Exercise For Weight Loss – When Does it Matter?

I was talking to a buddy of mine who competes in bodybuilding the other day. We were discussing contest preparation and how he uses diet and exercise for weight loss.

He said he takes about 14-16 weeks to get ready for a show. He starts at around 2200 calories per day and finishes around 1600 calories per day in the final weeks (and just to let you know, this guy is well over 300lbs and 6’5)

By the end of his contest prep he cuts down to about 240lbs including a water depletion.

Losing Weight
It takes dieting AND exercise to get this lean

Now this is where the interesting part comes in.

He cuts his calories down to about 1600 per day and does 1 weight training session and two ‘cardio’ sessions per day at the end of his preparation.

I did a bit of quick math and figured out that he likely burns all 1600 calories off during his 3 workouts each day. In other words, he is effectively burning off all his daily calories.

This is an example of the extreme measures bodybuilders (and fitness competitors) will go to in order to burn off every last ounce of visible bodyfat from their frame (including using some powerful stimulants to keep their appetite at bay)

3 workouts per day might sound like alot to you but it really isn’t. He will typically break it up into an hour morning walk (perhaps inclined on a treadmill for some added work) then an afternoon workout with weights, and finally another walk later in the evening.

That’s about 3 hours of working out (two of them for weight loss one of them for muscle building)

This extra exercise for weight loss can only provide a significant benefit if he keeps his calories in control.

In other words, if he wasn’t monitoring his calories he could easily replace all the energy he burned during each ‘cardio’ session by eating a bit more food at each meal.

The more you exercise the more likely you will get hungry and the more tempted you will be to overeat (or at least eat more than you were planning)

cardio
The treadmill can help if you're careful with your calorie intake

This is the catch 22 with exercise for weight loss. You’ll burn more calories and lost more weight faster if you add in extra exercise, BUT you’ll also be tempted to eat more food as you increase the amount of exercise you do.

So you’ve got to keep the calories you  eat in control if you want to see the full benefit from adding in extra ‘cardio’ sessions.

The point is exercise for weight loss can be effective IF and only IF you’ve got a handle on your calories.

John