Sunday, April 15, 2012

The myth of burning fat with cardio

Wanna burn that excess fat on your waist line? Diet and exercise! Wanna buy some ocean front property in Arizona?

Sadly, diet and exercise aren't the answer. Diet is the answer. And sadly, fad/commercial diets focused on macronutrients aren't the answer, especially in the long term.

If you've seen something on TV, someone's selling you something. If you've listened to the American government's recommendations, someone's selling you something. (The food industry is regulated by people coming from the same food industry. Just don't believe everything you hear.)

What should you believe? Verify everything you can until you are satisfied with the knowledge you have. This process isn't ever complete-- think of it as a journey. But to use more cliches (like "diet and exercise"), if you aren't moving forward you are moving backward.

What do I believe?

1. The thermo-dynamic model of calories in versus calories out/burned is tragically flawed.

It sounds logical and sells gym memberships, but it just isn't really right. Sure, if you eat 5000 calories of high-carb food, you'll likely gain weight (fat), and if you eat 400 calories a day, you'll probably lose weight (fat and perhaps muscle too). Getting on a treadmill just doesn't cause your hormones to release energy from fat cells.

Here's an example of the misinformation. I don't believe it's their intention to mislead people, but the advice is based on this flawed assumption.

The following talk gives a good explanation for why this model is flawed. I also think the macronutrient centered advice is good for short-term weight loss.

2. Cardio doesn't really burn any fat

This article speaks more to the issue that cardio hardly burns any fat (too little to consider significant). It also addresses the issue that you could be hurting yourself with too much cardio.

3. You should do the exercises and activities you enjoy

I'm not encouraging anyone to stop exercising or being active. There are still many benefits. Actually, some argue "burning calories" is the main way people experience pleasure.

In conclusion, please don't be afraid to challenge your existing beliefs, *especially* if what you think/believe now isn't working. Take your health and well-being into your own hands.

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