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Myth: You can't lose weight by exercise alone

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Myth: You can't lose weight by exercise alone

Old 07-16-22, 11:26 AM
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Myth: You can't lose weight by exercise alone

This "common wisdom" doesn't hold water.

With no changes to my eating habits, I started cycling each day on June 25th, About 12 hours per week of cycling on average (~5000 Calories per week).

I've been tracking my weight and body fat on a Health Mate scale. As of July 16th (21 days later), my:

• weight decreased by 3.4 lbs
• body fat went from 22 lbs to 17 lbs

A better statement of the "common wisdom":
You can lose weight by exercise alone, but only if you are willing to exercise enough to make a difference.
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Old 07-16-22, 01:24 PM
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I can't disagree with that.

Though I have had issues with short hard rides leaving me feeling hungrier later that evening or next day though. So if one doesn't track their food intake they might just replace or over replace the amount of Calories they just spent riding and not realize it. Medium to low effort rides don't leave me wanting so much to eat no matter what length of ride.
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Old 07-16-22, 02:10 PM
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That “myth” is for the people that do 20 minutes of walking and a weight circuit a couple of times a week.
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Old 07-16-22, 02:30 PM
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Originally Posted by terrymorse View Post
This "common wisdom" doesn't hold water.

With no changes to my eating habits, I started cycling each day on June 25th, About 12 hours per week of cycling on average (~5000 Calories per week).

I've been tracking my weight and body fat on a Health Mate scale. As of July 16th (21 days later), my:

• weight decreased by 3.4 lbs
• body fat went from 22 lbs to 17 lbs

A better statement of the "common wisdom":
You can lose weight by exercise alone, but only if you are willing to exercise enough to make a difference.
i agree that it's a myth....People who fail to loose weight through exercise are not exercising the right way and not enough. But I do believe that diet is still an important factor and shouldn't be neglected.
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Old 07-16-22, 04:05 PM
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You forgot to add "and don't eat it back." I think that latter is the usual issue rather than insufficient exercise. I recently had the same experience as you. Then I got sick. Then I ate it back. Then I felt fine again and have more muscle and bone and fat, all of it. Whatever. At least I climb faster. This forum has had posts by many, many people who empty the refrigerator after a long hard ride and then gain weight.
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Old 07-16-22, 04:26 PM
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Originally Posted by terrymorse View Post
This "common wisdom" doesn't hold water.

With no changes to my eating habits, I started cycling each day on June 25th, About 12 hours per week of cycling on average (~5000 Calories per week).

I've been tracking my weight and body fat on a Health Mate scale. As of July 16th (21 days later), my:

• weight decreased by 3.4 lbs
• body fat went from 22 lbs to 17 lbs

A better statement of the "common wisdom":
You can lose weight by exercise alone, but only if you are willing to exercise enough to make a difference.
Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
I can't disagree with that.
Though I have had issues with short hard rides leaving me feeling hungrier later that evening or next day though. So if one doesn't track their food intake they might just replace or over replace the amount of Calories they just spent riding and not realize it. Medium to low effort rides don't leave me wanting so much to eat no matter what length of ride.
If I might add - to become really relevant, along with what Terrymorse and Iride01 have postulated, I would add WHAT you eat and WHEN are important in the process.
Quality of the nutrition and amounts relative to what the body can properly use, are also important. We all know the heavy Fats and Sugar are not just poor nutrition, but also huge contributors to over-weight.
WHEN: I think there have been studies that eating late in the day and then keeping a regular breakfast/mid-day and again late evening meals/food, make losing weight very difficult and often not possible. The body very eagerly will process extra calories, which don't go directly into metabolic functions, into more stored fat. And on the other end, the body very reluctantly releases stored fat to be used for needs later on.
I'll pull out the EURO hat and note that in many European areas , breakfasts are light, MidDay is the heavy meal and then again a moderate supper...
That is somewhat COUNTERED in the warm climate countries, like Spain, Portugal and Mid to southern Italy. In Spain especially, it's common to have a heavy/meaty dinner meal very late, like 10:30/11 PM... I always had a difficult time when having to spend time in Spain and needing to follow their customs... But, they do eat very light in the AM... and not so much at Mid-Day.
Anyway, it's not just total calories IN/OUT, What and When are also important. Not new info, but easy to forget when a snack urge strikes... (I plead 'guilty', more often than I'd prefer...)
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Old 07-16-22, 04:45 PM
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I once rode about 150 miles per day for about 4 weeks and did not lose a single pound. (Riding across the USA)

I once rode about 100 miles per day for 4 weeks and lost 20 pounds. (Touring in New Zealand. Got back to work and Colleagues thought I had cancer or something)

Very confusing
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Old 07-16-22, 05:28 PM
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Weight training can be very effective for loosing fat... Fasted rides in zone 2 are also very good for burning fat...The problem with weight loss is that you loose both fat and muscle tissue which isn't good....Your goal should be to loose fat and preserve as much muscle as possible...
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Old 07-16-22, 09:23 PM
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Originally Posted by wolfchild View Post
Weight training can be very effective for loosing fat... Fasted rides in zone 2 are also very good for burning fat...The problem with weight loss is that you loose both fat and muscle tissue which isn't good....Your goal should be to loose fat and preserve as much muscle as possible...
Here's the interesting thing (well, interesting to me). I'm not doing anything special, just riding tempo daily with the occasional interval day, and eating normally (bumped up the protein a bit).

My lean body mass has actually risen slightly. Probably muscle in my quads.
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Old 07-17-22, 01:00 AM
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Originally Posted by wolfchild View Post
Fasted rides in zone 2 are also very good for burning fat..
That actually works. But just to be clear, this is zone 2 in the 5 HR zone model, NOT the three zone model. Below tempo and should still feel relatively easy. Sweating but not sweating like rain.

But to have any fat-burning effect, the z2 ride or indoor training should take at least 2 hours and avoid doing intervals harder than z2.

Don't do fasted training into the tempo zones or higher. This will switch your body into protein-burning mode and that will cost you in recovery and muscle development.
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Old 07-17-22, 10:13 AM
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Originally Posted by terrymorse View Post
This "common wisdom" doesn't hold water.
​​​​​​Of course it doesn't. It's just math. To lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you eat. That's all there is to it.

If a person told you you can't accumulate a million dollars by working, regardless of what you get paid, you would rightly think that person is an idiot.

If somebody tells you exercise isn't related to weight loss because of some hypotheticals, you know they're a person who can't stay focused and it's answering a question you didn't ask instead.
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Old 07-17-22, 11:45 AM
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Originally Posted by terrymorse View Post
Here's the interesting thing (well, interesting to me). I'm not doing anything special, just riding tempo daily with the occasional interval day, and eating normally (bumped up the protein a bit).

My lean body mass has actually risen slightly. Probably muscle in my quads.
Ok so you did make some changes to your diet by bumping up your protein intake Maybe that's why you're leaner and why your quads appear more muscular.
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Old 07-17-22, 12:18 PM
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I think the whole point to loosing weight is eating less calories than you burn. This can be accomplished eating less. Essentially having a net calories of less than 2000 calories per day. One of the big misconceptions I had and believe many of have is the food I was eating had less calories than it did, and working out burned more calories than it actually did.

Also think the people who make the statement about losing weight can’t really be done with exercise alone aren’t cyclist who spend hours a day cycling.
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Old 07-17-22, 12:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Bogey Speedwell View Post
I think the whole point to loosing weight is eating less calories than you burn. This can be accomplished eating less. Essentially having a net calories of less than 2000 calories per day. One of the big misconceptions I had and believe many of have is the food I was eating had less calories than it did, and working out burned more calories than it actually did.

Also think the people who make the statement about losing weight can’t really be done with exercise alone aren’t cyclist who spend hours a day cycling.
Yes, to two good points.

First, paying attention to the caloric content of your food is necessary and not the same a just making sure to eat "healthy". For example, I like to eat nuts (walnuts, almonds, cashews, unsalted peanuts). They are indeed "healthy" foods, nothing wrong there, but they have a high caloric content and so I'm careful about how many I consume.

Second, lots of people who consider themselves to "exercise a lot" are the ones going to the gym 5 days/week for a 1 hour workout. That's not going to be much more than 600 calories/day - maybe 800 calories, tops. But I did a century yesterday and a metric today - somewhere between 8 and 9 hours on the bike, on top of the 5-6 hours I'll do on my weekday rides.
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Old 07-17-22, 12:37 PM
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I don't keep track of how many calories I eat and how many calories I burn, works very well for me and I've never been overweight yet. At 52 years of age I still have a 32 inch waist and can wear the same size pants as I did when I was 20 years old. Calorie counting is overrated.
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Old 07-17-22, 12:37 PM
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About 2 years ago I made a decision to change my lifestyle, stepped on the scale and recorded 285.5lbs, this morning checked in at 204.2 still a few pounds to go, but much of my change I feel had more to do with what I ate and more importantly didn’t eat. Than the workout itself. I also find when I do workout or spend the day cycling, I tend to consume more calories which essentially negates my workouts.

while it’s possible, it’s pretty challenging to outrun a fork.
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Old 07-17-22, 04:10 PM
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Oatmeal seems to work really well to lose weight, together with cardio exercise. Great food for recovery as well if consumed with milk.
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Old 07-17-22, 05:18 PM
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I don't know what types of foods are "weight loss" foods.

But I do like oatmeal on race or big event day. With milk, some salt, maybe some walnuts, and a couple of scrambled eggs.
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Old 07-17-22, 05:44 PM
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Originally Posted by wolfchild View Post
I don't keep track of how many calories I eat and how many calories I burn, works very well for me and I've never been overweight yet. At 52 years of age I still have a 32 inch waist and can wear the same size pants as I did when I was 20 years old. Calorie counting is overrated.
Yet another example of the most common logic fail on bf. "What works for me must work for everybody else also."
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Old 07-17-22, 08:31 PM
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Originally Posted by terrymorse View Post
I don't know what types of foods are "weight loss" foods.

But I do like oatmeal on race or big event day. With milk, some salt, maybe some walnuts, and a couple of scrambled eggs.
Scrambled eggs, I'll have to try that one.

Oatmeal is as filling as white rice but with far less calories. An excellent way to cut down on calories without feeling hungry all the time during training. But is only effective with exercise because without exercise, you might not even burn enough of the calories you get from oatmeal.

On days I'm "carbo-loading" I'll replace all my oatmeal meals with regular carbs
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Old 07-17-22, 09:34 PM
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That poor straw man never had a chance. Will no one rise up to defend him?
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Old 07-18-22, 09:04 AM
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Originally Posted by terrymorse View Post
This "common wisdom" doesn't hold water.

With no changes to my eating habits, I started cycling each day on June 25th, About 12 hours per week of cycling on average (~5000 Calories per week).

I've been tracking my weight and body fat on a Health Mate scale. As of July 16th (21 days later), my:

• weight decreased by 3.4 lbs
• body fat went from 22 lbs to 17 lbs

A better statement of the "common wisdom":
You can lose weight by exercise alone, but only if you are willing to exercise enough to make a difference.
It's possible that you've actually lost that much weight and that it's all body fat.

However, it's also interesting that you started your post with "doesn't hold water." My experience has led me to the point that I don't believe a weight drop of less that five pounds because I can sweat that much out pretty easily -- in other words, I treat a loss of <5 pounds as a water weight loss. At 10 pounds I start to believe that I've lost weight.

So is this a water weight loss, or the start of something significant? Check back in with us in a couple more months, and let us know if you've found a reliable, long term path to your weight loss.
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Old 07-18-22, 09:22 AM
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Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
It's possible that you've actually lost that much weight and that it's all body fat.

However, it's also interesting that you started your post with "doesn't hold water." My experience has led me to the point that I don't believe a weight drop of less that five pounds because I can sweat that much out pretty easily -- in other words, I treat a loss of <5 pounds as a water weight loss. At 10 pounds I start to believe that I've lost weight.

So is this a water weight loss, or the start of something significant? Check back in with us in a couple more months, and let us know if you've found a reliable, long term path to your weight loss.
My experience is similar, but with careful controls, 5 pounds can be a real signal IF your weighing protocols are well-defined. For example, I weigh myself once a day, first thing in the morning, before any breakfast or coffee. With this protocol, changes of less than 2 pounds could be noise, but changes of 3-5 pounds, in my experience, are usually signal. An exception to this would be if the evening before, I put in a good workout (in the winters I Zwift in the evening) and went to bed both dehydrated and depleted in glycogen. On the other hand, if I were to include weights from different times of the day, the "noise" band would grow larger. I can easily be 3-5 pounds heavier after dinner than I am first thing in the morning.
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Old 07-18-22, 09:40 AM
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Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
It's possible that you've actually lost that much weight and that it's all body fat.

However, it's also interesting that you started your post with "doesn't hold water." My experience has led me to the point that I don't believe a weight drop of less that five pounds because I can sweat that much out pretty easily -- in other words, I treat a loss of <5 pounds as a water weight loss. At 10 pounds I start to believe that I've lost weight.

So is this a water weight loss, or the start of something significant? Check back in with us in a couple more months, and let us know if you've found a reliable, long term path to your weight loss.
Fortunately, there's a fairly accurate way to identify what type of weight loss one is losing. I use a Health Mate scale that measures the conductivity of your body to estimate body fat and lean body mass. Here's the report from Apple Health app:



I'm essentially at my target weight now, and based on prior seasons, I will maintain this weight until I stop training. With my current training load, I'll need to start adding daily calories to maintain this weight.
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Old 07-18-22, 10:50 AM
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Originally Posted by terrymorse View Post
Fortunately, there's a fairly accurate way to identify what type of weight loss one is losing. I use a Health Mate scale
​​​​​​That kind of scale is as accurate as a roll of the dice. Read about how they work. Try it when you're dehydrated after a long ride and as normal.
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