We're big fans of exercise due to the many health benefits it offers, but if you hit up the gym before work or plan on going after, don't bother if your express goal is to lose weight. According to Time Magazine, exercise doesn't make us thinner.
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Louisiana State University diabetes and metabolism chair Eric Ravussin says bluntly that, "in general, for weight loss, exercise is pretty useless." The reason?
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.
The article goes on to quote stats found by a Columbia University team back in 2001 (along with findings from its own less-than-comprehensive study) that a pound of muscle burns around six calories a day when the body is at rest compared with two calories that a pound of fat burns. So, the article contends, "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."
Whether the hunger hypothesis holds true for you or not, these findings don't negate the fact that exercise has myriad proven health benefits that make it worthwhile, but, at least according to Time, losing weight isn't necessarily among them.
Why Exercise Won't Make You Thin [Time Magazine]