Image credit: Instagram - @nikerunning

Why you can’t lose weight with exercise alone (sorry)

I always tell people that I go to the gym a few times a week to “justify the rubbish amount of food I eat”. Because, frankly, I’m not a very healthy human being. The good combination of metabolism and luck means I can eat two dinners on a regular basis and not have to lose weight. But this won’t last forever, I’m increasingly aware of that.

Vox is known for incredibly informative and entertaining online content and this new video goes into why exercise isn’t the best way to lose weight. If you’re reading this looking for a short answer and don’t want to spend five minutes on here the answer is put best by Youtube user Edgar Quinto: “The point of exercise is to replace fat with muscle, not just ‘lose weight”.

This is what we learned from this video:

  • Exercise is pretty useless when it comes to weight loss. It’s excellent for health and the second best thing you can do to improve your health apart from giving up smoking.
  • ┬áThere are three main ways we lose calories: resting metabolism, food breakdown and physical activity. This only accounts for 10-30% of our use. The majority of our calorie burn has to do with our metabolism – something we can’t control.
  • While 100% of our calorie intake is totally our choice and prerogative, only 30% are within our control.
  • When we start exercising our behaviours change. There’s evidence to suggest that some of us slow down after working out. These are called compensatory behaviours which are the ways we unknowingly undermine our workouts.
  • The relative magnitude of exercising loads and following that up with pizza and bad food is surprising
  • Health officials need to realise how ineffective exercise is alone as a cure for the western world’s obesity problem. Brands like McDonalds and Coca-Cola use it as a strawman to keep the heat off their terrible products.