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Is Exercise Making Us Fat?

June 03, 2015 2 min read

Does it seem that no matter how much you exercise, you just can't lose weight? Well, you aren't alone and you may now be able to find some answers. An Australian study conduced by the Weightloss and Health Institute, asked over 1000 participants to share whether or not they were finding their exercise and weight loss strategies to be effective. More than half of these participants stated that they exercise but still can't seem to reach their weight loss goals. The biggest factor standing in our way, according to the WHI, was a link between strenuous exercise (exercise that over exerts the body) and the need to 'reward' yourself after. The results of the study showed that those who exercises solely to lose weight would ignore their diet. 53 percent report eating more after a workout while 41 percent admitted to rewarding themselves with sugary treats. Leading Australian weight loss coach, Geoff Jowett, says that this system of rewards is why exercise can lead to weight gain. He says that statistically women who participate in strenuous exercise are more likely to reward themselves after because they believe they deserve a treat. A similar connection was uncovered in a study at the University of Arizona. They asked 81 overweight women who had sedentary lifestyles to participate in a 12 week aerobic exercise program that involved three treadmill sessions a week while not altering their diet. At the end of 12 weeks, the women were both fitter AND fatter. There was no noticeable weight loss among the women and close to 70 percent had actually gained fat mass during the study. Jowett says that exercise and weight loss are not the same thing.  He preaches an 80/20 ratio with the 80 being diet and the 20 being exercise. He also says that strenuous exercise is not good for an overweight body. Exercise like running is too strenuous on the body and spikes hunger which can lead to sugar cravings and a rise insulin and weight gain. Jowett's solution sounds easy enough. Address weight loss first by moving toward healthy eating and adopt a 10,000 step a day approach. You can always bump up this exercise later if fitness becomes crucial to you. In answer to whether or not exercise was even necessary, Jowett says, 'Strenuous exercise is not the right prescription, it's like cough medicine for a toe infection, it's just not the solution for weight loss.' I don't know if I'm shocked or relieved or thinking this is a bunch of malarkey. I do believe that it is essential to change your diet if you are serious about weight loss but it feels dishonest to blame the exercise itself. I agree with Jowett in that I think separating your weightloss and fitness goals can be a good way to develop really effective habits that are sustainable over time. Do I think an overweight person running on a treadmill has to end in him/her eating a tub of ice cream, no. What do you think? Have you struggled with this issue yourself or have you sounded your B.S. alarm?

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