Answer – The best exercise to help weight loss is strength training. I have answers elsewhere about the best kind of training in that regard. However, exercise only aids weight loss, and does it in four ways:
- It reduces visceral fat.
- It makes you more insulin sensitive.
- It helps retain muscle while allowing fat to be used more for fuel instead of the muscle.
- It helps motivate you when you feel stronger and see your body change shape.
Visceral fat is the fat around your organs under your muscles. It is more insulin sensitive and responds well to exercise. That will go away quickly when you exercise regularly.
Exercise makes you more insulin sensitive, so your body needs less insulin released to do its job. Less insulin in your blood means less storage of fat and more use of fat for fuel.
Now, about the real question.
Losing subcutaneous fat — the fat you can pinch — is about changing the food you eat. Those who advocate exercise as a primary means for weight loss are relying on the calories-in-calories-out (CICO) paradigm to “burn off” calories. It’s common to believe our bodies are simply engines and calorie deficit is like reducing the incoming fuel thereby forcing your body to rely on the fuel it’s already stored (fat), but this paradigm is wrong for five reasons:
- You don’t use nearly as many calories as you think when you exercise. A good work out may be 200–300. NEAT activities are better for calorie use but those are limited for modern workers, and those who consciously ramp up their non-exercise active thermogenesis (using stairs at the office, parking farther away, etc) often compensate with more food.
- Long hours of moderate exercise — your running or step class or swimming, etc — actually increase appetite. Most exercisers eat more to compensate.
- Subcutaneous fat is extremely insulin resistant and responds to change in diet. If you cut calories across the board, you’re still eating plenty of insulin-stimulating foods (grains and added sweeteners) which will cause your cells to grow even more insulin resistant.
- If you don’t eat adequate protein, then you’ll lose some amount of lean mass along with the fat. When you cut calories, you cut protein, so you can keep eating carbs, too. Cereal companies love the CICO.
- You do not need to make room in your diet for carbohydrates, especially not grains, sweet things, or processed things. You want to make your body use fat as fuel, but when insulin is high in your blood it blocks that process. It’s the building hormone which builds both muscle and fat. It needs plenty of protein to make muscle but very few carbs. In fact, your liver can make all the carbs your body needs.
If you are obese you simply have to cut out empty carbs. In fact, you can’t be obese unless you are eating grains and sweet foods. You need to stop eating what you call “food” but which contains little nutrition and lots of calories. Whole foods, particularly meat, will satisfy your hunger and provide both fuel and building material for your body.
The goal is to eat low-carb, somewhere on the continuum from paleo to carnivore. There is so much information online you don’t even need to buy some program or supplements. Getting fit is free and this lifestyle will cost less than what you’re spending now. Start with http://marksdailyapple.com
Exercise helps you achieve weight loss and maintain lean muscle mass only if you also change your relationship with food. You can’t outrun or out-train a bad diet.