Tips #15. Exercise Smart

Do you wonder why this weight-loss tip doesn’t show up until number 15 on the list? It’s because few things are so overrated for weight loss as exercise is.

Have you ever watched “The Biggest Loser”?

The participants take leave from their jobs (and family) for months. They are allowed only small portions of food, and work out as though it were their full-time job – 40 hours a week, sometimes more. This method is clearly unsustainable for the average person in the long run.

Just taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or getting off the bus one stop earlier, isn’t going to change the numbers on your bathroom scale. It’s a myth. Sorry. Studies show that if you just start exercising, you’re going to need at least one hour of tough workouts every single day to noticeably lose weight.

Basically, the effect of exercise on our weight is vastly overrated. That’s why it’s only number 15 on this list. There are other things you need to take care of first. It’s not a good idea to eat bad food, drink sugar water (so-called “sports drinks”) or be on medications which force you to exercise for hours daily just to compensate. Metaphorically that’s like digging a hole, into which you put your ladder, on which you stand and paint the basement-level windows of your house.

Exercise cannot compensate for other issues in your life. Those must be addressed first.

The good news

If, on the other hand, you’ve already taken care of steps 1-12, you should have a rested and recharged body which is already happily burning fat. In this case, increased activity will accelerate your weight loss, and act as a nice bonus. You’ll be burning even more fat from the very first step.

For example, you could take long walks (golf), cycle, dance, or play any sport you’re happy and comfortable with.

Exercise also burns the body’s glycogen stores, which are essentially carbohydrates. This means that after a workout, you can eat a little more carbs than you otherwise can permit yourself, without negative effects on insulin or fat storage. Also, don’t forget that the non-weight-related health effects of exercise are quite impressive.

Hormonal effects

For even more impressive effects on body composition: aim for exercise forms which elicit a positive hormonal response. This means lifting really heavy things (strength training), or interval training. Such exercise increases levels of the sex hormone testosterone (primarily in men) as well as growth hormone.

Not only do greater levels of these hormones increase your muscle mass, but they also decrease your visceral fat (belly fat) in the long term.

As a final bonus, exercise can both make you feel and look better.

What kind of activity fits you?