Losing weight is simple, right? You eat fewer calories than you burn so that your body converts excess fat into energy. Voila! You lose weight. So obviously, working out longer must mean that you lose more weight. Oh, yeah, about that. It may not necessarily be true!
Burning more calories than you consume is the cornerstone of weight loss. But our bodies are tricky. They react and change in response to our behavior, sometimes in ways we would rather avoid. Say you adopt a crash diet, eating only 600 calories a day. Within days, your body adjusts to this starvation diet and drastically reduces your metabolism, dropping your calorie burn rate to match that of a toy poodle.
It seems that our bodies react to daily exercise, too. According to a new research study published in the American Journal of Physiology, men who exercised for a half hour lost MORE weight than men who exercised for an hour. Wait, what?
Dr. Rosenkilde Mads led a study at the University of Copenhagen to examine the impact of exercise on weight loss. Sixty moderately overweight Danish men were divided into three groups. One group did not exercise, one group exercised for 30 minutes a day and the last group exercised for 60 minutes a day. At the end of 13 weeks, their change in body weight was measured.
To their surprise, the group that exercised on 30 minutes a day lost more weight than the group that exercised for 60 minutes a day. This is surprising, given that the 60 minute group burned 300 calories a day more than the 30 minute group.
The researchers are puzzled by the results. The group that exercised 60 minutes a day seems to have triggered some sort of adaptation response that was not triggered by exercising for only 30 minutes a day. Possibly the group that only exercised for 30 minutes has enough energy to do other activities that weren’t tracked while the 60 minute exercises were too tired for extracurricular activities.
Whatever the underlying cause, this certainly upholds my long standing defense of moderation in all things, especially exercise!