As many people probably already know this article was recently published by Time magazine. First a little self-promotion. I received a master’s degree in exercise physiology from a program that is heavily based in science and research. So I understand the use of data and how studies are created. I am going to cover only a few topics and let my co-workers share some of there thoughts as well. That said, let’s get on to the good stuff.
On one hand I found the article actually quite funny because it goes against basically everything that science and data has stated for as long as data of this sort has been collected. Now, that in and of itself doesn’t mean that we should dismiss it, which is why I also find it sad and frustrating.
First of all, Mr Cloud states “I have exercised like this-obsessively […] for years and my weight has returned to the same 163 lb. it had been most of my adult life. I still have a gut fat that hangs over my belt when I sit.” The answer to this is basic science. It’s not a compensation problem it boils down to a tried and true formula: Calories IN = Calories OUT = Caloric Balance. The key is that if Calories IN is more than Calories OUT you get weight gain. The reverse is also true. Mr. Cloud has gotten into his exercise rut of doing the same thing over and over again (he lays out exactly what he does every week) and his body eats exactly what it needs to sustain itself and a happy balance. To change this happy balance you have to do one of two things, increase Calories OUT or reduce Calories IN. Plain. Simple. Repeat.
The study he quotes from LSU professor Dr. Timothy Church suffers from the same simple issue. Calories IN = Calories OUT. They did not have a single group that changed one of the two parameters, therefore all these women are in the same caloric balance that Cloud is in.
Cloud also goes on to say that a study by Eric Ravussin shows that exercise has an appetite stimulating effect. This is one study. There are numerous studies (here are two ONE and TWO, but and if anyone is interested I will be glad provide more links) that show exercise actually has a suppressive effect on the body.
Lastly Cloud states that the ACSM recommended guidelines of 60-90 minutes of exercise for people on most days is unrealistic. Funny it wasn’t unrealistic for our 19th Century counterparts or even as late as the mid 20th century with factory workers and farmers. It’s funny how the fatter we get as a nation and a world ACSM increases the norms for how to lose weight. Why? This is not a scientific study but it’s quite possible that it’s an issue again of Caloric balance. People are overeating, therefore to get at the very least to balance they have to do enough exercise to counter act that or they will GAIN WEIGHT!!!
Oh my gosh. Really? Seriously. Yeah, seriously. The over indulgence of our society and the ridiculous sensationalism of manipulating data continues to astound. Remember in the 80s when eggs were BAD? Now, we know in moderation (like everything) they actually have many positive effects. Remember when fat was bad for you? Try taking it completely out of your diet and in about two months come back and tell me how you feel.
Moderation is key. Moderation is the caloric balance. If we as a nation got off our fat butts and engaged in physical activity (note I did not say ‘workout’) and we ate a moderate diet we would all be, a) at our proper weights and b) in, gasp, caloric balance. And before someone comes out and says that they’re are some people who just can’t seem to stay thin, I say you’re absolutely right, they’re are exceptions.
Just like the Time article.
An exception but not what we know in science as the norm nor in real life.
Get up. Get out. Do something. Don’t eat until your full (we aren’t made to be full, we’re made to replenish) and drink plenty of water.
It really isn’t rocket science.
Mike Babbitt, M.F.A, M.A., CSCS, ACSM-HFI
USA Triathlon Level 1 Coach, Master Trainer
Mike is a Master Level trainer at Empower Personal Training. He has a unique approach to fitness that combines his scientific foundation of research and applied exercise physiology with his artistic experience as a professional stage actor. For more information on Empower Personal Training please call (919) 401-8024