Exercise For Weight Loss: Does It Work?

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Let’s start by getting one thing straight:

Exercise. Is. Incredible!

Here are 11 evidence-based reasons to prioritize exercise daily:

  1. Boost your happiness
  2. Improve your ability to set and achieve goals
  3. Reduce your risk of heart disease
  4. Enhance the quality of your sleep
  5. Raise your energy levels
  6. Increase your strength and flexibility
  7. Improve your memory
  8. Boost your self-confidence.
  9. Enhance your performance at work
  10. Make yourself less susceptible to disease
  11. Increase your healthspan

Whew! That’s an exhaustive list!

For the reasons listed above, it’s important to engage in some type of aerobic or weight-training activity frequently.

Exercise is important and awesome and wonderful and amazing…allllll of the “good” words!

However…

Exercise is a poor way to lose weight.

This shocking (but true!) statement is not my own; rather, it’s one of the taglines repeated over and over again by celebrity trainer Vinnie Tortorich.

Yes, you read the above correctly…the man is a celebrity trainer—an expert at getting famous people to lose weight/gain muscle—and he emphasizes the notion that exercise should not be the first line of defense for weight loss.

In US News & World Report, Tortorich explains his reasoning:

  • “He [Tortorich] blames a couple of culprits for the fattening of America. One is the ‘calorie-in, calorie-out’ concept of dieting that has focused on calorie restriction as opposed to the calorie sources. When it comes to protein, fat and carbs from fruit and veggies, our bodies know what to do – using them, respectively, for rebuilding cells and for providing long-term and short-term energy. But calories from grains and sugar? ‘They’re killing you,’ he writes.”
  • “It [the increased availability of sugars and grains] was all pretty harmless when it was just a little extra corn and bread. Our bodies could handle it. But, over time, it’s ended up in everything [. . .] And now that we’re flooded with that garbage in such unprecedented quantities, our bodies don’t know what to do with it, and so we convert it to fat and store it.”

Further, TIME published an article in 2014 titled, “‘Eat Less, Exercise More’ Isn’t The Answer For Weight Loss.” Here are a few key takeaways:

  • “The uncomfortable fact is that an exceedingly small number of people can lose a substantial amount of weight and keep it off following that advice [to eat less and exercise more].”
  •  Dr. David Ludwig and Dr. Mark L. Friedman “say we should stop viewing weight as something separate from other biological functions—like hormones and hunger and the effects of what foods we eat, not just how much of them.”
  • “What, then, is causing the obesity epidemic? The authors say it’s refined carbohydrates. Sugar and processed grains like white bread which have become ubiquitous in our diets, and one of the reasons refined carbs is the prime culprit is that we’ve spent far too long chastising fat. ‘We have to forget the low-fat paradigm,’ says Dr. Ludwig. ‘Some high fat foods like avocado, nuts and olive oil are among the healthiest foods we could possibly eat.'”
  • ‘Instead of counting calories, we should be focusing on the quality of the food we consume,’ says Ludwig. ‘If you just try to eat less and exercise more, most people will lose that battle. Metabolism wins,’ says Ludwig. ‘Simply looking at calories is misguided at best and potentially harmful because it disregards how those calories are affecting our hormones and metabolism—and ultimately our ability to stick to a diet.'”

If weight loss/maintenance is your goal, exercise should not be your go-to. 

The weight-gain enemies = refined carbohydrates (e.g., bread, pasta, chips) and sugar (found in almost all processed foods, especially since the sugar industry paid Harvard scientists to point the blame at fat 50 years ago).

Thus, for long-term weight loss/maintenance, reduce your intake of refined carbohydrates and sugar.

Not surprisingly, Tortorich’s second famous tagline is NSNG, or “no sugars, no grains”! I’m tellin’ ya…after working for years in the fitness industry with some of the most famous, in-shape people, the guy knows what’s up!

In fact, if you were to give up added sugar alone for just one week—or, even better, for 30+ days!—you’d likely experience one (or more!) of the following positive results:

  1. Elimination of bad breath
  2. Increased brain power
  3. Reduced risk for Alzheimer’s disease
  4. Younger-looking, clearer skin
  5. Improved heart health
  6. Lowered risk for “bad” cholesterol (note: not all cholesterol is bad!)
  7. Enhanced mood…eventually! (Immediately after quitting sugar, expect to suffer from mood swings. If your body is used to ingesting sugar regularly, it’ll be in a mild/moderate/severe state of shock throughout the first few days as it acclimates to healthier sources of fuel. Don’t worry! This is a normal and a great sign that your body is readjusting!)
  8. Better sleep
  9. Decreased risk for diabetes
  10. Lower cancer risk
  11. Clearer eyesight
  12. Faster weight loss
  13. Fewer trips to the doctor
  14. More money in savings (because packaged, processed foods = pricey!)

If you’re a visual person, check out this cheesy/informative/inspirational video about the effects of quitting sugar for one week:

Still not convinced? Watch That Sugar Film in which documentarian Damon Gameau “becomes a human guinea-pig when he puts himself through a grueling 6 week diet consuming the equivalent of 40 teaspoons of sugar a day.”

Does 40 teaspoons of sugar/day sound like a lot? Believe it or not, I used to think I was eating “healthy,” but in reality I was consuming 92 grams of sugar daily! Without even knowing it, you may be in the same boat. To learn more, read my prior post “Hidden Sugar: You’re Probably Eating More Than You Think!”

And, just imagine…you may experience all of the benefits listed above from giving up sugar alone. Consider the health strides and weight loss you could achieve if you gave up sugar and refined carbohydrates!

So here we are at the end of the post, once again reminded of Tortorich’s message: NSNG (no sugar, no grains) beats exercise when it comes to weight loss. You can improve many health metrics through exercise, but you can’t out exercise a bad diet. 

If you’re still a skeptic, check out the hashtag #NSNG on Instagram to see Tortorich’s followers’ before and after pics. They’re astounding and almost unbelievable!

Bottom line: If your ultimate goal is long-term weight loss and/or maintenance, focus on diet changes. The quality of the food you eat has a much greater effect on long-term weight loss/maintenance than any amount of exercise ever will.

Worried that the healthiest foods cost too much? Visit this post in which I debunk that myth!


⇒ To optimize every aspect of your health, visit My Favorite Things! There, you’ll find links to healthy packaged foods, toxin-free products, and overall wellness boosters.

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