Exercise and Weight Loss: What’s the Connection?

Two exercise scientists are digging into the evidence.

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The role of exercise in weight loss is always a hot topic. Research on successful losers often cites exercise as a top maintenance strategy (one study found those who kept the pounds off averaged a whopping 275 minutes of working out a week), but without some attention to diet, you're not likely to lose significant weight. Exercise alone, while it has many benefits independent of weight control, doesn't always do the trick. But even for those who believe that exercise is key to weight loss, there's a big debate over what kind of workouts—steady aerobic sessions? interval training? strength training?—is ideal.

The exercise scientists who write The Science of Sport blog are taking an in-depth look at exercise and weight loss. Their series began as a response to a Time magazine article questioning whether exercise was "useless" as a way to control weight, and it has already examined the notions of "calories in, calories out" and fat burning. Check out the blog for the entire series, which is ongoing. In their second installment, they directly answer the question that plenty of readers have asked me: I started an exercise plan a month ago, so why haven't I lost a pound? 

If you are embarking on a weight loss plan, and have yet to see significant results despite diligently exercising for 45 minutes a day, then the answer is likely that you still haven't addressed the other side of the scale adequately. If you have reached a plateau in weight loss, then the same may be true—it's time to consider how much you eat, when you eat it, and what you are eating, because you may unwittingly be negating your exercise with simple dietary practices. 

I'll be following the series and will point out interesting posts as it progresses.