Exercise for Health, NOT Weight Loss

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Exercise isn't great at weight loss by itself

Patient: “I’m trying to lose weight doc, but the scale barely budges!”

Me: “What are you doing to try to lose weight?”

Patient: “I run a few miles a day and follow the x3000 super turbo workout plan!”

Me: “Changing your diet at all?”

Patient: “No” 

This dialog (or similar) happens every day in my clinic. It’s no secret that I love exercise as medicine (I am the doc who lifts), but by itself, exercise is not that great for weight loss.

With exercise only (no dietary guidance), studies show most people only lose 1-2% of their weight. This can of course vary from person to person, but in the grand scheme of things, weight loss from exercise only is small.

Now this does not at all mean to skip exercising. I just want to make sure my patients have the right expectations. In fact, exercise is one of the most powerful strategies to help with weight loss MAINTENANCE and of course I want all of my patients doing it for health purposes (blood sugar/pressure improvement and increases in fitness). Also, when combined with diet, you will get better weight loss results than if you just did diet alone.

If you want to lose weight, DO NOT buy the latest crazy workout plan. To lose weight, you will need help with nutrition first and foremost. Also, if you go from sedentary to a high intensity workout program, you could get hurt. All that work for not much weight loss and possibly injuries is no fun.  

I do have a couple of very reasonable workout plans in my upcoming book that won’t leave you burned out and injured. Your exercise plan should be sustainable and enjoyable otherwise it won’t last.

Exercise is still my drug of choice. I prescribe it to all of my patients. Regardless of weight loss, you can improve your health with exercise. Just remember that by itself, it’s not great for weight loss (do I sound like a broken record?). Use it like a medicine. Do it daily. Get your daily dose. 


If you have time and want to learn more, I recommend watching this lecture by my buddy Dr. Yoni Freedhoff


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