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A recent study out of the University of Colorado-Denver has some depressing news: Exercise doesn’t necessarily lead to weight loss. The New York Times notes that the study does show, however, something that most fitness and nutrition experts have espoused for quite some time: Consistent exercise combined with a lower calorie intake can lead to weight loss.
Perhaps the most interesting nugget to come out of the study is that working out at a lower intensity could be more effective in burning fat, as long as you don’t replace all of those calories afterward.
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Edward Melanson, Ph.D, the lead author of the study, tells the Times that people “are only burning 200 or 300 calories” in a typical 30-minute exercise session and that “you replace that with one bottle of Gatorade.” So be careful loading up on sports drinks and other calories after a workout.
The news isn’t all bad, though. Consistent exercise has many other tangible benefits, including increasing aerobic capacity, decreasing blood pressure and resting heart rates, and a better state of mind. It also helps people lose weight by increasing the likelihood that you’ll stick to a strict reduction in calorie intake. So you should still work out, of course, but consuming fewer calories overall is better than pushing for hours on the machines.