Diet versus Exercise
Diet versus Exercise is an interesting question....
Surely the right answer is the perfect combination of both. A specific training program set out to help you achieve your athleticism/body composition goals and a diet that has the right quantity and variety of quality nutrients that will compliment the training program....
But, as usual there are barriers that obstruct the way of common sense....namely lifestyle, vanity, mis-education and sheer bloody mindedness.
Research is emerging that diet is the key to weight loss, but much of this research really targets the largest market share in fat/weight loss business.....middle aged women. Not the determined Athleat's that are out there pounding the pavements and smashing themselves in the gym 5 days a week, come rain (or snow) or shine! So we are going to look at how people perceive weight loss, and that the perception needs to be altered if you are to ultimately achieve your goals.
Is it slightly ridiculous that people who are actively looking to "lose weight" (I dislike this term), expect that their bi-weekly outing to an exercise class will do the trick in time for their summer holiday in 6 weeks time? Especially when the post exercise chit chat involves a big fat latte and a muffin! HA! YES IT IS!
This is what is called "exercise compensation", and it can be the biggest thorn in the side of any dieter, The social side of exercise is important, and it will certainly make you more motivated if you are working out with the right energised people!
Another potential problem of people who are looking to lose weight by exercising alone is the risk of actually doing less exercise on a week to week basis. It usually follows that some people think that because they have been to the gym, they can just relax on the sofa more, not take the dog out for that hour long walk, and generally kick back in the glow of post exercise bliss! Whereas clearly the way to go is going to the gym AND doing a lot more throughout the day, EVERY day!
We are, as a human race, becoming more and more sedentary, and this sedentary lifestyle has not come without problems, obesity has increased inexorably, and type 2 diabetes has become the world's fastest growing chronic disease in paediatric clinics! Cavemen didn't play Xbox as far as my knowledge tells me! Let's follow their lead!
Professor Wilkin of the Peninsula School of Medicine in Plymouth (US), (where he is the professor of endocrinology and metabolism) has undertaken a study that challenges the cause and effect theory of weight gain. His latest research, which has been undertaken on 300 children over an eleven year period, is called "Fatness leads to inactivity, but inactivity does not lead to fatness". Which is obviously challenging the government to start to steer some resources away from government sponsored school exercise programs and go head to head with the behemoth food industry that is quite content with pushing massively high calorie foods for massively high profits! Some have even suggested grading food according to its calorie rating per given weight, and placing it in different taxation categories, so the high calorie foods get more expensive! Will this solve the problem?
There are many, many benefits to exercising on a regular basis, squatting 400kg's is great for the elite among us, but even a game of footy at your local park will not only release some of those sweet endorphins we all love, but also socially its a great motivation tool to get out in the fresh air! It should certainly not be discounted as useful, both in keeping people healthy and helping them to improve their body composition! As I eluded to earlier, the right way to go about it is the right mix of a long term diet (not dieting) and exercising regularly. If we begin to push the adage that that diet is everything when it comes to obesity then there will be a new unhealthily skinny generation of anorexic children, and there is no way we want to get to the stage where people are eating paper/cotton wool to feel full (as the prima ballerinas used to do!)
Many people think that weight loss is easy....put less calories in, do more "work", and the calorific see-saw will teeter in your favour, resulting in getting on the scales in the morning and being happy and proud!
Sounds pretty good to me. A nice simple equation, I was never very good at Maths.
But as I alluded to previously, the mis-education part of the theory is huge. People just don't seem to realise (or are ignoring the fact, after all ignorance is bliss) that burning calories is hard...really hard. And to get that ol see-saw in your favour it means busting a gut...literally.
For example, get yourself down to Krispy Creme....smash in two of their quite frankly staggeringly good doughnuts....then get on a treadmill for 2 hours to work the bastards off again! I know which I would choose!
Right....OK....I will just miss a few big meals every week to lose the calories, and my body will just take care of the rest and I will be balancing the right input v ouput calorie wise....
Again, this is not strictly going to work for you. When the body is starved of energy it goes into a state of emergency, and goes looking for it.....not around the shops, but in your own body, and it has priorities.
Number 1 on the list is vital organs...lets keep hold of those, might need 'em again.
Number 2 is Adipose fat stores. Extremely useful for times of little or no food, will keep you going for a while! Some longer than others.
Number 3 is those large slabs of protein that you are carrying around with you (i.e) Muscle. Not particularly important when you are starving!
So, guess where the body is going food shopping?....No...not ASDA...its the muscle stores. The body will strip the body of muscle before eating into the fat reserves because fat is a much better source of energy as far as the body is concerned. With fat you get more bang for your buck!
So skipping meals is going to make you fatter and less athletic. Smashing. But for the elite athlete and hard working weekend warriors amongst us, "weight loss" alone is not the primary objective. They are looking to achieve more pressing issues such as increased anaerobic capacity, increased strength and power, or quite simply getting rid of the fat around the midriff in preparation for strutting around the beach.
To improve body composition (A much better term than losing weight), takes a massive commitment to training hard week in week out, staying clear of injury, and eating so clean that you forget what a biscuit ever looked like. This is the key to the Holy Grail.....INCREASED MUSCLE MASS AND REDUCED BODYFAT!
There is no quick fix, no 7 minute abs program that will get you to where you need to be. I am afraid to tell you that achieving the Holy Grail (especially at the same time) is a long process that takes dedication and commitment to the cause.
January is generally a time where people "go on a diet" for a few weeks to rid themselves of a few pounds that they gained over the festive period. So we are using the Guinea Stig as an example of what to do and what not to do when it comes to altering body composition.
So, whilst the Guinea Stig gets busy in the gym and the kitchen, we have already set out his first stage of altering body composition...severe calorie depletion. Look out for his write up coming soon to www.athleat.co.uk and on Facebook and Twitter