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Do you need to exercise to lose weight?

Not everyone enjoys a sweat session, but exercise has long been touted as a key component to losing weight. Exactly What How big a role it may play is still an open question, but a new analysis of contestants who had lost a significant amount of body weight while on reality TV show “The Biggest Loser” suggests it may be an integral piece of the puzzle. .

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The analysis, published in the August 2021 issue of the research journal obesity, reinterpreted data collected from the show’s contestants. in a previous study, the author, Kevin D. Hall, noted that the contestants experienced a dramatic slowdown in their metabolism after losing a lot of weight. He also noted that regaining lost weight doesn’t restore metabolism to its previous level, which helps explain why it’s so hard to keep the weight off after losing it.

In the new study, Hall attempts to explain those findings further, using what he calls the “constrained model of human energy expenditure.” That model states that the body aims to maintain balance in terms of energy expenditure and will reduce its metabolic rate when weight loss occurs.

From an evolutionary standpoint, this is great news: our hunter-gatherer ancestors could rely on the body’s precise energy balance maintenance mechanism to get them through tough times. But in the modern age, where too many calories are constantly being offered, that coping mechanism may be contributing to rising obesity rates.

Recent Studies Emphasis Exercise

It’s a dynamic and complicated picture, but “the analysis seems to support the importance of continued physical activity for long-term weight loss and maintenance,” says Lisa Cooper, a registered dietitian at the Orlando Health Center for Health Improvement.

In other words, if you lose weight, you’ll need to maintain a long-term exercise routine to keep it off. ”, suggesting that a continuous exercise regimen may help keep him from losing the weight he loses.

This is consistent with the findings of a variety of other studies, says Shaun Carrillo, senior wellness coach at Providence St. Joseph Hospital in Orange County, California. “There are countless studies that support the value of exercise during weight loss.”

for example, one study 2018, showed that “70% of people who lost weight and kept it off participated in regular exercise programs. Of the people who didn’t maintain it, less than 30% participated in regular exercise programs.”

It stands to reason that exercise will help you shed excess weight and keep it off because “exercise is a great way to create a calorie deficit, which means burning more calories than you take in,” says Andrea Whitson, clinical dietitian from Santa Clara. Valley Medical Center in San Jose, California, and a certified aerobics instructor with the Athletics and Fitness Association of America.

“The body has to burn 3,500 calories to lose 1 pound of weight,” says Whitson. “This can be done by decreasing intake, increasing exercise, or a combination of both.”

Diet and exercise work together

While it’s entirely possible to create the calorie deficit needed for weight loss with dietary changes alone, such as adopting a low-calorie diet, “the combination of diet and exercise is important because of the role physical activity plays in energy balance , helping with weight loss and keeping the extra weight off once it’s been lost,” says Cooper.

Carrillo says that adding exercise to your diet is a more effective approach because dieting alone means you’ll lose both fat and lean mass, or muscle. And that’s a problem because “lean mass plays a vital role in weight loss because the more lean mass you have, the more calories you burn.”

Plus, “physical activity helps reduce belly fat and preserve muscle during weight loss,” says Cooper. “Diet without exercise can result in the loss of some lean muscle mass, along with fat. Exercise helps protect or even build lean muscle mass, which is critical to maintaining metabolism.”

It’s about balance, says Carrillo. “People often set themselves up for failure by trying to follow crash diets or ‘magic pills’.” The best approach is to strike “a healthy balance between eating well and exercising, while still enjoying yourself from time to time.” This makes for “a more sustainable weight loss journey.”

How much exercise do you need to lose weight?

The exact amount of exercise you’ll need to lose weight varies from person to person, says Cooper. “Many may need more than 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity to lose weight or keep it off.”

Carillon notes that the American College of Sports Medicine recommends more than 250 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a week to lose weight and keep it off. “You should aim to burn 300-400 calories per training session and exercise a minimum of 3 days a week, but preferably every day.”

the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd Edition points out that both people who want to lose a substantial amount of weight, that is, more than 5% of their body weight, and those who are trying to maintain a significant amount of weight once they have lost it, may need to do more than 300 Minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week to meet weight-management goals, says Cooper.

It all comes down to creating a sustainable calorie deficit, says Whitson. “To lose 1 pound a week, you would need to cut your calorie intake by 500 a day if you don’t exercise.”

Reducing your caloric intake by 500 calories per day could leave you hungry, but if you create that deficit through a combination of exercise and diet (250 calories burned and 250 calories cut from daily intake) that’s “more realistic” and you can keep you on the track.

What exercises work best?

Exactly which exercises work the fastest is also up for debate, but Carrillo points out that high-intensity interval training, or HIIT, “is one of the most efficient ways to burn calories. HIIT is effective because it combines short intervals of high-intensity exercise with minimal rest. Several studies have shown that HIIT workouts can increase your metabolic rate for hours, meaning you’re burning calories hours after your workout ends.”

Ultimately, any type of exercise you enjoy can do the trick, says Carrillo. “Exercise is not one size fits all. Whether it’s walking, swimming, yoga, or boot camp, choose something you enjoy and do it consistently. The most important factor when it comes to losing weight is sustainability.”

Exercise has other benefits

In addition to helping create the caloric deficit needed to lose weight, exercise is also great for building and maintaining muscle mass, “which will help your body burn more calories throughout the day,” says Whitson. Other benefits of exercise include:

To build more muscle, Whitson says incorporating more resistance training is key. Examples include:

  • Lifting weights.
  • Use of resistance bands.
  • Do yoga or pilates.
  • Do bodyweight exercises like pull-ups, squats, or lunges.

Consistency is key

If you’re trying to lose weight, staying consistent with your diet and exercise program is critical. And it will take a little planning to stay on track, says Whitson.

“It can be something like carrying a bag with your training shoes and sports clothes in your car. Then you can be ready to go for a walk or run when it’s good for you. Or have your sports clothes and shoes ready and ready when you wake up in the morning.”

She also recommends setting small goals and rewarding yourself when you meet them. But he cautions that the reward should be more than just food. Instead, opt for “something you enjoy, like new sports clothes or going to the movies.”

Start small and build

Small portions of exercise throughout the day can add up. For example, 10 minutes at lunch, 10 minutes after work, and another 10 minutes after dinner are as good as 30 minutes in one sitting, says Whitson.

Carrillo agrees, adding that “exercise doesn’t have to be intimidating. Start small: walk for 30 minutes a day, then slowly increase resistance and interval training.”

But being consistent and staying in control of your diet will lead to better results.

“Physical activity and good nutrition go hand in hand to promote healthy weight loss,” says Cooper. “Consult a registered dietitian and certified fitness trainer for specific individualized nutrition recommendations and exercise plans.”

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