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"That plateau is really different than the standard way of thinking about energy expenditure," Pontzer said. "What the World Health Organization and the people who build the Fitbit would tell you is that the more active you are, the more calories you burn per day. Period, full stop."

In the "constrained" model of total energy expenditure, the body adapts to increased physical activity by reducing energy spent on other physiological activities. Photo by: Javier Zarracina/Vox

Based on the research, Pontzer has proposed a new model that upends the old "calories in, calories out" approach to exercise, where the body burns more calories with more physical activity in a linear relationship (also known as the "additive" model of energy expenditure).

He calls this the "constrained model" of energy expenditure, which shows that the effect of more physical activity on the human body is not linear. In light of our evolutionary history — when food sources were less reliable — he argues that the body sets a limit on how much energy it is willing to expend, regardless of how active we are.

"The overarching idea," Pontzer explained, "is that the body is trying to defend a particular energy expenditure level no matter how active you get."

This is still just a hypothesis. Pontzer and others will need to gather more evidence to validate it, and reconcile contradictory evidence showing that people can burn more energy as they add physical activity. So for now it's a fascinating possibility, among all the others, that may help explain why joining a gym as a sole strategy to lose weight is often an exercise in futility.

9) The government and the food industry are doling out unscientific advice

Since 1980, the obesity prevalence has doubled worldwide, with about 13 percent of the global population now registering as obese, according to the WHO. In the United States, nearly 70 percent of the population is either overweight or obese.

A lack of exercise and too many calories have been depicted as equal causes of the crisis. But as researchers put it in an article in BMJ, "You cannot outrun a bad diet."

Since at least the 1950s, Americans have been told that we can. This Public Health Reports paper outlines the dozens of government departments and organizations — from the American Heart Association to the US Department of Agriculture — whose campaigns suggested more physical activity (alone or in addition to diet) to reverse weight gain.

Unfortunately, we are losing the obesity battle because we are eating more than ever. But the exercise myth is still regularly deployed by the food and beverage industry — which are increasingly under fire for selling us too many unhealthy products.

"Physical activity is vital to the health and well-being of consumers," Coca-Cola says. The company has been aligning itself with exercise since the 1920s, and was recently exposed by the New York Times for funding obesity researchers who emphasize a lack of physical activity as the cause of the epidemic.

Coca-Cola is just one of many food companies that are encouraging us to get more exercise (and keep buying their products while we're at it): PepsiCo, Cargill, and Mondelez have all emphasized physical activity as a cause of obesity.

The exercise myth for weight loss also still appears in high-profile initiatives, like the former first lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move campaign — largely because of the food industry's lobbying efforts, according to Marion Nestle, a New York University nutrition professor. The White House's exercise focus to end childhood obesity, Nestle said, was "a strategic decision to make the message positive and doable and, at the same time, keep the food industry off its back."

But this focus on calories out, or the calories we can potentially burn in exercise, is "an inadequate and a potentially dangerous approach, because it is liable to encourage people to ignore or underestimate the greater impact of energy-in," an obesity doctor and professor wrote in the journal Public Health Nutrition.

In other words, we can lose sight of the fact that it's mostly too much food that's making us fat.

"There are all kinds of reasons to exercise that are good for your health," says Diana Thomas, a Montclair State University obesity researcher. "However, if you're trying to lose weight, the biggest problem I see is food. We need to cut back the food we're eating."

The evidence is now clear: Exercise is excellent for health, but it's not important for weight loss. The two things should never be given equal weight in the obesity debate.

10) So what actually works for weight loss?

At the individual level, some very good research on what works for weight loss comes from the National Weight Control Registry, a study that has parsed the traits, habits, and behaviors of adults who have lost at least 30 pounds and kept it off for a minimum of one year. They currently have more than 10,000 members enrolled in the study, and these folks respond to annual questionnaires about how they've managed to keep their weight down.

The researchers behind the study found that people who have had success losing weight have a few things in common: They weigh themselves at least once a week. They restrict their calorie intake, stay away from high-fat foods, and watch their portion sizes. They also exercise regularly.

But note: These folks use physical activity in addition to calorie counting and other behavioral changes. Every reliable expert I've ever spoken to on weight loss says the most important thing a person can do is limit calories in a way they like and can sustain, and focus on eating healthfully.

In general, diet with exercise can work better than calorie cutting alone, but with only marginal additional weight loss benefits. Consider this chart from a randomized trial that was done on a group of overweight folks: The group that restricted calories lost about the same amount of weight as the group that dieted and exercised, though the exercisers didn't cut as many calories:

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If you embark on a weight loss journey that involves both adding exercise and cutting calories, Montclair's Thomas warned not to count those calories burned in physical activity toward extra eating.

"Pretend you didn't exercise at all," she said. "You will most likely compensate anyway, so think of exercising just for health improvement but not for weight loss."

This post originally appeared on Vox. This article is republished here with permission.

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It's finally time for the weight loss through exercise myth to die...

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Well, shit.

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I've read many articles about the myth of exercise as weight loss, but none better or more comprehensive than this one.

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So it turns out Michelle Obama has been lying to us this whole time...

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В общем, как и думал, похудеть просто от занятий спортом практически нереально

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Yay!

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In general, diet with exercise can work better than calorie cutting alone, but with only marginal additional weight-loss benefits

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h

Annelouise Verboon

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It's the food..

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Take everything here with a grain salt, but helps highlight how little we know about our own bodies.

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The evidence is now clear: Exercise is excellent for health, but it's not important for weight loss. The two things should never be given equal weight in the obesity debate.

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It's generally accepted that for most people, the basal metabolic rate accounts for 60 to 80 percent of total energy expenditure," Kravitz said. Digesting food accounts for about 10 percent.

That leaves only 10 to 30 percent for physical activity, of which exercise is only a subset. (You can read more about this concept here and here.)

"It's not nothing, but it's not nearly equal to food intake — which accounts for 100 percent of the energy intake of the body," Kravitz said. "This is why it's not so surprising that exercise leads to [statistically] significant, but small, changes in weight."

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exercises are elusive....

** Good read this week **

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I can't outrun my diet.

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Food for thought

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Exercise for health. Nutrition for weight

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think of exercising just for health improvement but not for weight loss

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For some reason people still don't get it. What you eat is way more important to weight loss than exercise (but exercise is naturally an all good thing). Conclusion: Eat less calories and exercise regularly and you will be great!

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think of exercising just for health improvement but not for weight loss."

Justin Fowler

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So everything I know is a lie, cool.

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what science knows about weight loss and exercise.

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Váha (tuky) se neshazují cvičením. To bohužel běžná populace neví.

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Exercise found to do basically nothing to help weight loss. Whole foods plant-based is the way to go!

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Sugar is everywhere. Its an insidious a health hazard more damaging than the risk of second hand smoke. At least with smoke you can see it, smell it, and change course when it's in your face.

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While 100% of the energy we gain comes from food, we can only burn about 10% to 30% of it with physical activity each day.

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This will open your eyes!

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This explains the gist!

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It's extremely difficult for people to lose weight once they've gained it by simply exercising more.

A Cochrane Review of the best-available research found that exercise led to only modest weight loss, though exercisers do get a lot of health benefits.

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This is so useful!

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The exercise to lose weight myth.

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A pound of human fat represents about 3,500 calories; therefore cutting 500 calories per day, through diet or physical activity, results in about a pound of weight loss per week.

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It's about the "in". Not that you don't know. Not that you're following the advice.

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The evidence is now clear: Exercise is excellent for health, but it's not important for weight loss. The two things should never be given equal weight in the obesity debate.

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yes

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Exercise for your health, Not for weight loss. eat well and heaIthy

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The researchers behind the study found that people who have had success losing weight share a few things in common: They weigh themselves at least once a week. They restrict their calorie intake, stay away from high-fat foods, and watch their portion sizes. They also exercise regularly.

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Yup!

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the time. Men typically go off and hunt — chasing and killing animals, climbing trees in search of wild honey. Women forage for plants, dig up tubers, and comb bushes for berries. "They're on the high end of physical activity for any population that's been looked at ever," Pontzer said.

By studying the Hadza's lifestyle, Pontzer thought he would find evidence to back the conventional wisdom about why obesity has become such a big problem worldwide. Many have argued that one of the reasons we've collectively put on so much weight over the past 50 years is that we're much less active than our ancestors

Andra Magda

Shared May 6, 2016

You are eating more than ever. You cannot outrun a bad diet.

DWIGHT GOLIDAY JR

Shared May 30, 2016

hmm. interesting read. please pass this on.

Guilherme Teixeira

Shared January 8, 2017

Mano, que texto maravilhoso sobre a relação alimentação + perda de peso.

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Manger bouger

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Shared May 6, 2016

Really good read with coherent arguments & references

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The researchers behind the study found that people who have had success losing weight share a few things in common: They weigh themselves at least once a week. They restrict their calorie intake, stay away from high-fat foods, and watch their portion sizes. They also exercise regularly

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More exercise than equivalent of 45 min. of daily fast paced walk, won’t help losing more weight. No change in eating habits, but weight-loss success will be elusive.

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The evidence is now clear: Exercise is excellent for health, but it's not important for weight loss. The two things should never be given equal weight in the obesity debate.

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Nothing I wasn't aware of but it's good to be reminded because it's so easy to delude yourself in day to day living.

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"You work hard on that machine for an hour, and that work can be erased with five minutes of eating afterward," Hall added. A single slice of pizza, for example, could undo the benefit of an hour's workout. So could a cafe mocha or an ice cream cone.

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I know this by experience. Back in college I rarely eat and hardly go to the gym. Thats when I lost the most weight.

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Shrnuti souvislosti mezi cvicenim, dietou a jejich vlivu na vahu.

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Exercise is really important, but it's not that effective for weight loss. The answer to good health is found almost entirely in eating.

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Super interesting and important.

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Shared December 26, 2016

When they crunched the numbers, the results were astonishing.

"We were really surprised when the energy expenditure among the Hadza was no higher than it is for people in the US and Europe," says Pontzer, who published the findings in 2012 in the journal PLoS One. While the hunter-gatherers were physically active and lean, they actually burned the same amount of calories every day as the average American or European, even after the researchers controlled for body size.

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Shared December 31, 2016

Really interesting. The body is way more complicated than we think but people like to think otherwise.

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Loved this article, so thoroughly explained! Ready to do some changes in my daily habits cause of it.

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When you alter one component — cutting the number of calories you eat in a day to lose weight, doing more exercise than usual — this sets off a cascade of changes in the body that affect how many calories you use up, and in turn, your body weight.

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it's extremely difficult for people to lose weight once they've gained it by simply exercising more.

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Very interesting facts + the way the food industry is trying to escape facts that would impact it's business

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One 2009 study shows that people seemed to increase their food intake after exercise — either because they thought they burned off a lot of calories or because they were hungrier. Another review of studies from 2012 found people generally overestimated how much energy exercise burned and ate more when they worked out.

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The evidence is now clear: Exercise is excellent for health, but it's not important for weight loss. The two things should never be given equal weight in the obesity debate.

Aldrich Co

Shared May 8, 2016

Got a "whoa" moment on reading this.. Exercise won't be enough to make you shed pounds. Sounds intuitive but actually many subscribe to this belief.

Chris ~

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Summary: eat less to lose weight

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Does this make sense?
I think otherwise.

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Really interesting article.

Dennis G

Shared May 4, 2016

Exercising does not seem to be the best way to loose weight. It is more likely to be eating less and more heathy.

Chris Le

Shared May 14, 2016

What you eat, how much you eat.

The evidence is now clear: Exercise is excellent for health, but it's not important for weight loss. The two things should never be given equal weight in the obesity debate.

Tania Bilokin

Shared May 19, 2016

interesting and surprising

William R. J. Ribeiro

Shared May 30, 2016

The plot thickens! Better star counting calories again.

Evandro Junqueira Figueiredo

Shared July 28, 2016

No matter how working out impacts your waistline, it does your body and mind good.

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Shared July 29, 2016

This Cochrane Review of all the best-available evidence on exercise for weight loss found that physical activity alone led to only modest reductions.

Evandro Junqueira Figueiredo

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University of Alabama obesity researcher David Allison sums up the research this way: Adding physical activity has a very modest effect on weight loss — "a lesser effect than you'd mathematically predict," he said.

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"It's generally accepted that for most people, the basal metabolic rate accounts for 60 to 80 percent of total energy expenditure," Kravitz said. Digesting food accounts for about 10 percent.

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And exercise, of course, has a way of making us hungry — so hungry that we might consume more calories than we just burned off.

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They might decide to lay down for a rest, fidget less because they're tired, or take the elevator instead of the stairs.

These changes are usually called "compensatory behaviors"

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A lack of exercise and too many calories have been depicted as equal causes of the crisis. But as researchers put it in an article in BMJ, "You cannot outrun a bad diet."

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Shared August 3, 2016

But this focus on calories-out, or the calories we can potentially burn in exercise, is "an inadequate and a potentially dangerous approach, because it is liable to encourage people to ignore or underestimate the greater impact of energy-in," an obesity doctor and professor wrote in the journal Public Health Nutrition.

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The evidence is now clear: Exercise is excellent for health, but it's not important for weight loss. The two things should never be given equal weight in the obesity debate.

Evandro Junqueira Figueiredo

Shared August 3, 2016

The researchers behind the study found that people who have had success losing weight share a few things in common: They weigh themselves at least once a week. They restrict their calorie intake, stay away from high-fat foods, and watch their portion sizes. They also exercise regularly.

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Shared August 3, 2016

"Pretend you didn't exercise at all," she said. "You will most likely compensate anyway so think of exercising just for health improvement but not for weight loss."

anacoid

Shared April 7, 2019

Is everything I know false? Part 2

Greg Patterson

Shared May 25, 2016

Great read.

Daniel Graham

Shared April 28, 2016

For better health and wellbeing, exercise; for weight loss, eat less and better. This isn't something I want to hear, but it certainly makes sense of my experience.

Toby Driscoll

Shared April 30, 2016

I will definitely use this to justify my shortcomings.

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Shared May 3, 2016

Exercise accounts for a small portion of daily calorie burn

Abhi Kris

Shared May 5, 2016

Insightful and actually backed by data.

AMYunus Yunus

Shared May 22, 2016

Exercising for health improvement, not losing weight

Andrew McCrea

Shared December 18, 2016

Good article. Mental perception probably needs to change towards avoiding putting weight on in the first place as opposed to the current how to lose it once it's there.

sergio antonio

Shared January 2, 2017

r
jmn

Chris Jennings

Shared March 11, 2018

A pound of human fat represents about 3,500 calories; therefore cutting 500 calories per day, through diet or physical activity, results in about a pound of weight loss per week.

Chris Jennings

Shared March 11, 2018

He calls this the "constrained model" of energy expenditure, which shows that the effect of more physical activity on the human body is not linear. In light of our evolutionary history — when food sources were less reliable — he argues that the body sets a limit on how much energy it is willing to expend, regardless of how active we are.

Chris Jennings

Shared March 11, 2018

The researchers behind the study found that people who have had success losing weight share a few things in common: They weigh themselves at least once a week. They restrict their calorie intake, stay away from high-fat foods, and watch their portion sizes. They also exercise regularly.

But note: These folks use physical activity in addition to calorie counting and other behavioral changes. Every reliable expert I've ever spoken to on weight loss says the most important thing a person can do is to limit calories in a way they like and can sustain, and focus on eating more healthfully.

Sheepsteak

Shared April 30, 2016

The evidence is now clear: Exercise is excellent for health, but it's not important for weight loss. The two things should never be given equal weight in the obesity debate.

Michael Shen

Shared May 2, 2016

An excellent article on the true impact (or lack thereof) of exercise with respect to weight loss.

Paulina Pascual

Shared May 4, 2016

Such a great article! And save for an odd jab at @Fitbit, this echoes a lot of what I figured to be true when I set my owl #fitness goals

Gregg Schlaudecker

Shared March 13, 2019

Fitbit still has it wrong. Calorie deficit from BMR is the primary mover

Andrea Baresi

Shared May 3, 2016

Unfortunately, we are losing the obesity battle because we are eating more than ever. But the exercise myth is still regularly deployed by the food and beverage industry — which are increasingly under fire for selling us too many unhealthy products.

Michael Kelso

Shared May 3, 2016

A very useful and informative article about exercise and dieting.

Pablo Alarcón

Shared May 11, 2016

Por qué ni debes hacer ejercicio para perder peso... muy interesante.

Necdet Kulce

Shared May 13, 2016

This is the reality...

Claudio Sanhueza

Shared May 16, 2016

The evidence is now clear: Exercise is excellent for health, but it's not important for weight loss. The two things should never be given equal weight in the obesity debate.

Martins Jr. Divine Okoi

Shared May 27, 2016

Exercise to be healthy, not to lose weight

julianna lindsey

Shared July 7, 2016

nearly impossible to change a single habit- why we tell people to lose weight by starting to diet and exercise is puzzling... two very difficult things to change on their own. seems we're setting folks up for failure.?

Alex A

Shared October 15, 2016

If you embark on a weight-loss journey that involves both adding exercise and cutting calories, Montclair's Diana Thomas warned not to count those calories burned in physical activity toward extra eating.

"Pretend you didn't exercise at all," she said. "You will most likely compensate anyway so think of exercising just for health improvement but not for weight loss."

Firsta Yudith

Shared December 17, 2016

Exercising just for health improvement but not for weight loss.

PjotBekks

Shared December 21, 2016

Compensatory effects.
An emphasis on diet has more effects. And pay attention to sleep and stress!
- 20 Minutes -

David Sassaman

Shared December 28, 2016

Fantastic article that lists 10 good reasons why exercise doesn't really help you lose weight.

Sweeney Daniel

Shared January 3, 2017

Healthy food first.

Jannis Blume

Shared May 26, 2017

focus on calories-out, or the calories we can potentially burn in exercise, is "an inadequate and a potentially dangerous approach, because it is liable to encourage people to ignore or underestimate the greater impact of energy-i

Constantinos Geraniou

Shared May 17, 2016

it's extremely difficult for people to lose weight once they've gained it by simply exercising more.

Vergiliu S

Shared May 5, 2016

Nice article about weight loss

Xin Rui Quek

Shared May 13, 2016

Still a hypothesis

the "constrained model" of energy expenditure, which shows that the effect of more physical activity on the human body is not linear. In light of our evolutionary history — when food sources were less reliable — he argues that the body sets a limit on how much energy it is willing to expend, regardless of how active we are.

Xin Rui Quek

Shared May 13, 2016

"However, if you're trying to lose weight, the biggest problem I see is food. We need to cut back the food we're eating."

The evidence is now clear: Exercise is excellent for health, but it's not important for weight loss.

Burr BestCom

Shared May 21, 2016

we always thought exercise could control weight. Think again...the facts support better health, but weight control is not one of them. Who'd a thought?

Mahesh Bawan

Shared March 16, 2019

Exercise

Fatal Charme

Shared February 20, 2019

Exercise is excellent for health, but it's not important for weight loss.

Exercise is excellent for health, but it's not important for weight loss.