A recent Time magazine cover story made the argument that "exercise is no way to lose weight" because it makes you extra hungry and/or it makes you feel like you "earned" a caloric treat. The authors also said it takes a lot more exercise than you might think to burn off calories. What do you think?

ask the trainer, jim beatty

Exercise is not about losing weight, it's about being healthy. It's about being able to perform a certain amount of work. And it's about moving the way our bodies were designed to move, so we can enjoy life more. Exercise doesn't guarantee you'll lose weight. (In fact, some people gain weight when exercising… some people even gain weight on purpose through exercise.) Your results all comes down to the specifics of exercise and NUTRITION. Losing weight, and more importantly, losing FAT is a product of creating the right environment inside your body to allow fat to be used as fuel. That environment is not created by exercise alone. In fact, if you fail to eat correctly, you will fail to lose weight/fat every time.


Exercise absolutely uses more fuel, and therefore sends signals to your brain that you should eat more fuel. We constantly have to refuel our bodies, just like our cars. The trick here is eating the right fuel, and at the right time. We want to consume nutrient dense foods that have little or no impact on blood sugar. When we control blood sugar, we burn fat as fuel. When blood sugar gets out of control, we store our calories as fat. Period. Make the majority of your food lean proteins, fibrous vegetables, and the occasional starchy carbohydrate. And do your best to stay away from sugar.


We also need to recognize that as we exercise, the need for good fuel/food is even more important. Exercise is stressful, and can create a harmful environment inside the body. We've all heard of free radicals, and the cellular damage that they can cause. Well, exercise can contribute to free radical production, which is just another reason to eat correctly. Colorful, nutrient dense foods are filled with anti-oxidants, which will help to scavenge the free radicals, and prevent them from wreaking havoc on our cells.


And the caloric reward thing… Honestly, with this one it's about having the proper mindset. Why would we want to work really hard to do something positive for ourselves and for our bodies, and then reward ourselves with something that's not so good for us? How about rewarding ourselves with something other than sugar or fat? There are lots of good rewards out there.


And we should all do ourselves a favor and stop thinking in terms of calories. This is a flawed theory and mindset. Firstly, our bodies don't “burn” anything. There is no fire involved. And secondly, if it were just about taking in calories and burning them, then 500 calories of salmon and broccoli would have the same effect as 500 calories of chocolate peanut butter ice cream.


There's also a giant failure by the authors to recognize logic here. If the above statement were true then anyone that exercises should be fat. It's not exercise making people fat… it is poor food choices, and a misunderstanding of what exercise is and does. Similar articles have appeared before, and each time I'm confused by what the authors are trying to accomplish. Are we trying to discourage people from exercising? Really?