Why exercise may not be near as important for weight loss…

Being the researcher you all know I am, and continuing along the lines of recent discoveries I’ve made, I recently came across this interesting video on YouTube:

Weight loss and exercise It’s less than 5 minutes long and worth every second!

In this video they talk about our resting, aka basal, metabolic rate which is the calories burned to keep us alive each day. This means just breathing, doing nothing, in a neutral temperate environment (neither too hot, nor too cold) and not in the process of digesting food. Important note, this by no means indicates that exercise is not necessary in our lives. Regular exercise does help keep us healthy and to live longer. This blog is about exercise and weight loss.

Our resting metabolic rate accounts for the majority of our calories burned, over which we have very little control. A good portion of our calories burned each day also goes to food breakdown. The rest of the calories burned, about 10-30%, goes to energy for physical activity. So that means that although 100% of our calories in each day are under our control, only about 30% of calories out are under our control. The old adage that weight loss is as simple as calories in versus calories out, no longer applies. Anyone who tells you that weight loss is that simple is not up on current research. If you’ve been reading my blogs about body shape types (part 1part 2) or my page on Breaking Free From Emotional Eating program, then you know that weight loss is most definitely not just about calories!

There’s also evidence of two other possible reasons why exercise doesn’t work for weight loss. 1) People tend to get hungry after working out and thus many eat more than they would if they had not exercised, and 2) people sometimes slow down, meaning are less active or move slower in other activities after exercise. It’s called “compensatory behaviour” and it’s one of the ways we unknowingly undermine our workouts.

The video states that research has also discovered something called “metabolic compensation”, as people start to slim down their resting metabolism can slow down so the amount of energy you burn at rest is lower (remember this is the part where most of the calories are burned and you have little control over).

It takes so much energy via physical activity to burn off some of the food choices we make that most people get discouraged, don’t have the time, might eat more because the exercise made them hungry, that it’s best to moderate your food intake rather than try to adjust the impact of overeating by vigorous exercise. Some quick examples of how long it takes to burn off some food choices: 60 min of running to burn off a burger & fries, 60 mins of vigorous dancing to burn off a few glasses of wine you had at dinner, 60 mins of intense bicycling to burn off 2 donuts! If you eat more than one of those types of food (or overeat in general) all in one day, you could spend 3-4 of your waking hours exercising! This is why I pay no attention to the calories (supposedly) burned that I see on exercise machines at the gym, I find it way too discouraging. Additionally, all that exercise is shown to be injury causing, disease causing (possibly – the science is still young), and stress causing.

If you’ve ever heard that weight management (loss, gain, maintenance) is 80% nutrition and 20% exercise, now you know why. A clean whole foods, unprocessed, preservative free (or at least minimal preservatives) diet appropriate for each individual is the way to weight control! What’s more, the belief that “I can eat what I want and/or how much I want and not gain weight if I exercise enough” is also a falsehood. You may not gain weight (that’s a big maybe) if you do tons of exercise, but if you’re eating a processed, sugar filled (have you read food labels lately?), high carbohydrate, chemical heavy diet, then you’re not healthy, and won’t remain that way over the long term either. Overeating of a healthy diet is not good either. Too much of healthy whole foods is still too much.

It’s not impossible to lose weight with exercise but it’s a lot harder. If you go to the gym and use a significant amount of your valuable time and put in considerable effort to burn off calories, you can erase all of that in 5 mins by eating a slice of pizza! Seems a whole lot easier and much more effective to eat a moderate intake of clean whole foods, with an occasional/rare indulgence; and use exercise for the immediate and long term health benefits.

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Ectomorph, Endomorph or Mesomorph, which one are you? (part 2)

Welcome to part 2 of my blog on the 3 body shape types. If you haven’t read part one yet go here. In part 1 I covered descriptions of the 3 types, and nutrition and exercise recommendations for the Endomorph type. In this blog I’ll be covering nutrition and exercise for the other 2 types – Mesomorph and Ectomorph.

A quick review of the physical features of both of these types:

The Mesomorph body type  is almost the exact opposite of the Endomorph. They are athletic, generally with a hard body. Their muscles are well defined, they are strong and gain muscle easily. They have a more rectangular body shape.

The small, delicately framed Ectomorph, tend to be flat chested, with small shoulders and on the thin side. They have lean muscle mass and find it hard to gain weight and muscle. They also tend to have a fast metabolism.

Nutrition and Exercise for the Mesomorph:

If you have this body type, you are able to put on muscle easily when you lift weights and find it fairly easy to gain and lose body weight. However, this doesn’t mean you can eat whatever you want and lie around on the couch all day.

Balance is important for the Mesomorph, who falls between Endomorphs and Ectomorphs — the other two body types which are characterized by excess body fat and skinniness, respectively. I recommend that mesomorphs follow a dietary plan that is nearly balanced between the three macro-nutrients — 40 percent carbs, 30 percent protein and 30 percent fat. At each meal. Make calories count by choosing whole foods (over processed foods), which tend to be more nutrient-dense and lower in unhealthy fat, salt and sugar. Focus on non-starchy vegetables, fresh fruits, lean proteins, whole grains, limit dairy products (don’t replace full fat with low or non-fat, they’re full of added sugar to make up for the missing fat), and enjoy nuts and seeds in moderation. Get healthy fats by drizzling your salad with olive oil or topping it with sesame seeds, or adding avocado to a salad or on a lean burger.

Just as they should eat a balanced diet, Mesomorphs should engage in a balanced fitness regimen including both cardio and weight training. Lift moderate to heavy weight in order to stimulate muscle growth. But be careful not to overdo it. Once a Mesomorph has reached their ideal physique, they can train to maintain. Mesomorphs don’t need to do as much cardio as Endomorphs, but they should still engage in cardio exercise such as running or cycling for 35 minutes three days a week.

Nutrition and Exercise for the Ectomorph:

Since Ectomorphs have such a naturally fast metabolism, they must make sure to consume an adequate amount of calories and carbs. Ectomorphs typically handle carbs much better and should consume a sufficient amount of high-quality carbs every day in order to support intense training sessions. Ectomorphs should also aim to eat every two to four hours, meaning have smaller meals more frequently, 6 meals a day! Take advantage of high quality carbs (starchy, unprocessed, whole grain carbs), don’t skimp on protein. Even add some carbs to your after workout protein drink! It’s still about balance, protein is still important but Ectomorphs need and can handle a higher carb to protein ratio. Fruits and vegetables are also still important. Vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients are in these foods that are absolutely essential for you to grow and be healthy. Don’t allow being an Ectomorph to be an excuse to eat crap! A healthy diet always includes plants with every meal.

Being naturally leaner and finding it harder to gain weight, Ectomorphs should focus on resistance training and limit endurance-type training. So the name of the game is strength and building muscle. In order to gain strength and size, Ectomorphs should focus on resting longer between sets, using heavier weights for fewer reps (four to eight) and not targeting the endurance energy systems during training (you’re not running a marathon here, so you don’t want to feel as if you are).

You can do your weight session three times per week, resting a day in between sessions. You should not be doing a ton of high-intensity cardio on your off days (even if that’s your natural inclination), but you can stay active with low-intensity activities like walking or swimming. Compound movements are great for you, as they maximize your workout time by working multiple muscle groups at once. So if you’re burned out on your current workout, try incorporating lunges with biceps curls, squats with an overhead press or renegade rows with push-ups.

So, there you have it, the best way to eat and workout for your body type. Remember though that a) you may not fit perfectly into one of the body types and b) always listen to your body when changing routines and adjust accordingly. Your body wants to be its best healthy self. If we listen to it and do our best by it, it will get there!

I’m off to the gym to do my own HIIT workout and then out into the sunshine for a walk with a friend. Enjoy your day 🙂