Exercise and Weight Loss
by Dr. Daphne Howland, Ph.D.



Weight Loss

 The Monticello Institute provides important information about weight loss and how to trigger weight loss.

Exercise & Weight Loss

  • With a typical exercise program, it is common to maintain weight yet lose fat and gain muscle.
    • Girth can decrease since muscle is denser than fat.
    • A sheer gain in muscle results in a lower percent of body fat.
    • More exercise and improvements in diet may be needed for substantial loss of fat.
  • Regular body composition tests can assess the effectiveness of a program.
    • Absolute weight of fat and lean body weight should be tracked and analyzed.
    • Caloric intake/expenditure goals can be adjusted accordingly.
  • A review of the literature suggests in order to achieve significant fat loss with aerobic activity.
    • Exercise or activity must be performed most days of the week.
    • Aerobic exercise should be between 60 to 80% maximum heart rate for progressively longer durations. 
    • Lower intensities must be continued for very long durations.
  • The combination of anaerobic and aerobic activity results in faster fat loss than anaerobic or aerobic activity alone. 
    • Intense anaerobic exercise increases the metabolism hours after exercise.
    • Aerobic exercise burns fat during exercise, but has little effect afterwards. 
  • Intense exercise (e.g.. weight training, plyometrics, sprints) can increase metabolic rate for hours after the vigorous workout. 
  • Exercise (particularly weight training) develops muscle.
    • Restores muscle that had been lost over the years of a sedentary modern lifestyle. 
      • One pound of muscle can burn 30 to 50 Calories a day.
      • One pound of fat burns only 3 Calories a day.
Sit back and digest that information for a minute.  Your body consumes Calories even when you are doing nothing.  Every pound of fat burns only 3 Calories per day, and every pound of muscle burns at least 30 Calories per day.  The higher percentage of muscle weight your body is the greater the Calorie consumption.  This may not seem important at this point in your counseling, but when you are given more information you will begin to see how the pieces fall together.  Simply put, if you want to lose fat permanently, you have to add muscle permanently.

Energy Balance

  • Neutral energy balance is when the calories you take in is equal to the calories expended. 
    • Weight is maintained. 
  • Positive energy balance is when the calories you take in is greater than the calories expended. 
    • Weight is gained and fat stores are increased. 
  • Negative energy balance is when the calories you take in is less than the calories expended. 
    • Fat stores are used for energy to make up the caloric deficiency. 
    • Weight is lost and fat stores are reduced.
  • The metabolism adjusts to changes in diet and exercise.
    • If calories are increased.
      • Thermo-genesis.
        • Body heat is produced.
      • Metabolism increases.
      • Muscle mass may increase.
    • If calories are restricted.
      • Thyroid hormones decrease.
      • Metabolism decreases.
      • Muscle mass may decrease.

Misconceptions About Weight Loss

Misconceptions followed by facts and some data
  • Exercise burns relatively few calories and therefore makes an insignificant contribution to changing the energy balance. (Wrong)
    • Even though total calories expended during exercise seems to be low, a negative energy balance of as little as 200 calories a day can result in weight loss over time. 
      • For example: A 170 lb person decides to add one hour of tennis, three days a week to their schedule. Adding this will replace 1 hour of watching television. 
        • Calories burned playing tennis = .045 calories a minute per pound of weight 
          • So: 170 lbs X .045 X 60 minutes = 459 calories.
        • Calories burned watching television = .008 calories a minutes per pound of weight. 
          • So: 170 lbs X .008 X 60 minutes = 81 calories.
        • 459 calories - 81 calories = 378 more calories burned for each hour of tennis.
    • Intense activity (anaerobic exercise) can burn fat hours afterward; 3 to 14 hours. 
  • An increase in physical activity will automatically result in an increase in the amount of food eaten. (Wrong)
    • In lab tests, when moderate exercise is performed food intake either remains the same or decreases. At the same time, weight will decrease. With longer periods of sustained activity, food intake will increase in response to increase caloric expenditure. In this case, weight will remain the same if the diet is ad lib. 
  • Exercise can be used to reduce fat from a specific area of the body. (Wrong)
    • Fat loss will occur in a preprogrammed proportion dependent upon genetics, sex, and hormonal levels. 
      • Areas with the largest amount of fat lose more fat, although these areas will seem to be totally reduced last. 
      • With adequate fat loss muscular definition will be achieved in the peripheral and gradually toward the waist, hips, or thighs. 
    • Exercise will help burn calories and maintain lean body weight which can result in fat loss. Increases in muscle in specific areas can change the appearance of those areas but will not result in specific loss of body fat. 
    • If the muscle mass improvements out pace fat loss in a specific area, girth can be greater. 
  • Sauna and steam baths are effective for losing weight. (Wrong)
    • Any weight loss occurring in saunas or steam baths is fluid loss. These fluids will be replaced and the weight will come back. 
  • Passive exercise machines can be used to reduce body weight. (Wrong)
    • Many machines exists that are electronically powered, which do the work for you. These types of machines won't assist in weight loss or fat reduction. 

Why Diets Fail

95% of people who lose weight with diet gain most of the weight back within 3 to 5 years. Often times more fat is gained back due to yo-yo dieting.
  1. Most diets restrict your caloric intake so that your metabolism slows down. 
    • Drastically reducing calories can slow your metabolism and hinder the weight loss process.
    • Very subtle decreases in calories may result in more permanent weight loss.
    • If too few of calories are being consumed, simultaneous adjustments should be made.
      • increase calories throughout the day by eating 3 balanced meals and 2-3 snacks.
      • increase anaerobic activity and aerobic activity.
  2. Dieting usually results in depression, which is counter productive to losing weight. 
    • Depriving yourself of food can lead to depriving yourself of social events. You may give up eating meals out or eating with friends because you don't want to eat something off your diet. This can lead to depression and possible overeating to compensate for what your missing. 
  3. Most diets don't encourage lifestyle changes. 
    • Making temporary changes in eating habits or eating prepackaged foods from weight loss programs will facilitate weight loss. However, when you reach your goals or go off the weight loss program, you will return to old eating habits and gain the weight back (and possibly more). To have permanent weight loss, you must make permanent changes in food choices and eating habits. 
  4. With low calorie diets, weight loss is usually lean body weight. 
    • Diets that severely restricts caloric intake, facilitates loss of lean body weight as opposed to fat weight. This can result in a person who isn't overweight, but has a high body fat composition. 
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