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Five Exercise and Fat Loss Laws

The best exercises for fat loss.

Five Exercise and Fat Loss Laws

Post Summary

  • On Monday, we covered the truth about exercise and calorie burn. Read that post here.
    • In short: You may have heard that exercise doesn't lead you to burn more calories in a day (called the "constrained energy hypothesis"). But exercise does lead you to burn more calories, just not as many as you'd think.
    • P.S. Thanks for the great comments on that post.
  • Today, we're covering five ways to use that information.
  • We'll cover exactly what you should do to leverage the power of exercise for fat and weight loss.
  • Lowering your body fat percentage can improve your health, performance, and how you feel every day.


  • Full access to this post is for Members of 2%. Members have fun and don't die—and get the best and most practical information about living healthier and better today.

Podcast preview (the full Member podcast is below)

The post

As we recently learned, studies on whether exercise leads to weight and fat loss are mixed. Some show an effect while others don't.

For example, a couple of studies discovered that sedentary people who began exercising lost 10+ pounds from fat. But other exercise and weight loss studies have found insignificant results.

So what makes the difference? What do the people who lose fat and keep it off do that others don't? That's the topic of today's post.

We're covering five laws around exercise and fat loss.

The upshot: Losing body fat can be one of the most powerful things you can do to improve your health, performance, and how you feel every day.

Let's roll ...

1) Exercise for weight maintenance rather than loss

Here's a fascinating study of police officers in Boston.

Researchers took 160 cops who were all moderately obese. They put every cop on a crash diet.

Half of the officers also exercised during the crash diet.

After eight weeks, every officer had lost anywhere from 16 to 30 pounds. Importantly, the officers who had also exercised lost more weight than the ones who only dieted, implying that exercise does help with weight loss.

But here's where it gets really interesting:

  • The researchers checked in with the police a month after the crash diet was over, and they'd returned to their regular diet.
  • Most had regained the weight quickly. But there was an odd group that didn't regain weight.
  • The big finding: The police who didn't regain weight had continued to exercise. Exercise seemed to defend against weight regain, even though they'd quit the diet.

The Boston police study was an early glimpse into the power of exercise for weight maintenance. I.e., Exercising is likely more powerful for helping you avoid weight gain rather than losing weight.

A review on the topic stated, "The available evidence indicates that exercise is ... perhaps the best predictor of weight maintenance."

Your move

Changing your diet is a more efficient way to lose weight because it's easier not to eat something than it is to exercise enough to spur significant weight loss.

But exercise:

  1. Can help you lose more weight as you diet.
  2. Acts like a defense mechanism against weight regain.

The review above recommended at least 30 minutes of exercise a day, with more being better.