Exercise won’t help you lose weight, says top diet expert

Exercise will not help you lose weight on your own, one of the leading experts in the country sensationally.

Professor Tim Spector, a prolific diet researcher and author, accepts that exercise is ‘good’ for overall health, especially the heart.

He even insisted that ‘we all have to do it’.

But when it comes to losing weight, Professor Spector says exercise ‘doesn’t do anything on its own’. It goes against the advice of health agencies around the planet that say it’s the ‘key’ to beating the bulge.

Professor Spector admits that while exercise is 'good for your health' and 'fantastic for your mood', you don't have to exercise alone if 'your goal is to lose weight'

Professor Spector admits that while exercise is ‘good for your health’ and ‘fantastic for your mood’, you don’t have to exercise alone if ‘your goal is to lose weight’

Professor Tim Spector (pictured above) says exercise has been 'exaggerated as an easy solution to our obesity problem'

Professor Tim Spector (pictured above) says exercise has been ‘exaggerated as an easy solution to our obesity problem’

Exercise — of any kind — actually plays a small role in weight loss, he says on Steven Bartlett’s podcast, The Diary of a CEO.

Professor Spector, who trained as an epidemiologist and is famous for tracking Covid during the pandemic, said: ‘All the long-term studies show that it doesn’t help to lose weight…

‘It has been exaggerated as an easy solution to the problem of obesity.

‘All the studies show.

The only caveat is that if you have changed your diet, improved your diet and lost weight, maintaining some exercise will not bring you back.

‘But on its own, if you don’t change your diet, it’s useless and now it’s known by all obesity experts and studies.’

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He added: ‘It’s good for my health, I exercise. Good for your mood, good for your heart.

‘We all have to do it, but really not if your goal is to lose weight.

“It’s a big myth, especially what gyms and fitness apps do. It’s complete nonsense,” he said.

Professor Spector’s comments go against some of the most trusted health advice. ‘Being active is key to losing weight and keeping it off,’ says the NHS.

It adds that eating fewer calories will help you lose weight but keeping flab off permanently ‘requires physical activity to burn energy’.

Calories are a way of measuring energy – the amount contained in food or the amount burned through activity.

People gain weight when they consume more calories than they burn through daily activities. To lose weight, you need to use more calories than you take in.

As a result, limiting calories – or exercising more – is the first step for many looking for a lean physique.

Speaking on the same podcast, Professor Spector advised that people who want to lose weight should only look at changing their diet.

He says calorie counting, although effective in the short term, is ‘complete bullshit’ because most people who stick to the grueling regime ‘bounce back’.

Instead, he recommends eating more plant-based foods, doing so within 10 hours and avoiding processed foods.

Official guidelines recommend adults should do 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week spread over four to five days.

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Examples of vigorous exercise include running, swimming, skipping and walking up stairs.

Similar advice – which also includes muscle-strengthening exercises two days a week – exists in the US.

Lack of exercise, combined with an unhealthy diet, has been blamed for the growing obesity epidemic around the world.

Two thirds of British adults are overweight, with more of us predicted to grow fatter in the future. Rates are even higher in the US.

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How should people lose weight?

Professor Tim Spector, a nutritionist, says some people can lose weight in a short period of time by restricting their calorie intake. But almost all of them ‘bounced back’ to their original weight and ‘many were above it’, he said.

He said the approach – supported by the NHS as one way to lose weight – was a ‘giant camouflage’ that made people focus on calories rather than the quality of what they ate.

Professor Spector shares three tips for people who want to achieve their healthiest weight:

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Avoid ultra-processed foods

Ultra-processed food is food that has undergone industrial processes and does not look like real food.

They usually contain a lot of salt, sugar, fat, and other chemical additives.

Researchers found that people who ate an ultra-processed diet consumed an extra 300 calories a day more than people who ate a minimally processed diet.

Tip: If you want to see how processed something is, look at how many ingredients are in it. In general, the more ingredients, the more processing.

Try a time-limited meal

Eat all meals in a ten hour window, and then fast for 14 hours, most of which happens at night when you sleep. Just like us, gut microbes need to rest and recover to give the gut lining time to repair itself. The results of the ZOE Health Study show this almost immediately reduces snacks from the diet and more importantly, prevents people from snacking at night – the worst kind of snacks for our health.

Tip: Skipping breakfast or delaying it for a few hours is an easy way to increase fasting.

Eat 30 plants per week

Instead of focusing on the number of calories, focus on the number of plants per week.

For people trying to lose weight, I recommend eating a variety of foods. 30 plants a week is what we should be aiming for to improve gut health.

Tip: Remember to plant not only fruits and vegetables, but also nuts, seeds, herbs and spices so it’s easier than it seems.


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