I was in my friendly neighbourhood library the other day as I'm wont to do, when I came across an article in Time Magazine entitled "Why Exercise Won't Make You Thin."
"What?" I thought. "Now how is that possible?" Everybody knows that calories out must equal or exceed calories taken in, in order to maintain or lose weight. Right?
But then I began to read. And soon realized I had experienced the same things the author, John Cloud, laments about.
The upshot of his story is that what you eat will have more of an effect on weight loss then how much or how hard you exercise. Exercise is good for one's health, of course, however, the more you exercise the more inclined you may be to eat a little more afterwards or move around a little less during the day which, in turn, would totally negate any calorie deficit benefits.
"Sacralidge!" You and I say. But, now that I think about it, I think Mr. Cloud has a point. I remember coming home from the gym, starved enough to gnaw through anything that got in my way, only to stuff my face with the first thing I could find that was the quickest to make. Say a pizza pop. Or some Mac 'n' Cheese. Or both.
So let's say I exercise for an hour and burn about 400 calories. Then I go home and have a pizza pocket that contains 230 calories. Now I have only a 170 calorie deficit. And then let's say I have that single serve container of Mac 'n' Cheese because I'm so hungry I can't slow down to think about what I just ate - that's another 220 calories. I've now eaten an extra 50 calories and negated any calories I burned during exercise.
On top of not actually burning any calories in the end, I haven't really eaten anything that good for me. I've consumed 12.5 g of fat (which amounts to 113 calories from fat or 25% of what I just ate was fat) and 1160 mg of sodium (almost half of the daily recommended intake) in one meal.
I think I may try some moderate exercise, like walking around the block, and then eating something good for me afterwards instead of exercising to the max and then stuffing down whatever I can find. We'll see how that works. I'll keep you updated.