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Diet and exercise and weight and such...

Thanks to erudito for pointing out this article: Does Exercise Really Make Us Thinner?.

The answer is looking to be no.

Basically it points out that exercise tends to make you hungry and eat more, and as a result the excess calories out are matched by the additional calories in, to no net gain or loss. This is the bodies natural state, trying to stay in balance.

...insulin is the primary regulator of how fat we get. “Fat is mobilized [from fat tissue] when insulin secretion diminishes,” the American Medical Association Council on Foods and Nutrition explained back in 1974, before this fact, too, was deemed irrelevant to the question of why we gain weight or the means to lose it. Because insulin determines fat accumulation, it’s quite possible that we get fat not because we eat too much or exercise too little but because we secrete too much insulin or because our insulin levels remain elevated far longer than might be ideal.

To be sure, this is the same logic that leads to other unconventional ideas. As it turns out, it’s carbohydrates—particularly easily digestible carbohydrates and sugars—that primarily stimulate insulin secretion. “Carbohydrates is driving insulin is driving fat,” as George Cahill Jr., a retired Harvard professor of medicine and expert on insulin, recently phrased it for me. So maybe if we eat fewer carbohydrates—in particular the easily digestible simple carbohydrates and sugars—we might lose considerable fat or at least not gain any more, whether we exercise or not. This would explain the slew of recent clinical trials demonstrating that dieters who restrict carbohydrates but not calories invariably lose more weight than dieters who restrict calories but not necessarily carbohydrates. Put simply, it’s quite possible that the foods—potatoes, pasta, rice, bread, pastries, sweets, soda, and beer—that our parents always thought were fattening (back when the medical specialists treating obesity believed that exercise made us hungry) really are fattening.

An interesting read, and I advise everyone to give it a look. It might help.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 20th, 2007 11:47 pm (UTC)
That's what the doc's got my Mum doing.
Because of her leg, she can't do much excersize... hell, she can't do much day-to-day getting around stuff, let alone excersize on top of that. She's lost half of me already, and will be a healthy weight by the end of the year. (yay mum).
Oct. 20th, 2007 11:55 pm (UTC)
This is interesting, and I look forward to having more time, to, ah, digest it. ;) That said, with a calorie being a metric of energy, it doesn't seem that you can change weight by consuming the same number of calories any more than you can get better gas mileage by switching the brand of gasoline you use.

I'm of the opinion that carbohydrate-restricted diets work because they are, in essence, caloric-reduction diets. That said, I'm also a proponent of insulin sensitivity and I do believe insulin plays a huge role in fat deposition and partitioning.
Oct. 21st, 2007 03:42 am (UTC)

More accurately, the answer is no if we don't control confounding factors.

I don't think you'll find many health specialists who will tell you that you can lose weight by exercising if you also increase your intake of energy-bearing food to compensate. To lose weight, we must maintain a certain balance between food intake and exercise. However, with the relatively sedentary lifestyle which has become common in Australia, the USA, and many other places, increasing exercise is often a far more practical proposition than reducing food intake (especially while meeting nutritional requirements).

Really, that article isn't anything terribly new or astounding. I'm not even sure it is particularly good, as from what I've gotten out of it so far it goes to great lengths to examine the case of exercise increase combined with dietary increase, while avoiding discussing exercise increase combined with dietary control.

Also, exercise is good for reasons other than just losing weight. I'm certainly not overweight, and should not be attempting to lose weight, but I've got a bit more of a gut than I used to. I should do more exercise not to remove the fat around my belly, but to cause my body to redistribute it better.

Oct. 21st, 2007 11:37 pm (UTC)
There is, however, some evidence that increased muscle mass = increased consumption of calories by the body. Exercise helps you put on muscle and fire up the metabolism, which helps burn the calories you do eat. It's a positive cycle. It also gives you more energy, making you less likely to fall into the "Blah, sit on couch & eat crap" slump.

What I find really interesting in the current focus on Obesity is that there is little mention outside academic circles of fitness. Health wise, it is apparently better to be fat and fit, than not fat and unfit (where the best state of all is to be both fit, and not fat). Fitness is absolutely vital to health, and along with widespread obesity, unfitness is currently the norm.

Some of the research I've read on the low carb diets suggests that they are usually effective because they also lead to calloric restriction. The exception is apparently hypoglycemic women, who apparently particularly benefit from restricted carb intake.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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