Is Exercise Fattening? Weight Loss
Exercise won’t help you
That would be news to all the
people who’ve lost double-digit
poundage by pounding the pavement. But it would seem to validate the experience of your buddy
who trained for a marathon and
finished 2 pounds heavier. Dr.
Church explains: “The degree to
which you respond is probably
dependent on genetics. Researchers have found 20 specific genes
related to this, and how you score
across those genes impacts your
responsiveness.” Your diet and
the kind of exercise you engage in
may play a role too. For most of
us, the response is in the middle.
Exercise, in fact, helps out in
three specific belly-off zones.
LIMITING WEIGH T GAIN
“A ton of data shows that leading
a physically active life is critical
for not putting on weight,” says
Dr. Church. Beyond the obvious
calorie-burning rewards, regular
exercisers become more attuned
to their body’s needs, reap
mental benefits, and have a better
quality of life, research shows.
Regular workouts also help you
maintain better body composi-
tion (more muscle, less fat),
which means a lower risk of
chronic diseases in your future.
The latest data from the National
Weight Control Registry shows
that people who successfully
keep pounds off exercise for 45
to 60 minutes a day. And as long
as you’re not taking in more calories than you burn, daily exercise
may remodel your metabolism, so
your body burns more fat.
Exercise just makes you
PREVENTING THE POUNDS
FROM COMING BACK
Losing weight isn’t easy, but
keeping it off is even harder, Dr.
Church says. Your metabolism
downshifts, and hormonal processes kick in to encourage your
body to regain those pounds.
Fat blaster Intensity trumps all.
You not only burn more calories
while you’re working out but also
help your metabolism stay in a
higher gear for hours afterward,
thanks to a mechanism called
EPOC, or excess postexercise
oxygen consumption. In a recent
study in Medicine & Science in
Sports & Exercise, men who cycled
hard for 45 minutes burned an
average of 519 calories during the
workout and another 193 calories
in the next 14 hours. The tipping-point intensity level seems to be
about 75 percent to 80 percent of
your maximum heart rate (which
is roughly 220 minus your age).
MANAGE YOUR DEFICIT
Weight loss is the opposite of accounting. Your goal: Accumulate red
ink, spending more calories than you bring in. We asked Men’s Health
nutrition advisor Alan Aragon, M.S., and Mike Roussell, Ph. D., author
of The Six Pillars of Nutrition, to give us a budget-busting plan.
Ho w many calories are you eating?
Track everything you eat and drink
for 3 days and tally your daily total at
fitday.com or with an app like Lose It!
How many calories do you
actually need to maintain your
weight? Use Aragon’s formula.
These are sample calculations for
a 185-pound man.
A Zero workouts
Multiply your weight by 10. (At 185
pounds, that’s 1,850 calories a day.)
B One or two workouts a week
Your weight × 12 ( 2,220 calories)
C Two to four workouts a week
Your weight × 14 ( 2,590 calories)
D Five or more workouts a week
Your weight × 16 ( 2,960 calories)
Aragon recommends a maximum daily deficit of 500 calories when you’re
trying to shed some pounds. Our 185-pound man is working out 2 to 4 days
a week, so 2,590 calories a day maintains his weight. Here’s how his body
allocates those calories and ways he can create some extra burn.
Doesn’t happen, at least in the
short term, says David Stensel,
Ph.D., who studies exercise metabolism at Loughborough University in England. In Stensel’s 2010
study, people who exercised for
90 minutes ate just as many calories on the days they worked out
as on the days they didn’t. Numerous other studies have shown that
vigorous exercise briefly down-regulates the appetite-stimulating
hormone ghrelin. And while the
blood levels of ghrelin rebound
quickly after exercise, Stensel
says they don’t rise beyond where
they were before the activity.
Over the long term, however,
your body reacts to a serious fitness program as it would to any
sustained reduction of its available fuel stores. No matter how
much you want that 32-inch
waist, your body wants homeostasis more. The degree to which
appetite amps up varies among
individuals and depends on a
combination of genetic, behavioral, and contextual factors, says
Barry Braun, Ph. D., an associate
professor of kinesiology at the
University of Massachusetts at
Amherst. “It’s complex, because in
most studies we see a poor correspondence between appetite hormones and changes in perceived
hunger,” he says. And there’s no
clear link between appetite and
what people actually eat.
60% to 75%
This is the cost of not
energy used by everything from yourorgans
to individual cells.
70% = 1,813 calories
BONUS BURN High-intensity exercise can
elevate your metabolism for 14 to 36 hours
100 to 240 calories
These are the calories
10% = 259 calories
BONUS BURN You use
25 percent of protein
calories for digestion,
far more than with fat
or carbs. By eating your
target weight in grams
of protein daily, you can
burn more sans effort.
15% to 30%
Theseare the calories
you expend through
20% = 518 calories
BONUS BURN You don’t
have to sweat through
two-a-days to get the
benefit of moving more.
Minimize your sitting
time, take the stairs,
fidget—it all adds up.
200 to 600 calories
Fat blaster Increasing your incidental activity—calories you burn
when you’re not working out—
always pays dividends, says Men’s
Health nutrition advisor Alan
Aragon, M. S. For instance, a study
from the University of Missouri
found that active nonexercisers
burned more calories than people
who ran 35 miles a week but were
otherwise sedentary. And one of
Braun’s recent studies shows that
standing instead of sitting can
burn an extra 750 calories a day
without triggering an appetite
increase. But don’t leave it up to
chance: Get an activity recorder,
such as Actiheart or Fitbit, and
try to boost your numbers in
whatever way you can.