about their health and thereby modified their diets by eating fewer donuts, muffins, Starbucks coffee, for example. Some of the women in each group actually gained weight, some up to 10 pounds. Church calls this the compensation effect. Whether exercise made them hungry, or they wanted to reward themselves… Most of the women who exercised ate more than they did before they started the experiment!”

“This is an important study because our government’s medical organizations since the 60’s tell us to exercise if we want weight loss. Including in 2007, the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association issued new guidelines stating that “to lose weight…60 to 90 minutes of physical activity may be necessary. That recommendation covers most days of the week.”

“It’s true that within the study most participants were able to trim their waistline by only about an inch. The other interesting aspect, even so, they lost no more overall body fat than the control group. Church asks the control group other questions to further understand this phenomenon. He finds within each group the women are rewarding themselves with Starbucks coffee and muffins for example. Well, after you add these calories to calories burnt, you get a wash in weight loss benefits.” Another good example, a bottle of Gatorade electrolyte drink, 20oz bottle has 130 calories. You can drink this in a matter of seconds if you’re really thirsty. If your aerobics activity is treadmill walking for 15 minutes this is probably a wash from net calorie expenditure.”

“Steven Gortmaker, heads Harvard’s Prevention Research Center on Nutrition and Physical Activity, he studies child obesity. Since its proven exercise makes you hungry, one must ask a question regarding our kids and fast food places. He is suspicious of playgrounds at fast-food restaurants. The contention is, if a kid plays 30 minutes, it may be enough to stimulate hunger where the child instead of consuming 500 calories, instead consumes 1000.” In 30 minutes of play, for example, the child may have only expended 200 calories to play, creating a net 800 calorie gain!”

“Church states, we all need to move toward proper weight control, but stressing and depleting the body’s muscles in short bursts using stressful exercise is not necessarily the best way to loss body weight. Also the brain may feel greater entitlement to eat fast foods after we’ve exerted most of our high intensity energy at the gym. Instead, energy would have been better served by increasing daily activities like walking, healthy food shopping, preparing wholesome meals, gardening, a balanced mix using gym activities, walking, biking, etc.”

Quote excerpts posted above, Published by Time Magazine, August 17, 2009, “Why Exercise Won’t Make you Thin,” by John Cloud. Posts have been modified by the author within quotes to quickly make points in support of this article.

True aerobic activity is a low intensity, time consuming type of training (E.g., walking, jogging, bicycling, etc.) that burns mostly fat cells-triglycerides using slow twitch respondent activity exercise. Anaerobic training (E.g., sprinting, high intensity run, weight training, high intensity aerobics, long jump, pole vaulting, etc.) are exercise activities that use more fast twitch muscle fibers which require quick spurts of energy to move the body with high intensity while mostly burning other energy fuel sources (glucose, glycogen and creatine phosphate)… Fat as a fuel source during high intensity work cannot provide energy fast enough to feed the body during these events. Body fat then is mostly by-passed as a fuel source.

Anaerobic activity also increases muscle mass which is heavier by volume than fat. Muscle mass increases will also tip the scales heavier if sculpting body fat does not occur. The perfect workout concept for sculpting and weight loss requires customized fitness training programs relative to body type, age, sex, fitness goals, medical history, postural profile, etc., with both aerobic-anaerobic balanced activities. Within a customized fitness program one must not forget diet and pain management considerations. However, due to the compensation effect (calorie burned vs. mind over body requirement intake) on will power to reduce calories at the table makes no guarantee weight loss goals will be met and weight gain may be likely.

Muscle is important for many health reasons and also requires more calories to maintain development and growth. This means a dense body muscle mass will burn more calories daily while working. The muscle bound metabolism will tell the mind that the body is hungry especially after training. The will power to ignore the brains signal to nourish the working muscles requirement is a great mind over matter challenge especially after 35 years of age. One thing I can assure you… To not remain active with some form of activity, or low intensity exercise as you age opposed to becoming a couch potato is a grave mistake!

Author:  Marc T. Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, USA Medical Services Officer, CPT, RET.  2009 Copyright, All rights reserved.  Mirror Athlete Enterprises Publishing @:, Sign up for your free eNewsletter.



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