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Diet v Exercise

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Which is more important for you, diet or exercise? 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 quality of nutrients that will compliment that training program....

As usual, there are barriers that obstruct the way of common sense....namely lifestyle, vanity, and mis-education.

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 Athleats that are out there pounding the pavements or smashing themselves in the gym 5/6/7 days a week, come rain (or snow) or shine!

Is it slightly ridiculous that people who are actively looking to "lose weight" 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 nutrition involves a big latte and a muffin!

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! The majority of people are not high performing athletes that require equal helping of hard work and rest to facilitate any performance gains.

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!

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 very calorific and low quality foods. 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 will get more expensive! Will this solve the problem? And will all the good fats out there become financially non viable?

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 endorphin's we all love, but also socially it’s motivating to get out in the fresh air. This type of gentle exercise shouldn't be discounted as a poor workout but will it help people achieve those body composition goals?

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 low calorie option down people’s throats (literally) when it comes to a solution to obesity, then there will be a new unhealthily skinny generation of children.

SEWWSAW

Everyone has seen the see-saw diagram...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.

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 them off again!
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 calorie input.

Again there is bad news here, this is not going to work. When the body is starved of energy it goes into a state of emergency, and goes looking for the sources in your body, and it has priorities.

Number 1 - Vital organs...let’s keep hold of those, might need 'em again.

Number 2 - Adipose fat stores. Extremely useful for times of little or no food, will keep you going for a while because fat yields a much higher amount of energy that the body can use.

Number 3 - is those large slabs of protein called muscle that you are carrying around with you. Obviously this is not particularly important when you are starving!

So, guess where the body is going food shopping? No not ASDA...it’s 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 unless you are a firm believer in the intermittent fasting way of life – read more here). The elite athletes and hard working weekend warriors don’t see "weight loss" as a primary objective anyway. 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.

Improving body composition takes a massive commitment to training hard week in week out, eating so clean that you forget what a biscuit ever looked like and staying clear of injury and illness.

This is the key to the Holy Grail that is .....

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 this Holy Grail is a long process that takes dedication and commitment to the cause.

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