With an eye on the scale: let’s talk numbers

With an eye on the scale: let’s talk numbers

Let’s talk numbers? It is known that to look only at the “weight” as a reference to evaluate weight loss, is not the best way. When we lose weight, we might not be just losing fat. We are losing water, lean body mass (muscle) and when we step up on the scale, it is not possible to make that distinction. But unfortunately, most people like to use this form. So, join me, let’s talk about “weight”.

There are basically three ways to lose weight: with a reduced calorie diet, with exercise or with both combined. Most studies show that diet only or exercise only is not as effective as the combination of both.

This month, a study brought some interesting numbers. People who exercised at low intensity, most days of the week and did not change the caloric intake, lost an average of 0.5lb per week. If exercise was intense, the loss was 3lb. So it is clear that the intensity of exercise is important to accelerate the loss of body fat. Another study, evaluated obese subjects that did exercise only and people who did exercises and were put through a diet with calories restriction. In this case, the results showed that in six months, the people who did exercises only, lost 18lb and the people who did exercise and were put through a diet with calories restriction, lost 24lb. With these two studies we can say that what can help the most in weight loss, is the combination of intense exercise and low-calorie diet. This does not mean that diet only or exercise only are not effective, but the results will be less significant.

Of course, things are not so simple. If they were, there would not be so many people seeking weight loss. It must be said that people do not get proper information. Basically, most people overestimate the exercise that was made and underestimate the calories that was eaten. This combination is very bad.

There is a very common thought in people who start an exercise program for weight loss. And it is, “Oh, if I exercised, I deserve to eat this candy.” There! All the effort and work put into the exercises are lost. The comparison of the calories lost with exercises with the existing calories in a candy is totally wrong. Just take a look. A piece of homemade carrot cake averages 135 cal. If the cake has chocolate icing, the calories rise to 371. More than double! On the other hand, one hour of fast walking spends on average 330 cal (average values). It is not hard to see that a piece of carrot cake can disrupt all your work and dedication. Of course, even in this scenario, the exercise still brings other benefits, but in relation to weight loss, unfortunately the work is lost. The truth is that there is no way to lose weight permanently and in a healthy way without associating exercises to proper nutrition and correct information.


Dr. Ivani Manzzo is PhD in Science from the School of Medicine UNIFESP – EPM in São Paulo, Brazil, with emphasis on obesity, pregnancy and exercise. In 2010 she began hers studies as Life Coach and has since worked helping people achieve their nutritional and heath goals. These articles are published with Dra Ivani Manzzo’s permission.