The role of exercise in weight loss is one of the most debated modern-day topics when it comes to health and body weight management. The simple truth is that some exercise is better than others at blunting your appetite and in the process helping you effectively manage your weight. If you’ve ever followed any exercise routine, then you know that the relationship between exercise and hunger is really complex, and more often than not counterintuitive.
When it comes down to adopting exercise into your weight loss regimen, you have to note that there are a couple of things about exercise and weight loss that you always have to keep in mind.
How exercise helps weight loss
Weight loss is a matter of simple arithmetic. The more calories you burn in comparison to the calories you take in, the more likely you are to lose weight. Now, just like the application of math in real life, there are a lot of overlooked variables that have to be factored in when you’re actually putting it into practice. You may think you’re burning up calories while working out, but you end up losing less weight than you would have expected. In fact, the sad reality is that the period of time just after most people start exercising is responsible for the most weight gained.
Clearly enough, the role of exercise is clear, increase metabolism and help to burn up fat. So what exactly happens? Where do exercise and weight loss part ways?
The drawbacks of exercise
The main drawback of exercise as a weight loss strategy is the fact that exercise makes you hungry, and if you’ve really been at it, then you will get really hungry. In the end, most people end up eating more, and at the end of the day, not enough calories have been burnt for any results to be visible. Factor in some fad diet you’re not able to keep up with because of the extra hunger and the result? Weight gain. The result, at this point, should be pretty easy to see – exercise by itself (with no ways to control calorie reduction) is useless as a weight loss strategy.
For the most part, research that has been carried out to investigate the role of exercise in weight loss have concentrated on relatively short exercises such as walking or similarly non-draining activities. This led to questions on whether exercise that’s physically taxing (that is either prolonged or really intense) affects appetite differently than easier exercise.
What science has to say
A new study was thus conducted, this time with a bit of a different approach than previous tests. The study, carried out by scientists from the University of Loughborough in Britain, was published in the Journal of Endocrinology and involved the recruitment of 16 men to concentrate on different types of exercise. One group concentrated on intensity while the other longevity.
Throughout the workouts, and for a few additional hours, the scientists measured the levels of acylated ghrelin, a hormone known to influence appetite. Generally, the two are directly proportional, such that the higher the levels of acylated ghrelin in the blood, the higher the amount of hunger.
This was in addition to getting feedback from the men regarding how hungry they felt. The same tests and procedures were carried out on the second group of volunteers whose exercise was to be emphasized on the length of exercise. Theirs consisted primarily of running routines at a steady pace. However, on the final visit, the participants were required to sit down.
The results from the exercise were then compared and in general, exercise seems to have lowered the levels of acylated ghrelin in each of the participants’ bodies compared to the periods when they were at rest (i.e. not exercising). These effects were more pronounced in those whose exercise had been long and intense as compared to those who walked more. The more vigorous the exercise, the more blunted acylated ghrelin production was. These effects also lasted longer when the exercise was longer.
Perhaps even more interesting than the mathematical data, each individual person’s subjective feeling of hunger was also affected, albeit in different fashions in every person. After the elongated exercise, most participants reported they weren’t hungry but the opposite remained true for the more intense workout, despite having lower levels of the hunger-inducing hormone in the latter instance,
Overall, all these findings tell us is that appetite is strange and is different from individual to individual, aside from being affected by various factors, both in the external and internal bodily environment, not simply by the levels of acylated ghrelin in the blood.
The general consensus regarding weight loss, if you were to consider additional studies that have been conducted over the years, is that whereas exercise and weight loss is definitely correlated, and in exercise does indeed lead to higher likelihoods of weight loss, it’s not entirely necessary. Weight loss can as well be achieved using a proper diet and nothing more, but a great regular training plant definitely helps smoothen the process out.
Last but not least important of all is the keyword: consistency. Even the most effective, carefully crafted weight loss plan is literally useless if you’re not willing to abide by it. Be as a discipline as you can throughout the whole process in order to achieve the best results within the shortest timeframe.