Monday, August 8, 2011

On Exercise

I've done a lot of thinking about exercise lately. The standard thinking on the subject is that exercise is a powerful tool for weight loss. However, in recent months, the role of exercise in weight loss has been questioned. The basic problem: people work up an appetite when exercising, and consequently consumer more calories. A friend of mine who is an exercise physiologist at the same university at which I work, told me the role of exercise in weight loss has been oversold, and that while exercise is very good for the health, it doesn't help with weight loss, only the prevention of weigh gain. One study showed that even thinking about exercise caused people to eat more.

Gary Taubes makes two, contradictory statements in his book, Why We Get Fat and What to Do About It, the book that introduced me to the low carb lifestyle. He says that, when eating low carb, calories don't count (I am on record as stating that calories do count, at least in my personal experience). Then he claims that exercise fails to help people lose weight, because they get hungry after exercising and eat more calories, preventing them from losing weight. So which is it?  I bought into this idea through the first fifty pounds of my low carb weight loss and haven't been exercising for weight loss. But with my recent stall, I am rethinking this. Tabues can't have it both ways: either calories don't count, or exercising helps. Personally, I think calories count, so does this mean exercising might help with weight loss?

I see a flaw in the argument that exercise causes us to eat more. First of all, that statement should be, "exercise can cause us to eat more," but it doesn't necessarily have to do that. This is a lesson I learned while on Weight Watchers: don't deviate from your program and exercise. That way, you don't overeat, even after exercising. That seemed to work for me and is what helped me to reach my goal weight on Weight Watchers. There is no immutable law that says you must overeat after exercising; one can exercise willpower and not overeat after exercising.

So here is what I think I will do. Continue monitoring my calories on and stay below the calorie threshold for my height and weight in order to lose two pounds per week, continue eating low carb, and exercise. I will do it for at least six weeks before reviewing the results. My prediction: I will bust through this weight loss stall and get back on track in the weight loss department.

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