Exercise is in the spotlight again today, with a new study claiming that it’s actually not the best method for weight loss.
However, just because it isn’t good for weight loss, doesn’t mean it won’t save your life.
The study, undertaken in partnership with the Liverpool John Moores University and the Netherland’s Radboud University, looked at data from more than 110 fitness programs and studies. What they found is that 206 months of endurance training actually led to minimal or no weight loss. This is in line with the popular belief that any fitness regime is 80% diet and nutrition.
In the studies that the paper looked at, the average reduction in weight was just 1% of the total weight, or between 0-4.4kg over all the individuals who participated in all the studies. Not much of a result.
Why It Will Save You
But, that doesn’t mean that exercise should be put off, because it’s actually more important in getting rid of another health problem: visceral fat.
Visceral fat is the kind of fat that surrounds our organs. It’s often referred to as a hidden fat, and it’s seen in people who are both overweight and of normal weight. Individuals of a relatively normal weight who have large amounts of visceral fat are often referred to by doctors as TOFI, thin on the outside and fat on the inside.
So while exercise might not make that much of an impact to the fat on your waistline, it does make a difference to the fat hiding on the inside. Too much visceral fat leads to type 2 diabetes, heart disease and circulatory disease, so it’s definitely not something you want to have too much of. In fact, the authors of this particular study have said that it is visceral fat that might pose the biggest health risk, despite us regularly being told to drop our ‘outside’ kilos.
What the authors of this study found is that visceral fat was reduced even when there was no actual weight loss by a rate of around 6%. When there was actual weight loss, this rate went up significantly, with researchers saying that losing 5% of your body weight through exercise would result in over 20% reduction of visceral fat. Interestingly, the same cannot be said for weight lost through calorie reduction alone, with a 5% weight loss resulting in a 13.4% loss of visceral fat.
Hidden Benefits Of Exercise
It’s important to remember that exercise might not lead to weight loss because it tends to result in an increase of muscle, which of course weighs much more than fat. On the other hand, dieting will result in weight loss, but it might also result in muscle loss.
The authors of this study claim that they hope their research makes doctors think twice before declaring an exercise regimen to be a failure if it resulted in no actual weight loss, because there are other things going on behind the scenes. They also urged individuals not to be down-hearted by the results on the scale, which were not indicative of the bigger picture. Professor Dick Thijssen, one of the study’s co-authors had this to share with those trying to lose weight and improve their fitness.
“These results clearly demonstrate the powerful effect of exercise training on your body composition cannot be detected by your weighing scale.
“Don’t let your weighing scale mislead you, especially when exercise training caused you to be fitter, resulted in a better fit in your old jeans and markedly improved your health risks.”