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Exercise Causes Weight Gain…Duh!

Updated on November 29, 2011

You can choose both...carbs aren't the enemy!


Exercise causes weight gain, carbs are the enemy and more topics about fitness from Dr. Oz's show

I flipped on the television and saw there was a doctor disagreeing with Dr. Oz about his opinions on weight loss. I was ready to disagree with everything the doctor said. Not because I’m necessarily a Dr. Oz-lover, but because I agree with a lot of his opinions, I think he has smart ideas when it comes to weight loss and I believe him when he says that obesity is a crisis in the U.S. But, then I watched and slowly started to realize that this other doctor, Dr. Glenn Gaesser, is not such a dummy. He actually knows what he’s talking about…well, mostly.

Hatred of Exercise

First of all, let me say that I’m no doctor. These are my opinions based on personal experience. I’m sure a lot of women have the same experiences and you’re welcome to share whether they differ from mine or not. I am the biggest advocate of exercise. I used to not be. I used to loathe it. I mean, I used to really, really hate it. I also hated people who promoted exercise. I couldn’t stand all those peppy women in workout videos and bulked up trainers who chastised me for sitting on the couch, cheeseburger in hand. A comment like, “Exercise causes weight gain,” back in the day would have sent me jumping for joy; it would have been the very excuse for my couch-potatoism. Eventually, I aged. In to my thirties, I started seeing cellulite in places that I never knew I could have cellulite. I also started noticing that I was gaining weight each time I ate an unhealthy meal. I would literally gain a pound with each fast food meal I consumed. It was very irritating. Exercise became something that I needed in a big way.

In addition to weight gain and unsightly fat, my age had also brought with it sluggishness, backaches, terrible sciatica, migraines and well, you name it. I wasn’t terribly overweight at the time, either. I fluctuated between a size 10 and 14 at the time.

My Love Affair with Group Fitness

But, I still hated exercise. What to do, what to do? I started out with workout DVD’s at home and worked my way up. I like working out at home, but I found I liked the classes at the gym even more. I was really surprised the first time I took a group fitness class. There was clapping and hollering and whoo-hooing that I never expected. It was really motivating; that and the loud, bumping music. It was like going to a dance club every time I worked out. That is my kind of workout!

Why Am I So Hungry?

Now, I love exercise. So, when I heard “Dr. Smartypants” say that exercise causes weight gain I thought, well, duh! Then, he said scientists aren’t sure why. Dr. Oz seemed stunned by it all, but I can tell them why, and the reason is simple: working out makes you hungry - hungrier than normal. In my case, it is essential that I eat before and right after working out. I’m not diabetic, but my blood sugar levels will plummet if I don’t eat right. I will go from a little lightheaded to shaking like a leaf and barely walking straight, in a matter of seconds.

It is true that when I started an exercise plan which consisted of group step, and some group weight lifting, at least four to five times a week, I gained some weight. No, it wasn’t because muscle weighs more than fat. It’s because I ate more. I was hungry. Your body uses carbs for energy. If you’ve slowed it down on the mashed potatoes and cake for dessert, your body has less to take from. I eventually figured out what I was doing wrong. I was eating all the wrong things. I also used the excuse, “Well, I worked out, so this king sized Snickers won’t hurt,” a few too many times. I was eating the calories back, if you will.

I have heard of some diet plans suggesting you wait two weeks after beginning a new plan, to start exercising regularly. I think this is a good idea. Your stomach needs time to get used to the reduction in food.

Good Carbs are Your Friend

Also, as Dr. Gaesser suggested, carbs are not the enemy. I’m not sure why Dr. Oz is so against simple carbs. I think simple carbs in excess are not great for you, but when they are consumed at the right time, they can be helpful. Naturally occurring sugars, like the ones found in fruits, are usually linked to soluble fiber which is good for weight loss. Foods with high fructose corn syrup are never the way to go. Post-workout, simple carbs, consumed about 30 minutes after working out, are helpful in restoring insulin to reload glycogen. Liquid post-workout snacks tend to work well for this, digesting faster than solid food. A fruit smoothie with a whey protein supplement is a good choice.

Pre-workout snacks should be "slow-burning", complex carbs. Complex carbs take longer to convert to glucose, and keep blood sugar levels steady during a workout. If I workout in the evening, I try to have whole wheat pasta, bread or a sweet potato with lunch which helps me retain energy through the day, then keeps me from passing out during my workout. Be warned, food with high-fructose corn syrup may give you an instant high, but could leave you lightheaded halfway through your routine.

Body Fat Percentage…Instead of Body Mass Index

Even though I think that people looking to lose weight could benefit from holding out on immediate exercise, I do think there comes a time when it must be added in. Exercise is essential for your health, period. As shown on the same Dr. Oz episode, even if you appear in good shape, you may be “thin on the outside, fat on the inside”. TOFI means that your BMI is within normal range, and in one case on the show below normal, but actual body fat is higher than expected. I say “expected” because even the person with the highest body fat, on stage, was 30% which isn’t horrible. Normal body fat for women is somewhere between 20 and 27%.

In my personal experience, I have come to accept that exercise is essential to appearance, body shape, body size, body fat content and of course, health. Exercise has literally transformed me. I’m in better shape than I was in my teens and I weigh more now than I did then. I’m holding steady at a size 8. I don’t even have a third of the pain I did before. And, my legs are more muscular than they’ve ever been and that is not solely due to diet – it’s exercise I have to thank!


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    • shesacraftymom profile image

      shesacraftymom 5 years ago

      Amymarie, I'm so glad you liked the article. I think it was irresponsible for him to say it and then not give his opinion about the reason for weight gain. He has a point, but he can't just say it and have no follow up. It gives people the wrong idea about exercise, for sure! :)

    • amymarie_5 profile image

      amymarie_5 5 years ago from Chicago IL

      This makes so much sense. I am in my 30s and can relate to finding cellulite in places I never knew I could get cellulite (or flab for that matter). You are absolutely right about excercise. You cannot just exercise and not change your diet. Exercise is important for toning and to increase metabolism. I didn't see the Dr. Oz episode but I really think that it was irresponsible for that other doctor on his show to say what he did. This is a great article and I hope many people read it.