Effect of exercise on weightloss

I am going to start jogging a mile everyday at lunch (5 times a week). According to a calorie calculator, this will be 110 cal burned. Now according to those who subscribe to weight loss = (calories burned - calories eaten)/3600 and there are no other considerations (based on previous threads, there are a lot of these people on SD) the effect of jogging 5 miles a week is an increased weight loss of 1/7 lbs every week.

Is that accurate that such extremely moderate exercise will only contribute 11 oz of weight loss every month? If not, how can it be reconciled with the whole “weight loss is calories in vs calories out” mantra?

Exercise has many benefits, including burning calories. But it’s extremely easy to eat more than you burn. Unless you are doing multi-hour exercising you are likely to have more and faster results by changing your diet.

In addition, you tend to increase your calorie burn rate in the time after you finish exercising, to the numbers are better than you think. But they are all for naught if you have an extra dessert. I use exercise as a way of controlling my weight, keeping my appetite in check, and helping me to sleep more. It also strengthens your cardio system, helps your cholesterol, and dozens of other health benefits unrelated to weight loss.

Diet and exercise together are the key. As Telemark said, it’s easy to eat more calories than you burn. Don’t think that you ‘deserve’ that extra scope of ice cream after exercise if your goal is to lose weight.

Also don’t be surprised if you gain a little weight. Muscle is denser than fat. You might gain a little weight, or not lose as much as you think you should, but you are probably healthier and taking in that belt a couple of notches.

I’m having the opposite problem as I exercised over 400 hours last year, but haven’t had much of a chance to since Christmas. I haven’t gained any pounds, but I’ve had to start wearing my ‘fat’ pants! Getting back into shape is going to be a chore this year.

Because how much you move is only a small component of “calories out”. A big part of it is your metabolism, which is controlled by many hormones that exercise and eating properly can boost. And, for that matter, exercise can often (in my experience) cause me to subconsciously adjust my eating habits so that I eat less (calories in).

I’m not sure how common that is. I’ve known many people who end up gaining weight on an exercise regimen because it makes them hungrier. But for me, exercise causes my appetite to line up much more closely to my actual metabolic needs than being sedentary.

Part of it may be that when I exercise, I also pay more attention to what I eat; meaning it may not be metabolic at all, but psychological. I highly suggest tracking your weight, exercise routine and dietary habits for awhile to get some insight into how your program actually works for you.

Diet affects weight rather linearly - eat less, lose fat. The effects of excercise are compounded - while some additional calories burned = some fat loss there is the added benefit of additional muscle created. Muscle burns more calories than fat, even while resting.

In short, excercize builds muscle which increases the amount of calories burned throughout the day (and night), helping to further reduce fat.

[li]With respect to weight loss, “calories in vs calories out” is at best misleading; your body doesn’t use “calories” to determine how much fat to store or burn; it uses nutrients (proteins, carbohydrates, fats, and vitamins/minerals) with varying degrees of bioavailability dependant upon the structure of the dietary source,[/li][li]Consumption of body fat (the component of body weight that most people seek to reduce) is more dependant upon the basal (resting) metabolism rate than calories burned during exercise unless you are exerting yourself for hours on end, and[/li][li]Changes in body weight are an almost useless measure of improvement of fitness.[/li][/ol]


Even much more vigorous and prolonged exercise, burning say 7 times as many calories in exercise, is still a pretty modest effect on weight loss per se, easily swamped by eating more as a result, or without even beng aware of it decreasing your non-exercise activity as a result.

The impact of exercise on weight loss is generally modest.

The impact of exercise on body composition, i.e. how much weight loss comes from fat vs. lean body mass or even if some increase in muscle mass occurs during gradual weight loss, and even where the fat loss comes from, more health impacting visceral fat or less impacting subcutaneous fat, is HUGE.

The impact of exerise on insulin sensitivity is very significant as well.

Exercise has relatively little impact on weight loss, more on fat loss, more yet on having the fat loss come from the most important places to lose the fat, and most on overall health even if the weight stays exactly the same.

I’m not sure what the question here is. Is it that that’s too little or too much? In terms of weight loss, on its own, no, it’s not going to contribute much.

Basically, exercise does jack for actual burning of calories, and, apparently, it also doesn’t do crap even if you put on a bunch of muscle.

If you have a bunch of fat to lose, it appears that restricting your calories in is the only reliable way to do it.

That, and, apparently from papers I have read, various drugs can have a dramatic effect, but are not legal for this purpose. (I’ve read a few showing that anabolic steroids, surprise surprise, will cause a person to gain a significant amount of muscle and lose a significant amount of fat mass within a few weeks)

Anabolic steroids are not without risk, but, I’ve seen arguments that they are safer than cosmetic surgery to improve how someone’s body looks. Such cosmetic surgery is rarely done, but it is legal.

FWIW, I believe very few people understand the true place of exercise in fat loss.

The real issue is that once you go into extended calorie restriction, your body starts to go into starvation mode and as a result, your metabolism slows down to match your calorie intake so that you don’t starve to death, or at least starve as slowly as possible. This is why dieting alone ends in failure. Your metabolism slows down to match your intake and so you have to restrict even more to keep losing and eventually you get to a place where it you feel like crap all the time and it just isn’t worth it.

So the real purpose of exercise while dieting is to keep your metabolism from shutting down, not for the calories you burn during your exercise time. By keeping your metabolism up, you burn more calories in resting state and THAT’S where it matters. The 23 hrs a day you’re not in the gym count for way more than the one hour you are.

The only thing about exercise that matters when you’re dieting is that you get your heart rate up to between 50% and 85% of maximum for at least twenty minutes. By doing that, you’ll keep your metabolism from shutting down and you’ll burn more calories all day long than if you didn’t exercise or exercise at an ineffective heart rate.

Exercise is about maintaining your metabolism, not about the calories you burn while doing it or about muscle building.

However, on a related “muscle” note, once you get into starvation mode, your body will tend to favor burning protein over burning fat. It’s your fat stores that really have the potential to keep you alive in a famine and so your body will try to hang on to the fat and sacrifice muscle unless you work those muscles to let the body know you need them. Muscle weighs more than fat, so if all you want to do is lose weight, then by all means, starve your muscles away. But if you want to be lean and mean, keep exercising so you can lose the fat and keep the muscle.

While exercising is good and all, it won’t help you much weight.

Losing weight – and keeping it off – is primarily achieved through a permanent modification of your diet.

Proper diet doesn’t involve starvation mode. It may be eating less than your used to but unless you are under a doctor supervised low-calorie diet this shouldn’t be a problem.

Something I found is that if I just keep up a fast pace at something enough to start lightly perspiring and keep that up for about an hour it seems to generate my endorfins which inhibit appetite. Also adding muscle mass will increase the calories your body burns each day just by being there.

  Kind of a theory in my part backed by personnal experience is that anything I can do to generate the feel good chemicals seems to suppress my appetite. Normal excersize, some healthy social activity, and some creative outlet that you can develop some passion for will all contribute to this.

Muscles burn energy (calories) even at rest. This is why the body absorbs muscle mass in starvation mode - to avoid having a component that takes extra energy to sustain, reduce the minimum necessary energy to stay alive. In fact, people on extended fasts or hunger strikes or excessive diets risk heart problems, because heart muscle may also start to be absorbed.

So jogging to build up muscle, and heart and lung capacity, is good for burning calories even well after you are done exercising for the day.

Plus, if you’re like me, exercise time is an extra part of the day where you aren’t sitting on the couch thinking about nibbling on something.

Aerobic work, in general, will burn off muscle tissue. About 5% of calories come from muscle, rising to as much as 15% when glycogen stores near depletion.

Also, re the “why” we burn muscle in starvation states …

“Why” is also a bit of a dicey thing. But we can say this - we burn free glucose and glycogen most of all until we run out of it (or cannot mobilize glycogen as fast as needed). Fat we can only burn so fast and it can only contribute a fairly small fraction of our daily energy needs, let alone our needs under times of higher demand. Of the rest the body tries to protect the brain as most important, organs like heart and liver next, which leaves skeletal muscle as more expendable. Better to burn up skeletal muscle than organs or brain.

Although 110/day isn’t much in terms of weight loss, it’s actually pretty significant in terms of weight maintenance. People always look at those numbers reject them as so small as to be meaningless, but it adds up: an extra 600 calories a week is really pretty significant. If you have two identical guys who are maintaining their weight and one runs a mile a day, that guy can go have a nice, indulgent dinner once a week and not gain weight: if the other guy does that, he’ll be 10 lbs heavier each year. Being able to have a nice, indulgent dinner once a week is a huge improvement in the quality of your life: not only do you have the pleasure of the food, but it means you can have a social life when needed.

And before anyone jumps all over me about how a nice indulgent dinner is more than 800 calories–I know that. But that’s 800 additional, so you can add the 600 to the normal dinner total (say, another 600) and with 1200 calories of play, you can have a very satisfying meal).

Alternatively, those 600 calories can mean a beer or glass of wine every day after work, if that’s your thing, or a latte every morning, or a small desert a couple time a week. 600 calories a week is a lot.

Maintenance calories + a sedentary lifestyle basically equal a pretty bland, lonely life.

Another factor is that, the more time you spend exercising, the less time you spend at home where eating is easier.

Also, what DSeid says. Exercise means that the weight you lose is more likely to be fat and not muscle, which will make you healthier, more attractive and better performing even if your weight doesn’t change much.


Manda Jo,

Welll … if you want to start talking about net, then also take into account that those 600 calories actually net are only that amount that would be above what the person would’ve burnt sitting around those, say two hours a week, which is something like 120 to 180 depending on size and individual variation. So only add maybe 450 calories to that once a week indulgence. Basically a moderately large piece of pie. Or two to three glasses of wine with dinner. Or one Grande Gingerbread Latte from Starbucks.

What most people do, Manda Jo, is overestimate how much they can eat extra. They think it is a lot more than it is. A beer a day? That is typically about 150 calories each, in a week that is over a thousand calories. Burning a net 450ish doesn’t offset it without moderating something else.

The act of exercising even a small amount can have huge benefits to your health. Weight loss/management is just one part. Even if you never lose a pound, you’ll be so much healthier by jogging that one mile per day.

This video talks about the benefits of going for a short walk every day: 23 and 1/2 hours: What is the single best thing we can do for our health?