You can’t outrun a bad diet

You can’t outrun a bad diet

Olympics to be companies that sold junk food. Giving companies such as McDonald’s and Coca-Cola the most effective marketing platform in the world to promote their brand to billions across the globe perpetuates the message that you can eat what you like as long as you exercise — when nothing could be further from the truth.

Based on five years of research and drawing on over 100 studies on Pioppi, Dr Aseem Malhotra, a trained cardiologist, has created a plan which is designed to provide readers with the joy and wellbeing of a Mediterranean lifestyle by making small 'marginal gains' over a 21-day period

Olympics to be companies that sold junk food. Giving companies such as McDonald’s and Coca-Cola the most effective marketing platform in the world to promote their brand to billions across the globe perpetuates the message that you can eat what you like as long as you exercise — when nothing could be further from the truth.

In a 2o16 article in the Telegraph, former Shadow Health Minister and decorated Professor of Surgery Lord Ian McColl wrote, in his analysis of who is to blame for the ‘fatness epidemic’, ‘The culprits are the morally corrupt scientists and politicians who allowed themselves to be manipulated by food suppliers into saying that obesity was due to lack of exercise. They wrongly advocated a low-fat, high-carbohydrate and high-sugar diet which greatly increased the profits of the food industry.’ And he was absolutely correct.

So, what does the independent science tell us?
Firstly, contrary to popular belief, as obesity has rocketed in the past four decades, there’s been very little change in activity levels in the western world. In fact, while there’s evidence from several states in the US that average exercise levels may have increased, in the same states, obesity has increased simultaneously.

How can this be explained in terms of the individual?
For many people, exercise can be a very powerful stimulator of appetite. One randomized controlled trial published in the New England Journal of Medicine revealed that obese individuals who dieted without exercising lost more weight within a year
than those who both dieted and exercised?

Even if one accepts the incorrect notion that ‘a calorie is a calorie is a calorie’, you get very little return for your investment in exercise when it comes to weight loss. You’d have to walk for forty-five minutes to burn off the calories you consume by eating three biscuits, or run several miles to burn off a burger and chips washed down with a sugary drink.

In reality, 60-75 per cent of the calories you burn are used up by doing absolutely nothing. Even at rest, the body expends considerable energy simply to allow your organs to keep you alive, for example by breathing, maintaining the heart’s ability to pump blood around the body and the growth and repair of cells. Keeping this in mind, wouldn’t you rather those functions were fuelled by nutritious food as opposed to processed junk?

Patients often tell me that, due to an injury, arthritis or something else that results in them not being able to exercise, they End their weight has increased. This serves to perpetuate the no-exercise-leads-to-obesity myth in their mind. However, on further questioning, I always discover that their diet is one which is high in refined carbohydrates. Professor Tim Noakes says, ‘The benefits of exercise are unbelievable, but if you have to exercise to keep your weight down, your diet is wrong.’

Tim developed type-2 diabetes in middle age; he had run seventy marathons. In Cereal Killers, Professor Noakes is seen tearing pages out of a book he wrote himself, The Lore of Running, which is considered to be the bible for marathon runners.

That section he ripped out advised endurance athletes to load up on carbohydrates before a big race, something 'Tim had been doing for decades. He now realizes this was wrong and harmful. In fact, Tim, who had been involved in sports science research from; very young age, told us during the making of The Big Fat Fix that, although he didn’t realise the significance at the time, at the age of twenty-eight his fasting blood insulin was forty — four times what is now considered the normal upper limit. So, he was insulin resistant decades before he developed type-2 diabetes. He has now managed to control this with a low-carbohydrate diet.

Am I saying all this to diminish the importance of exercise? Of course not. In a report, I co-authored and edited for the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges entitled ‘Exercise: The Miracle Cure’, we made it clear that regular physical activity has many benefits in reducing an individual’s risk of developing many chronic diseases, such as heart disease, type-2 diabetes, dementia and some cancers by at least go per cent.

It’s simply that weight loss is not one of them. It’s what you put in your mouth that’s rather more important. However, exercising in the correct way and thus reducing the risk of injury is also crucial. Engaging in ‘mindful movement’ is perhaps a better description of what we should all be thinking about.

(Donal discusses this in more detail in Chapters II and 12.) For most people, running on the road or a hard surface can be detrimental for the joints. Every single orthopaedic surgeon I’ve spoken to says th5e same thing: no one should be running on the road. Many have operated on patients who have needed a knee or hip replacement in their thirties or forties after years of pounding their joints on a hard surface. Having myself suffered from chronic pain in my knees after a decade of running 15km a week, I’ve completely changed my own cardio training to daily brisk walking for thirty minutes, interspersed with High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) for four minutes three times a week…

There also appear to be health benefits to be gained from the activity of having regular sex. A study published in the American Journal of Cardiology looked at over a thousand men in their fifties, initially free of cardiovascular disease and followed up for sixteen years, and found that those who had sex only once a month, compared to those having intercourse at least twice a week, were 45 per cent more likely to develop cardiovascular disease during the period studied.

One of the researchers noted that those who were having more sex may also be more likely to be those in close or intimate, supportive relationships, and that this in itself may be good for health by reducing stress. So, what’s the most important message? To sum up: keep moving for health reasons, not in order to lose weight, and do something you enjoy, whether it’s dancing, cycling, sex or all three - but perhaps not at the same time!

Extracted with permission

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