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So, Can You Outrun a Bad Diet?

Written by Richard Clancy

A lot has been written in the press recently about health, fitness and the food we eat and which is more important to our overall well-being and health. Whilst some see this as an attack on the industry, at TRP we feel this is an opportunity to embrace the news and start to offer more advice about what members intake into their bodies.


 I have always liked the story of two men walking through the woods when they encounter a large bear, one man bends down and starts to tie up his shoe laces very tightly, the other man looks down at him and says “we can’t outrun the bear”, the first man looks up at him and says “I know, I just need to outrun you!”

A lot has been written in the press recently about health, fitness and the food we eat (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-32417699) and which is more important to our overall wellbeing and health. A colleague and I recently attended the UK SIBEC event in May where this topic was discussed by a panel of experts from within the UK Health and Fitness industry. The debate seemed to suggest the press comments were an attack on the industry, whereas at TRP we feel this is an opportunity to embrace the news and start to offer more advice about what members intake into their bodies.

Obesity rates are rising at an alarming rate across the globe, with the number of individuals classed as obese having doubled in the last 35 years according to the World Health Organisation, and the health and fitness industry can play an important part in helping with this pandemic.

So the answer is easy right? Eat less and run more… simple?!? However this isn’t the case, both are difficult habits to change and address. The vast majority of members quit the gym because they can’t motivate themselves to attend and quite often don’t see any results. The same can be said for changing your diet, convenience food is what it is, convenient, easy and quite often what we desire!  (And also not very good nutritionally).

So how do we help our members achieve their goals and aspirations? We know that a vast majority of people who join our facilities want to lose weight, so we give them an assessment, show them what exercises and classes will help them achieve their weight loss and we might even tell them about the latest diet which will help them on their journey. But which diet?

A recent meta study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association sought to find out which diet was best, by analysing the results of 59 individual studies. These studies looked at all of the popular and trending diets of the time. The findings of the analysis was that: “most calorie-reducing diets result in clinically important weight loss as long as the diet is maintained… [and]… because different diets are variably tolerated by individuals, the ideal diet is the one that is best adhered to by individuals so that they can stay on the diet as long as possible”; meaning any diet that reduces calorie intake should reduce weight, but can it be sustained?

We understand that weight is a direct result of the calories we eat, so at a physiological level weight loss and weight gain revolve around caloric consumption and expenditure. Put simply: we lose weight when we take in less calories than we expend and we gain weight when we take in more calories than we expend. In order to lose one pound of fat, we must create a 3,500 calorie deficit in a week, which can be achieved either through exercise or diet.

As an example let’s say that a 14 stone man wants to lose one pound of weight in a week. Through exercise alone he needs to run about 3.5 miles per day (or 24.5 miles per week), assuming his food and drink intake stays the same. Through nutrition alone, he needs to cut back approx. 500 calories per day, given his exercise regime stays the same. Theoretically, the two should achieve the same results.

Another issue for exercisers is they do not realise the amount of calories they are burning through their activities; we have all heard people say, “It’s ok. I can have an extra slice of pizza, I went to the gym earlier!”  A study published in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness looked at exercisers and their estimation in calorie burn. For the study they asked exercisers to estimate the caloric expenditure they had just completed at the gym and then took them to a buffet to consume the same amount they thought they had burned. The subjects ate 2-3 times more calories than they burned at the gym.

So, education is the key to success. At the recommended rate for exercising, 2.5 hours per week, as published by most governments, an average man who wants to lose a pound of weight would need to exercise three times a week running at least 8 miles in each session (not really achievable) or change his diet to a well-balanced healthy one that can be maintained in the long run whilst continuing to exercise at a sensible rate.

An expert in this field Dr Freedhoff states “Sure, weight is lost in the kitchen, But health is gained in the gyms.”

The smart operators will see this and start to offer nutritional advice to complement their expertise in fitness and exercise.

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