With exercise studies, EVEN IN THE ABSENCE OF WEIGHT LOSS, body composition and metabolism research consistently demonstrates reductions in fat, gains in muscle, and improved glucose and fat metabolism. All this is good news without weight loss. If you diet, you will lose fat and muscle which looks impressive on the scales but represents a metabolic loss (you need muscle to burn energy and sustain movement for life). If you exercise, you may reduce fat, particularly in the abdomen (a very healthy change) but have NO CHANGE IN WEIGHT on the scales in the early stages. If you lose weight with exercise, this represents a greater fat loss than for dieting alone, becasue of the added weight of muscle gain. The recommended prescription for healthy body composition is combined aerobic and resistance training along with healthy dietary changes that you can sustain for life.
The energy in energy out equation fails to explain many of the fat and muscle changes with exercise, particularly why exercise, as opposed to diet alone, stimulates fat loss preferentially in deep abdominal fat cells. There are clearly metabolic signals going on with activity. Weight is not a good measure of change with exercise but over time, this should happen due to greater fat loss. We all have our own experiments going on. How much time we sit, move or exercise, how we sleep, what and how much we eat, our genetic makeup that determines our individual response to all these factors, determines the outcome. If what you're doing now makes you feel better, your clothes feel looser around the waist, there's no resons to see this as a negative. If over time no further changes occur, what you're doing isn't enough, you have to exercise more and eat less, sit less and determine what works for your energy level and appetitie. If you have a metabolic condition, this requires appropriate management along with the lifestyle maintenance. Although it doesn't tell the whole picture, a DEXA scan may help to quantify changes in muscle and fat that are obscured by weight and BMI.
Dr Shelley Kay, Accredited Exercise Physiologist
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