I’m not a trainer or a nutritionist, and I haven’t quite fleshed out this idea, but here goes…
Average, ordinary American adults should not be going to the gym to lose weight. If you’re an athlete, or you enjoy working out, by all means, go and have fun. But the typical cubicle worker who spends his/her evenings watching TV and surfing the internet should not work out. What should those sedentary Americans do to lose weight? They should eat less.
Here’s my thinking:
Exercise doesn’t really burn that many calories. Based on this chart, we can see that a 205 lb. person burns about 600 calories per hour of aerobics. Assuming that a 205 lb. person is willing to do an hour of aerobics 3 times a week, that’s only a loss of 1800 calories per week. Roughly half a pound of weight loss if the food intake remains the same. Since the average American is 23 pounds overweight, that means it would take 11 months for an otherwise disciplined American to get to their healthy weight.
(23 lbs. = 80,500 calories, divided by 1800 calories per week = 44.7 weeks )
Assuming everything goes perfectly. In reality, the average person isn’t going to complete 3 hours of aerobics per week and isn’t likely to remain motivated by a half pound of weekly weight loss.
On the other hand, a person who cuts 500 calories from their daily diet (ie. going from 2500 calories a day to 2000 calories) will typically lose 1 pound per week. Without exercising.
Obviously there are benefits to exercise. Exercise raises your metabolism, which in turn makes it easier to fudge your food restriction. But also consider that your aging body (especially when you’re overweight) just isn’t built to withstand 3 hours of aerobics per week. And what’s the point of losing your excess weight if you’re hobbling around on artificial joints in your 40’s?
Bottom line: stay active to boost your metabolism and maintain your overall health, but don’t expect to make a significant dent in your weight loss by exercising.