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Aug 14, 2009 14:37

Is exercise really "useless" for weight loss?

Author refutes Time magazine cover story

CHAMPAIGN, IL-Fitness expert Brad Schoenfeld read with astonishment the words "In general, for weight loss, exercise is pretty useless" in the August 9 issue of Time magazine. The author of several fitness books, including three editions of the best-selling, Sculpting Her Body Perfect (Human Kinetics, 2008) and 28-Day Body Shapeover (Human Kinetics, 2006), Schoenfeld has literally helped thousands of women do just what the article claimed unlikely.

The article claims that exercise is not only unnecessary for weight loss, but that it may actually hinder such efforts. It maintains that exercise stimulates appetite and any fat-burning effects are counteracted by an increase in food intake.

First, Schoenfeld underscores the Time article’s failure to identify a critical factor: exercise mode. "The article basically only addressed aerobic exercise, but resistance training has proven to be crucial for accelerating and maintaining weight loss," he emphasizes. "It’s the only activity that preserves lean tissue and prevents a decline in metabolism while dieting. This not only has an impact on avoiding a plateau, but also helps with maintaining weight loss over the long haul." Resistance training plays a significant role in the programs in Schoenfeld’s books and training programs.


Beyond the article’s failure to address resistance training, Schoenfeld refutes its claim that exercise increases hunger. "There is no evidence that exercise makes you hungrier," Schoenfeld says. "In fact, most studies show a trend for reduced hunger after a workout. When you look at the data, there actually is huge variability on the effects of exercise and weight loss. Some people lose significant amounts of weight while others can even show a slight gain." Schoenfeld details the research studies in his blog at

So what separates the gainers from the losers? "Certain individuals are compensators," Schoenfeld claims. "They raid the fridge after exercise not because they are hungry, but rather as a reward to themselves for being active. So rather than making exercise a culprit, the real issue is to educate the compensators on strategies to avoid compensating."


For more information on Schoenfeld’s books, or other fitness and nutrition resources, visit

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Brad Schoenfeld, CSCS, CPT is widely regarded as one of America’s leading fitness experts. He is the owner of the exclusive Personal Training Center for Women in Scarsdale, New York. Schoenfeld is a lifetime drug-free bodybuilder who has won numerous natural bodybuilding titles, including the All Natural Physique and Power Conference (ANPPC) Tri-State Naturals and USA Mixed Pairs crowns.


Schoenfeld is the author of seven fitness books, including Sculpting Her Body Perfect, 28-Day Body Shapeover, Look Great Naked (Prentice Hall Press, 2001) and the upcoming Women’s Home Workout Bible (November 2009). He is a columnist for FitnessRX for Women magazine, has been published or featured in virtually every major women’s and fitness magazine (including Cosmopolitan, Self, Marie Claire, Fitness, and Shape), and has appeared on hundreds of television shows and radio programs across the United States. He also serves as the fitness expert contributor on and


Certified as a strength and conditioning specialist by the National Strength and Conditioning Association and as a personal trainer by both the American Council on Exercise and the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America, Schoenfeld was awarded the distinction of master trainer by the International Association of Fitness Professionals. He is also a frequent lecturer on both the professional and consumer levels.


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