Many of us tend to believe that more exercise is better for burning calories and weight loss. However, this is not the case according to a new study published in Current Biology.
According to researchers, when we increase our exercise regimen our bodies adapt to the energy expenditure which causes us to reach a plateau. This means there is a limit to the amount of calories we can burn through exercise. This study is not to discourage exercise which is essential to keeping your mind and body healthy, but to shed light on how important dieting is for losing weight.
Lead researcher Herman Pontzer, PhD, a professor of anthropology at City University of New York, and Edward L Melanson, PhD, an associated professor in the division of endocrinology, metabolism, and diabetes at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, Auroro measured the daily activity of more than 300 men and women. They came from the U.S., Africa and Jamaica. People in some of those countries are usually more active physically than many Americans.
Although they did not track whether the people lost weight or gained, they had a record of their body mass index (BMI) and calculated their calorie burning for 7 days. As people got more exercise, the calories burned did not rise very much. People who had average physical activity lost about 200 more calories than those who were inactive. Unfortunately, those who exercised more than the average saw no change in the amount of calories burned.
According to Pontzer, moderate exercisers are active “but not serious athletes”. For example, someone who rides a bike to work or walks a couple of miles each day. Although this study did not focus on the role of exercise in weight loss, Pontzer does mention that diet and exercise work together as an effective fat loss strategy.
This study seems to point out that the obesity epidemic may be caused by overeating rather than inactivity. I have always heard the saying that “abs start in the kitchen” so I understand how important diet is already. I also understand how over working out at the gym is not effective as well. Pontzer says that our body adapts to our exercise routine if we are more active which creates an energy expenditure plateau. This is why many people wonder why they workout at the gym for hours every day and see no weight loss results.
The researchers believe that our body has a “sweet spot”, a point at which the calories burned during workouts peak. The way to find it is to pay attention to your body, Pontzer says. If you feel worn out and need more time to recover from exercise, you may be over doing it and need to work out less.
To say the least, diet should be the first step in weight loss but exercise must be included as well for preventing diabetes, stress, high blood pressure and heart disease.
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Source: Pontzer, Herman et al. “Constrained Total Energy Expenditure and Metabolic Adaptation to Physical Activity in Adult Humans” Current Biology 28 January 2016