Why Exercise Won’t Make You Thin

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This topic contains 32 replies, has 10 voices, and was last updated by  Andrew A. 7 years, 4 months ago.

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  • #11693

    Andrew A.
    Member
  • #28388

    cesar
    Participant

    control the mouth and thats it, i am not agree with that, i have been running for 7 years, i would bet that if ou wouldn't started running, i would look like a balloon.

  • #28389

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    Why do people insist on thinking of only one variable at a time? Diet AND exercise.

  • #28390

    Andrew A.
    Member

    It is about placing each variable in its proper context and prioritizing it appropriately.  The article lays out the 'why' behind the obvious disconnect between a marathon and half-marathon running boom occurring concurrently with a growing obesity epidemic.  What one eats and how much of it one eats plays a bigger role than is typically acknowledged.  Focused, intense exercise has side-effects (physiological, psychological) that are not being addressed by the wellness, health, and medical fields in the mainstream.  In general, a more active day overall would help more than 20-40 minutes spent walking or jogging or in the gym. 

  • #28391

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    I could write up a novel on this topic but I'll try to keep it short.

    I see no reason why anyone would think that greater marathon participation should result in lower rates of obesity. Let's be honest, the number of people who have run a marathon is still a staggeringly low percentage of the overall population. In addition to that, how many are not even averaging 30 minutes running per day over the course of a full year? In the meantime, McDonalds, maintaining its strength through US sales, is one of the largest retailers of any kind in the world. Regardless of marathon participation numbers, inactivity in America is growing.

    Both diet and exercise play a big role in weight control. However, anyone who thinks there should be some connection between growing marathon numbers and improvements in the nation's weight problem needs to study the situation more closely. There are still far more people not doing a single thing to take care of themselves than there are out running a marathon – as if that were a good weight loss plan in the first place.

  • #28392

    Andrew A.
    Member

    I could write up a novel on this topic but I'll try to keep it short.

    Well why not? 8)

    I see no reason why anyone would think that greater marathon participation should result in lower rates of obesity. Let's be honest, the number of people who have run a marathon is still a staggeringly low percentage of the overall population. In addition to that, how many are not even averaging 30 minutes running per day over the course of a full year? In the meantime, McDonalds, maintaining its strength through US sales, is one of the largest retailers of any kind in the world. Regardless of marathon participation numbers, inactivity in America is growing.

    Yes, but at the same time I keep on seeing (and I am sure that you do, too) people excuse the really slow one-and-done types in marathons (and half-marathons, etc.) because 'hey, at least they are out there and not sitting on the couch pigging out on chips and soda, et cetera ad nauseam.'  (As if being in a road race is the only or even most logical alternative to being a sedentary glutton.)

    Both diet and exercise play a big role in weight control. However, anyone who thinks there should be some connection between growing marathon numbers and improvements in the nation's weight problem needs to study the situation more closely. There are still far more people not doing a single thing to take care of themselves than there are out running a marathon – as if that were a good weight loss plan in the first place.

    Right, but the point is that for weight loss (or even weight gain prevention) the most important area to focus on to change is diet.  The take-away for runners, I would estimate, is that it is improbable that running would be the antidote to eating anything and everything you want.  Especially with age.

  • #28393

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    I listened to an interview on public radio yesterday evening with one of the scientists interviewed for this article. Let's just say he didn't like the job this writer did very much. His first four words summed up how the whole interview went: a very passionate “THIS ARTICLE IS HORRIBLE!

    His general point was that the science used was not good science. The study about children and PE classes was a non-published, non-peer reviewed study that this individual told the author not to use, while instead suggesting published, peer reviewed studies that concluded just the opposite – children who participate in PE classes are actually more active at home than children who do not.

    As for the whole compensating for exercise by eating more, he mentioned that this is why diet and exercise are both critical. He also mentioned that weight loss can be attained in many ways. Weight maintenance, which most people find to be much more difficult than weight loss, is almost never accomplished through anything other than a combination of diet and exercise. In fact, he quoted several studies that showed exercise being more important than diet. Those studies found that 95-98% of those who maintained their weight loss were following an exercise program, while lower (but still significant) percentages of those who maintained their weight loss were watching what they ate.

    In the end, this individual said the article is a sham and, not to my surprise at all, that both exercise AND diet are critical to both losing and maintaining weight. In fact, while he didn't stress this, he pointed out that exercise seemed to be slightly more critical than diet in maintaining weight.

  • #28394

    Andrew A.
    Member

    I am hardly surprised that he said that, either.  8)

  • #28395

    cesar
    Participant

    i am agree, without exercise i think i will be fat and hopeless, however, i am pretty sure that most people here ,  they dont run for weight loss, running has become more than that,running gives up freedom and well being state. i dont even started the sport for weight loss goals, i was a skinny guy of 130 pounds who used to roller skate, and one day decided to run with my father and got catched in this. i think that if people were running decades for weight loss goals, the would have gave up the sport. weight loss might be an important aspect for the outside world of running(sedentary people), we runners are more oriented to race goals, times,etc. and weight loss as a bonus. what a big rambling.p

  • #28396

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    Cesar, I think you're right that most people here are probably not running for weight loss, though I know people do come here with those goals. I have some e-mail evidence of that fact. I also do see people exercising, including running, with weight related goals. Very few with only goals only revolving around weight but some definitely do have goals of weight loss or maintenance. Personally, I just don't think people will stick with anything if they are only doing it for a reason like that. You also have to find an interest in it, which is why I often tell people to find something other than running. If they tell me they hate running but are doing it to lose weight or get in shape, my usual response is try biking, rollerblading, hiking, anything else. Find something you like. Otherwise, you will not stick with it long enough to lose weight and maintain your target weight.

  • #28397

    Andrew A.
    Member

    The article may not be air-tight, but the basis makes sense: changing exercise habits without doing anything to change eating habits (i.e. how one responds to urges, not merely one's diet) is not a good recipe for success.  If exercise leads to urges that are deeper (requiring more intake to satisfy them) and/or more frequent (requiring intake more often) and one has not introduced factors (the type of foods one eats, portion control, etc.) to mitigate those urges then a small snack of chips turns into large snacks of chips, a small helping of pasta turns into a large helping of pasta, etc.  It is something I saw parallels with in something I read today:

    Create an Infrastructure for Success: Having regular running dates on your calendar is an example of what behavioral scientists call “choice architecture,” or the context in which we decide how to act. In running terms, Mammoth members ensure that the right lifestyle choices — post-run drinks readily available, minimal distractions before a goal race, refrigerator stocked with plenty of healthful options when they're craving calories — are always easy to make.

    The same type of mindset has to apply to diet to effect lasting weight loss.  If bad habits are not replaced with good ones, then the caloric demands of exercising will simply magnify those bad habits. 

  • #28398

    ed
    Participant

    Andrew – you are on the money with that point.  I am the perfect example of that – I have mental issues with breaking bad food habits and when I racthet up the training so fololows my urge to eat.  I begin to eat those larger portions and maintain weight – but then my clockwork inconsistency strikes and I throw on a fast 10-15 pounds before I change habits (temporarily – not sure why I cannot make it stick yet) lose the weight and get training up and strong again. 

    I have cycled like this four years now but the cycle is getting less and less on the bad end – maybe by the time I am 40 something it will be finally cleared.

  • #28399

    Andrew A.
    Member

    “Does Running Melt Off The Pounds? Sometimes, Yes. But Just As Often, No.”

  • #28400

    Double
    Member

    I find the weight really comes off when running hard consistently.  I'm sure this has an affect, but it is
    also hard to really want to chow for awhile when your gassed.  I got 47 runs in last month and lost 10
    pounds!  If I lose 10 more I'll be twisted steel.

  • #28401

    r-at-work
    Member

    “Does Running Melt Off The Pounds? Sometimes, Yes. But Just As Often, No.”

    http://peakperformance.runnersworld.com/2010/12/dec-1-does-running-melt-off-the-pounds-sometimes-yes-but-just-as-often-no.html

    talk about NO SCIENCE… that article was little more than an anecdote…I liked the comment

    “Weight loss or gain was not significantly associated with gender, BMI, or training, but was associated with reported changes in eating habits. It appears that an increase in caloric intake, especially in females, plays an important role in this result.”

    …ya think ::)

  • #28402

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    Rita, good point. As the Twinkie diet experiment showed well, it really is an equation of calories in vs. calories out. Increasing calories in while thinking you're doing good by increasing calories out isn't going to help.

  • #28403

    Andrew A.
    Member

    Sure, and yet humans are rarely completely rational beings.  There are other factors that make it more complex than just a + b = c or a – b = d.  If one is used to eating whatever one wants whenever one wants, that is not apt to change for the better with just the introduction of an increase in calories out.

  • #28404

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    Indeed, it's not going to change for the better. The big problem, in my opinion, is the “I ran/walked/rode bike/went to a class for 30 minutes so no big deal if I have this extra donut” philosophy. If you're running/walking/riding bike/going to a class to lose weight, it's not going to work with that philosophy. Likewise, eating less only works if it is done consistently and supported by burning at least as many calories, which usually requires some form of exercise since limiting calories has been shown to suppress metabolism.

  • #28405

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    Just as an additional note, there are also many other variables that need to be accounted for when it comes to weight issues. As we age, our metabolism changes, which affects the calories out side of the equation. That's probably the biggest and an often overlooked factor. We can't count on a static level of exercise and a static level of calorie intake always working to maintain.

  • #28406

    Andrew A.
    Member

    Agreed, absolutely.  It requires additional denial of one's urges beyond the urge to sleep-in or hit the barca-lounger after work.  That might just be psychological overload for people who are deeply conditioned to poor eating and exercise habits.  Ways can be found to rationalize a let-down in discipline.  Just look at how many purportedly dedicated runners must have trouble with eating habits around holiday time, they are immersed in a culture that not only revolves socially around eating food but eating calorie-dense food that is laden with sugars and animal fats.  Or the commute home takes one past numerous fast food outlets and the like.  Realistically, many (most?) people can only really handle focusing on one side of the calorie input/output equation in breaking entrenched habits and while exercise of course provides numerous benefits beyond weight loss, diet is where the lowest-hanging fruit (pun intended) seems to be for simple weight loss and health.

  • #28407

    Andrew A.
    Member

    Our drug-loving nation:
    Note that this drug has not even hit the market and it has already shown up in the blood of TdF cyclists.

  • #28408

    ksrunner
    Participant

    Very cool. Here are some links with info on other great drugs because I could not choose a favorite:

    American Pharmaceutical Foundation 1

  • American Pharmaceutical Foundation 2
  • American Pharmaceutical Foundation 3
  • American Pharmaceutical Foundation 4
  • PRV
  • Associated Federation of Organizations
  • Fuggeditol
  • Codovol
  • Pharma-Jones
  • But seriously, I think that this says it all:

    I am only suggesting that we at least try to help ourselves stay healthy first, and not rely on medicine as our first line of defense.

  • #28409

    Andrew A.
    Member

    Apparently, ketchup contains natural mellowing agents, making it the pot of condiments.  😉

  • #28410

    dring
    Member

    Andrew and Ryan make great points.  I coached a group of runners/walkers to finish the Bellin Run (10k) a number of year in a row.  These were adults.  A number of the people started the program to lose weight.  3 weeks into it they were confused.  Why am I not losing weight, they asked.  I talked to them about calories in/calories burned.  I broke it down that 3500 calories is about a pound of weight, roughly.  I showed them so far they had burned a total of 500-800 calories at the beginning of our training.  They told me that they had gained weight because they were more active so they thought they could eat more.  THey did not understand.  I brought in a nutrionist to reinforce what I had told them and two ladies quit because they were not going to change their eating style.  Our food, more than just McDonalds, is so terrible.  Our country is so addicted to sugar.  By sugar I mean HFCS and other substitutes also.  I tell people about the addicton and they laugh at me, but sugar is put in many food products that you would not expect.  So many empty calories it is not hard to figure out why our country is gaining weight. 

  • #28411

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    Our food, more than just McDonalds, is so terrible.  Our country is so addicted to sugar.  By sugar I mean HFCS and other substitutes also.  I tell people about the addicton and they laugh at me, but sugar is put in many food products that you would not expect.  So many empty calories it is not hard to figure out why our country is gaining weight.

    Absolutely. Even my bread advertises no HFCS. There's a reason for that. Yes, even bread has HFCS in it. The addiction is no joke, people don't recognize it though because it's so widespread.

  • #28412

    dring
    Member

    +1 Ryan.
    Thank you for putting it so well.  You are right, sugar is so wide spread and so ingrained in people they don't even realize it. 

  • #28413

    ed
    Participant

    But it is so yummy  ::)

  • #28414

    ksrunner
    Participant

    As was said before, the formula for losing weight is really rather simple — if calories expended are greater than calories consumed, you lose weight.

    Regrettably, I did let myself go for several years out of college and gained weight — actually quite a lot of weight. At the present time, people look at me and assume that I have never been overweight and if they do find out, then they attribute the change to running. The fact of the matter is that diet and moderate changes in activity were what led to most of the weight loss and only after I had lost most of the weight did I feel comfortable running. Fortunately for me, when I married my wife in 2000, healthier food immediately became more convenient than the unhealthy food that I'd been eating. I went from eating out a lot and most often eating processed, unhealthy food to eating only about 25% processed food. I stopped drinking Dr. Pepper and I also stopped spending so much time on the computer at home and began taking walks with my family. 25-35 lbs melted away and only then did I feel comfortable running. Weight briefly went up at one point as I replaced some fat with heavier muscle, but I ended up losing about 50 lbs. At my peak, I was 225 lbs (or higher, I am certain that I did not weigh myself at my peak weight) and I've been down to around 158-160 during a period when I ran higher mileage, but generally, I maintain around 170-175. The funny thing is that when I was eating the unhealthy food I rarely ate desserts or sweet snacks. When I adopted my wife's diet, I began to eat homemade desserts several times per week, but the weight melted away anyway.

    I'm not special. I suspect that the same would happen for most people if they made a major shift away from highly processed/packaged foods. Our diet has only improved over time we probably eat only 10% processed foods and those foods are probably on the less processed end of processed. We still enjoy our sweets. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that my family eats more desserts than the average American family. But desserts made with fresh raw milk or freshly ground whole wheat flour and sweetened with organic evaporated cane juice are a lot different that what you might find in a box or bag at the grocery store.

    To paraphrase the quote in Andrew's profile, losing weight is simple, but making the required changes is not easy. (Unless you find yourself in a situation like mine.  😀 )

  • #28415

    al
    Member

    I'm in it purely to lose weight.  Maybe not anymore, but I used to be and I still need to lose some.  I lost about 70 pounds cycling and a restrictive diet.  I got into running because I was suckered into running a 5k.  I hated it at first.  Long story short, I finished a marathon about 9 months later and I'm still running – looking at my next big challenge.  I'm big and slow but I can attest to running being a poor choice for losing weight – it's nothing against running, just what happens when we start running.

    I haven't lost a single pound since I started running….  I attribute some of it to being “greedy”.  In order to lose weight I used to do things that would make an athlete cringe – if you've never been fat you might not understand so I won't bore you with details.  If you want to lose weight, you can't be greedy about performance.  You basically have to be willing to abuse or at least risk your muscle mass to shed fat.  If you're fat you likely have a fair amount of mass because you're carrying extra weight all the time, it's a strange balance. Let's just say I could have gotten faster and stronger with less exercise – but getting smaller was the real goal.

    Once I decided to get stronger/faster/better I started eating differently – fueling up, recovering, etc.  So…all that just to say, I kind of agree with what the original article says.  The title was a bit sensational and it seems the author tried to carry a ridiculous theme throughout all of the article but a couple points are spot on.  I use the term “RUNGRY” for that crazy hunger that I get about an hour after running, and I eat when I'm rungry, I eat heartily.  I also “garb load”, that's when I eat cookies and other garbage today because I plan to run tomorrow.  That's why I don't lose weight anymore even though I need to.  Eating right is a sensible choice for losing weight, as is exercising assuming no other variables change.  Of course both are better overall, I have proven that for myself.  Exercising and allowing your eating habits to change accordingly is a problem – and that is still better than not exercising at all.  I am much happier as a fat marathon runner who eats cookies and ice cream than a fat computer programmer who doesn't – if I followed the advice of this article I would be missing out on some great things in life.

    The other takeaway I have from this whole thread is a disagreement with the calories in/calories out mindset.  I'm not knocking it, I'm a numbers person but there are some complicated variables when trying to count calories.  The calorie is a poor choice of measurement overall.  If you eat an ear of corn your body does not absorb every calorie in the corn (about 77), it also expends calories trying to break down the corn for fuel, the rest ends up in your poop.  If you boil that ear of corn down and extract every available calorie into HFCS (less than one ounce) then discard the waste….your body will absorb all of those calories quickly and easily – no poop at all.  That is the problem we have with processed food, it is basically pre-digested and readily usable by our bodies as fuel (or eventually as fat if we don't use it).  The processing plant expends electrical energy and heat to break the food down and they discard the waste that would normally clean our colons on the way out of our bodies.  That expenditure of energy and excretion of waste used to be our jobs as humans – now machines do it for us.  Processed food is very wasteful from farm to grocery store, but very efficient inside our bodies.  Vegetables and unprocessed foods are the opposite. 

  • #28416

    Charlene
    Participant

    I really try to eat healthy and do for the most part.  Many packaged foods do not even seem appetizing to me at all.  I monitor how much  I eat at all times. But during this cold spring I have started to gain weight despite running 60 plus miles a week.  This was despite giving up all junk food for Lent.  I cannot say that I even enjoy most food any more and am not binging.  I totally agree that exercise does not make one thin but admit that I am having a real issue trying to lose weight.  After having my children I lost weight by limiting carbs but with high mileage and quality workouts I still need to have enough gas in the tank to run.  Right now I eat bagels but I wonder if I switched to brown rice as my main carb if I would notice a decrease in weight due to it being far less processed.  I wonder too if the rules are a little more complex for females as our bodies tend to work against us to in a primal effort to preserve fertitlity.   

  • #28417

    Andrew A.
    Member

    Right now I eat bagels but I wonder if I switched to brown rice as my main carb if I would notice a decrease in weight due to it being far less processed.

    I would be interested to see if that helps, too.  I also go for the brown rice/non-wheat pasta.  Yams might be another source to consider.  I have gotten away from bread more and more, I tend to use tortillas in place of it often.

  • #28418

    Andrew A.
    Member
  • #28419

    Andrew A.
    Member

    Losing weight is not about “calories in” and “colories burned.” This article explains how the body loses weight. bit.ly/xRqQWi

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