How many times have you heard that in order to look good or to drop some pounds, you need to exercise more?

I am sure all of you have heard that a person gets fat when she/he consumes more calories than she/he burns, meaning if you eat and don’t exercise you will definitely put on weight – plain and simple. So, Is Exercising The Key Factor In Losing Weight?

We all have seen the obesity epidemic happen in US and we all know Americans are more developed than other countries, due to their comfort of living, technology, wages, etc. So, a lot of people would assume that if you get wealthier, you would probably afford more food, ergo eat more and weigh more. (especially if you do not exercise more) Are you on board so far?

‘The fat Louisa paradox’

A study with the above premise (wealthy communities will most likely put on more fat) was created to compare a prosperous group of Pimo Indians from 1846 and then later, in 1902, when the poverty hit. What they noticed was the fact that during their wealthy years, the community had no obesity. When they were poor, however, women started to gain weight and become obese.

They repeated the study in other underdeveloped countries and what they found is that people who are poor and work more (heavy labor) actually gain more fat. How is this possible?!

  • Trinidad, 1961 -> 30% of women over 25 years old are obese
  • Bantu ‘pensioners‘, South Africa 1964 -> 30% of women are ‘severely overweight’

Mexican- Americans Starr County, Texas 1981

  • 50% of women in their 50’s are obese
  • 40% of men in their 40’s are obese

Factory workers, Chile 1974

  • 30% obese
  • 50% of women over 50 are obese
  • 10% suffer from ‘undernourishment’

 South Dakota Crow Creek Reservation 1928

  • “Distinctly fat” Women: 40% | Men: 25% | Children: 10%
  • “Extremely thin” Women: 20% | Men: 25% | Children: 25%

Let’s break the myth that Exercising The Key Factor In Losing Weight with these four tips:

Tip #1: Eating Less Does not work!

Weight loss achieved in trials of calorie-restricted diets is “so small as to be clinically insignificant.

Cochrane Collaboration, 2002

Tip #2: Exercising more does not work either!

“It is reasonable to assume that persons with relatively high daily energy expenditures would be less likely to gain weight over time, compared with those who have low energy expenditures.

So far, data to support this hypothesis are not particularly compelling.”

AHA/ACSM 2007, Physical activity guidelines

So why were the above populations fat?

“Most third world countries have a high carbohydrate intake as their economic dependence is predominantly agricultural, with a heavy dependence on non-dairy produces. It is conceivable that the ready availability of starch in preference to animal protein, contributing as it must the main caloric requirements of these populations, leads to increased lipogenesis and the development of obesity..”

Rolf Richards, University of the West Indies, Kingston Jamaica, 1973

Tip #3: Practicing energy balance is practically impossible!

There is no way you can measure exactly all the calories you burn every day because there are too many factors to be considered:

  • age (when you are younger your body metabolism is way different than when you are older)
  • genetics
  • mood fluctuation
  • disease
  • etc

You can calculate all the calories you burn from exercise, but what about the energy burned by your organs?

Even if this energy balance could be possible, there was a study that noticed that if every day you miss burning only 20 Kcal/day, with a 0.8% accuracy, you will gain 21 pounds over a decade.

Meaning, if you are having a 2700 Kcal/day in food intake and burn up to 2680Kcal/day, in 10 years, you will gain 21 pounds. If this were true, we would ALL be obese. So how come not everyone gets fat, even if we do not practice the energy balance and don’t count every calorie we eat or burn? What is the secret?

We don’t get fat because we overeat, we overeat because our fat tissue is accumulating excess fat.

Tip #4: Overeating and inactivity are compensatory effects; they are not causes

So, if we don’t get fat because we eat too much or because we don’t exercise, why do we get fat?

The answer lies in the process of fat storage. We store fat as triglycerides. Below you have the definition:

Triglyceride (triacylglycerol, TAG or triacylglyceride) is an ester composed of a glycerol bound to three fatty acids. It is the main constituent of vegetable oil and animal fats. Most of the fats digested by humans are triglycerides.

The fat enters and exits the fat cells as fatty acids and we use these fatty acids as fuel, meaning they will have to cycle into triglycerides and back out again, this all happening inside the fat cell.



Sometimes, triglycerides cannot be broke down and leave the fat cell, which will make the fat cell to expand its size. This results in our bodies not having enough fuel – ergo our appetite and cravings increase. (because we need more food in the system)

Now, you are probably asking: But why does this happen? Who is stopping the triglycerides from becoming fatty acids again?

The answers lie in Hormonal Regulation and it is discovered that Insulin is

the principal regulator of fat metabolism.Rosalyn Yalow, Solomon Berson, 1965

Release of fatty acids from fat cells

“requires only the negative stimulus of insulin deficiency.”

Rosalyn Yalow, Solomon Berson, 1965

Meaning, every time our insulin levels are elevated, we gain fat. You can become insulin resistant in many ways, but the most popular ones are:

  • based on stress
  • eating too many rafined carbohidrates

Every time you are stressed out, your body acts like your life is in real danger and your hormones are elevated to make you be present, think clearer etc -> meaning your insulin level will be elevated as well and your fatty acids instead of being all released for fuel purposes, some will remain trapped in the fat cell.

The same thing happens when we eat sweet things, meaning carbohydrates. I love carbohydrates and personally do not think they are all bad, but I know for a fact that all the refined carbs will transform almost entirely in glucose in the blood (sugar). It does not matter if you eat one slice of white bread or plain sugar, your blood will only see glucose.

But, there is a GOOD part also! Every time the insulin levels drop, fat escapes from the fat tissue and the fat depots shrink. (this is how we lose weight)

In order to lose body fat, we can live in a less stressful environment and eat less refined carbohydrates.

“Carbohydrate is driving insulin is driving fat.”

George Cahill, 2005

Which are the fattening carbohydrates?

The ones you should cut out entirely or at least eat very little of are:

  • white bread
  • white rice
  • white pasta
  • sugars (everything that has added sugar/corn syrup)

This does not mean to cut eating bread and rice, but it means going for a healthier alternative: the whole foods! Eating the whole flour – whole bread, whole pasta, whole cereals, brown rice, etc… means that you have all the fiber in it and your body won’t break it so fast into glucose (sugar in the blood) but slowly… so your insulin level won’t be elevated all at once, but stay balanced.

My suggestion:

If you want to lose fat, try adding more healthy fat and protein into your diet. Also, cut back on refined sugars and carbs. If you do this, you will lose fat in the healthier way possible. Starving will only add stress to your body, which will cause your body to store more fat, not lose it. Eat a normal diet, but add more protein and good fats.

I was wanting to lose weight for 2 years now. Since the time I put on 20 pounds, I was not able to regain my ideal weight back until this year. I tried several diets, started going to the gym (disclosure: I was never an active person, sports were not my thing, so going 2-3 times a week to gym was the hardest thing I ever did)… nothing fully worked. I have lost 10 pounds, but the last 10 were almost impossible to lose. Three months ago I completely changed my diet. From a 90% carbohydrates (the good ones) to 70% protein only. The fat started to melt, without me having to exercise more (I do 20 min yoga on a daily basis) – keep in mind this is my personal example, it might not work for you, we are all different and one diet does not fit all!

“Every woman knows that carbohydrates are fattening, this is a piece of common knowledge, which few nutritionists would dispute.”

British Journal of Nutrition, 1963


“The amount of plain, starchy foods (cereals, breads, potatoes) taken is what determines, in the case of most people, how much

[weight] they gain or lose.”

Dr. Spock’s Baby and Child Care, 6 editions, 1946-92


Obesity is not energy balance, but a disorder of fat accumulation. (So NOT overeating and sedentary behavior)

Insulin and dietary carbohydrates are regulating fat accumulation.  — “carbohydrate is driving insulin is driving fat.

Restricting the carbohydrates, is the only non-pharmaceutical remedy in losing weight.


  2. Why We Get Fat – Adiposity 101 and the Alternative Hypothesis of Obesity – Gary Taub


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