In this interview, a leading expert in eating, talks about one of the most pervasive weight loss myths: that weight loss is simply a matter of eating less and exercising more.
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This video clip of my Inner Circle expert interview with Marc David brings up one of the most pervasive weight loss myths out there: that losing weight is merely a matter of exercising more and eating fewer calories.
But is that really true?
As the founder and director of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, Marc has firsthand knowledge in this area. He’s even written two excellent books on the psychology of weight loss and eating habits: The Slow Down Diet: Eating for Pleasure, Energy, and Weight Loss, and Nourishing Wisdom: A Mind-Body Approach to Nutrition and Well-Being.
The truth is, the formula for successful weight loss is oftentimes not that simple.
How Exercising Too Much Can Hinder Weight Loss
According to Marc, the idea that eating less combined with more exercise equals weight loss is based on antiquated science, because we now know that a calorie is metabolized differently in different people, depending on a variety of factors. Variables such as your stress level, and even your breathing habits, will impact how your body processes calories.
Additionally, exercising too much can have the opposite effect, causing your body to hold on to unwanted weight.
This happens because when you exercise too much, your body goes into a more extreme physical stress response. This can cause your cortisol levels to remain high.
Cortisol, also known as “the stress hormone,” is secreted by your adrenal glands and is involved in a variety of important physical functions, including:
- Metabolizing glucose
- Regulating your blood pressure
- Releasing insulin for blood sugar maintenance
- Your immune function
- The inflammatory response
However, when your cortisol level is chronically elevated – which can happen if you exercise too much -- it stimulates your body to store fat and not build muscle.
This may be the underlying problem if you engage in excessive amounts of exercise on a regular basis and find that you’ve hit a plateau where you cannot lose weight or build more muscle.
So, although nearly everyone reading this is probably exercising too little, it is crucial to understand that you can indeed sabotage your weight loss efforts by over-exercising.
The key points to remember are moderation, and individualization.
Ideally, your exercises should be broken up with short breaks in between for maximum effectiveness. I’ve published many stories about the benefits of interval training, which has led me to incorporate interval training (sprints) with endurance cardio training (running) in my own routine. You certainly don't have to run to achieve these benefits. You can receive similar effects by using properly supervised weight training. Interval training is also a welcome relief for those who dread, or don’t have time for hour-long cardio workouts.
Getting the Right Ratio of Nutrients is Essential for Successful Weight Loss
Additionally, what you eat is just as important as how much. Simply counting calories is not the answer.
In this video, Marc describes the case of a young marathon runner who simply could not lose her unwanted weight, despite her intense exercise regimen and eating a mere 1,400 calories a day.
Because in addition to her over-exercising, another problem was the ratio of carbohydrates, proteins and fats in her diet. She ate mostly carbs, and was likely fat deficient as she consumed very little essential fats.
When your body is deprived of essential fats your metabolic rate slows down, so you can’t burn calories as efficiently.
In addition, omega-3 fats, which are essential to optimal health, improve your cells’ response to insulin, neurotransmitters and other messengers. They’re also very important for the repair process when your cells are damaged.
In fact, weight gain is one of the symptoms of omega-3 deficiency.
In the case of that young lady, simply replacing her excessive daily running with milder forms of exercise that she truly enjoyed, combined with a higher level of essential fats in her diet, she was able to lose 15 pounds in one month!
High Protein Meals Help Burn More Fat
A number of studies have also suggested that high-protein diets may help people shed weight more easily. I firmly believe it’s very important to eat some protein with every meal, as protein is the most satiating type of food, beating out carbohydrates and even healthy fat.
However, the amount and type of protein you need (as well as the ratio in relation to carbs and fat) can vary quite dramatically according to your gender, height, weight, exercise levels, and, most importantly, by your nutritional type, which is now a rapidly emerging field.
Unfortunately, many are still unaware of nutritional typing and how it can completely revolutionize your overall health, and help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
For more information on how to determine your unique nutritional needs, please review my Beginner’s Nutrition Plan. And for even more guidance on how to successfully shed unwanted pounds, take a look at the related articles listed below.