I was just reading through some of Anoop’s older articles and came across an article that talks about exercise NOT providing the weight loss benefits most people expect. The final outcome is that diet makes the difference and that exercise is at best a minor factor that is often overcome by human nature (overestimating calories burned, automatically eating extra calories to compensate for the exercise, etc.). I have often seen people stating that diet makes the difference, not exercise. Some research indicates that in the early 1900’s, exercise wasn’t even really considered as a factor in weight management.
I think that the minor points in this hypothesis are pretty much true, but it is a little short sighted. The basis of my thinking on this is that increasing muscle mass will increase metabolism and change your body processes, which will have a dramatic effect over the long term.
Now, I know that people have all heard that a pound of muscle can increase your metabolism anywhere from 20-100 calories/day and I know that this is simply not true. I know that it is probably around 6 calories/pound of muscle/day. The comparison of “If I gain 10 pounds of muscle I will burn an extra 500 calories.” to the reality of “Oh, it’s more like 60 calories.” is somewhat disappointing and the natural tendency is to discount the entire idea. The problem is the investment over time.
We know that the typical person gains maybe 10 pounds/decade. A lot of people may actually gain 5-10 pounds/year. But few people are going to gain 100 pounds in a year. If you add just 1 pound of muscle to your frame, that equates to 2,190 calories/year that you will burn. If you add 15 pounds to your frame, you are suddenly burning 32,850 calories extra per year. That is the equivalent of 9.38 pounds of fat lost in a year. So, suddenly, if you are gaining 5 pounds per year, you can change NOTHING and lose 4.38 pounds. Most people can carry an extra 15 pounds of muscle pretty reliably. These numbers do not account for the calories burned during exercise needed to stimulate this muscle growth either. And of course, if one gained 30 pounds, that’s the equivalent of 18.5 pounds of fat lost every year. Over time, the added muscle can have a significant impact with minimal changes to a person’s lifestyle/diet.
I also believe that in the extremely obese, intense exercise and added muscle will improve insulin and leptin sensitivity. Two huge benefits of intense exercise that may make it near impossible for a dieter to lose weight.
I believe the impact of intense exercise and added muscle has been under-estimated. What do you think?