A commonly debated topic is how much exercise affects fat loss. Most media implies that it is the main factor for fat loss so people will buy more products and gym memberships. A recent article in Time magazine states that it “Won’t Make You Thin“. Because I feel there is no black and white answer to this most of this post will be my opinion (as most are) with some data to back it up. If you disagree please leave a comment I would love to discuss it.
What I think
- Everyone responds to exercise differently.
- A deficit in energy is required.
- Most affect is indirect
- Exercise matters enough that it should be customized based on your body type
Everyone responds to exercise differently
This is a pretty obvious one, and the main reason I think many of the studies are not credible. The FTO gene is thought to be related to that ability for people to gain fat. It is also speculated that genetics can affect your insulin sensitivity, which is a huge part of fat loss (and gain) which Gary Taubes discusses in his 2 books.
A deficit in energy is required
This is basic physics as we know it today, you need to expend more energy than you take in. I am a firm believer though that our current measurement for a “calorie” is very skewed, and not a good measure of energy. There is a reason that endurance athletes can, and need to, eat such a huge amount. But for a normal person that sits on our ass 8-10 hours a day instead of moving for 8-10 hours a day, like me, this is not an option. It also could be detrimental to your health to train as endurance athletes do.
Most affect is indirect
In this article Lyle McDonald makes some good points that I agree with.
for many people, the simple fact of doing some sort of exercise on a given day makes it more likely for them to stick to their diet
This is two fold for me. I want to exercise because I eat well, and I want to eat well because I exercise, talk about motivation. Other articles I have read state the opposite like this one Time magazine. While I do think that some people may want to reward them selves after a work out, I am willing to be that these people are not educated on what to eat. Will you get hungrier the more you workout, probably, but if you eat the right things instead of the wrong things this is a moot point.
Exercise matters enough that it should be customized based on your body type
To answer the title of the post, yes I think exercise does matter and will accelerate fat loss. While any exercise will help with fat loss, as I have wrote before, some exercise is better than others. Exercises to gain strength and increase muscle mass have been shown to be superior for fat loss and this has worked very well for me. I think CrossFit style training is probably one of the best examples for this as it combines metabolic training and strength training with olympic style lifts. I have recently started doing http://www.maxcapacitytraining.com/ which is only a body weight program so it is more metabolic training and a little bit of strength training, I will add some weights to it as I go and try to increase my strength and muscle mass. I am at day 2 but will report later on on how well it has worked for me.
What type of exercise do you do?
Let me know in the comments what you workout entails? How much has it helped you? Does it motivate you?