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Why Doesn't Exercise Lead To Weight Loss?

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the that-would-be-too-easy dept.

Science 978

antdude writes "The New York Times' Well blog reports that 'for some time, researchers have been finding that people who exercise don't necessarily lose weight.' A study published online in September 2009 in The British Journal of Sports Medicine was the latest to report apparently disappointing slimming results. In the study, 58 obese people completed 12 weeks of supervised aerobic training without changing their diets. The group lost an average of a little more than seven pounds, and many lost barely half that. How can that be?"

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978 comments

Hackers Diet FTW. (5, Insightful)

RGreen (15823) | more than 4 years ago | (#30029450)

The Hackers Diet makes it clear: Exercise just doesn't burn that many calories. You can lose weight just by eating less calories than you burn, no exercise required.

http://www.fourmilab.ch/hackdiet/www/hackdiet.html [fourmilab.ch]

Re:Hackers Diet FTW. (4, Insightful)

cjfs (1253208) | more than 4 years ago | (#30029580)

Pretty much, not sure why this is a story. There's a little to be said for increasing muscle mass, and that's about all.

“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.”

In other news, water is wet and the sun is bright.

Re:Hackers Diet FTW. (5, Informative)

iocat (572367) | more than 4 years ago | (#30029642)

Also, don't forget if you start an exercise regime, you're replacing fat with muscle at some level. Muscle weighs more. (But it looks better and takes up less space.)

Hacker's Diet is the best way to lose weight IMHO. It explains the basics (consumer less calories than you burn), and offers some good strategies for eating and exercise and geeky tools (inlcuding a web-based tracker) to aid in your descent into fitness. I lost close to 30 lbs on the "diet" and while it wasn't painless, it was pretty straightforward. I did gain a good amount back 2 years later when I quit smoking, however.

Re:Hackers Diet FTW. (5, Informative)

Daengbo (523424) | more than 4 years ago | (#30029782)

Muscle mass is a really important point. I don't understand the obsession with weight. I went from 32% body fat to 15% body fat and weighed exactly the same. Guess which one of those left me feeling and looking better?

The researchers in the story ignored all the signs from the last ten years which point to strength training being the most important part of a regimen designed to reduce fat. When you do cardio (especially that slow, "fat-burning" cardio), you burn a few calories, and when you step off the machine, you're done. When you train for strength, you burn fewer calories, but your body spends the next twenty-four hours burning extra calories trying to repair the damage you've done. Doing anaerobic / aerobic intervals on a cardio machine has a similar effect, and when you put the two together, you really shed the fat.

You also need to watch your food intake so that your insulin levels stay as constant as possible. That means eating difficult-to-digest (generally "whole") foods instead of processed ones. Your body isn't just a black box. Eating some amount of calories in oatmeal and eating the same amount in breakfast cereal will have different results: your body works harder to digest the oatmeal so your metabolism is higher, resulting in lower total calories; the added fiber changes how your body digests the other food in your digestive system.

Cutting calories is a myth. In fact, while losing about 20kg of fat and putting on the same amount in muscle, I ate more than I had eaten before I started the program. I ate more. I exercised more. The ratio of calories coming in to those going out probably didn't change, but that increase in the total drove my body into overdrive and tricked it into ramping up my metabolism even further than the exercise amounted to.

Re:Hackers Diet FTW. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30029636)

The thing about exercise is, until you get to the point where you are pushing yourself to the limits you wont see drastic results. Most of the obese people I see in my gym spend half their time sitting around, or cycling on the lowest level while reading a magazine. 12 weeks is NOT enough time to reach your peak physical condition, especially if you are just starting out. And if you do hit the point where you are pushing yourself to your limits you will see insane results if you can maintain your exercise plan. Just a little bit of exercise will increase your metabolism and also your appetite, so for that matter how can we be sure these people are sneaking candy bars when they arent in the lab? And moreover than that, 7 pounds in 12 weeks is actually a fairly good start. If they continue their workout and maintain that rate they lose almost 35 pounds in a year. Which is 17.5% of a 200 lb humans body weight. Not bad IMO

Re:Hackers Diet FTW. (1)

digitalunity (19107) | more than 4 years ago | (#30029658)

Good point. When you've got 30 or 40 pounds to lose, 12 weeks of moderate exercise isn't going to cut it. People also need to look at the type of exercise they are doing.

A mix of weight training and aerobics is needed. Aerobics alone isn't going to be very effective. Muscle burns more calories than fat, both at-rest and while working. I really recommend a sport that combines aerobics, flexibility and strength training all in one. I do kickboxing aerobics and although the results haven't been stellar, I haven't been doing it that long and I know it isn't a magic cure all.

Re:Hackers Diet FTW. (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 4 years ago | (#30029738)

Most of the obese people I see in my gym spend half their time sitting around, or cycling on the lowest level while reading a magazine.

Most of the skinny people are doing that, too. They'd burn up more energy just walking or cycling to the gym instead of driving over in their car. What a waste of time and money.

Re:Hackers Diet FTW. (1)

easyTree (1042254) | more than 4 years ago | (#30029742)

Yah - the further your are from athletic perfection, the more slowly you are able to move towards it. It's negative feedback.

Re:Hackers Diet FTW. (3, Insightful)

CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) | more than 4 years ago | (#30029646)

Also, exercising makes me fucking hungry.

When you eat 35,000 calories a day ... (1)

kawabago (551139) | more than 4 years ago | (#30029758)

When you eat 35,000 calories a day, a little exercise isn't going to make much difference.

Because... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30029452)

They didn't change their diet. That's reason enough.

Re:Because... (2, Interesting)

ushering05401 (1086795) | more than 4 years ago | (#30029514)

That doesn't account for the absence of change in metabolic function that is supposed to accompany a regimen of aerobic physical exertion. The article does not mention at what time of day the exercise took place, though. My personal experience has been that exercise undertaken first thing in the morning transforms the whole day, allowing dietary or controlled substance ingestion choices throughout the day to be dealt with more effectively.

Your body doesn't have a 100% conversion factor (3, Insightful)

Max Romantschuk (132276) | more than 4 years ago | (#30029456)

Putting stuff in your mouth is just step one. How you chew your food, how well it is digested, how active your metabolism is, all these will affect how much energy you actually get out of your food.

Still, physics still stand: Use more energy than you get through food you _will_ lose weight.

It's not that simple (4, Informative)

Rix (54095) | more than 4 years ago | (#30029516)

Your body is not a simple machine. How much you eat impacts how much you use; simply cutting calorie intake will just cause your resting metabolism to drop. Worse, you might start metabolizing muscle.

Re:It's not that simple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30029550)

Absolutely, but in the context of losing weight, it doesn't matter what you metabolize.

Being healthy is a completely different topic.

Re:It's not that simple (2, Insightful)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 4 years ago | (#30029584)

When you're a tub of lard, it's the lard that'll go.

Simple explanation: That's what the body stores it for...

Unfortunately not (4, Insightful)

Rix (54095) | more than 4 years ago | (#30029648)

Even if you're a tub of lard, the body reduce your metabolism and metabolize unused muscle mass before using fat reserves.

McDonald's hasn't been around long enough to have an evolutionary impact. Starvation has.

BZZZZZT,you are wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30029712)

"simply cutting calorie intake will just cause your resting metabolism to drop"

No, it won't. That is simply wrong.

You have to cut your intake by a significant percentage and keep it that way, cutting calories moderately does not result in lowering your base metabolic rate, and is an effective way to slowly trim excess pounds.

I DESPISE the pseudo-experts like you who pop up whenever this subject comes up.

Stop pretending that you're knowledgeable because you perused a few web sites.

Re:It's not that simple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30029804)

Your body is not a simple machine. How much you eat impacts how much you use; simply cutting calorie intake will just cause your resting metabolism to drop. Worse, you might start metabolizing muscle.

Yes your body is not a simple machine he is correct, not everything you do is under you conscious control. If you intake less calories then you are used too parts switch on making you hungry more often and too a stronger degree.

The main impact of this appears too be a reduction in the effect of exercise on weight loss. Since weight loss is more or less implicitly defined as reduction in fat, it doesn't seem surprising that someone would adapt to spend less fat over a course of time, giving a constant calorie intake. It is after all the reserve of last resort.

Also, I'm not entirely sure if the "cutting muscle" comment is particularity valid. Ancel Keys has done research on food deprivation over the course of which participants had their calorie budgets cut in half. The main effect was a reduction in basal metabolic rate accompanied by a mental shift in priorities. There was indeed a loss of 25% of there body weight, or a 180 lb person wasting away to 135 lb's. And while this seems extreme, given my large 220 lb girth, its slightly above several friends of mine.

To phrase it simply "I have never seen substantiating evidence supporting muscle loss in situations similar to dieting and exercise." Granted, when placed under conditions of extreme stress the human body will cannibalise muscle, or any tissue to sustain life theses situations I would imagine occur more often in combat or concentration camps then your average dieting or exercise regimen.

Re:Your body doesn't have a 100% conversion factor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30029572)

"Still, physics still stand: Use more energy than you get through food you _will_ lose weight."

What you eat is also a very important variable in that equation (unless you plan on literally starving yourself). For example, some foods will cause your body to produce more fat cells than others.

Re:Your body doesn't have a 100% conversion factor (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 4 years ago | (#30029662)

    I always find it funny that people will argue it. They'll find any reason for dieting and exercise to not be a workable solution. If you let them explain enough, they could eat absolutely nothing, and do 12+ hours of hard physical labor every day, and still not lose a pound.

    Your answer is right though. Energy cannot be created nor destroyed, it can only change form.

    I know I don't get as much physical exercise in as I should. I also eat one small meal per day. I maintain 150 to 155 pounds, and my BMI is comfortably in the "Normal" range. If I do more work, and expend more energy, I eat more during that period, and that's it.

Perpetual motion 'fat'? (1)

TiggertheMad (556308) | more than 4 years ago | (#30029684)

Still, physics still stand: Use more energy than you get through food you _will_ lose weight

Agreed, I call bullshit on any conclusion that make the claim that exercise doesn't lead to weight loss . Show me a overweight Olympic level marathon runner, and I might believe it.

Delta in < delta out = delta down.

Re:Perpetual motion 'fat'? (3, Insightful)

1in10 (250285) | more than 4 years ago | (#30029728)

Show me a overweight Olympic level marathon runner, and I might believe it.

Me thinks you have cause and effect mixed up here. People are Olympic runners because they have a body that's optimal for it, not vice versa.

Re:Perpetual motion 'fat'? (1)

Lemmy Caution (8378) | more than 4 years ago | (#30029734)

Show me a overweight Olympic level marathon runner, and I might believe it.

Um, your post is a poster child for the correlation/causation truism.

1/2 cal per mile per pound is lost walking/running (2, Informative)

spineboy (22918) | more than 4 years ago | (#30029764)

well - actually about 0.6 or so, and since a pound of fat is about 3500 kcal of energy, an average sized person (150 lbs) would need to run/walk 38 miles to burn a pound of fat - or I could just eat half portions for 3 days.

The study says they just lost a little weight, not none at all.

Re:Your body doesn't have a 100% conversion factor (1)

1in10 (250285) | more than 4 years ago | (#30029714)

The problem is hunger. Hunger is your body's way of saying "Hey, you know all that energy you're using doing that exercise? Replace it".

Exercise makes you expend more energy, but also makes your body want more energy to compensate. The net result is that people don't lose weight by exercising.

How can that be? (4, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 4 years ago | (#30029464)

Well, a 3.5 to 7 pound weight loss over 12 weeks isn't such a bad result. You can't just diet, you have to change lifestyle. TFA seemed kind of whiny, like one expects to magically melt the pounds off if you run around a while. Even moderate physical activity only burns a couple of hundred calories per hour - that's one brownie.

Then there is the issue of converting fat to muscle (which weighs more) and the fact that people in general don't exercise as much as they think they do. For most people, weight control is hard, it's basically a lifetime commitment to minimizing calories and maximizing physical work.

The world continues to deteriorate

Give up.

Re:How can that be? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30029500)

Fat can not be converted to muscle. It can be stored or burned. That's it.

You can just diet. Take in fewer calories than you burn, and you will lose weight.

Re:How can that be? (2, Insightful)

hydrolyzer (1637811) | more than 4 years ago | (#30029594)

converting fat to muscle is a phrase, it refers to fat leaving the body, as muscle is gained, seemingly taking its place, like a conversion. on topic, here we see yet again the obsession with weight causing problems. I think this is caused by the lack of case by case analysis (BMI, I'm looking at you). Purely eating less can get you to lose weight, but its not as healthy as being fit. I never weigh myself, I simply look in the mirror and if I can no longer see at least a slight sign of defintion around my abs (which I know from being familiar with myself is the first place I put on fat) that I'm going to need to cut down on the cola intake.

Re:How can that be? (1)

Goalie_Ca (584234) | more than 4 years ago | (#30029538)

Honest to god, they are probably eating enough for two people and when not exercising are probably just pissing and shitting out half of the calories anyways.

Re:How can that be? (5, Insightful)

DeadDecoy (877617) | more than 4 years ago | (#30029586)

I think we as a culture are too used to being sold quick weight loss 'solutions'. True fitness, as you say, comes from a change in lifestyle, where one should be exercising not for 12 weeks but for several years to be in a healthy state. Unless you go through some painful and hellish training regimen, getting fit doesn't happen quick.

Re:How can that be? (1)

whizzleteats (1364017) | more than 4 years ago | (#30029634)

The "conversion" of fat to muscle is a myth. You can burn fat, then increase your muscle mass, but fat does not convert to muscle. FYI

Re:How can that be? (1)

samirbenabid (1223166) | more than 4 years ago | (#30029656)

Belt size can be a better scale for fat loss than weight. Gained muscle also contributes to the weight.

Re:How can that be? (4, Interesting)

klenwell (960296) | more than 4 years ago | (#30029664)

Or go with the flow. As TFA points out, whether you lose weight or not, work out a few hours a week and you're healthier.

My own experience confirms this. All my life, I was too thin. Then I left school and got an office job about 5 years ago. All the sudden I'm not having a problem keeping on the pounds. I never got noticeably overweight but I was getting a little soft around the center. Signed up for a 24-hour fitness membership a couple years ago and was surprised that my weight continued to inch up.

Finally, earlier this year, I changed up my workout. More cardio, less weightlifting. Also went from around 4 1.5-hour workouts a week to 6. I just treat it like my job. As soon as I get off work, it's off to the gym for two hours (which has the advantage of waiting out traffic.) I also made some adjustments to my diet. Less fast food. Replaced cola with coffee (caffeine) or lemonade (sweet). And though my sweet tooth is as sweet as ever, I am more conscious about eating that extra snack or the dessert that was left in the break room, and consequently, I probably eat a few less calories on average.

But my real secret weapon: the Nintendo DS. I needed something to distract me from the drudgery of the stairmaster and lifecycle and I can only gawk at the girls for so long. I don't play video games otherwise, so I look forward to an hour or so playing with the DS while I sweat. Turned-based games like Advanced Wars (or chess) are perfect for the stairmaster.

The result: for the last 6 months, I've been shedding a pound or so every 2 weeks, about the same as the study. A few months of that will add up.

Re:How can that be? (1)

gknoy (899301) | more than 4 years ago | (#30029722)

Hmm, that's a really good idea. I've always had a hard time doing extended cardio at the gym, I'll keep that in mind. Thanks!

Re:How can that be? (4, Insightful)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 4 years ago | (#30029668)

That's the problem with exercise and diet: it's like a job that pays $1 per hour: a lot of work and sacrifice for tiny results. Diet food tastes like shit. The box it comes in is tastier than the contents in my opinion. Repeated studies show that even fairly intense diet and exercise result in only about a 15 pound reduction over the longer run. People then think, "Why should I bust my ass chasing that 15 lbs? I'm still overweight. Fuck it, I want a donut!"

Re:How can that be? (5, Interesting)

KaiLoi (711695) | more than 4 years ago | (#30029706)

That's because you shouldn't eat diet food.. It's pre-packaged crap for people who are too lazy to learn how to cook properly for themselves.

Shortcuts are never tasty

I highly recommend getting a book called "The Okinawan Program" which is a study of some of the healthiest people on the planet and their diet and lifestyle.

It contains some delicious healthy recipes that leave you feeling very full, are exotic and tasty as hell and yet keep you below that horrific calorie level needed for weight loss

To take what someone said earlier and expand on it. "Stop eating so much fatty, and learn to cook!"

You're half right (1)

Rix (54095) | more than 4 years ago | (#30029726)

Losing weight is a slow, methodical task. Worse, the slow speed means you won't be able to notice the effect. As I said elsewhere, I've been losing 2-3 kg a month for the last 6 months (for a total of about 17 kg or a bit less than 40lb), and I'm just starting to feel a difference.

There's no reason it has to stop at 15 lbs, though. I don't know where you're getting that.

Re:How can that be? (1)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 4 years ago | (#30029756)

I was losing about 2kg each month when I was dieting. Without any significant 'lifestyle changes', just started to eat less.

Well don't eat 9000 pounds of pizza and McDonalds (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30029476)

...then you will lose weight.

If your caloric intake is still more than what you're burning from exercise, of course you won't lose weight. Don't eat so much, fatty.

You might weigh more, since you will develop muscle. Muscle weighs more than fat.

If your diet is reasonable you can burn more calories than you take in, which causes weight loss. If you are fat, you eat too much, which is why you need to lose weight in the first place. Stop eating so much, fatty.

Re:Well don't eat 9000 pounds of pizza and McDonal (1)

Fallen Kell (165468) | more than 4 years ago | (#30029610)

Muscle weighs more than fat.

Yes, per pound, muscle weighs more than fat... (please note the sarcasm)

Muscle weight more than fat = true (1)

spineboy (22918) | more than 4 years ago | (#30029780)

if you look at the same volume, since muscle is mostly water, and fat is well, fat. Last time I looked fat floated on water, and this means it's less dense.
Note that the original poster didn't mention per pound - that was your mistake.

Cause you eat to much fat f*ck! (0, Flamebait)

node159 (636992) | more than 4 years ago | (#30029480)

Cause you eat to much fat f*ck!

Body weight management is a basic input/output formula (barring influencing medical conditions). I have no sympathy for the majority of obese people, a little self discipline goes a long way.

Oddly the article does not list exercise duration, but assuming that the 500kcal per session is accurate, these people are eating the equivalent of a small African village, which is hardly surprising.

Seems that the conclusion that this study found is that, getting a bunch of people consisting of mostly fat, make em actually move, generates muscles, weight reduction is not that significant, as they are mostly replacing fat with muscles. Any gym bunny could tell you that...

Re:Cause you eat to much fat f*ck! (1)

tinkertim (918832) | more than 4 years ago | (#30029510)

I was going to reply harshly to this .. you insensitive clod! But, I started laughing harder at the small African village part.

Re:Cause you eat to much fat f*ck! (2, Funny)

tinkertim (918832) | more than 4 years ago | (#30029518)

Just to be clear though .. did you mean eating as much AS the villagers, or the villagers themselves?

Re:Cause you eat to much fat f*ck! (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30029792)

Most peoples idea of exercise really isn't exercise. If you are obese and you go for a walk every day your health may improve to a point, but not beyond that point. I believe public health focuses to much on that initial improvement, and not enough on helping people continue to improve their health in the long term. We get statements from notably obese people [wikipedia.org] such as this:

In October 2009 was forced to apologise after an appearance on the TV show "Good News Week", where she called for cyclists on the road to be "taken out"

...which threaten the lives of people who do want to improve their health.

Simple formula (1)

dogmatixpsych (786818) | more than 4 years ago | (#30029484)

Losing weight is an easy formula: intake fewer calories than you expend. Doing that can be hard for various reasons but weight loss boils down to that one principle. That's what we teach people who come to our clinic for help with their weight. The key is that you have to eat the right kind of calories so you stay healthy - you just restrict how much you eat. Exercise will help up to a point - after that, people start gaining weight because they gain muscle mass (that's a good thing though).

Re:Simple formula (3, Insightful)

Kell Bengal (711123) | more than 4 years ago | (#30029558)

Like all good science, that's true in an ideal world. In reality, it's a bit more complex. Stop eating so much and your metabolism slows, which means you burn less and need to eat less still. In fact, it's quite possible to starve to death with excess body fat still in place, simply because your metabolism slows too much and available energy stores aren't being depleted.

Weight loss requires the one-two punch of diet and exercise. Dieting reduces intake, and exercise burns energy and, crucially, maintains metabolic rate. Dieting can't do it alone, and nor can exercise, for that matter.

The report tells us nothing new - this has all been known for a long time.

Re:Simple formula (1)

erikina (1112587) | more than 4 years ago | (#30029812)

In fact, it's quite possible to starve to death with excess body fat still in place, simply because your metabolism slows too much and available energy stores aren't being depleted.

Ugh not even close. If you are fat, your body will run out of protein long before fat and you'll die of something like cardiac arrest.

Weight loss requires the one-two punch of diet and exercise. Dieting reduces intake, and exercise burns energy and, crucially, maintains metabolic rate. Dieting can't do it alone, and nor can exercise, for that matter.

As long as energy usage is higher than intake, either approach can work. No magic here. Also, you're completely over-blowing the whole metabolic rate stuff, it's really not that big of a deal.

Re:Simple formula (1)

1in10 (250285) | more than 4 years ago | (#30029766)

The problem with the "simple formula" is that it's a truism. Yeah of course if you expend more energy than you use you lose weight. That humans don't violate the laws of thermodynamics is hardly shocking.
The real challenge is actually causing the human body to use more energy than it expends over a sustained period.

Neither exercise nor calorie restriction has a proven track record of being able to do this. Even the most favourable studies done on the effectiveness of such regimes show that we're talking at most a 5% success rate (and some studies put it much lower than that, in the sub 1% range).

But it's all physics? *snark* (2, Insightful)

JakiChan (141719) | more than 4 years ago | (#30029486)

But..but...it's just thermodynamics! There's no way that the human body could be a complex organism that adapts to it's environment or anything like that! If you're fat it's because you're lazy! Exercise and you must lose weight! 2nd law says so!

Oh, wait...

Re:But it's all physics? *snark* (3, Informative)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 4 years ago | (#30029552)

It's more than that....after getting through the sensationalistic part, the New York Times article gets to the main point: our bodies are really efficient, and don't burn that many calories. Running for an hour could burn only 200 or so. You can replenish that with a bottle of Gatorade. In fact, most people who exercise eat more to compensate for the calories they've burned, because they are hungry.

Also, in neither of the studies do they actually monitor the food intake. So while it says that the diet didn't change, the subjects very well could have eaten more.

Basically if you want to lose weight, you're going to have to do something with your diet. This is something that was common knowledge 25 years ago, but somehow we seem to have forgotten it.

Re:But it's all physics? *snark* (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30029578)

You sound fat.

You're missing part of the equation. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30029612)

It is physics.

"Exercise and you must lose weight! 2nd law says so!" isn't true as you point out. What is true is:

"Eat fewer calories than you expend in a day and you will have an energy deficit." Followed strictly, the body will either use energy stored in the body to make up for that deficit and you will lose weight, or you will waste away and die. That's the complicated part. Not the physics.

Re:You're missing part of the equation. (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 4 years ago | (#30029710)

Another complicating factor is that the body slows down it's metabolism if it gets fewer calories. This means you have to diet/exercise even more to compensate. At the end you are hungry and tired and feel like you're living in the 3rd world.

Re:But it's all physics? *snark* (1)

ifwm (687373) | more than 4 years ago | (#30029748)

But..but...it's just thermodynamics! There's no way that the human body could be a complex organism that adapts to it's environment or anything like that! If you're fat it's because you're lazy! Exercise and you must lose weight! 2nd law says so!

Yeah, pretty much, it's been proven time and time again, and this study does nothing to disprove it,all your smug childish attempts at sarcasm aside.

Oh, wait...

You mean like YOU did before it was shown that this is almost certainly a result of confounding variables?

Oh, you DIDN'T, you just smugly, sarcastically assumed that something you want to believe, in spite of mounds of evidence against it, was now DEFINITIVELY PROVEN.

No, I won't wait, I'll dismiss your post in it's entirety right now, thanks.

I'm currently losing 2-3 kg/month (2, Informative)

Rix (54095) | more than 4 years ago | (#30029488)

And I've been doing so for the last 6 months. I've been keeping track of what I eat in a database, and I can tell you that if you're not, you're constantly changing your diet. Eating till you're full will have drastically different nutritional values, and you're just not equipped to gauge that.

I've also been exercising. I wasn't losing weight until I did both.

Warm (1)

tsa (15680) | more than 4 years ago | (#30029490)

Compared to keeping your body at 37 degrees, exercise hardly costs any energy. It just makes you healthier. The only way to lose weight is by eating less, and eating low-calory food.

No (3, Informative)

Rix (54095) | more than 4 years ago | (#30029548)

If you just cut your calorie intake, your body will adjust. You have to exercise so you're body doesn't decide that your muscle mass is more expendable than your energy reserves (fat).

No is right (1)

ifwm (687373) | more than 4 years ago | (#30029778)

"If you just cut your calorie intake, your body will adjust."

No. It takes a significant reduction in calories over time to cause this, cutting say, 5-10% of your weekly intake won't do it, but will lead to weight loss overtime.

"You have to exercise so you're body doesn't decide that your muscle mass is more expendable than your energy reserves (fat)"

That's not why you exercise, and it's not necessary for weight loss.

Please, stop sharing your opinion until it's not wrong.

Re:Warm (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30029608)

Also, something that often seems to be forgotten is that fat is an excellent insulator. I believe this is why, once you put on even a small amount of chub, you find it _drastically_ harder to lose weight. Every hour of every day you're burning far less energy simply staying warm. When you have negligable body fat, the increase in lost heat keeps your metabolism high enough to continue to stay thin.

far more diet than anything (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30029494)

calories in versus calories out, and you would have to exercise a ridiculous amount to change the 'calories out' to anything useful. not that exercise doesn't have great benefits in other areas, but for pure weight control diet is 10 times more important than exersize.

Sit and be fit (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 4 years ago | (#30029498)

Simple. Just by changing your diet is all you need to do. You don't have to move a single muscle to lose weight, that's a fact (look up people in a comatose state). Your metabolism takes care of that naturally...even while sleeping.

I suspect the idea of exercising and bulking up to lose weight was supported by the media and all its vanity pushing ideals.

Re:Sit and be fit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30029602)

Why don't you try an experiment and sit all day for 20 years then see how fit you are.

Diet without exercising and you'll be thin and weak
Diet with exercising is very hard because you don't get enough calories so get injuries
Exercise and eat well and you'll be healthier and fitter and probably won't care if you weigh less or not.

Re:Sit and be fit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30029640)

I think you mean "Sit and lose weight". Being fit implies that you are, well, fit. I'd go so far as to say that being overweight and fit is healthier than being a slim couch potato.

Its just because (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30029524)

When you exercise you lose fat and gain some muscle. Muscle is heavier than fat. So you don't lose much weight but you do lose fat.
If you just diet, you lose fat and gain no muscle so you're a lot lighter, but not fitter.

Perhaps because... (3, Insightful)

vivian (156520) | more than 4 years ago | (#30029536)

if you are still munching your way through 6 soft drinks, 2 packets of doritoes, a couple of chocolate bars and fried chicken each day you are still sucking in a hell of a lot more calories than you can burn off with just exercise?
The main role of exercise in weight loss is to help you maintain your metabolic rate ( or increase it a bit) while eating a normal amount of calories.

For a regular guy this should be about 2500 to 3000 Calories depending on your body size.

If you just cut your calories, your body is going to tend to just drop it's metabolic rate, so it's harder to lose weight with diet alone.
Oils and fats have 4 times the energy packed in them as carbs and protein, so if you are eating a lot of fatty food it is going to give you a lot of calories without filling you up much.

a normal healthy diet (ie. balanced protein/carbs and healthy fats, like from nuts, fish & avocados) plus exercise is the way to really succeed. Have a big heap of non-starchy veggies and it will really help fill you up without too much extra calories compared to having say, fries with your steak.

Oh. and diet drinks have been found to have a tendancy [sciencedaily.com] to fool your body it is starving, which gives you a bigger appetite, so avoid those & just drink fewer sugary beverages instead.

Losing weight isn't rocket science. Increase /maintain your metabolism a bit with 30 min excercise a day and reduce your calorie intake to below what your body burns is all you need to do - and be patient. Don't expect to lose more than about 2 pounds a week - any more is too fast and unsustainable in the long term.

The muscle you put on with exercise also helps you maintain your weight loss because muscle burns more energy than fat.

Break out of the overweight geek stereotype and be a healthy fit geek - you will think better too when you improve your circulation.

Re:Perhaps because... (1)

Sique (173459) | more than 4 years ago | (#30029588)

The number of 2500 to 3000 kcal is a tad high. If you aren't doing physical work, try 1800 to 2200 kcal a day.

Re:Perhaps because... (1)

vivian (156520) | more than 4 years ago | (#30029698)

hmm your right - for me its close to 3000 but then Im cycling an hour a day at 25km/h and am 6'4" and doing a few pushups & stuff like that.

SCIENCE! (1)

KaiLoi (711695) | more than 4 years ago | (#30029540)

Geee... let me see... "without changing their diets" Could this perhaps be it?

"I'm burning 300 calories a day in excersise and taking in 2000 a day in whoppers. Why can't I lose weight?"

Science fail!

Re:SCIENCE! (1)

Dionysus (12737) | more than 4 years ago | (#30029680)

Yeah, time for faith based weight loss.

Oh please. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30029546)

I lost 40+ pounds this year. Haven't exercised one bit.

How'd I do it?

I stopped eating for three people.

Exercise means nothing. Do you know how much exercise you need to do to burn off a single energy drink? Unless you're working yer arse off manually tilling fields all day, you either need to eat right (eg, more than likely eat a hell of a lot less), or get used to carrying around an extra person worth of fat.

AEROBIC training NEVER make you lose weight! (1)

Bragador (1036480) | more than 4 years ago | (#30029560)

You must add muscles in order to lose weight. You lose most of your reserves by just being alive. By adding muscles, you will need even more food to survive, or you'll lose weight. I don't really understand what the mystery is here. It has been known for a long time. And if you want to use aerobic exercises, all the gyms will then force you on a special diet... I really fail to see what's new here.

Re:AEROBIC training NEVER make you lose weight! (1)

Jeppe Salvesen (101622) | more than 4 years ago | (#30029806)

You're being too categorical, methinks. 1kg of fat is roughly equivalent to 7000 calories. I swim three days a week for one hour (which allegedly burnsabout about 700 calories) plus two 36-minute runs, and lose about 0.5 kg to 1 kg a week. I take care to eat relatively healthy (salads, fruits, stay away from soda and sweets), but a few burgers and some beers here and there do not get in the way of weight loss/maintenance.

Also, the poster of the story forgot to read the abstract from the study:

Background: Exercise is widely promoted as a method of weight management, whilst the other health benefits are often ignored. The purpose of this study was to examine whether exercise-induced improvements in health are influenced by changes in body weight.

Methods: Fifty-eight sedentary overweight/obese men and women (BMI 31.8 ±4.5kg/m2) participated in a 12 week supervised aerobic exercise intervention (70% heart rate max, 5 times a week, 500kcal per session). Body composition, anthropometric parameters, aerobic capacity, blood pressure and acute psychological response to exercise were measured at weeks 0 and 12.

Results: Mean reduction in body weight was -3.3 ±3.63kg (PConclusions: These data demonstrate that significant and meaningful health benefits can be achieved even in the presence of lower than expected exercise-induced weight loss. Less successful reduction in body weight does not undermine the beneficial effects of aerobic exercise. From a public health perspective, exercise should be encouraged and the emphasis on weight loss reduced.

That is - even if you don't lose as much weight as you hope to, you'll still be a lot healthier if you exercise regularly. I'm a bit skeptical of the exercising too, if you're going for weight loss then long exercising sessions is key. The first 20 minutes or so, you're just burning your blood sugar. It's only after that that the body starts to metabolise fat. You'll notice you're feeling a bit weaker. Just slow down a bit, but keep going. This is how you kill that fat.

On Slashdot? (1)

sockmonkey (75857) | more than 4 years ago | (#30029562)

...and why is this even on Slashdot???, For a minute I thought I was reading MSN.

Re:On Slashdot? (1)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 4 years ago | (#30029744)

There must be lotta fat fucks here. Grab a bag of popcorn and let them have their flamefest.

Not quite that simple (1)

Almahtar (991773) | more than 4 years ago | (#30029574)

It's not as simple as $poundsLost - exercising will build muscle and make you healthier in so many ways. Muscle is heavier than fat. Even if you didn't lose a bunch of pounds, after exercising for a while you're benefiting from a healthier cardiovascular system and more balance in terms of muscle tone. At the worst point in my health I started working out and I was pleased to lose a pound or two a week, because it wasn't just fat lost it was muscle gained as well. If you didn't lose a pound at all working out is worth it because your mood improves and your entire body feels better. Weight isn't everything.

Take it from the horses mouth (2, Interesting)

jer2eydevil88 (960866) | more than 4 years ago | (#30029606)

As a computer nerd who lived with a body builder in college let me put this into perspective. 1.) If you eat a lot of food, or if you eat food with a lot of fat in it, then you gain weight. 2.) Losing weight requires a fundamental rethinking of your lifestyle. 3.) If you start doing push-ups, sit-ups and running daily but don't change your lifestyle then you will probably put on additional weight (muscle weighs more than fat). To lose weight you just need a healthy simple plan. Change the types of food you eat and cut calories, then take three days a week to begin working out. I personally lost 55 pounds in 12 months because I was dedicated to the process of getting into shape.

Re:Take it from the horses mouth (3, Interesting)

Antiocheian (859870) | more than 4 years ago | (#30029708)

If you eat a lot of food, or if you eat food with a lot of fat in it, then you gain weight.

I started a low carbohydrate diet last July and I found, to my amazement, that it doesn't work that way. I've been eating more fat than I ever did in my life and for some reason I am losing weight. But I almost completely cut down on carbohydrates eating only those on green vegetables. Although I don't count calories -- I feel that I am eating more calories now, compared to my previous eating habits which, while not excessive, lead to gradual weight gain.

I am not saying the body defies the laws of physics but obviously we are not storing everything we eat.

(The argument about the density of muscles isn't strong either: I had to buy new sets of clothes as well. That means I didn't simply replace "heavier" muscle with "lighter" fat)

Re:Take it from the horses mouth (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30029788)

I am not saying the body defies the laws of physics but obviously we are not storing everything we eat.

No shit.

12 weaks is too short (1)

messner_007 (1042060) | more than 4 years ago | (#30029614)

The observation period in this study is way too short to see an effect on body weight.

Muscles are heavier (more dense) than fat and exercise has some anabolic effect too. So in the first period a study person is loosing fat and gaining muscle mass. When the muscle amount stabilizes on the higher lever, you will see the weight drop. This effect was nicely seen in SuperSize me [imdb.com] .

Re:12 weaks is too short (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30029674)

Definitely. 7 pounds in 12 weeks is not a bad start!!

Calipers (1)

tacarat (696339) | more than 4 years ago | (#30029638)

The best way to consider a weight loss program is this.

(Starting Weight) + (Muscle Gained) - (Fat Lost) = Current Weight

Most folks skip the muscle gained consideration and solely focus on the fat loss, thus throwing off the results interpretation. Calipers are cheap and easy ways to measure the change in fat loss, thus allowing for minimal weight changes to still be considered successful. In a pinch, you can also just check the changes in belt notches, jeans fit and whether or not you can see your toes when you look down.

bjsm tag? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30029654)

What kind of tag is that? Blow Job Sado Maso helps losing weight?

Anti-oxidents (like tea) versus exercise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30029688)

I read an article a while ago, and forgive me for not linking, you'll just have to take my word for it. :P It might have been on Ars Technica, but it could just as easily have been linked here.

Anyhow, the gyst of the article was that when you exercise, your body reacts to the higher concentrations of oxygen in your blood, besides other things. The problem is that if you drink lots of tea and coffee or are otherwise endowed with higher than normal levels of anti-oxidents, then your body actually has an easier time of coping with the results of your exercise. So tea and coffee actually "protect" you from benefiting from exercise on some level.

I think it's funny that a study published in a country famous for drinking tea is displaying these results.

Again, take it with a grain of salt since I haven't linked.

news for nerds .. (1)

kaka.mala.vachva (1164605) | more than 4 years ago | (#30029690)

How does this matter? Bleah - myspace, twitter we are.

M uscle, anyone? (1)

Rene S. Hollan (1943) | more than 4 years ago | (#30029700)

Perhaps some of these people actually performed physically strenuous work for a living and achieved the holy grail of trading fat for muscle.

BMI is part of the picture. You really have to look at body fat percentage. (Hint: body builders have horrible BMIs: their muscle is presumed as fat!)

Newbies to exercise can actually "lose weight" and "gain muscle" at the same time (because they have so little to begin with).

Who cares? (1)

Mascot (120795) | more than 4 years ago | (#30029716)

Hasn't it been shown in numerous studies that overweight and unfit is what's causing the health issues? Overweight and fit, does not.

But I suppose this isn't about being healthy, but about fitting in with the current "perfect body" image.

Perhaps because they aren't actually exercising (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30029718)

Burning 200 calories is not exercise. That's activity... exercise is what athletes do and for aerobic activity that means 2 hours at a time. It is disingenuous to make the blanket statement that exercise doesn't make you loose weight when you are doing amounts of work that any fit person would scoff at. I'm not saying a 250 pound + person is going to be able to do legitimate amounts of exercise, but over time as part of a healthy lifestyle they can work towards burning 500-700 calories in 1 hour. Most people have an extra hour a few times a week and those extra 1500 calories a week mean that you loose about a pound every other week. Anything more than a half a pound to a pound of weight loss in a week is generally considered overly aggressive.

fear, walking, salad, and consistent measurement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30029736)

What really works is fear. Here's what to do: pass out, go to the hospital, wonder if that's going to become commonplace and maybe you can't drive or go outside any more, ask doctors why you passed out and they don't know but tell you to lose weight.

Walk fast for 1 to 1.5 hrs every day and eat a lot of salad, shoot for 1200 calories a day intake (you won't get there but it's a target). Weight yourself on an accurate scale every week (protip: home scales suck, including expensive digital ones. They vary by a few pounds from measurement to measurement, especially if you move them. Try to find an old-timey balance-beam scale you can use, there's a reason the doctors have those in their offices). Went from 245 to 180 lb in something like a year (not 12 weeks!), at 1 to 2 lb per week. Now I've slacked on the salad and am back up to 188 dammit, but I've mostly kept it off for a year after, and kept on exercising.

That's discouraging actually... it can be done, but something has to scare you enough. Most people don't get that "lucky".

“If you work out at an easy intensity, you will burn a higher percentage of fat calories” than if you work out a higher intensity"

(from TFA)

That's surprising! Maybe that's why I gained 5lb after I started running instead of walking... and I told myself it was probably muscle ;-)

Stupid summary (1)

Pascal Sartoretti (454385) | more than 4 years ago | (#30029746)

The group lost an average of a little more than seven pounds, and many lost barely half that

In other words, all of them lost weight. So why did slashdot put such a summary ?

Health (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30029754)

Exercise is not necessarily linked to weight loss because body weight is a bad parameter. A much more interesting parameter is body fat %.

Muscle has a much higher density than fat, meaning that if you exercise, reducing fat and increasing muscle, your weight loss is negligible.

But who cares about weight, when exercise can cure your type II diabetes, strengthen your cardio-vascular endurance and make you feel comfortable in your own body.

Simplistic Bullshit (1)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 4 years ago | (#30029760)

Weight is a function of dozens of factors, not the least of which are diet, exercise, and genetics. Mental state is a huge factor, since fat storage (likely) evolved as a response to environmental stress. Even little things such as gut bacteria and ambient temperature affect weight. And diet and exercise are not anywhere near as simple as "running X number of minutes a day" or "eating Y number of calories per day". What you eat and how you exercise are much more important than how much or how little.

Well yeah, exercise ALONE doesn't do enough. (1)

Eraevous (1651221) | more than 4 years ago | (#30029762)

Do any of you British slashdotters in University have access to the full text of the second article? The brief description in the "methods" section doesn't say if the researchers were monitoring or controlling the diet of the subjects. It seems absurd that they would not, but it's possible that the lack of weight loss was partially caused by an increase in caloric intake. After all, the stated intent of the research was to study how the health benefits from exercise are affected by changes in body weight, not whether exercise is necessary or sufficient to achieve weight loss. The major result from the British study points out that exercise can make one a healthier and happier individual even if one doesn't lose much weight. The Colorado study refutes the popular notion that exercise causes an "afterburn" of fat. Both exercise and a diet change are necessary for weight loss, but neither one is sufficient by itself. Why is this surprising to anyone?

Body Fat is to prevent starvation (2, Insightful)

moxsam (917470) | more than 4 years ago | (#30029770)

The sole purpose of fat reservoirs is to extend the time of survival in times of malnutrition. On the contrary people who do "exercise" in pre-historic times (meaning to do what everyone had to do) and were not able to retain or even gain weight, are more likely going to die in times of need. So people who fall into that pre-historic ultimate winner group and who want to loose weight need to eat less, much less.

Diets (1)

quantaman (517394) | more than 4 years ago | (#30029774)

The summary said that they didn't change their diets but the abstract makes no mention of that.

I suspect the poster just inferred that because they didn't mention diet in the abstract, but not mentioning diet does not mean the diet didn't change. In my experience when you exercise you tend to eat more. I'm not particularly large (BMI 24.9) but I've never lost any weight by increasing my exercise, it takes changing my diet to affect my weight.

I know for myself, and other relatively fit people I know, when we exercise more we simply eat the extra calories we burned. Of course this isn't the case for all people and I suspect that once you start getting larger you might start to see benefits more often, but note that diet is still the biggest single factor.

I'm actually surprised this study showed as big a difference as it did (-3.3 kg in 12 weeks is pretty good) although 31.8 BMI is starting to trend towards the chubbier side.

Eat "food" and not that processed garbage (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30029790)

Most of the "food" in grocery stores today, isn't (see documentaries "The World According to Monsanto, "Food Inc.," and Pollan's book "In Defense of Food" were he proclaims ""Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."). Plus a lot of people are really, really lazy when it comes to moving around. You need to make exercise a lifestyle which means walking (or biking) more. We are animals. Animals need to move to stay fit. Unless you have some genetic condition, you're just eating wrong and not moving around enough. Now... let the whining excuses begin!

Do athletes live longer? (1)

OrangeCatholic (1495411) | more than 4 years ago | (#30029796)

Time Magazine covered this three months ago [time.com] . The article started off by pointing out that exercise stimulates hunger, which by itself is pretty obvious. But then they went into more interesting topics like "brown fat", which burns extra calories (humans don't have as much brown fat as other species), as well as psychology - the "self-control muscle."

They say that self-control is a zero-sum game and that by running for an hour, you are actually depleting your self-control to avoid eating a bag of chips. Like any "muscle," I'm sure one's psychology can be improved, but I've certainly noticed this myself: One reason I don't exercise more often is because I like having the energy to go to work.

Anyway, exercise does make you lose weight (duh). But in a 24 hour day, there are 23 great opportunities to ruin the 1 hour of real effort that you made.

Of course, the real question is, do athletes live longer? I think if they did, we would have heard about it by now. Either that, or we've stopped funding studies in this country. Because athletes living 10 years longer than the rest of us would be the blockbuster study for sure.

Ideal body weight (1)

cbope (130292) | more than 4 years ago | (#30029800)

Not to mention that everyone has a slightly different ideal body weight. This has nothing to do with what you *think* you should weigh, how you look or what your BMI is (which I believe is a completely useless number). Muscle mass and bone structure or density can vary quite a lot from one person to the next, and both of these can be significant influences to your overall weight. As several posts have already pointed out, muscle weighs more than fat, so converting fat into muscle through exercise is not going to make you lose weight. Exercise can help develop lean muscle tissue and contributes to burning more calories, but the issues behind weight gain/loss are much more complex than that.

Be lazy and lose weight. Work hard and get fat! (1)

eriktderek (563388) | more than 4 years ago | (#30029814)

Its NOT superficially logical, but eating less is much better than exercise to lose weight! But exercise sounds appealing and people can sell it to you - capitalism. Whereas it is difficult to make money from eating less. Thus capitalism is so deeply entrenched even in science and logic that it seems illogical that exercise does not work well. Just think how capitalistic our science is; spend thousands of dollars and do Protestent hard work to lose weight. Gym membership, Fancy bikes, work out clothes, protein supplement, personal trainer. No pain no gain. Compare this to the easy way- just eat less. No big deal, easy. Lazy. - How unamerican! Micahel Pollan talks about this stuff, how 100 years ago everybody was thin and it was easy. Now everybody is highly educated and we are all fat. All very counterintuitive. Watch as china gets capitalstic and gets fat...
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