The Fallacy of Working Out To "Burn Calories" + Exercise Shuts Down the Carb Cravings: Bench Press, Leg Press HIIT & LISS Are Not Meant to Incinerate the Junk You Eat
|If you work out to be able to allow yourself to eat, you know you have a serious problem.|
If you have not done so already, this would be the right time to download + listen to the Science Round-Up - I promise there is much to learn and not all of it is going to be repeated here.Whatever... in the end it does not matter how urgent you were waiting to take a look at the data that supports my argument that (a) exercise does not just make you hungry, and that (b) the notion to work out primarily to burn energy is hilarious.
Chest vs. legs what's energetically more costly?
While I could imagine that the comparison would have yielded a different result if the 10 healthy young men (>1 year of resistance training experience; BMI ~24kg/m²) had performed squats instead of regular leg presses, I have to admit that I was still surprised to see that Magossoa et al. actually found no difference in the total energy expenditure between 3 sets of 10 reps (70% 1RM) of bench vs. leg presses (Note: The researchers determined the total energy expenditure using the oxygen uptake (aerobic component) the EPOC and lactate production (anaerobic component)).
|Table 1: Workload, energy expenditure total, per minute per weight lifted (Magosso. 2013)|
If you were one of the lazy (and mostly ignorant) buggers who "already have big enough legs", you could probably use these results to argue that leg presses and the rest of the leg workout was a pretty unnecessary undertaking - I mean, if you don't want bigger legs it should at least help you with that sixpack by burning a couple of calories, right?
Only a fool will work out to "burn energy"
|Suggested Read: "Busting the 3,500kcal = 1lbs Weight Loss Myth! Debunking the rule of thumb with the power of science" | read more|
Once you've gotten caught in calculations such as the above, i.e. 229 sets x 46kcal / 3 sets > 3500kcal, or in words "I got to do 228 sets of bench presses to burn one pound of body fat!", you are lost.
Firstly, the equation 3,500kcal caloric deficit = 1lbs fat loss if flawed (learn more).
Secondly, and even more importantly, doing more, which is what all the "I workout to lose fat" weekend warriors do, is not going to yield superior results. If you don't believe that, I suggest you go back to my "How to Burn 27,300 Kcal Extra W/out Losing a Single Extra Pound of Fat!"-article and take a look at the results of the Rosenkild study from 2012 (figure 3).
Gary is ... no, not a fool, but he is still wrong
Now, I obviously cannot forbid workout extra and luckily even Gary Taubes can't because even if you insisted to burn 600kcal, instead of just 300kcal, you can at least console yourself that this is not going to increase your appetite (learn more). Especially if we are talking about relatively intense exercise for similarly "relatively obese" individuals, working out will not only reduce your window of opportunity to eat (for some people even that may make a difference, believe me), but rather work like a gastric bypass - one that won't allow you to hit your obesogenic macros on the subsequent meals.
|Figure 1: Macronutrient intake (lunch + dinner in g) on control vs. exercise day (David. 2013)|
I mean, a voluntary 35% reduction in carbohydrate intake during lunch and dinner and a total reduction in energy intake of 475kcal are impressive ballpark figures considering the fact that exercise is often said to "just make you hungry" - wouldn't you agree?
EPOC should not determine your choice of exercise either
|If you are sprinting because of the increase in EPOC, you are a fool.|
So even if it was about burning calories the jog would be far superior because the increase in Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC) is not going to compensate the additional kcal the subjects in the Townsend study burned during the steady state exercise.
The latter is by the way not much different if you compare two different HIIT regimen - a very intense short one (HIIT1) and a somewhat longer slightly less intense alternative regimen (HIIT2):
- HIIT1: 10 x 1min, 1min pause between intervals; cycling at 80-90RPM at 90% of the HRmax
- HIIT2: 10 x 4min, 2min pause; cycling at 60-80RPM and without a prescribed minimal heart rate
- David T, et al. Obese but not lean adolescents spontaneously decrease energy intake after intensive exercise. Physiol Behav. 2013 [epub ahead of print]
- Kelly B, King JA, Goerlach J, Nimmo MA. The impact of high-intensity intermittent exercise on resting metabolic rate in healthy males. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2013 Oct 6. [Epub ahead of print]
- Magosso et al. Energy Expenditure during Multiple Sets of Leg Press and Bench Press. Journal of Exercise Physiology online. October 2013.
- Rosenkilde M, Auerbach P, Reichkendler MH, Ploug T, Stallknecht BM, Sjödin A. Body fat loss and compensatory mechanisms in response to different doses of aerobic exercise--a randomized controlled trial in overweight sedentary males. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2012 Sep 15;303(6):R571-9.
- Rosenkilde M, Reichkendler MH, Auerbach P, Toräng S, Gram AS, Ploug T, Holst JJ, Sjödin A, Stallknecht BM. Appetite regulation in overweight, sedentary men after different amounts of endurance exercise - a randomized controlled trial. J Appl Physiol (1985). 2013 Sep 19. [Epub ahead of print]
- Sim AY, Wallman KE, Fairchild TJ, Guelfi KJ. High-intensity intermittent exercise attenuates ad-libitum energy intake. Int J Obes (Lond). 2013 Jun 4. doi: 10.1038/ijo.2013.102. [Epub ahead of print]