Yoga Better For Weight Loss Than READING? EET, Harvard (Kinda) Says NO

yogi in box

Is Yoga a part of your weight loss and fitness efforts?  Is it doing more harm than good?

Let’s talk Yoga.  Over the last 15 years Yoga (and Pilates) have become an industry that generates nearly $7 Billion in revenue and has 25,000 studios across the US,  So they must be doing something right, but what??

Let me start by saying I’ve tried Yoga, but am no expert on it.  When I ask the many clients and associates (including Yoga instructors) I work with why Yoga I generally get 4 answers (not in any order)

1) General Fitness

2) Weight loss

3) Stress release / Spritual benefits

4) Flexibility – Injury Prevention

I can’t comment on the stress release / spiritual qualities of Yoga.   I don’t buy the general fitness benefits for a lot of reasons that are outside the scope of this post.  On the other hand, the pic above demonstrates Yoga’s power for flexibility if you commit your life to it.

As far as weight loss, it’s interesting to note that during the same 15 years yoga has exploded, so has the explosion in obesity in the US.  Coincidence?  Maybe.

Harvard Study Offers Clues

Harvard calorie list

It’s generally accepted science that If you want to lose weight, you have to burn more calories than you take in each day.   Most of us have decided that a great way to burn more calories would be to do some sort of exercise.   In 2004, Harvard created a handy list of all kinds of exercises and routine activities to tell us just how many calories we can burn in 1/2 hour.  They were nice enough to leave out the “fat melting” hype.    Let’s take a look at 3 examples, including Yoga:

harvard yoga calories burned

Harvard never states than reading is better for weight loss than Yoga, but their numbers along with EET’s input make a compelling case.  Maybe it’s a bit surprising that other popular exercise choices like weight lifting and water aerobics burn even fewer calories than Yoga? (click to enlarge slides)

So you gut out a half hour yoga class, burn 150 calories, and  then head home for your diety garden salad.  Last I checked, ONE Tablespoons of “healthy” Olive Oil you drizzle on for dressing has 120 calories, and that doesn’t include the LETTUCE or tomatoes or anything else you ate that day for that matter!

How is Yoga going to create lasting (or ANY) weight loss again?

It won’t,  In fact, EET Fitness contends that those choosing Yoga as their form of exercise will GAIN weight over time as they will likely justify more food, and more decadent choices as a result of “being good” and following their exercise routine.


If you scan down Harvard’s list, you’ll find these options:

calories burned sitting reading

You can burn 25% of the calories Yoga produces sitting and reading.  However, it’s WHAT you read that could change everything.

Sitting and Reading is BETTER for weight loss (and fitness –had to say it!) than Yoga.

This is especially true if  spend that same 1/2 hour reading SOMETHING to help you in your weight loss and fitness efforts.  Like nutrition labels, or studies, or Harvard’s List, or EET’s 5 Minute Meals App :-).  Not only will you lose more weight over time, you’ll save a ton of money and time driving to and from the Yoga studio.

If you truly love Yoga (or weight lifting, or water aerobics), you should do it.  If you’re doing it in the hopes of seeing weight loss or improved fitness, and it’ s not working, maybe you should try reading?  

P.S. Just reading this post was a great start!



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