Exercise is bad for your well-being? No! It fosters positive health benefits. But we are misguided when we make it the center of a weight loss scheme.
Rational as this sounds exercise is not a major weight loss driver. Many peer reviewed studies support and books explain this viewpoint.1 Insulin and other hormones determine how we use and burn our calories. Diet and when we eat drive weight loss. They effect our insulin levels. They setup our basal metabolism. Calories burn by jumping up and down are secondary.
Exercise used to energize and enliven is outstanding. But it doesn’t measure up for fat loss.
Use the web to calculate exercise calories. Individuals, they say, are unique. What I advocate may not be sensible from where you are. I used the site to check my understanding of calories used.
Look At The Numbers
Your weight and the distance you walk are the biggest factors in how many calories you burn while walking. A rule of thumb is that about 100 calories per mile are burned for an 180-pound person and 65 calories per mile are burned for a 120-pound person. Your walking speed matters less. — verywell
If you are able, walking five miles is beneficial. It energizes. But in terms of calories burned skipping one meal has a similar effect. Choose the one you can do, choose both — exercise and diet. Build metabolism with resistance exercise and fasting.
The reality for most of us…. Look at a 30 minute moderate paced walk if you weigh 100 pounds you use 80 calories. If you weigh 190 you burn 150 calories. Brisk walking consumes 113 and 216.
There are 3500 calories in a pound of fat. Take a daily brisk half hour walk it’ll take 30 days to lose one pound.2
Don’t eat for 24 hours twice in the same time frame and 1 pound is the average weight loss.3
I avoid the convention wisdom of eat a low cal diet and exercise more. When a group of the biggest looser contestants were studied the results of low cal and much exercise regimen failed.
Short term… the results were stunning weight loss. But in a long term follow up all but one of the 14 participants had regained the weight lost. The one that did not regain had bariatric surgery.
This diet and exercise strategy for massive weight loss causes a significant drop in our metabolism.4 Example one participant was using 800 calories a day less than when he started losing. No surprise that maintaining weight loss is challenging.
I shifted my strategy to using fasting to facilitate weight loss. Fasting does not drive metabolic rate down.
Fung’s View Point
What and when we eat are the most powerful weight loss controllers. It makes sense to go there first — eating and not eating. Whole foods, intermittent and longer fasts is where I am going.
From an interview of Dr Fung by Dr. Frank Lipman
Reducing refined carbohydrates is a well-known and successful strategy for reducing insulin. This is the basis of such diets as the Atkins. Most of us know that reducing sugar and white flour and starchy carbohydrates is a great way to lose weight. It is often remarkable that physicians who work with thousands of obese patients almost universally use diets low in refined carbohydrates. By contrast, academic physicians who do mostly research and do not work with patients instead counsel calorie counting. Those physicians who work with many patients understand the futility of calorie counting and have seen the benefits of reducing refined carbohydrates.
But this is not the entire picture. Insulin is the major driver of weight gain, but there are factors other than carbohydrates that increase insulin. The major player here is insulin resistance.
I walk as I am able. And do resistance exercise with bands following the advice found in Resistance Band Workbook5
I aim for a ketogenic diet as described by Dr. Stephen Phinney or Dr. Eric Westman. I am experimenting with fasting protocols. Fung’s , Complete Guide to Fasting. (Fifty-five pounds yes I’m counting)
The keto part shapes itself as a moderate protein, low carb (avoid grains and added sugar), and high fat. (With all the fat I have to lose I do not need to add much extra fat. The fat ration comes from my body fat.)
Exercise is less useful than food choice and intermittent fasting for wellbeing. Moderate exercise and consistent resistance training do have a useful role. (Burning calories is not one of them.) There are many useful resources available — see footnotes and links in this article.
Yes my choices are not for everyone. Study the info available to help you decide. A thoughtful health care provider is a worthwhile/mandatory check6
This is the fourth day of a seven day fast. This post is an affirmation for me to keep going. I have satisfied myself with safety and efficacy of my tactics. I believe parts of my strategy will be useful to those who need to loose a massive amount of weight. Low in body fat individuals need not apply.
“My grandmother started walking five miles a day when she was sixty. She’s ninety-seven now, and we don’t know where the heck she is.” ― Ellen DeGeneres
“I believe that every human has a finite amount of heartbeats. I don’t intend to waste any of mine running around doing exercises.” ― Neil Armstrong
“If you are in a bad mood go for a walk.If you are still in a bad mood go for another walk.” ― Hippocrates
- Using a 100 pound walker in this example ↩
- Fung The Complete Guide to Fasting p. 116, p. 234we tell patients to expect an average fat loss of half a pound per day of fasting. If you lose more weight than that, it’s likely water weight ↩
- Fung cites this study. Erin Fothergill, Juen Guo, Lilian Howard, Jennifer C. Kerns, Nicolas D. Knuth, Robert Brychta, Kong Y. Chen, et al., “Persistent Metabolic Adaptation 6 Years After ‘The Biggest Loser’ Competition,” Obesity (2016), online May 2, doi: 10.1002/ oby. 21538. ↩
- Theraband quality flat bands you can buy on AmazonResistance Band Workbook: Illustrated Step-By-Step Guide to Stretching, Strengthening and Rehabilitative TechniquesBook by Karl G KnopfA “just right book” From chair sitting programs to advanced. No gym or extensive set-ups required. Enough teeth to satisfy…. ↩
- Avoiding ethical and money driven claims of superiority of vegan, Paleo, and low fat schools saves energy. I believe in eating close to the source. I believe in doing my own food processing with stove and knife. I avoid tasty jalapeno white cheese puffs. ↩