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Exercise Alone Won’t Make You Thin

I have lost over 65 pounds over the past 7 years. Most of that was lost in the first year or two. This was accomplished by burning more calories than what I put in my mouth. One assertion that I hear repeatedly is that you need to do lots of weight lifting to build muscle mass because muscle burns more calories than fat. A recent Time magazine online article called Why Exercise Won’t Make You Thin sheds light on the mental rub that I had against that assertion in my mind. The article says “after you work out hard enough to convert, say, 10 lb. of fat to muscle—a major achievement—you would be able to eat only an extra 40 calories per day, about the amount in a teaspoon of butter, before beginning to gain weight.”

Another piece of the article also says   

The basic problem is that while it’s true that exercise burns calories and that you must burn calories to lose weight, exercise has another effect: it can stimulate hunger. That causes us to eat more, which in turn can negate the weight-loss benefits we just accrued. Exercise, in other words, isn’t necessarily helping us lose weight. It may even be making it harder.

This anecdote rings fairly true. Even on weekends where I train for 6 hours, riding 70+ miles and running 15+ miles I still have the tendency to take in more calories than I burned. My trick, and maybe this will work for you, is to eat my meals more slowly so that I feel fuller quicker. The other half of this trick is that I eat a small snack (e.g. an apple) about 30 minutes before a main meal – this gives me a head start on getting full.

Read More: Why Exercise Won’t Make You Thin

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