On Exercise and Weight Loss

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As it turns out, this simple statement is controversial

Move more. Eat less.

At its heart, it’s quite true. And yet…

Most of us could benefit from moving more and eating less.

We’ve optimised our environment for sitting — be it work, relaxation, education — it’s all done on our butts with little movement involved.

We also eat more than we need to. There are multiple reasons, ranging from the marketing efforts of fast food companies, to the very convenience they embody, to eating as being one of our stress responses. (I’m looking at you, 2020, 2021, and 2022.)

Most diets boil down to eating less. Almost all of them, by whatever rules they adhere to — Keto, Paleo, intermittent fasting, whatever — result in fewer calories being consumed overall. Thus, weight loss. (And to be clear, if a set of rules like those appeals to you as a structure for losing weight, good for you. Check with your doctor, of course.)

The controversy is that the statement isn’t all inclusive. Eating less and/or moving more simply isn’t possible, or isn’t effective, for everyone.

It’s a valid criticism, but it doesn’t invalidate the premise. There are no absolutes. It’s still true that most people would do well to eat less and move more, in whatever way makes the most sense for them.

“Eat food, not too much, mostly plants” is another rule of thumb that also attempts to simplify human dietary needs. We do love simple answers. Once again, it’s an oversimplification that can’t apply to everyone, but in that simplification, it applies as a helpful rule of thumb for many.

The one I keep reminding myself of, as I deal with my “COVID 19 … lbs”, is “you can’t outrun your fork”. Exercise is important, but in the long run, it’s diet that matters more for most people.

2 thoughts on “On Exercise and Weight Loss”

  1. A couple of years ago I worked for a professional sports team, as an assistant in the front office. However I did frequently interact with coaching staff. My most memorable one was with the strength and conditioning coach. After observing several interns (male and in their 20’s) “competing” with each other discussing how much weight they lifted, how many reps, etc (you get the picture), he turned to me and said “diet is much more important than exercise.” Never forgot that comment. Also had personal experience with this after having to drastically change our diets due to a health issue my husband was dealing with. He lost 35 pounds and I lost 25 in about 5 months just on diet alone. We obviously had a pretty unhealth diet previous to that!

  2. Exactly right, Leo. According to Dr. Eric Wiseman, author of “End Your Carb Confusion,” exercise has very little to do with weight loss. He also advises the high fat, low carb way. I followed his plan and lost over 40 pounds in four months and dropped my A1c from diabetes to normal range. I can recommend Dr. Eric’s book highly!

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