There is a misconception that exercise helps you lose weight and that no matter what or how much you eat, you can “burn it off” with exercise.
Sadly, this isn’t the case. Although exercise has an incredible array of health benefits, by itself exercise won’t help you lose weight. What we eat is really the cause of that extra weight. Exercise certainly keeps those pounds you lost off, however, exercise alone won’t make you lose the initial weight. For this, you really need to be mindful of what you put into your body.
Thinking that maybe doing those extra squats and pushups can burn off the poutine, pizza and bags and bags of chips, is a fun thought, but it doesn’t work that way. You can’t exercise off a lousy diet. In fact a poor diet can cause direct damage on the cellular level to various internal organs.
"The food we eat gives our bodies the "information" and materials they need to function properly. If we don't get the right information, our metabolic processes suffer and our health declines”. (1)
Many scientific studies have proven that. One of them, published by the British Medical Journal, also argues the over-emphasis on physical exercise at the expense of dieting which encourages manufacturers to create a “health halo legitimization of nutritionally deficient products.”
“The myth that you can out-run a bad diet partially stems from conventional calories-in-calories-out thinking,” says JJ Virgin, certified nutrition specialist and author of the Sugar Impact Diet Cookbook. “People become overweight because they eat too much and exercise too little, the theory goes, so to lose weight they should reduce calories and increase exercise.”
“I think the role of exercise in weight loss is highly overrated,” says Marc Reitman, chief of the diabetes, endocrinology and obesity branch of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, or NIDDK. “I think it’s really great for being healthy, but I’m a strong believer that overeating is what causes obesity. To exercise your way out of overeating is impossible.”
There is a “burn-and-refuel” mentality that is dangerously incorrect: burning hundreds of calories during a workout then going out for a fried taco meal or eating a container of ice-cream to celebrate your workout, just won’t cut it.
Of course there are exceptions, like those who exercise vigorously for hours, and professional athletes. Practicing yoga, going for a bike ride, running or walking alone won’t do it.
What you can eat
You can certainly eat a little more on the days you have a more rigorous workout, good food that is, like a larger serving of dark green vegetables, or grilled fish or a protein shake. In fact, increasing your intake of good fats like olive oil, coconut, nuts, avocado can help you lose fat.
That said, exercising certainly is a key for a healthy and happy life and enhances our immune system. It also reduces the risks for Type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome (think hypertension, abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride level, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist) and strengthens the heart and lungs.
Exercise also reduces the risk of certain cancers, including breast and colon cancer. It elevates mood, and it keeps your mind sharp. It also helps you to live longer… healthy!
And what is the best form of exercise? The one that you love and keep doing.
(1) University of Michigan