DIETS DON’T WORK??!!
Let’s start with a controversial statement, diets just don’t work. OK you may be able to lose weight with them and some of them if you are determined and happy to take risks with your health will make you shed weight rapidly. But how long can you sustain the change to your eating habits? Evidence indicates that the failure rate of diets is between 80 – 90%
Starting with some facts, a health survey for England shows 67% of men and 57% of women are now overweight, a Body Mass Index (BMI) of over 25, or obese a BMI over 30. I know people will say BMI is not always a good indicator of weight/health and for exceptionally muscled individuals this can be correct but for most people it is a very good indicator that they are simply too heavy for their height.
Obesity is now recognized as being the dominant factor in the rise of metabolic diseases, which include diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. It is estimated to currently cost the NHS £6-8bn a year and is forecast to rise to £10-12bn by 2030.
So why when so many other health problems seem to be curable or controllable because of medical and technological advances are we unable to reduce the burden and our waists?
It’s worth looking back at human history, because the obesity problem is a new one that has rapidly gained a hold over the last 30 to 40 years. As we sit in our highly connected office, perhaps still eating approximately the same amount of calories as somebody did 40 years ago, why do we gain weight so easily in comparison? Research suggests 2 major causes.
Firstly we don’t move as much. Our bodies, which are still the same design as when we were hunter/gatherers, farmers, and labourers etc. i.e. from almost prehistoric to post Second World War, just don’t burn calories. Theoretically then going to the gym and adding a bit of exercise should fix it! Some research shows that we would need to run the equivalent of 6 extra miles a day to come close to the calorie burn of our parents/grandparents and earlier. There is also a theory that somebody who works hard everyday as our forebears did or exercises regularly have a self balancing metabolism and that sitting down all day has thrown this. So to try to get our metabolism back on track does need regular exercise. Government guidelines say that adults should exercise for 150 minutes a week, suggested as 5 x 30 minute sessions. Also what type of exercise is also crucial, so just trying to gain muscle will not sufficiently change your metabolism. Muscle as such does not increase calorie burn, movement does, so having good muscle mass and moving e.g. running/biking/rowing or other cardiovascular exercise does burn calories.
Secondly we eat too much refined food, too many sugars, too much fat. The diet of people pre the move to working world we know today was actually probably higher in carbohydrates, which in the end your body will reduce to sugar or glycogen, but as discussed earlier they needed the extra energy for a harder work regime and it would have been made up of much starchier foods such as bread and potatoes (rice and pasta in other countries) not the refined sugar products we tend to eat more of now. These have a very different effect on our insulin levels and hence blood sugar levels as well as fat retention.
To most personal trainers the word diet is much more about what you eat, not what you don’t eat. How much you eat, and what type of food you eat, which we’ll look at later, should be governed by what you do in your day.
So there are choices we can make to control and maintain our weight, they are not instant, they are a commitment to being more active and taking a bit more care with the food we eat.
I hope the few paragraphs above have been helpful, I will expand further on nutrition, diabetes, BMI and the problems our bodies encounter from carrying too much weight and from too much sitting down in future blogs.
Full Fitness Gym and the Personal Trainers are here to help you and advise you on how to make those choices.
John Ford – Personal Trainer – 07484 087098