Given that what you eat is far, far more important from a weight-loss perspective than the time you spend at the gym, why bother with exercise at all? Does it make any real difference? The answer might surprise you!
It’s true that exercise won’t allow you to eat whatever you want
I actually talk a lot about how you can’t out-exercise a bad diet, over in this article. In fact, even eating something moderately bad for you could cost you several hours on the treadmill.
People who spend a lot of time at the gym and look great actually look great (mostly) because of what they eat. The gym is the icing on the cake per say. But that’s not the whole story. There are some benefits that may be less obvious.
Exercise will turbo-charge your metabolism
Believe it or not, regular, consistent exercise (3 to 4 hours per week) actually stimulates the production of hormones that will boost your metabolism.
Science has proven that people who exercise can actually increase their RESTING metabolic rate by as much as 10 to 15 percent over the course of just a few months with regular exercise. In other words, the exercise ITSELF burns calories, but the exercise also stimulates your metabolism to burn more calories while you’re RESTING as well. It’s a double-bonus!
Put another way? If you want to increase the number of calories you burn while sleeping, spending 3 to 4 hours a week at the gym can have a massive impact on your ability to burn calories.
This, possibly more than anything else, may explain why people who spend a lot of time at the gym can seemingly “eat whatever they want”. Their metabolisms are turbo-charged!
So it’s not just about the calories from a single workout (you’ll never win the workout-for-food game). The real benefit to your metabolism comes from the cumulative affect of exercise over time.
Strength training can also increase your metabolism
Muscle-mass is the magic solution to maintaining weight once it’s gone. It’s also the secret to increasing your metabolism so you can burn more calories doing normal every day activities (proven in this study), and added muscle-mass is the only known way to repair the severe metabolic damage caused by yo-yo and crash dieting.
Put another way, you’ll get more benefit from your time at the gym if you skip the treadmill and focus on strength training instead.
By the way, when I refer to strength training, I’m talking about heavy lifting. Ladies, I’m talking to you, throw away the 5 pound dumbbells. They’re a complete waste of time and aren’t going to help you build muscle, burn fat, or look better. When I refer to strength training, I’m talking about “heavy lifting”. I’m talking about seriously pushing your muscles to their absolute limits.
Check out this article on why strength training is better than cardio for cutting fat and boosting your metabolism.
Exercise controls hunger and eliminates cravings
Yup. Scientific studies have now proven that 30 to 45 minutes a day of high-intensity exercise (either strength training or cardio) will actually make you feel significantly LESS hungry and eliminate food cravings.
This may explain why people who work out more generally look amazing. It’s not because they’re out-exercising food, they simply don’t WANT food as much as the people who spend their day on the couch.
Exercise is the only way to put the finishing touches on your journey
Once you’ve lost a significant amount of weight, you’ll find that the last few pounds are pretty stubborn. And, frankly, the only way you’ll get them off is to add pretty serious exercise to your routine. Put another way, without exercise, once you pass the age of 30, you’ll always be a little bigger than you like.
Also worth pointing out, most people, upon reaching their goal weight, quickly discover that they still feel (and look) like a smaller, but still very flabby version of themselves. They find that they don’t look like the girls or guys they see out there who are their same size/weight. They discover that simple being “smaller” doesn’t mean they look “fit”.
Strength training is the key to taking off the last few pounds and adding the tone and definition that you were probably hoping for when you started. In other words, it’s the only way to get a body that looks great in a swimsuit.
And if that doesn’t convince you, this might:
Other benefits of regular exercise
The medical evidence that exercise is good for you is essentially indisputable. Here’s a list of some of the things you have to look forward to if you can spend just a few hours a week doing either strength or cardio (or both).
- You’ll live longer. (A lot longer, according to most studies).
- Your risk of type-2 diabetes goes to almost zero
- You’ll boost your HDL levels
- Triglyceride levels plummet
- Your risk of heart-disease (the number one killer in America) plummets
- The risk of stroke plummets
- Your risk of metabolic syndrome plummets
- Your risk of depression is significantly reduced.
- Mood will significantly improve (yes, this is scientifically proven)
- You will have more self-confidence (yes, also scientifically proven)
- Your sex life is better (for men AND women, yes, proven).
- Your brain functions will elevate. You’ll literally become smarter. (Yup.. also proven).
- You will have more energy
- You will sleep better
The bottom line? If you exercise regularly and make it part of your routine, your metabolism speeds up, you will be happier, you will be healthier, you will be a better person.
Not sure how to get started?
You might be interested in this article, where I talk about how I went from being a couch-potato who wanted nothing to do with exercise, to being somewhat of an endurance athlete.
And don’t forget, as impossible as working out every day may sound, you CAN do hard things. Sometimes that’s a simple matter of behaving the way that fit and healthy people behave.
Remember to check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program, especially if you haven’t exercised for a long time, have chronic health problems such as heart disease, diabetes or arthritis, or you have any concerns.