calorie deficit is the real way to lose weight

calorie deficit is the real way to lose weight

I've said it a hundred times on this blog, but today let's hear it from somebody else - somebody who's really smart (an MD who specializes in nutrition.)

From David Katz on the eat + run blog in a post titled "Exercise: of Math and Myth"

"Of course exercise burns body fat.
 If you are like most of us, you once knew this was true, intuitively, and perhaps from first-hand experience. But that was before you knew it was false, because you were talked out of believing the obvious.
You may have been talked out of it by a personal trainer, fitness instructor, or author advancing a pet theory. You may have been told that aerobic exercise is passé, and it's all about resistance training now. Or that exercise increases appetite, and so invariably causes you to replace whatever calories you burn."

calorie deficit is the real way to lose weight
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He summarizes the article with this one liner:

"I would like to approach all of this with scholarly erudition. So here I go: It's BS!"

Then he gives 3 simple elements to the argument that exercise does, indeed, burn body fat, and that it can cause weight loss (provided you replace fewer calories than you burn):

1. Logic
Olympic swimmers are lean and muscular. So are Olympic gymnasts. I have never seen a truly competitive marathon runner or top ballerina who shops in the husky section. Logically, and observationally, there is an association between high levels of physical exertion and low levels of body fat. We see it all the time. Logic and observation converge to say: High levels of physical activity, be they on the ground, in the water, or leaping through the air, burn fat. Period.
2. Laws of Physics
There is as well the simple fact that exercise is work, and work burns fuel of some kind. Newton either said this, or meant to. Let's move on.
3. Limb Loppers
I have lived it many times, most recently this week—courtesy of a massive oak tree Hurricane Sandy brought down across my parents' driveway. I spent just about all of the daylight hours last Sunday working with my father and my son to cut up and haul away the unholy mess that magnificent tree had become (crashing through a couple of other lesser trees on its way down), and clear the driveway. We did it.
In my case, that meant working without a break for hours, using every muscle in my body to the limits of its tolerance. By day's end, I couldn't lift my hands to my head to wash my hair without the muscles in my arms going into spasm.

He goes on to say he ate the biggest dinner of his life, probably 4,000 calories, and still didn't replace all the calories he burned that day. This is similar to what I wrote a few months ago - do really long, intense workouts like Michael Phelps, and you'll be able to eat whatever you want!

After a few more paragraphs about the science behind calories and metabolic rate, he closes with:

Modern living has completely obscured the levels of exertion native to our bodies, and the quantity of calories required to fuel them. Even those of us who exercise daily are relatively sedentary by historical standards. Consider, for instance, early pioneers who spent day after day clearing trees from fields using only hand tools and beasts of burden.
When we don't like the energy-balance math of modern living, we invent myths to replace it. But all such tales simply obscure the basic truth.
Of course exercise burns body fat—or can. But most of us, most of the time simply don't exercise enough to outrun our calories, and readily out-eat our workouts.

manual labor burns calories
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That's a great article. (and not just because he's got my back!)

Get your body moving - active and passive exercise during the day. Eat fewer calories. Turn up the intensity. And if you have the time and inclination - push your limits for a little longer.

-Chris Butterworth