Sunday, September 30, 2012

Why Exercise Is Not as Effective as Diet in Weight Loss

A 2009 New York Time magazine article suggested that exercise alone will not cause a person to lose an appreciable amount of weight. The article's author indicated that it is what you eat that counts in weight loss, not how hard you exercise. Indeed, it is generally accepted that exercise alone is not as effective, in losing weight, as exercise plus a low calorie diet. Further, there is research that gives some evolutionary basis for exercise being less effective as a weight loss tool than diet.

According to the research, exercise does not make a great deal of difference in weight loss, because over millions of years of evolution our bodies have been able to "adapt to our daily routines and find ways to keep overall energy expenditure in check.”

According to the research, "if we want to end obesity, we need to focus on our diet and reduce the number of calories we eat, particularly the sugars our primate brains have evolved to love."  The investigators argue that being sedentary is not what's causing us to get fat. Eating too much is what's leading to the overweight problem we have.

Assuming that eating too much is our basic problem, and that evolution greatly limits our ability to lose weight via exercise, we need to concentrate on our diet to lose significant weight. We need to keep food diaries, plan our meals with calorie content in mind, and reduce food portion size. These kinds of activities can help us better maintain a healthy weight.

Still, exercise is an important part of maintaining weight loss. And exercise is important to our mental health. Therefore, combining a healthy, low calorie diet with frequent exercise is the winning combination for long-term good health, including weight control. And it is incumbent on weight loss service providers to always make this clear.

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Monday, September 17, 2012

Genes Associated with Brown Fat May Play Role in Obesity and Type ll Diabetes

Lifestyle change, diet, exercise, obesity drugs, and bariatric surgery comprise the leading approaches to weight loss. And some research has suggested that increasing a person's brown fat could eventually be a way to fight obesity. However, other research indicates that brown fat could also be associated with genes that actually raise the risk of obesity and type ll diabetes.

Brown fat could be used to fight obesity because, as some  researchers believe, brown fat burns energy rather than store it the way white fat does.  Therefore, brown fat is viewed as more desirable than white fat. Also, brown fat apparently plays a role in regulating the way we burn energy. And some investigators speculate that there are genes embedded in brown fat that participate in this regulation.

These genes, it is suggested, were developed by man's body as a  protective mechanism, during human evolution, as man moved out of Africa. The genes evolved to regulate man's energy expense to protect the body in cold weather and when food was scarce. To protect the body, some of these genes cause fat to be deposited in certain parts of the body, and some of these genes called "thrifty genes" slow the body's metabolism to cause the body to conserve energy.

But since food is more plentiful today than it was as man moved out of Africa, man no longer needs this protection. So the protective mechanism may somehow be contributing to our current obesity and to type ll diabetes epidemics. 

Of course, more research is needed to determine if there, indeed, are genes in brown fat that play a role in how our bodies expend energy. And as we understand brown fat better, we may be able to confirm that brown fat does contain energy regulating genes. With that knowledge, drugs may be developed to target these genes in a way to reduce obesity and lower the rates of type ll diabetes.

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