There have been a lot of reports in the last year confirming that contrary to popular belief, not all exercise leads to significant weight loss. If you want to shed pounds, it mostly comes down to diet. It’s no surprise that changing your diet can help you lose weight, but for decades, many people believed that exercise was the best pathway to a slimmer, fitter you.
Today the New York Times added to the news that exercise doesn’t significantly aid in weight loss by reporting the results of an exercise and obesity study. The study followed a group of 58 obese individual who underwent three months of supervised aerobic activity but didn’t change their diets at all. And while the group lost an average of seven pounds, many participants barely lost three.
I admit that when all of these studies started coming up I was a little shocked, but it turns out that high intensity workouts mainly burn carbs, not just fat.
To hear what type of exercise may maximize fat loss,
The article explains: "'The message of our work is really simple,' although not agreeable to hear, said Edward Melanson, PhD, the lead author of the study. 'It all comes down to energy balance,' or, as you might have guessed, calories in and calories out. People 'are only burning 200 or 300 calories' in a typical 30-minute exercise session, Melanson points out. 'You replace that with one bottle of Gatorade.'"
Fat loss can be maximized, but it’s a matter of how you approach your workout. To do this, work out at a lower intensity in your fat-burning zone, which is 60 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate. For most people this zone falls between 105-134 beats per minute. Melanson’s study also found that once weight is lost from reduced calorie intake, exercise might prevent it from coming back by resetting metabolic pathways that stop the body from wanting to store fat.
The research is interesting, but should not dissuade any of us from our fitness goals. The benefits of exercise reach far beyond weight loss — it helps the brain function better, reduces stress, creates a toned body, and is important for healthy heart function.