Most of us know that exercise burns calories. It should follow then, that exercise promotes weight loss. However, without significant changes to your diet, most people don’t succeed. Let me repeat, exercise alone will NOT make you lose weight-you must take in fewer calories than you burn. Weight loss is a simple math equation: calories in < calories out = weight loss. One of the main problems with exercise alone is that many people eat more calories when they work out, and this is especially true for women, due to the biological need to maintain energy stores for reproduction. This new slant on exercise and weight loss are the results of a number of new studies by researchers, who have been teasing out exercise’s impact on appetite, metabolism, and body fat. Homeostasis is the term they use, meaning the body likes to stay where it is, and it tries to return there; it wants to stay at that weight. Hormones that regulate appetite and energy balance are finely calibrated, so even small changes in energy balance can make dramatic changes in leptin (which is known to increase the desire for food), and insulin and leptin (which affect how the body burns food. However, don’t despair. Exercise’s main effect is that it alone won’t make you thin but will help you stay thin. Activity changes the way you metabolize food, burning fat immediately after eating, while sedentary beings burned carbohydrates and sent the fat off for storage.

 There are also a couple of strategies you can use, both in what you eat and what you don’t eat.

Foods that burn calories. 1). Coffee (caffeine) Research has shown that consuming as little as a small cup, or 100 mg of caffeine increased the rate of calorie burning by 4% for 2.5 hours. While 4% doesn’t seem like much, it amounts to 75-125 calories/day, which equals 7.5 to 12.5 pounds/year, provided you don’t have a biscotti with it. 2). Hot peppers (capsaicin), like that found in curry or other spicy dishes and sauces can rev up calorie burning (thermogenesis) by 10% for 30 minutes, equal to another 120 calories/day. 3). Cinnamon increases insulin sensitivity, thus lowering insulin levels after a meal. Remember, insulin loves to store fat, so the less you have circulating, the better for weight loss (your pancreas will be happy too). 4). Green tea has been shown to not only burn calories, but those calories come mainly from fat-scientist’s are not sure of the mechanism yet.

Here’s the food you don’t eat. Remember a few weeks ago when I said to do a minifast on the mornings you exercise? Just have water or coffee until noon, then eat lunch and dinner as usual. As Dr. Whitaker said,” I know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, just eat it at lunch!”

Stay well, John R Blilie, M.S.