Feeding the Horse

Courtesy of MentalFloss.com

Here’s a startling fact: exercise won’t help you lose weight.

Though we’ve been told otherwise for years by doctors and fitness professionals alike, it’s unfortunately a fallacy. It is logical to assume moving more and eating less will help us shave off pounds — the simplicity is difficult to argue with.

Our bodies just don’t work that way.

Sure, in the short term, we get a benefit from this unbalanced equation. The initial shock of extra activity without a matching rise in food intake causes the body to grab fuel from the most reliable source it has: excess body fat.

The quick disappearance of five or ten pounds is more from physiological surprise than the effectiveness of the new regimen, though.

Once the body recovers from the scramble to provide energy, it will adjust within (at most) a few weeks.

The endocrine system is finely-tuned to ensure survival however possible. By acting to accommodate varying conditions, stuffed or starved, it keeps the body going — whether we do so at an optimal level is a question for another day.

When push comes to shove, we either increase our intake or decrease our movement.

The body is designed with fail-safe mechanisms to make sure the calories in is as close as possible to calories used.

As a result, choosing to decrease portion sizes or skip meals altogether leaves us lethargic and groggy. As time wears on, we lack the pep to tackle our regular daily tasks, let alone hit the gym and slam some weights around. We naturally downshift to conserve energy for vital processes — the workings of the brain, heart and lungs, for example.

On the other hand, if we run 15 miles a day, we make sure to ingest enough to do so. The chemical signals for appetite ramp up our drive to find food. Regardless of how much we try to stay away from the fridge, we end up tearing through a buffet like the Tazmanian Devil.

This is unavoidable.

If we work like horses, we can (and will) get hungry like them, too.

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