Monday, August 10, 2009

Low-calorie foods? Check. Exercise? Who needs it?!

According to the current Time Magazine cover story, exercise might not help with weight loss efforts. In fact, it could even result in extra pounds. Wait...what? Did I read that right? (Rubs eyes) A trip to the gym could lead to weight gain? STOP THE PRESS!

I’m not joking, folks. The lengthy article discusses a growing body of research that supports this claim: although exercise burns calories, it can also stimulate hunger. And not only do people tend to eat more after exercising, but these post-workout rewards often feature high-fat, calorie-rich snacks like muffins, Gatorade, ice cream or chips. For example, researchers from Children's Hospital in Boston recently discovered that when the 538 kids involved in their 18-month study began to exercise, they wound up eating an average of 100 calories more than they had just burned.

That being said, no one can deny that there aren't a lot of advantages linked to physical fitness. For starters, people who work out regularly are at significantly lower risk for various diseases including cancer, diabetes and heart problems. In addition, exercise improves mental health and cognitive ability. But many obesity experts now believe that frequent, low-level physical activity actually works better than high-impact, sweat-inducing rounds of vigorous exercise.

Interestingly enough, some of this research is in line with a study published in “Pediatrics” magazine two years ago. Researchers then found that overweight children could prevent further weight gain simply by walking another 2,000 steps and eliminating 100 calories each day using products sweetened with sucralose (marketed as Splenda). This was apparently the first time clinical evidence showed that overweight children could effectively prevent excess weight gain by making small changes to their lifestyle.

So here are my thoughts, for what it's worth...don't forgo physical activity for the rest of your life. But if you're trying to lose weight, focus those efforts on food rather than exercise. Or as the author of the Time magazine article wrote, "It's what you eat, not how hard you try to work it off, that matters more in losing weight."

Before I let you go, remember that a sugar-free diet can help shrink the waistline over time. According to this calorie savings calculator, switching from a regular 8-ounce cola to a sucralose-sweetened variation could save 100 calories each day - and result in a loss of up to 15 pounds throughout the year. And a blueberry muffin baked with sucralose can shave 80 calories from your daily intake. Not bad, ey? Either way, you will find that making small changes and turning to low-calorie foods and beverages sweetened with sucralose can have a huge impact on weight over the course of the year.

And for some final, fascinating tidbits provided by Time Magazine, this is what it would take for a 154-pound, 30-year-old woman to work off a 360-calorie blueberry muffin:
* 115 minutes of weight lifting
* 66 minutes of gardening
* 21 minutes of fast skating
* 66 minutes of lawn mowing
* 77 minutes of easy cycling
* 92 minutes of vacuuming
* 33 minutes of jogging (5 mph)
* 230 minutes spent folding the laundry.



Sweet_Tooth said...

"It's what you eat, not how hard you try to work it off, that matters more in losing weight."
...well that is certainly shifting my perspective, I think I need to adopt this as my new mantra! I've always been one to fall into the trap of justifying all the junk food I eat by working out extra hard, or thinking oh I've been to the gym I can have 2 more cupcakes! WRONG.

You have unearthed a rising revolution in how we view the relationship between food and exercise in our daily choices. I think the increasing "walk yourself thin" trend is further proof to substantiate these claims!

Katie said...

Agreed, Sweet Tooth. I think that it's important to get at least some sort of exercise on a regular basis. But I've always felt - and this article only helps to confirm it - that daily diet is the biggest piece of the weight loss puzzle. Thanks for commenting!