The biggest exercise and diet myth you will ever hear is that energy in equals energy out. Stated a different way, calories in equals calories out. The premise is that if these two are equal then burning the same amount of calories that you eat daily will result in maintenance of weight. This is a concept that has been preached for numerous years. However, when put to the test, it has not with stood the test of time.
How the Exercise and Diet Myth Mislead You
A calorie is a calorie. At least that is what you are supposed to believe. I am so surprised when I hear educated nutrition professionals make this statement. In a controlled experimental setting a calorie equals a calorie. The amount of energy derived from that calorie is the same regardless of the source. However this negates the other affects that the source of the calorie has. As a result, our body is not an experimental setting. Rather, we are complex and respond to the foods that we take in differently. We don’t respond to each type of food the same. The effect of eating 12 grams of sugar is not the same as eating 12 grams of beef, or protein. So is a calorie a calorie? All calories are the same only in theory, not in application.
What the Exercise and Diet Myth does not tell you
Now that you know a calorie is not a calorie, you need to understand why. This may initially seem confusing. If a calorie, regardless of the source, gives off the same amount of heat, or in our case energy, then why does it matter where is comes from? In the example that I gave previously of 12 grams of sugar (carbohydrate) and 12 grams of beef (protein), each provide the same amount of calories. From each source you get 48 calories (kcal). Yet there is one significant effect of the each of these sources of food that is being neglected. Each food source has a unique hormonal response that drastically alters the way that calories are used. Sugars are going to increase the production of insulin. In contrast, proteins do not cause significant insulin stimulation. Insulin is a hormone that promotes storage. Therefore, when carbohydrates are ingested insulin is released and storage of sugar (glucose) increases. If it is consumed above a useable amount, this is stored as fat. So while the consumption of only 12 grams of carbohydrate or protein might not have a significant difference, the same cannot be said when you consider the volume of food that is consumed on a daily basis.
Let’s apply some logic to this argument. Forget the science for a minute. The “calorie is a calorie” concept assumes that all foods are the same, regardless of the source. Therefore, if you eat 200 calories from sugar or 200 calories from vegetables or 200 calories from protein it does not matter. Ask yourself if this even makes sense. Of course it does not. You notice a difference in the way you feel after eating these different foods. Carbohydrates leave the stomach quicker than proteins leaving you hungry again in a short period of time. Proteins on the other hand tend to sit heavier and end up increasing our metabolism. Logic tells us that a calorie is not a calorie so don’t fall for the exercise and diet myth that energy in equals energy out.
The Exercise and Diet Myth Stops Weight Loss
The exercise and diet myth of energy in equals energy out is even more pronounced in the average population. Worse yet, most of those that care about losing weight are going to be the ones focused on calories. You have seen these folks if you have been to the gym. They are the ones on the treadmill or bike trying to burn a particular number of calories. Unfortunately, these are the same individuals that feel betrayed when they reduce the number of total calories they take in, increase their exercise and still don’t lose weight. Weight loss is not difficult when you follow proven concepts. However the idea of a calorie in equals a calorie out is not effective in the real world where other factors such as hormones have to be considered.
Beyond the Exercise and Diet Myth
It is time for you to break the restraints of antiquated exercise and diet myths. What was once considered the best approach to weight loss or maintenance is now questionable at best. Just ask yourself, why did diets such as Atkins and South Beach become so popular and work for so many? It is not because they promoted the exercise and diet myth of a calorie in equals a calorie out. Rather they focused on particular foods for not just the caloric content, but moreover the metabolic effects. While I am not promoting these diets and would rather see someone consume a more balanced diet with multiple foods to fit their needs such as in the Paleo Diet, the concept of using food for its metabolic effects carries more weight than the total caloric value of the food.
As I travel around the world, I have become somewhat of a people watcher. Obviously my passion for physical wellness and my compassion for those who struggle with weight issues has become a part of the lens through which I often view people. Though my blogs are intended to reach the masses, this one is specifically geared towards parents and those who wish to be someday.
Let me begin by describing a heartbreaking scene. I am sitting in an LAX terminal as I observe a father and mother walking towards me accompanied by their children. I estimate the parents’ age to be in their 40s with their two girls’ ages to be in their 20s. They all were visibly showing discomfort as they walked. Additionally, all four were at least 150 pounds overweight. The daughters were even larger than their mother. I must admit a deep sense of sadness I felt as I thought about what I was really seeing. It was much more than just a severely obese family. It was a family that undoubtedly will have to deal with the enhanced risk of disease and death at a much earlier age than should be expected. I thought about these daughters one day having children. I even wondered what others may be thinking. Do we really treat ‘those people’ different? Will they have to purchase two seats on the airplane? I thought about when/how this generational pattern of ‘un-wellness’ began. When will it end? Will it ever?
Let’s face some statistical truths. Today, nearly 4 in 10 Americans are obese. Predictions are dire with the obesity rate rising in teens and preteens. Someone has to step up and break the cycle of generational ‘un-wellness.’ Parents (and those who wish to be), YOU ARE THE ONES called to step up and break this dangerous cycle. Do something now in regard to changing your life, extending the quantity of your life, enhancing the quality of your life, and starting a generation-changing pattern of wellness. Here are some things you can begin right now:
- Get a wellness check-up with a doctor that knows functional medicine.
- Start a walking / exercise program and progress slowly, but consistently.
- Gradually change your nutritional habits by adding more natural foods and vegetables. The Paleo Diet is a good place to start.
- Drink more water making it your main liquid intake.
- Seek the advice/services of a trusted wellness professional who lives out what he/she teaches
- Don’t take shortcuts or fall for quick fix gimmicks.
This subject, I realize, can be very personal and very emotional. However, when we are speaking about generations, we are speaking about a very real subject that affects OUR REAL FUTURE.
Please take these few words seriously and pass them on to those you know who need to hear this. It is coming from someone who really cares. This may be uncomfortable and toe-crunching to talk about, but it is badly needed across our world. This is not an advertisement for my services, but because of my passion, I will help as a trusted wellness professional. I threw that out there to eliminate an excuse (e.g. no person cares or is willing to help) people often use. Friends, excuses will get us nowhere. This time, this day, this hour is the time for parents (and those who wish to be) to stop making excuses and passing the buck. I challenge you to make the commitment to be THE ONE to begin a pattern of generational wellness in your family.
Here’s to being 4EverFit!
A Solid First Step
“I need to start exercising; I know that!” I hear these words literally every place I speak. It seems that even though many people are aware of the problem (i.e. obesity, sedentary habits, poor nutrition, and poor health are all on the rise), few take the steps necessary for correction. I really believe that most reasons for not taking those steps are found somewhere between internal feelings of overwhelm, fears of failure, and uncertainty about where exactly to begin.
The first step is the most important. This step must be certain, sure, and solid. It cannot have question and must succeed. With 360 degrees of option in that first step, there are many choices of direction, but only a very few will get you going the right direction.
Ok, so here is a simple breakdown of a solid first step – 4 simple guidelines everyone can do at a price everyone can afford:
- Purchase a quality nutrition guideline. I recommend Paleo Transitions by Dr. Hill.
- Make gradual changes to your diet. Start small by adding one quality (paleo) meal daily along with adding two servings of vegetables per day at least 5 days per week. Don’t start worrying about taking things away just yet.
- Drink more water. A good rule of thumb is to divide your body weight by 2 and drink at least that many ounces of water daily.
- Begin a simple, structured, low-resistance strength, flexibility, and cardiovascular program at home. Don’t try to visit a gym just yet. I recommend my 4E Fitness BASIC and INTERMEDIATE DVD programs. You can even do the ADVANCED if you have been consistently exercising. They are affordable and very effective with amazing flexibility on when/where they can be used. Just pop them in a laptop or DVD player and follow along. A simple walking program is included.
For at least 6 months, follow these 4 simple guidelines that encompass the all important ‘first step.’ You will have made that first step successful, solid, and sure. It will be time well spent and money well invested. It will change your life for the better. This is a price you cannot afford ‘not’ to pay. Your health is extremely important! Don’t wait! Take that first step now – not tomorrow – but now!
We don’t know what tomorrow holds, but we do have the chance to make the most of NOW. As you read this article, please know that I believe in you, and I believe that this first step (described above) is a step in which you will be successful.
Here’s to being 4ever fit!
Stepping Into Freedom
When New Year rolls around annually, I see and hear the buzz around new beginnings in the area of wellness. I hear statements like, “I am really going to clean up my eating…this year will be different…now is a great time to get fit…this year is my year.” You and I have heard or said each of these.
The very fact you have read so far in this article speaks volumes about your strong desire to change. This, in itself, should greatly encourage you. Hopefully you have decided to open the window to a new type of life through your adoption of the Paleolithic (Paleo) lifestyle. The idea living this life is living life in the way we were originally created. Dr. Hill’s cookbook, Paleo Transitions, yields great returns and ease in eating with this style. I endorse it fully and utilize it often.
Once you begin to eat in the way our created body intends, you will begin to feel much better, rest better, and function better. You will also begin to have a stronger desire to move more and better (i.e. exercise). You and I both know nutrition + exercise = wellness. Oftentimes, however, I see people who reach this point make critically wrong decisions. They start too fast doing too much. Remember, you and I are talking about a permanent lifestyle (paleo lifestyle) change. Too fast and too much leads to injuries, failure, and depression. I am all about success and keeping you on the road to wellness through the remainder of your days on planet earth.
In my next blog, I will show you how to take a ‘solid first step’ in incorporating activity into this new found purpose in your life. If you will follow my instructions, you will not only taste success; you will live it.
Here’s to being 4EverFit!