If you’ve been a reader of mine for a while now, then you probably know that I don’t subscribe to the “calories in, calories out” theory of weight loss and maintenance. For the simple reason that not all calories are created equal—and not all metabolisms are, either.
You’ll also recall that I am a huge fan of regular exercise—the more, the better.
So as you might imagine, I was thrilled to come across a new study, published in the journal Obesity, which showed that having high levels of physical activity—not restrictive calorie counting—appears to be the secret to making real, permanent weight changes possible…
Outrunning weight regain
This study looked at 25 middle-aged people who, on average, lost nearly 60 pounds—and managed to keep the weight off for the better part of a decade. Researchers compared their calorie intakes and exercise habits to their peers of normal or excess weight.
For starters, those subjects who were successful at maintaining their weight consumed roughly the same number of calories as people who were overweight or obese—and more calories than those who were normal weight.
This might sound surprising on the surface, but really… it’s just more reason to finally drop the notion of calories counting towards anything. Because it’s the quality of those calories—in other words, the type of food that you eat—that matters. Not the calories themselves. When will this outdated thinking end?!
But of course, the researchers were “shocked” by this discovery. Which, if you ask me, is yet another example of the idiocy that remains in modern nutritional science.
There’s more to this story, though. Because the people who kept their weight off were also more physically active—by a pretty significant margin.
This group took over 12,000 steps per day—35 percent more than the steps normal-weight subjects took per day. And nearly 50 percent more than the steps per day that the overweight/obese group took.
The authors of the study thought this was an enormous amount of exercise. But trust me… it isn’t.
In fact, it’s worth noting that a lot of New Yorkers thrive on this number of steps every day—it’s part of our daily routine. We can’t even imagine living in a car culture where you have to really go looking for ways to take this many steps in a day. But you don’t have to live in a busy city to hit this goal…
As little as 30 minutes a day
What we’re talking about here is really only about 60 to 90 minutes every day of moderate-intensity exercise like walking. Or 30 to 45 minutes per day of vigorous-intensity activity, like running.
That may be more than most people are currently doing. But I think we can all agree that it is very doable. And, let’s be honest—even if you hate to exercise, isn’t going on a daily walk or run more appealing than restricting your food intake every single day for the rest of your life?!
I continuously emphasize how important eating indulgently is to maintaining weight loss over the long haul—here in my Reality Health Check, in my monthly Logical Health Alternatives newsletter, and in my various books, including my A-List Diet. Needless to say, deprivation is not a good diet strategy.
I also routinely cite physical activity as the key to every aspect of good health—whether it’s mental, emotional, or physical. And this study is yet another example of that fact. Not to mention that losing weight and keeping it off is essential for maintaining your health in the long term, anyway.
Yet, the lead researchers behind this study feel it necessary to note that (and I quote) “the physical activity dose associated with weight loss maintenance is large and daunting.”
And folks wonder why we have such an out-of-control obesity epidemic…
On one hand, you have legitimate scientists suggesting that a perfectly reasonable amount of exercise is “large and daunting.” On the other hand, you’ve got the con artists over at Coke’s headquarters suggesting that their products aren’t the problem—people just need to exercise more. These are both terrible and misleading messages!
And unfortunately, the short-sightedness of this recent study went even further, with the “expert” authors wondering what drives people to keep up with such intense exercise, and where they find the time…
Now, I don’t know about you, but it’s hard to keep a straight face here. Where do they find the time?! It’s only 30 to 60 minutes per day! In other words… watch one less TV show, or play one less video game. Go on a hike with your friends—have more sex, even! Or better yet, if you’re still working from home in the midst of this ongoing pandemic, use the time you would have spent in the car to be active!
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: There are countless fun and engaging ways to increase your activity levels. As the saying goes… just do it.
“Moving Much More, Not Diet, Key to Keeping Off Excess Pounds.” Medscape Medical News, 04/08/20. (medscape.com/viewarticle/911445)