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Why Doesn't Exercise Lead To Weight Loss? 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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Why Doesn't Exercise Lead To Weight Loss?

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  • Hackers Diet FTW. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RGreen ( 15823 ) on Monday November 09, 2009 @02:43AM (#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. []

  • 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.

  • How can that be? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) on Monday November 09, 2009 @02:46AM (#30029464) Homepage
    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.
  • by JakiChan ( 141719 ) on Monday November 09, 2009 @02:51AM (#30029486)'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...

  • Perhaps because... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by vivian ( 156520 ) on Monday November 09, 2009 @02:59AM (#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 [] 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:Simple formula (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Kell Bengal ( 711123 ) on Monday November 09, 2009 @03:01AM (#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.
  • by cjfs ( 1253208 ) on Monday November 09, 2009 @03:05AM (#30029580) Homepage Journal

    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.

  • by Joce640k ( 829181 ) on Monday November 09, 2009 @03:05AM (#30029584) Homepage

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

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

  • by DeadDecoy ( 877617 ) on Monday November 09, 2009 @03:05AM (#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.
  • by hydrolyzer ( 1637811 ) on Monday November 09, 2009 @03:06AM (#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:Warm (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 09, 2009 @03:07AM (#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.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 09, 2009 @03:11AM (#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

  • by CharlyFoxtrot ( 1607527 ) on Monday November 09, 2009 @03:13AM (#30029646)

    Also, exercising makes me fucking hungry.

  • Unfortunately not (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rix ( 54095 ) on Monday November 09, 2009 @03:14AM (#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.

  • by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Monday November 09, 2009 @03:17AM (#30029668) Journal

    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!"

  • by 1in10 ( 250285 ) on Monday November 09, 2009 @03:27AM (#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.

  • by moxsam ( 917470 ) on Monday November 09, 2009 @03:35AM (#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.
  • by iocat ( 572367 ) on Monday November 09, 2009 @03:58AM (#30029888) Homepage Journal
    You can over-simplify calorie counting, but it isn't a myth. Eat less calories and you eventually weigh less. You may be less healthy, but I guarentee, you'll weigh less! I read some woman's magazine article one time that was like "Eating less calorines doesn't mean you lose weigh!" I was like, "really, tell that to someone starving to death..."

    Getting 150 calories from a Twinkie certainly is less beneficial than 150 calories from oatmeal, for the exact reasons you describe, but they both give your body 150 calories to use (or store...).

  • by drgonzo59 ( 747139 ) on Monday November 09, 2009 @03:58AM (#30029892)
    That is not true. In starvation mode the body will use the fat first and then the muscle. A body without muscle and all fat is useless. In other words, look at the victims of famine, they usually can still move even though they are emaciated, _but_ they are not fat. If muscle would burn first, they would just end up as sacks of lard + bones completely unable to move. If such an organism ever evolved it probably, it would have quickly died out out as it would not be very efficient.
  • by 1s44c ( 552956 ) on Monday November 09, 2009 @03:59AM (#30029894)

    Everytime I exercise I gain weight, I started overweight about a year ago and am now 16 pounds heavier. I lost fat and gained muscle and I feel better for it.

    Obsessing over weight is pointless as muscle is 3 times heavier per unit of volume than fat. BMI is a really stupid measure as it can't tell muscle from fat.

  • by Daengbo ( 523424 ) <daengbo AT gmail DOT com> on Monday November 09, 2009 @04:10AM (#30029954) Homepage Journal

    I misspoke. You can use calories as your only measurement. Generally, though, when you simply cut calories, you lose lean mass first, and don't start burning off fat for a long time.

    Sure, you lose weight, but keeping that weight off is harder than ever, and who wants to be the skinny, flabby guy? Not me.

  • by WarwickRyan ( 780794 ) on Monday November 09, 2009 @04:38AM (#30030104)

    Yup, burning muscle sucks.

    I've had two major weight loss periods in my life:

    First was from 130 kilos down to 80 kilos. I did this through eating 1500 kcal per day exclusing green veggies AND doing intensive cardio on the treadmill five times a week, hitting 500kcal on the calorie counter each time.

    Now I did drop a load of weight, but a good portion of that was muscle. I did regular max-lift tests on biceps and my legs, and over the course of my weight loss the weights I could lift more than halved.

    Second major weight loss is from 108kg to 94kg. It's still ongoing, with the final goal being 80kg again. This time I didn't want to loose muscle, so joined the local gym and took professional advise. This resulted in a combination of diet and mixed training plan being made. For the food, my intake drops to 1500-1700 kcal per day for six days a week, split into 6 meals. For the training, I do 3 weight sessions a week (upper body, lower body, upper body, lower body etc etc), 3 cardio sessions doing interval training and 1 session which combines cardio and weights focusing on endurance.

    The result? At the half way point I'm stronger than when I started. I've increase my weights by about 30% since the start (about 4 months now). I'm also getting some muscle definition. Weight loss is now steady - it's slower than my first but the actual inches being lost around my waist more than the last time.

    So through my experience you're right. Cardio training combined with diet for weightloss is really counter productive. Adding weights in there is clearly the way to go.

  • by eh2o ( 471262 ) on Monday November 09, 2009 @04:39AM (#30030118)

    Its kind of like watching an ice berg melt, it takes a long time for not much to happen, and then all the sudden it accelerates and disappears.

    When you have more muscle mass, you also burn more calories at rest, and can reach higher levels of exertion thereby burning more calories per hour. So the whole process starts to accelerate.

  • by Colin Smith ( 2679 ) on Monday November 09, 2009 @04:58AM (#30030222)

    Fat is less dense than muscle. You may weigh a bit less but it'll be muscle, not fat so you'll be significantly smaller.

    It takes about 12 weeks to see results. Then you just have to keep it up, which is why I chose karate and jujutsu. You get fit and it isn't mind numbingly boring.

    Btw, the failure rate for diets is something like 95%[1] which it pretty bloody significant scientifically.


  • by 4D6963 ( 933028 ) on Monday November 09, 2009 @05:00AM (#30030234)

    Yes. I wonder why so many people think they have to physically suffer in order to lose weight. Probably for the same reason people think we must suffer and make sacrifices to save the planet.

    People don't get fat because they eat junk food, they get fat because they eat too many calories, junk food or not. It just happens that junk food is the best way to eat lots of calories (you can effortlessly eat yourself 1,500 kcal by picking the right meal at McDonald's). The recommended daily intake for an average adult is 2,000 kcal. Most people in the USA eat 3,400 kcal in average, and in most European countries it's also over 3,000. That's why so many people have "more to love". Just eat less calories! You don't have to eat brocolis, a calorie is a calorie, so just eat less of whatever you like to eat.

    Do the math. You'll probably find that you can be fine even by skipping a meal (you might be amazed by how many calories are in your breakfast, mostly if you're the kind to eat eggs and meat), even if your diet is kind of crappy to begin with. And that's so much easier to skip breakfast (or change what's in it) than to run 45 minutes 3 times a week.

  • by charlener ( 837709 ) on Monday November 09, 2009 @05:19AM (#30030328) Homepage

    Those people are also the ones that are intimidating to those who aren't ripped. I wish there were periods of time like for beginners at gyms...or some such. Swimming is another good option, but for those who are embarrassed to be seen in a suit...

    Course, this may be more of a girl thing.

  • by Mr. Freeman ( 933986 ) on Monday November 09, 2009 @05:32AM (#30030370)
    This is just one more fad diet. Your blog post reads like an advertisement full of bullshit pseudo-science. You know what's really happening? YOU'RE STARVING YOURSELF. Call it whatever the fuck you want, but this isn't a diet, it's just not eating.

    As for your claims of weight loss: of course it works, not eating will cause you to loose weight. It also causes other health problems. I suggest you talk to your doctor rather than whatever unlicensed moron (a.k.a "diet expert") looked up what happens when your body goes into starvation (one of those things is ketosis) and called it a "health plan".
  • by Phat_Tony ( 661117 ) * on Monday November 09, 2009 @05:50AM (#30030466)
    For the actual very top level, like the Olympics, that may be the case, but in general, he's got the cause and effect chain right. I know a girl who in high school was really overweight and dumpy, then in college she started running and eventually lost about 80 lbs, joined the college track and cross-country teams, and became a ranked women's runner in the state. Apparently she had an aptitude for running, but never the less, her previous sedentary high-calorie lifestyle had left her in poor shape, and a lot of hard work put her into great shape.

    Maybe the very top competitive runners in the world could only reach that status due to genetics PLUS tons of hard work, I think the jury's still out on what the contributions of each are. Surely not just anyone could be an olympic runner by working really hard, because lots and lots of runners who work really hard can't make the Olympics. But if you're talking about just being in good shape vs. being fat, ANYBODY, short of people with certain diseases and similar constraints, could be thin and strong and in good cardiovascular condition if they just ate enough less and exercised enough more for long enough. Likewise, any Olympic runner or other athlete could be fat and unhealthy by sitting around eating all day.

    Certainly some people have a much easier time of it than others, but I know people who are obese and in terrible health who actually have a hard time putting on weight but absolutely stuff themselves like gluttons nearly continuously, people who eat more calories at dinner than I eat in a day, almost always of terrible food, and who drink almost as many calories again each day in soda as I consume all together. (Seriosuly - a "blooming onion appetizer with dip, 16oz steak with baked potato with sour cream, a 16 oz Coke, bread and butter, and a slice of cheese cake for dessert is over 3,000 calories - I eat about 2,000 a day, and 4 liters of Coke a day is 1,690 calories.) I also know people who put on weight very easily, but who keep themselves under 2,000 calories a day, with lots of fruits and vegetables and whole grains and such, and exercise regularly, who are thin and fit. People who often WANT to eat more, but don't. People have a tremendous amount of control over their weight, which most choose not to bother with.
  • by stjobe ( 78285 ) on Monday November 09, 2009 @06:02AM (#30030534) Homepage

    Course, this may be more of a girl thing.

    No, no, it's absolutely not a "girl thing". There's plenty of guys that are embarrased about how they look in a gym outfit or in a pair of swimming trunks, and therefore do not go to the gym or the pool.

    Exercising next to all the ripped guys by the mirrors is intimidating for us guys as well.

  • by Waccoon ( 1186667 ) on Monday November 09, 2009 @06:10AM (#30030566)

    The longer you do without junk food, the less you crave it. Real food tastes much better after you've given up donuts, burgers, and MSG. Rather than a $1/hr job, think of a diet as starting college as a broke student. It takes a while to graduate.

  • by stjobe ( 78285 ) on Monday November 09, 2009 @06:10AM (#30030568) Homepage

    I wouldn't recommend skipping meals, it's pretty much the opposite of what you need to do if you want to lose weight.

    Eat less each meal, yes, but also snack between meals on something healthy to keep your metabolism going.

    Less caloric intace and more exercise is the only way to reliably and healthily lose weight - and be able to sustain your new weight afterwards.

    In fact, I'd go so far as to say all diets are doomed to failure, the only thing that will work is to change your lifestyle.

    Do not diet. Change your lifestyle. Yeah, it's a nice soundbite, I'll go with that :)

  • by Delifisek ( 190943 ) on Monday November 09, 2009 @06:26AM (#30030652) Homepage

    Cut sugar, sugar contained foods. Potato, bread...

    Drop your blood sugar to burn your fat.

    Plain simple.

    Or mock me with your high knowladge about this than.

    And while you mocking me, I'm melting just sitting down here and slasdotting...

  • by chrisG23 ( 812077 ) on Monday November 09, 2009 @06:38AM (#30030714)
    I was once obese, 300 lbs. I lost 100 pounds over an 18 month period by going on a low carb diet, with no significant extra exercise. My thoughts on that are that if your body is capable of going into ketosis (the mode where it gears up for using fat as energy, both from food in the stomach and fat stores throughout the body) then it is effective for weight reduction. Also, eating a low carb diet got very boring for me, and I found myself eating less because of this (was never hungry or starving myself though). This of course is different for everyone.

    Next major body change was when I joined the Navy. I went into boot camp weighing 199, I got down 8 weeks later weighing 199 but with vastly less body fat. My physical structure changed significantly. I started off not eating to much, but ending up consuming pretty large amounts of calories (and drinking tons of water, that is very much forced on new recruits to avoid dehydration problems which are very common when you are exercising in one form or another for most of the day.) Most of the people in my division did not lose weight, some gained a few pounds, all were in vastly improved physical condition. Not big body builder type musles, but lean endurance muscles.

    The best method of weight control/weight loss I know is to not eat until I feel full. If I am hungry I will eat until the hunger stops, and then wait 15 to 30 minutes. Sometimes I find there is more room, usually I find that I am full. It seems to take food some time to settle in and for my stomach to give the feedback to the brain that it is doing alright. The stomach is actually a pretty small organ and the digestive system seems to operate best when working on small loads. Full loads both have the effect of stretching and enlarging the stomach (thus making it more difficult to feel full) and diverting energy to digestion (alot of energy is consumed for digestion, thats why people go on health fasts, to give the rest of the body a period of time where the body's energy can be continuously applied to other systems for repair and maintenance. Thats the idea anyway) that could be used for other things, like keeping one alert and full of energy and providing for the immune system to do its job.

    My $0.02
  • by SharpFang ( 651121 ) on Monday November 09, 2009 @06:39AM (#30030718) Homepage Journal

    you forget the fundamental psychological effect.

    7 pounds, in 12 weeks - some claim it's not bad, some claim it's weight loss so it's okay and so on.

    First off, if you weight 238 pounds, going down to 232 pounds is just a pathetic joke. It took you 3 months to get there. It will take you 5 years to get there at current speed. It would be a reachable goal if it was fun, but...

    But the second problem is that it's a dull, boring, miserable exercise. From a slim person's point of view, exercise makes you feel far less miserable than from an obese one's.

    The thermal isolation makes you sweat like a pig and overheat in matter of minutes.

    If lifting a weight uses 50 joules of energy, a fit person will easily lift it, expending the 50 joules distributed equally throughout the volume of thick muscles. A person with poor muscles will expend the same 50 joules but concentrated in thin, weak muscle that aches, hurts and throbs with exertion, it uses the same insignificant amount of energy but feels vastly worse.

    The fat gives you extra weight for exercises like push-ups, sit-ups or pull-ups. Sure you use more energy but don't neglect the psychological effect, how miserable and ashamed you feel without breath after two push-ups.

    Then you start feeling hungry, and the body which has a tendency to gain fat, usually gains it because your hunger feels more intense to you than to most slim people who just shrug it off. Take it from an obese person, getting really hungry feels somewhat like drug starvation, you feel ultra-miserable. And still you need to cut on the calories.

    Oh, with even little strong will you will go like that for a month easily, suffering and feeling miserable, but telling yourself you're doing it to lose weight to be able to do all the things you can't do because you are obese.

    After second month of being miserable like that you start having second thoughts.

    After third month, when you went from 240 pounds to 220, you can see it will take you another 3 years of feeling miserable before you get out of this swamp. You say "fuck it", drop the exercise and start eating again.

    If you can devise a diet that is low-calorie but filling and tasty, if you can devise exercises that are fun, it could work.

    And even worse if eating is your method for stress. It becomes a habit. Something stresses you out and you won't calm down until you fill up your stomach. It's a habit like smoking or drinking. Unfortunately, the fundamental rule of dropping any habit is to drop it entirely. If you're a chain smoker, no one smoke a day, you just have to stop. If you're an alcoholic, you can't drink one and stop, you can't drink alcohol at all. But what about eating? You can't drop eating entirely. It's a horrible habit to drop, really.

  • by h4rm0ny ( 722443 ) on Monday November 09, 2009 @06:46AM (#30030752) Journal

    Nonsense. Someone who is 40lbs overweight or has never weight trained can make much faster gains to begin with than someone who has been training for years and has to work far, far harder for that last lb or extra 5kg.

    The only thing holding you back is your own shame. Do you think really fit guys at the gym are going to walk over and beat you up? Do you think they care that you're not as fit as them? Do you think for some reason they're offended by being fitter than you?
  • by kklein ( 900361 ) on Monday November 09, 2009 @06:58AM (#30030798)

    I wouldn't say it's a myth. I'm not portly by any means (people think I'm thin--but most people are fat), but I've been steadily dropping weight (fat--I have a fat-checking scale) for a few weeks just by kind of tracking what makes it go up and down for me. I've found that if I eat like my wife (Japanese), i.e. tons of carbs (rice), I just keep putting on fat. I cut that rice and other carbs--the major source of my calories on the Japanese diet I have (she cooks for me, and she's great!) is from those carbs--and I see the number going down with absolutely no loss in energy or healthful feeling. That, and I stop eating the moment I feel full.

    That being said, I think your idea on strength training might just send me back to the gym. I used to go, but I got sick of the amount of time it took. If I could cut the cardio, I'd be back down to a reasonable time frame. Also, I always enjoyed the strength training more anyway. It probably also explains the weird feeling of general well-being you get from a really painful body, which never made any sense to me.

  • by realityimpaired ( 1668397 ) on Monday November 09, 2009 @07:17AM (#30030872)

    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.

    I think this is the point, more than your point about muscle mass (though that's a valid point, too...). TFA says that these people did supervised cardio without changing their diets. If your body requires 2500 caloreis per day to maintain a healthy weight, and you're consuming 4000, then burning an extra 500 calories in cardio isn't going to make a difference.

    You're right that with a high muscle mass, it's possible to be in the "morbidly obese" category while not actually being fat or unhealthy. Professional athletes are frequently in that category, for example. But most people don't have such large amounts of muscle, and when they tip the scales at 250lbs, it's because they have much more body fat than they should. Doctors tell them thatt they should lose weight, not because they necessarily need to lose the weight, but because it's easier than testing their body composition and telling them that they have too much fat in their body. But the doctor is supposed to apply some common sense... if a male is tipping the scales at 250lbs, but wearing a 34" waist, then even though he's in the "obese" category, he's obviously not actually obese.

    If you want to lose body fat, you need to look at the big picture. It's fine and well for you to say that you ate more in exchanging 20kg of fat for muscle... but I can tell you first-hand that it doesn't work that way for females. We have to put in twice as much work to build muscles due to lower testosterone levels, and people tend to look at you weird if you're muscle-bound. Having muscle tone, and adequate strength is much better than building muscle mass, thanks to societal pressures... and that comes from cardio. But the only way you're going to lose weight through cardio is by not consuming way more calories than you need. It's well and good that you're in the cardio zone, and burning fat calories (I run 6 miles a day, and usually finish under 45 minutes, for example), but if you're still consuming way more calories than your body actually needs (including the extra 500-700 you'd burn from that level of cardio workout), then you're not going to lose weight. It's becoming a tired mantra, but it's no less true: eating less and exercise is the only way to do it.

  • by ezzzD55J ( 697465 ) <> on Monday November 09, 2009 @07:18AM (#30030876) Homepage
    Also it lowers the metabolic rate, permanently probably. I went on a near-carbless diet for a while (not to lose weight specifically, different problem) and regret it greatly.
  • by dwater ( 72834 ) on Monday November 09, 2009 @07:25AM (#30030896)

    > I don't understand the obsession with weight

    IMO, it's because your weight is the easiest thing to measure.

  • by h4rm0ny ( 722443 ) on Monday November 09, 2009 @08:03AM (#30031056) Journal

    I don't know what others have experienced, but I have met a number of "iron pumpers" who feel compelled to tell me I'm doing an exercise wrong even when I'm not.

    It's quite possible that they are trying to be friendly / helpful. If you're doing free weights, it's even quite possible that you are doing the exercise wrong whether you think you are or not. Often it's hard to see what you're doing incorrectly yourself. That's one of the reasons people watch themselves in the mirror when they do weights - they can see if their back is swinging when they do a barbell biceps curl or if its straight when they do a squat. You can always just have a conversation about it with whoever has offered the advice. Mistaken or not (and if they're obviously an experienced "iron pumper" why do assume they are incorrect?), they're offering help.

  • by smcdow ( 114828 ) on Monday November 09, 2009 @08:09AM (#30031086) Homepage

    Thing is, though: They're right.

    If you haven't read "Good Calories, Bad Calories []" by Gary Taubes, you should. This book outlines how 40 years of bad science and personality cults in nutrition research has lead to a serious misunderstanding of the causes of heart disease and obesity.

    At the very least you should read his eye-opening NY Times article [], which pre-dated the book by a couple of years.

  • by jipn4 ( 1367823 ) on Monday November 09, 2009 @08:57AM (#30031366)

    Genetic doesn't matter much for most people: if your genetics is a bit worse than average for some task, you can compensate with practice and skill to become a bit above average. For the extreme ends of the spectrum, it matters a great deal. Two decades of continuous training are unlikely to turn either you or me into an olympic style athlete.

    That's not "geneticism" (which is an outdated and disproven theory) but simple biological fact.

  • by u38cg ( 607297 ) <> on Monday November 09, 2009 @09:18AM (#30031582) Homepage
    Not hanging around on /. would be a good start :p
  • by NJRoadfan ( 1254248 ) on Monday November 09, 2009 @09:22AM (#30031634)

    I changed the amount of food I ate from large dishes to normal dishes

    How do you do that with US restaurant portions?

    "I'd like a small meal, please." "OK, one supersized-mega kids' meal coming right up!"

    You don't eat the whole serving they give you and take the rest home to eat another day. You CAN do that you know. ;)

  • by js3 ( 319268 ) on Monday November 09, 2009 @09:26AM (#30031660)

    I lost 25 pounds this year, and it mostly came from a diet change. Excersizing is great, and can speed things up but the biggest factor to losing weight and keeping it off was just eating less. Cut out the crap like snacks and pop soda, try to "feel hungry" more often it won't kill you. Excersize makes you look great and develop some muscule but that alone won't take off the weight until you change your diet.

  • by Dravik ( 699631 ) on Monday November 09, 2009 @09:32AM (#30031728)
    Here's the thing. They are comparing you to them even if you never get in the same building with them. Your problem is your problem. You fix it, or accept yourself the way you are. My wife drives me crazy with this stupidity. She whines constantly about here weight but won't let anybody help her, or see her, so she does nothing. The problem never gets fixed and she stays constantly miserable.
  • BURN BABY, BURN (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Talisman ( 39902 ) on Monday November 09, 2009 @09:38AM (#30031798) Homepage

    I have gone through large weight swings at different periods throughout my life. I was ectomorphic growing up, and matured into a mesomorph. Because my job is IT, I'm sedentary for long periods of time, and as such, will accumulate fat, especially given that in my mid-30's I still eat just like I did in my mid-teens.

    Due to my particular personality - mild OCD, extremely impatient - I am very, very good at modifying the way I look in short periods of time. I lost 19 pounds in a week, just to prove a point. I ate 3 hard boiled eggs per day, 1 slice of whole wheat toast, lots of water, lots of coffee, and never stopped chewing sugarfree gum. I also exercised for 4-5 hours per day. It takes incredible willpower. It absolutely sucks. You'll feel like shit. But it does work.

    Swimmers who cross the English Channel and Florida Straits also lose huge amounts of weight in very short periods of time. Susie Maroney lost 22 pounds in just over a day when she swam from Cuba to Key West. Not all of it fat, to be sure, but a lot of it was.

    Much hype was made about Michael Phelps' diet when he trains. He consumes between 10,000 - 12,000 calories per day while training. So imagine your daily food intake, and quadruple it. That's how much he eats. And that's just to prevent him from losing weight. He has to eat that much to stay the same.

    I also freedive. Freedivers are some of the leanest athletes in the world. They tend to stay away from gyms as too much muscle burns too much oxygen. The repeated depletion and replenishment of O2 across the cell membrane really burns the calories. After a 4-day freediving training session off the coast of Florida, I had lost 6 pounds of fat in 4 days.

    As others have noted, most people feel like they're doing a lot of exercise, but they simply aren't.

    Exercise absolutely works. Just just aren't doing it intensely enough or long enough if you aren't burning fat.

  • by Pedrito ( 94783 ) on Monday November 09, 2009 @09:56AM (#30031968)
    Also, exercising makes me fucking hungry.

    I didn't read the article, but +1 insightful. That's EXACTLY why exercise doesn't help you lose weight. It also doesn't help that many people exercising with the goal of losing weight will say, "Gee, I just spent 10 minutes walking on the treadmill. I'll reward myself by supersizing my triple bacon cheeseburger and milkshake."

    Want to lose weight? Eat healthy. Eat healthy foods and eat healthy portions. Eating healthy food actually tends to make the body crave more rational portions. Once I cut out processed foods (including all fast food and sodas, even though I rarely ate fast food and only drank diet sodas), I lost 30 pounds. No exercise involved. Wasn't even trying to lose weight. Just wanted to eat healthier quality food.

    ANYONE can lose weight with a proper diet. The U.S. Army NEVER fails in making overweight recruits lose weight. It takes calories to maintain weight. Without the calories, the weight goes. Nothing can stop it. So for those who say, "But my genes..." Sorry, the Army has never run into genes that it can't beat. And I don't care how fucked up your genes are, genes can't make calories appear out of thin air.
  • by nedlohs ( 1335013 ) on Monday November 09, 2009 @10:14AM (#30032156)

    There's a difference between a runner and an Olympic runner.

    Yes your good competitive runner likely isn't fat and their training probably got them that way.

    An Olympic level runner on the other hand combined that training with some genetics or with some drugs/etc. Either way it was more than just the training.

  • by realityimpaired ( 1668397 ) on Monday November 09, 2009 @10:14AM (#30032158)

    Not to inject reality into your rant, but a) how do you know you're burning 700-900 calories? That counter on the treadmill? Those aren't exactly known to be really accurate... and b) you do realize that the amount of calories a person burns depends on their existing body mass, their existing muscle mass, and their heart rate during the exercise.

    In other words, two different people can hop on a treadmill, do the same "3 kilometers" in twenty minutes, maintaining the same speed and the same distance travelled, and one person can burn twice as many calories as the other.

    It's pretty silly to measure exercise done in terms of calories burned, because we're all different. Measure it in terms of time spent in the target range for your heart rate. It's a much better way of measuring how effective your exercise is being.

  • by Carik ( 205890 ) on Monday November 09, 2009 @10:23AM (#30032292)

    I disagree. The easiest thing to measure is "how loose are my pants." I have to put them on every weekday to go to work, and I have no reason to step on a scale other than to check my weight.

    Which is a very small part of why my goal is to lose inches around my waist, not pounds. (The pounds will be a nice side effect, but they're certainly not the goal.)

  • by Bigbutt ( 65939 ) on Monday November 09, 2009 @10:33AM (#30032396) Homepage Journal

    As someone who fights with this, it's not a full feeling that's the problem. Feeling full doesn't keep me from wanting something like ice cream or chips. Desire is more of a problem than feeling full. I can eat to satisfaction and not be full or even eat to bursting but see ice cream or smell ribs or bacon and immediately want some. It takes thought and discipline. It's why I can't leave a bag of chips close by and eat them. I'll mindlessly eat them while programming until I realize I've eaten a whole bag of chips and not remembered doing so.


  • by jedidiah ( 1196 ) on Monday November 09, 2009 @10:34AM (#30032412) Homepage

    ...if you run the numbers and then understand them you will realize that Adkins is a pretty intense "starvation" diet. It's pretty easy to lose weight on a starvation diet assuming that you can tolerate the "starvation" part.

          It takes rather a bit of effort to flee carbohydrates to that degree.

  • by Fished ( 574624 ) <> on Monday November 09, 2009 @10:53AM (#30032738)
    Have you never seen those pictures of obese mothers in the 3rd world with starving, emaciated children? It's more complicated than calories in, calories out--because under certain circumstances your body CAN'T burn fat (specifically, when insulin levels are kept high by a diet too rich in carbohydrates and too low in protein/fat.) Now, I grant you that in a true starvation diet you'll lose weight--but you have to get to VERY low calorie levels for that to happen.
  • by mtrupe ( 156137 ) on Monday November 09, 2009 @12:07PM (#30033818) Homepage Journal

    The problem is people don't know how to exercise. I'm at the gym a lot, and I see people who think they are getting a good workout but are not.

    You can't walk for 20 minutes on a treadmill, go home and eat two cookies as a reward, and expect to lose weight.

    Run 10 miles and get back to me.

  • by composer777 ( 175489 ) * on Monday November 09, 2009 @01:09PM (#30034796)

    I think this is somewhat exaggerated. You have to tailor your advice to the audience. Remember that 1/3 of americans are obese, and that our tendency to over-consume is our main problem. Exercise won't fix this.

    I've done my share of weightlifting and add muscle fairly easily. That said, at 5'11 and 255 at the start of this summer, the last thing I was going to do for weight loss was lift weights. Sure, I could have built up quite a bit of muscle starting with that base. But in the end, I still would have weighed 250ish, with all the joint aches and other problems that go with it. Make no mistake, your average power lifter, nfl linebacker, etc, at 250+ lbs, has problems, no matter how much they train. It's far better to get the weight down to something more reasonable, THEN exercise, than it is to subject one's joints and tendons to the pounding that they will take at a weight of 255. I'm now down to 220, do some light walking and jogging, etc, and once I'm down to 200, will add in regular exercise to help keep the weight off while eventually stopping at 180.

    I'm sure I've lost muscle, but it's really not that big of a deal. Muscle can be added later, once my weight is down to something safe. That said, my knees, feet, and ankles no longer hurt and I'm much lighter on my feet. For me, getting the weight off first was worth it.

  • by Cederic ( 9623 ) on Monday November 09, 2009 @02:27PM (#30036008) Journal

    People told me to lose weight to help my knees. I lost 60lb.

    My knees still hurt.

    Fucked knees are still fucked, no matter your weight.

  • by Onymous Coward ( 97719 ) on Monday November 09, 2009 @03:08PM (#30036534) Homepage

    Why would a bunch of sedentary muscle affect your metabolic rate if it's not *doing* anything?

    Muscle_tone [] :

    Unconscious nerve impulses maintain the muscles in a partially contracted state.

    Be careful, when ignorant, of how forcefully you push your opinion.

... though his invention worked superbly -- his theory was a crock of sewage from beginning to end. -- Vernor Vinge, "The Peace War"