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Is Physical Activity in Weight Management More About ‘Calories In’ Than ‘Calories Out’?



Regular readers may recall that I posed this question in a post earlier this year.

In it, I proposed that the positive impact of regular exercise on body weight has more to do with the positive effect of exercise on dietary caloric intake than on the number of calories ‘burnt’ – in other words, exercise is more about ‘calories in’ than ‘calories out’.

Following the rather enthusiastic response to this post, Jean-Philippe Chaput (a former CON Boot Camper and now an Assistant Professor at the Childrens’ Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Ottawa) and I co-authored an editorial on this topic for the British Journal of Nutrition.

The original post can be read here.

AMS
Edmonton, Alberta

5 Comments

  1. One of the “Linked Out” links gets us page one of your article, which ends in the middle of a sentence. The other stops us with a log-in page.

    I feel strongly that people should be compensated for their intellectual property, but I also wish that there were easier access to scientific information for lay people. A conundrum. God bless PLoS.

    Is there a place a lay person without a University credential may subscribe (for a reasonable price) to be able to access a broad range of scientific literature that crosses disciplines?

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  2. Just went back to the original post, and I see the original study itself is in public domain. Hooray! This will keep me busy for a day or two. Thanks for reposting. Funny how things work. The first time you posted it, that wasn’t what my brain was ruminating on, but recently, this has been occupying me a lot.

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  3. When I read blogs by people who have made the transition from obese/sedentary to jock (it happens), I get the feeling that it’s mostly psychologically valuable. It seems to give people a real, concrete reason to maintain a weight loss, and something new to strive for when they stop trying to beat last week’s number on the scale. Instead, they can beat their last 5k time or something.

    But you know, I’m wondering lately whether the in-and-out part is being accounted for thoroughly. Is there an assumption made by doctors and everyone else that the body will harvest EVERY SINGLE CALORIE it can get out of one’s food? I mean, if I (a naturally thin person) eat a bunch of ice cream versus someone who tends to gain eating the same amount of ice cream, will we both get ALL of the calories out of it? Or will I (to be blunt) poop out some of those calories untouched while his/her body will be more aggressive about grabbing every single calorie it can?

    I remember that experiment that was done with those slender people in the UK where they fed the hell out of them to the point where some of them were barfing the excess back up again, and they supposedly tested their metabolisms. Some of them ratcheted their metabolic rates up, and some didn’t … but still didn’t gain. I just wondered whether the scientists had any way of knowing whether or not their bodies didn’t just poop out the excess. So it looked like they had eaten a zillion calories, but they had only metabolized what they needed.

    Has there ever been a test done about that, where doctors can test the um … stuff left over after you’re done with your food … and find out how many calories remain to be harvested in it? Maybe heavy people’s bodies are not only set for higher appetite levels but are also more aggressive about scrounging every scrap of a calorie out of whatever they eat.

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  4. Maybe heavy people’s bodies are not only set for higher appetite levels but are also more aggressive about scrounging every scrap of a calorie out of whatever they eat.

    I’ve suspected this for a long time. In fact, I’m not even sure about the higher appetite levels. As far as I know, no study has ever shown that heavier people, as a rule, eat more than lighter people. Back in the nineties, I remember there was a study that seemed to indicate that heavier people had longer intestines, which would seem to support the idea that we can extract more energy from food. I can’t remember who wrote it or where it was published, though.

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