Wonder why your waistline isn’t getting smaller, no matter how hard you workout?
The truth is…
Exercise alone doesn’t keep you thin. Studies conducted by the International Association for the Study of Obesity show that after starting an exercise regime, people experience little if any weight loss as a result.
To explore this idea further, anthropologists traveled to Tanzania to conduct a study on the Hadza tribe, a group of hunter-gatherers.
Using the latest in field study equipment, the anthropologists fitted the willing Hadza members with GPS units. The scientists could then track the total distances walked as the tribe searched for food. The volunteers were also asked to drink “doubly labeled” water. In this liquid, tracers replace the normal hydrogen and oxygen molecules found in typical water. The scientists can later determine total energy expenditure and metabolic rate by studying the tracers when they later appear in the urine.
The experiment lasted a total of 11 days. In that time, the anthropologists calculated typical daily physical activity, energy expenditure and resting metabolic rates of the tribe. They later compared these results with those of the average Westerner.
As expected, the anthropologists found that the hunter-gatherers were considerably more physically active than the typical American. But what was interesting was that they weren’t burning more calories. The metabolic rates for both groups remained about the same.
The conclusion? Given a typical western diet, a hunter-gatherer would also struggle with weight. Exercise alone won’t keep the pounds off. And because almost all the people of the Hadza tribe were thin, the scientists determined it was their diet, not their amount of exercise, that keeps them slim.
Does this mean you should quit exercising?
No way! Exercise has a whole list of health benefits, which can indirectly influence your weight:
- Exercise Helps Mood – Exercise releases chemicals in the brain, which lowers stress and keeps you calm. Since stress often causes weight gain, lowering the amount of stress you experience can help shrink your waistline.
- Exercise Gives You Energy – Physical activity delivers oxygen and nutrients to your muscles to keep your cardiovascular system running smoothly. Exercise also increases your endurance and strength and keeps your body fit.
- Exercise Helps You Sleep – Exercise helps you fall and stay asleep. If you’re familiar with the Gabriel Method, you know how important proper sleep is to regulating weight – most often, the less you sleep, the heavier you are. Try to avoid working out right before bed, as you’ll be too stimulated to fall asleep right away.
Which is More Important: Diet or Exercise?
While exercise is essential for overall health, diet remains priority. As the study in Tanzania demonstrates, exercise alone won’t keep your weight where it needs to be.
The average Western diet which is full of unhealthy fat, sugar and carbs negatively affects your weight and overall health. No amount of exercise can offset the damage done by poor food choices, therefore skipping your exercise routine every once and awhile will affect you less than continually indulging in junk food.
The Perfect Combo
So, while diet may have a more immediate effect on your health and waistline, adding exercise into your weekly routine will keep you stress-free, well-rested and happy – three key factors in achieving your ideal weight!