Could ex­er­cis­ing re­ally make you fat?

‘IT’S EAS­IER TO SAY PEO­PLE ARE OVER­WEIGHT BE­CAUSE THEY ARE IN­AC­TIVE’

The Jewish Chronicle - - Life/food - BY ALEX KAS­RIEL

IF YOU have spent the past decade or so slog­ging it out in the gym, putting your­self through your paces on the ten­nis court or dili­gently do­ing lengths in the mu­nic­i­pal swim­ming pool in the hope of get­ting rid of those ex­cess pounds — you may be wast­ing your time, ac­cord­ing to some ex­perts.

New re­search sug­gests that the link be­tween ex­er­cise and weight loss has been over­stated and in fact, if you want to get into those skinny jeans you will need to take a long hard look at your diet. In other words — and it’s dif­fi­cult to say this in the JC — we need to ditch those fish cakes and knishes and stop eat­ing such large amounts of high su­gar/high fat foods.

The com­monly held be­lief is that ef­fec­tive weight loss (which is a good in­di­ca­tor of fat loss) is a sim­ple equa­tion be­tween calo­ries in and calo­ries out and that the lat­ter should ex­ceed the for­mer. This may be true, but some ex­per­i­ments in Amer­ica and the UK have proved that ex­er­cise has lit­tle ef­fect be­cause we re­ward our­selves with more food than we burnt off in the first place.

On top of this, we nor­mally over­es­ti­mate how much we have ac­tu­ally got rid of while ex­er­cis­ing. To put it in per­spec­tive, 20 min­utes of aer­o­bics burns off about 120 calo­ries, which is equal to a small packet of raisins. And ev­ery mile you run or walk is equiv­a­lent to about 100 calo­ries, so a five-mile jog equates to a stan­dard sized tuna sand­wich. Add a packet of crisps and you will be putting on weight.

Di­eti­cian Luci Daniels agrees that the role ex­er­cise plays in weight loss has been overem­pha­sised by the gov­ern­ment as a con­ve­nient way to tackle the coun­try’s wor­ry­ing march to­wards obe­sity. “It’s much eas­ier to say that peo­ple are over­weight be­cause they are in­ac­tive than to con­front the main cause — which is eat­ing too many calo­ries, of­ten from eat­ing too much high fat and high-su­gar food,” she says. “The food in­dus­try is a pow­er­ful lobby and has been slow to re­spond to the pub­lic health prob­lem now fac­ing the UK.”

She be­lieves that peo­ple are not well in­formed about how to eat healthily in or­der to lose weight, al­though ad­mits that progress is be­ing made with bet­ter food la­belling and health­ier food be­ing made more avail­able.

“It’s amaz­ing the num­ber of peo­ple I see who are over­weight and have a poor un­der­stand­ing of what is in the food they eat,” she says. “A lot of peo­ple eat what they think is healthy — es­pe­cially in the Jewish com­mu­nity — but ac­tu­ally it isn’t that great for weight loss. They eat masses of fruit but they don’t eat bread or pota­toes and they’re al­ways hun­gry. I of­ten ad­vise peo­ple to eat more, so they are less hun­gry and much less likely to ‘ nosh’ be­tween meals.”

Celebrity life­style coach Ca­role Caplin, who runs the Lifes­mart gym, ar­gues that, armed with the right food knowl­edge (as well as plenty of willpower), it is pos­si­ble to ex­er­cise without overeat­ing.

“Ed­u­ca­tion in the right food choices around ex­er­cise should go a long way to staving off the quick-fix cakes and bis­cuits, a pit­fall some peo­ple fall into that makes it harder to lose weight when in­creas­ing ex­er­cise,” she says, adding that you should eat two hours af­ter ex­er­cise but in­stead of reach­ing for the bis­cuits it should be “a meal that sup­plies the right nu­tri­ents, pro­teins, es­sen­tial fats and com­plex car­bo­hy­drates”.

Bio-Syn­ergy ex­er­cise coach Vic­to­ria Her­man says that pay­ing at­ten­tion to the way ex­er­cise af­fects our me­tab­o­lism and the way we ab­sorb food is key to ef­fec­tive weight loss: “Dif­fer­ent exer- cise regimes af­fect your me­tab­o­lism in dif­fer­ent ways re­sult­ing in dif­fer­ent out­comes when it comes to fat loss,” she says.

“Choos­ing the cor­rect in­ten­sity of train­ing that boosts en­ergy ex­pen­di­ture af­ter train­ing is key. You use en­ergy while rest­ing just to keep your body’s sys­tems func­tion­ing and also dur­ing and af­ter eat­ing, in ab­sorb­ing and di­gest­ing food. More­over, mus­cle tis­sue burns more calo­ries than fat tis­sue.”

Many peo­ple fail to lose weight be­cause they eat the wrong kind of food af­ter ex­er­cise

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