The science is in: Exercise isn’t the best way to lose weight

We have this idea that if we want to lose
weight, we join a gym on January 1st, we start working out regularly, and eventually we’ll
slim down. Well, here’s some bad news.
I read more than sixty studies on this, and it turns out exercise is actually pretty useless
when it comes to weight loss. Dr. Kevin Hall at the National Institutes of Health has done some of the most important studies on exercise and weight loss
We need to rebrand exercise … exercise isn’t a weight loss tool per se, it’s excellent
for health is probably the best single thing that you can do other than stopping smoking
to improve your health. But don’t look at it as a weight loss tool.
Exercise will definitely help you live a longer, happier life…. It’s just not the best
way to lose weight. And the reason has to do with how our bodies use energy.
You may not realize it, but physical activity is actually a tiny component of your daily
energy burn. There are three main ways our bodies burn
calories. These include your resting metabolism, so
that’s how much energy your body burns just for its basic functioning, just to keep you
alive, basically. The other part of energy expenditure is the
thermic effect of food, and that’s just how much energy is required to break food
down in your body. The third part of energy expenditure is physical
activity. For most people, physical activity – that’s
any movement you do, only accounts for about 10 to 30 percent of energy use.
So the vast majority of energy or calories you burn every day comes from your basal or
resting metabolism, over which you have very little control.
While 100% of your “calories in” are up to you, only up to about 30% of your “calories
out” are in your control. One study found that if a 200-pound man ran
for an hour, 4 days a week for a month, he’d lose about 5 pounds at most, assuming everything
else stays the same. And everything else doesn’t stay the same!
Researchers have found we make all kinds of behavioral and physiological adaptations when
we start increasing the amount of exercise we’re getting every day.
For one thing, exercise tends to make people hungry.
And I’m sure you know the feeling: you go for a spinning class in the morning, and
then by the time you eat breakfast you’re so hungry you maybe double the size of the
portion of oatmeal you normally eat. There’s also evidence to suggest that some
people simply slow down after a work out, so if you went running in the morning you
might be less inclined to take the stairs at work.
These are called “compensatory behaviors” — the various ways we unknowingly undermine
our workouts. Researchers have also discovered a phenomenon
called metabolic compensation. As people start to slim down, their resting metabolism can slow down. So the amount of energy you burn while at rest is lower. That means this bar might shrink as you start to lose weight. There’s still a lot of research to be done,
but one study from 2012 is particularly interesting. They went out into the middle of the Savannah
in Tanzania to measure the energy burn among a group of hunter gathers called the Hadza.
These are super-active, lean hunter-gatherers. They’re not spending their days behind a computer at a desk. And what they found was shocking. What we found is that there was no difference at all. So even though the Hadza have a much more physically active lifestyle, they weren’t burning any more calories every day than adults in the US and Europe.
Somehow the energy they used for physical activity was being offset or conserved elsewhere.
So how do they stay slim? They don’t overeat. We can undo the calories that we burn off in exercise pretty quickly. It would take about an hour of running to burn off a Big Mac and fries. You’d have to spend about an hour dancing
pretty vigorously to burn off three glasses of wine you might drink with dinner.
An hour of cycling really intensely on exercise bikes to burn off about two doughnuts.
That’s why exercise is best seen as a healthy supplement for a strategy that’s focused
on food. But despite extremely high obesity rates in
the US, government agencies continue to present exercise as a solution
… as do companies with a real interest in making sure we keep eating and drinking their
products. Since the 1920s, companies like Coca-Cola
have been aligning themselves with the exercise message.
The idea here is that you can drink all these extra bottles of soda as long as you work
out. But as we’re seeing, it doesn’t work like that. Actually burning off those extra calories from a can of soda is really, really hard. We have an obesity problem in this country, and we shouldn’t treat low physical activity and eating too many calories as equally responsible for it. Public health policymakers should really prioritize improving our food environment to help people make healthier choices about what they eat. It’s not impossible to lose weight through exercise, it’s just a lot harder. And we need to recognize how that works. If you do go to the gym, and you burn all these calories, it takes you a long time to do so and you put in a great amount of effort, you can erase all of that in five minutes of eating a slice of pizza. Relative magnitude is actually quite surprising, and most people don’t fully appreciate that.

100 thoughts on “The science is in: Exercise isn’t the best way to lose weight

  1. A lot of people in the comment section say that having more muscle mass will increase your resting metabolism. I just don't know how that would happen. Your body will always use as little resources as possible to do anything. If you are lifting a glass of water it should take around as much energy when you aren't muscular as when you have above average muscle mass. You will use less potential of your muscles but in the end amount of energy consumed should be nearly the same. Everything above is just my thoughts not backed by any paper. Feel free to prove me wrong.

  2. The first hour of work-out burns less than the second hour of work-out. Why? Because it gets you out of the food environment where you feel the need to eat something while working out. It takes effort.

  3. They really did half their homework here. Losing weight through diet change is not simple at all, works for almost nobody, and is subject to the same and many other compensatory systems within the body – right down to dulled electrophysiological taste responses. There is so much variation here from your genetics, to your epigenetic, right up to what your mother’s level of stress was during pregnancy. Many of these factors lock in and become irreversible by the time you are an adult. Thus, scientific studies of diet-induced obesity seek to study the effects of things like decreasing microglia in the brain to restore food intake to lean control.

    In essence, by saying “you just need to eat less,” you are suggesting that a person should go on living the rest of their entire life in a state of hunger. Hunger is one of the most motivating human experiences and is an integral part of our body designed by evolution to be impossible to ignore. For a vast majority of overweight and obese people, the effect of increased hunger will NEVER reverse no matter the diet. Even people who undergo acute obesity intervention -like gastric bypasses, gastric bands, and liposuction – gain all of that weight back within a very short time.

    Adipose tissue is an organ like any other. And, as such, will exert effects to maintain homeostasis. These effects can be pervasive and include irreversible changes to the genes that impact hunger, satiety, taste responses, immunology, hepatic factors, digestion, and other facets of metabolism.

  4. Just weight loss is not enough ..
    To feel fresh a little bit of excercise is good..
    I mean running in park etc not just going to gym

  5. C’mon Vox… that’s why it’s called diet an exercise… this is how people give obesity an excuse…

  6. Boo you're forget the visible benefits : improved stamina , and eh, toned body, More athletic shaped and hard body (wanted to say flesh or meat but you know what it could go into that's not what I meant) when pinched especially on legs eh, second language never looked it up maybe part of being toned?

  7. They are not saying exercise doesn't help to lose weight, they are saying the main thing should be eating less/healthier, which is completely right. Exercise is much less important to lose weight than caloric intake – for general health though, it is probably a different story.

  8. This video is suggesting that people who dedicatedly work out are people who still drink tonnes of Soda, eat pizza every day, and in general do not care at all about their diet. This is generally untrue, most people who put time and effort into exercise will watch what they eat and try to fuel their body appropriately.

    Another problem I have with this video is that all of the exercise examples they are giving are cardio based examples, anyone who knows about fitness, the human body and how it works knows that cardio is hands down the worst way to lose weight. As they said in this video, your Basal Metabolic Rate will decrease the more you exercise – with cardio. Your body is an adaptation machine, if you do cardio regularly, your BMR will decrease to conserve energy because it knows its going to need it for that run later. If you weight train, you are increasing your body's muscle mass, and therefore increasing the amount of energy your body needs to maintain it's size, which is exactly what your body wants to do – be in homeostasis. So, weight training will increase the overall size of your muscles, and in turn your body will want to maintain that muscle mass, and therefore not compensate and decrease your Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT), which is the example of taking versus not taking the stairs in this video, it's your daily energy use that is unplanned exercise: a walk, taking the stairs, fidgeting throughout the day instead of sitting still, those sorts of things.

    TLDR: Weight train, which will result in increasing your BMR, as well as increase your calories out, which will help lose weight in a more controlled and sustainable way. Watch what you eat, take a BMR calculator to figure out your calories, and weight train. This video is ridiculous.

  9. I mean, If you for some reason HAVE to choose between either exercising or eating less obviously eating less is going to be more effective, but doing both is definitely the best way to go. Why do people keep stirring up this debate?

  10. In 5 months since I started to go to the gym lost 22+ lbs (10kg) of weight, while gained 11lbs of muscle ( info from BMI test). Running every day 1 mile, 4+ miles every other day (depends on how willing I am to continue. Then after that muscle training, arms, chest, shoulders, back synchronized with 1 mile run, and core, lower back and legs with 4+ mile run day. Normally I stay in gym for 1.3- 2 hours. And only thing I changed in my diet: just eating candy bit less than before but I do eat a giant pancake breakfast with chocolate every weekend, no junk food (wasn't eating fast food in years). But I'm obsessed with gym (6-7 times a week). 173 (5'8") 62 kg (136 lbs). From my experience it's just about to be willing to invest time and actually going to the gym.

  11. All calories aren't the same. Eat plant based for 4 months you'll lose so much weight. Exercise helps the body shift toxic garbage In lymph
    . Something like bouncing on a trampoline is great for shifting lymph..running or walking is good also..

    Mild to moderate exercise isn't a mistake it has many health benefits but stay away from refined and processed foods excess fats and oils and don't consume chemicals like artificial sweeteners. Research shows they're linked to type 2 diabetes by altering gut microbiota.

    Be careful who you listen to there's a lot of misinformation that's potentially very dangerous being spread online.

  12. People who are slim but eat lots of food are either exercising a lot more or eating better quality food higher in soluble plant fibre eg from fruit and vegetables.

  13. I workout out almost everyday except the weekends and I’m never hungry after a workout I lose my appetite if anything

  14. Balance diet, one based on plants, exercise regularly, 5, 10, or even 15 minuets a day, the key is consistency

  15. 1. Eat alot healthy fats, some meat, no carbs for a few days. 2. You become less hungry and eat once a day. 3. And the rest is history…

  16. I went up and down the stairs in a 8 story shopping mall for 3 hours after eating a 2000 calorie pizza and i felt hungry

  17. But it can improve lungs and heart health and make muscles stronger. But yes only exercising doesn't make you lose weight, diet contributes 70% to that

  18. I didn't exercise for a couple months and just layed around, I gained so much weight that i looked different. Now I'm working hard to slim down, exercise works.

  19. Ok, so 10 to 30% is average for activity
    But what if I'm hitting the gym 2 times per day 6 day a week. It sounds much more than average

  20. People that click on this video are the people that don’t want to put in the work and go to the gym ?

  21. quit dinner, quit dinner, quit dinner. No need to exercise you can lose so much weight. Been there, done that.

  22. WOW yea. Just drink a lot of water when eating, especially before eating. Eat home cooked, proportioned meals three times a day only. Exercise for extra healthiness.

    You're Welcome.

  23. Guys please make sure your camera and camera guy isn't reflect in shiny object . In this video part 2.08 oats is putting by camera man can clearly seen through that little shinny spoon.

  24. I've noticed that when I exercise vigorously on a regular basis that it suppresses my appetite for unhealthy foods and I end up consuming fewer calories as a result.

  25. This is some serious cop-out twisting of research. If someone sits around and barely eats all day, versus someone that eats more but is more active, the second person is going to have a richer life with lower levels of depression, stronger social relationships, and better physical health.

  26. I`ve been utilizing this weight loss plan “Yamzοkο Weebly” (Google it) for several days now and so far I like them! They provide me lots of strength and also control my desire for food, however I don`t crash whenever they wear off which I like, and they also don`t cause me to feel jittery. I did absolutely nothing special on my very own diet and i also still manage to reduced my unwanted weight to 7 pounds. .

  27. Your legs are meant to run.Exercise can strengthen your bones, muscles and heart.It's not about loosing weight, it’s about staying healthy.

  28. Sup Vox, rock out a vid like this when you can – say, psych X…?(edit) sorry, not psych X. I meant, "psych K" ?

  29. Please like this up for motivation!!
    I need to lose 5-10 pounds
    1 like=5 sit ups and 10 leg lifts (each leg)
    1 Comment=1 min high knees and 30 second plank

    Love you!!!!!! Hope you can improve your health aswell

  30. 75% of people here think that this video is against exercise
    25% of people here actually know what the video is talking about

  31. wait, why is the underweight category lumped in with normal but overweight is its own category? vox does know that they can both be unhealthy right?

  32. 3:43 — Umm, this is too much percentage wise. All of these things together add up to 106.3%. Which means either the extremely obese (6.3%) really don't weigh anything at all, or someone did their math wrong.

  33. diet to loose weight, exercise to tone your body your clothes look good on you and build muscles so you can get stuff done.

  34. This video was literally the “aha” moment in my life! I have lost over 30 lbs in a span of 4 months because I understand now how my body gains/looses weight. Thank you Vox!

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