Five Exercise and Nutrition Myths
I have heard so much misinformation over the years about nutrition and exercise. Many of these myths I swallowed without too much analysis. Since I always thought that counting calories required too much time and discipline, I concluded that burning more calories and eating “healthy” foods would do the job. I was sadly deceived.
Now that I know the simple truth about weight gain and loss, I am amazed at how simple it really is. Just stick to the basic facts. One pound of fat equals 3500 calories. I set out to burn a consistent number of calories more than I consumed. It was then simple math to arrive at a goal of burning an excess of 1500 calories a day over what I ate. Simple math shows that this ought to result in a loss of up to three pounds per week.
The plan I began in January is easy because it is simple. I am still surprised at its simplicity. By early February, I calculated that if I continued to lose between 2 to 3 pounds per week, I would lose 40 pounds by the end of April. I went from over 250 pounds to about 210. Then in May I lost another 10 pounds. For as long as I do this, I’ll continue to lose weight. My goal is to get to about 185.
Above is a graph (click to enlarge) I generated on www.fitbit.com that shows a three month period of time when I was losing consistently between 2 to 3 pounds a week. I was never able to do this before I discovered www.fitbit.com.
The basic formula of mass-energy equivalency works in all cases. The laws of physics cannot be overruled. Of course, there are variables. Muscle weighs more than fat. More lean muscle mass also burns body fat more efficiently. But the variables are often exaggerated in false advertising. The misinformation I had seen over the years in ads, news reports and articles have been a huge detriment to me. Here I will explode some of these myths.
Myth # 1 – You can substitute exercise for nutrition.
“Face it – if it came in a bottle, everyone would have a good body.” – Cher
This was a line from an advertisement in the 1980s. Cher meant that it took a lot of hard work to get in shape. She advocated an exercise program of fitness training. So I bought the idea. So far, so good. She also would say things like, “Don’t diet. Diets don’t work. Don’t weigh yourself. Muscle weighs more than fat. Instead get in shape.”
It’s an appealing concept. How do you argue with someone who looks like that? And if you like to eat as much as I do, it’s easy to buy into the myth that exercise alone can get into perfect shape. The reality is that Cher was never overweight in her life – not by a single ounce. On the contrary, she was always a slender waif who felt more than comfortable in revealing clothing. Cher was actually addressing her experience of being too thin and then putting on a lot of lean muscle mass to look “in shape.”
Unfortunately for an overweight person, putting on muscle does not necessarily mean I will lose weight. It could just as well make me a stronger fat person.
Many professional athletes carry so much mass that they fall into the obesity range for their height. If you look at baseball rosters, you’ll see many players who are no more than six feet tall weighing above 220 pounds – which is into the obesity range. Football players are encouraged to put on as much mass as they can carry and still run well. We assume that since they are professional athletes that this must be healthy.
Left: Click to enlarge. Kevin Youkilis is six-foot one-inches and weighs 220 pounds. Youk is in good shape, but is bordering on being in the obesity range on the body mass index.
This was not the case until recently. It’s shocking to watch a video recording of an old game on ESPN Classic and see that prior to the 1980s athletes were much lighter than they are today. We live in a culture that glorifies body mass in male athletes. It’s easy then to see obesity as normal as long as the person is working out and is “in shape.”
While having muscle mass is better than carrying many extra pounds of fat, the life expectancy of a professional athlete is still much lower than the average person. Heart failure, coronary artery disease, diabetes and other diseases are more common in overweight people.
The truth is that in order to lose weight, exercise needs to be built on the foundation of nutrition and not the other way around.
Myth #2 – Certain foods burn fat.
You may have seen the ads for some type of wonder food (such as green tea or açaí berry) or a drug (such as chitosan or chromium) that will help you lose weight. These foods and drugs may have some value as dietary supplements. However, the fact still remains that you will have to eat less calories than you burn in order to lose weight. While some foods and drugs may help to curb the appetite or give you more energy to exercise, there is no substitute for the calories-in/calories-out formula.
You may have also seen the ads for “cleansers” that claim that some people carry many pounds of excess waste in their colons. To me, this is one of the most alarming trends in the diet and nutrition marketing world that I’ve seen. While an occasional cleanse might be beneficial to someone who does not have a regular bowel movement, people who do not have digestive problems have enough good bacteria and enzymes in their digestive tract to do the job of cleansing the colon walls of excess waste. In fact, cleansing the colon when it is not needed can do more damage than good. Contrary to these ads, unless you suffer from constipation or a digestive disorder, you cannot lose 20 pounds of stubborn belly fat fast by taking a pill.
No food or drug “burns fat.” To burn fat, you need to burn stored calories. To burn calories, you have to reduce your intake to a lower level than your output. We are often taught that certain types of food can be used to build muscle mass after exercise, which in turn burn fat. This is true only if the overall intake of calories each day is less than the number of calories burned.
Myth #3 – You can get into shape by working harder for a few weeks.
Work harder for a few weeks. That was how I would lose 20 pounds at a time when I made up my mind to lose some weight. I’d walk or jog five miles a day, lift free weights and do other exercises. The problem is that exercise would cause my appetite will increase. So on the off exercise days, I would eat more to compensate for the hunger. On those days I would consume more calories than I burned. Once my regimen was interrupted, I eventually gained back all the weight I lost over the period of time when I was exercising.
Another thing that most people don’t realize is that most of the calories that we burn everyday are at rest. We are breathing and our hearts are always pumping blood. We walk and move around throughout the day. Even when we are sleeping, we are burning calories. Vigorous exercise for just a few minutes a day does not increase calories burned as much as people would like to believe.
For example, if you normally burn “X” number of calories while consuming “X” number of calories per day, you will maintain your weight. To lose a pound per week, you would need to burn an excess of 500 calories a day over what you eat. Now realize that in an hour at rest you are normally burning calories. If you were to burn 500 calories a day due to exercise, it might look like you are making progress, but in reality the net loss is less than 500 calories. You would normally burn a portion of those calories with normal activity. So simply logging exercise is not an accurate way to determine how many additional calories are being burned.
Moderate or vigorous exercise for a few minutes a day is not likely to lead to significant weight loss. The foundation for weight loss has to be nutrition. The key is to know exactly how many calories a day you are burning vs. the calories consumed. To do that you need to log foods and exercise consistently each day.
Myth #4 – If you cut out carbohydrates, you can lose a lot of weight.
This plan takes various forms. There is the Atkins Diet, the South Beach Diet, the Primal Diet, and so on. The idea here is that a low carbohydrate diet can trick your body into burning more fat than under normal circumstances.
There are also diet plans that turn this idea on its head. These are essentially vegan diets that cut out all meat and dairy in favor of beans, vegetables, fruits, nuts and grains.
Another plan advertises, The Ezekiel Diet: Lose a pound a day the healthy way. This simply defies the laws of physics. To lose a pound of fat, you need to burn 3500 calories above what you consume. To lose one pound a week, you need to burn 500 calories above what you consumed each day. Unless you are burning above 3500 calories a day, no “diet” can subtract that amount of calories.
Fats and proteins are made up of calories. Carbohydrates are made up of calories. While it is possible to substitute one for another, calories are calories. The human body breaks down proteins, fats and carbohydrates into calories. The body expends calories as energy and then stores any excess calories as some type of body tissue. Too many excess calories get stored mainly as fat. Simply cutting carbs can lead to weight loss, but it could just as well be a diet of lots of carbohydrates with fewer protein and fat. It would amount to the same result.
Myth #5 – A certain exercise tool can guarantee weight loss.
You may have also seen ads for exercise programs or machines that are “guaranteed to help you lose weight.” Obviously certain types of exercise can tone certain muscle groups. Having more lean muscle tissue can help you to burn calories more effectively. However, muscle does not literally “burn fat.” Instead what happens is that if the body requires more calories than the food intake supplies, then fat tissue is converted to calories to supply the energy that the muscles need to work. Using an exercise tool alone cannot lead to weight loss. Here again, proper nutrition has to the basis for lasting success.
In the next part of this series, I’ll discuss the all important foundation of nutrition.
«- Want to Lose 40 Pounds or More? Part 1
- Fitness and Nutrition
- Science and Technology
-» Disabled Veteran Injured at Pro-life Awareness Campaign
Your comments are welcome!
Who is the Real Jesus?
Ever since the dawn of modern rationalism, skeptics have sought to use textual criticism, archeology and historical reconstructions to uncover the “historical Jesus” — a wise teacher who said many wonderful things, but fulfilled no prophecies, performed no miracles and certainly did not rise from the dead in triumph over sin.
Over the past 100 years, however, startling discoveries in biblical archeology and scholarship have all but vanquished the faulty assumptions of these doubting modernists. Regrettably, these discoveries have often been ignored by the skeptics as well as by the popular media. As a result, the liberal view still holds sway in universities and impacts the culture and even much of the church.
The Real Jesus explodes the myths of these critics and the movies, books and television programs that have popularized their views. Presented in ten parts — perfect for individual, family and classroom study — viewers will be challenged to go deeper in their knowledge of Christ in order to be able to defend their faith and present the truth to a skeptical modern world – that the Jesus of the Gospels is the Jesus of history — “the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). He is the real Jesus.
Speakers include: George Grant, Ted Baehr, Stephen Mansfield, Raymond Ortlund, Phil Kayser, David Lutzweiler, Jay Grimstead, J.P. Holding, and Eric Holmberg.
Ten parts, over two hours of instruction!
Running Time: 130 minutes
$19.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
Foundations in Biblical Eschatology
By Jay Rogers, Larry Waugh, Rodney Stortz, Joseph Meiring. High quality paperback, 167 pages.
All Christians believe that their great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will one day return. Although we cannot know the exact time of His return, what exactly did Jesus mean when he spoke of the signs of His coming (Mat. 24)? How are we to interpret the prophecies in Isaiah regarding the time when “the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Isa. 11:19)? Should we expect a time of great tribulation and apostasy or revival and reformation before the Lord returns? Is the devil bound now, and are the saints reigning with Christ? Did you know that there are four hermeneutical approaches to the book of Daniel and Revelation?
These and many more questions are dealt with by four authors as they present the four views on the millennium. Each view is then critiqued by the other three authors.
$12.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
“Give me liberty or give me death!”
Patrick Henry’s famous declaration not only helped launch the War for Independence, it also perfectly summarized the mindset that gave birth to, and sustained, the unprecedented experiment in Christian liberty that was America.
The freedom our Founders envisioned was not freedom from suffering, want, or hard work. Nor was it freedom to indulge every appetite or whim without restraint—that would merely be servitude to a different master. No, the Founders’ passion was to live free before God, unfettered by the chains of autocracy, shackles that slowly but inexorably bind men when the governments they fashion fail to recognize and uphold freedom’s singular, foundational truth: that all men are created in the image of God, and are thereby co-equally endowed with the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
This presentation is a similar call, not to one but many. By reintroducing the principles of freedom that gave birth to America, it is our prayer that Jesus, the true and only ruler over the nations, will once again be our acknowledged Sovereign, that we may again know and exult in the great truth that “where the Spirit of the LORD is, there is liberty” (2 Cor. 3:17).
Welcome to the Second American Revolution!
This DVD features “Liberty: The Model of Christian Liberty” along with “Dawn’s Early Light: A Brief History of America’s Christian Foundations.” Bonus features include a humorous but instructive collection of campaign ads and Eric Holmberg’s controversial YouTube challenge concerning Mitt Romney’s campaign for president.
$14.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
High Quality Paperback — 200 pages
A Reasonable Response to Christian Postmodernism
Includes a response to the book Christian Jihad by Colonel V. Doner
The title of this book is a misnomer. In reality, I am not trying to get anyone to shut up, but rather to provoke a discussion. This book is a warning about the philosophy of “Christian postmodernism” and the threat that it poses not only to Christian orthodoxy, but to the peace and prosperity our culture as well. The purpose is to equip the reader with some basic principles that can be used to refute their arguments.
Part 1 is a response to some of the recent writings by Frank Schaeffer, the son of the late Francis Schaeffer. This was originally written as a defense against Frank’s attacks on pro-life street activism – a movement that his father helped bring into being through his books, A Christian Manifesto, How Should We Then Live? and Whatever Happened to the Human Race? These works have impacted literally hundreds of thousands of Christian activists.
Part 2 is a response to Colonel Doner and his book, Christian Jihad: Neo-Fundamentalists and the Polarization of America. Doner was one of the key architects of the Christian Right that emerged in the 1980s, who now represents the disillusionment and defection many Christian activists experienced in the 1990s and 2000s. There is still great hope for America to be reformed according to biblical principles. As a new generation is emerging, it is important to recognize the mistakes that Christian activists have made in the past even while holding to a vision for the future.
$14.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
Download the free Study Guide!
Is there a connection between pagan religion and the abortion industry?
This powerful presentation traces the biblical roots of child sacrifice and then delves into the social, political and cultural fall-out that this sin against God and crime against humanity has produced in our beleaguered society.
Conceived as a sequel and update to the 1988 classic, The Massacre of Innocence, the new title, The Abortion Matrix, is entirely fitting. It not only references abortion’s specific target – the sacred matrix where human beings are formed in the womb in the very image of God, but it also implies the existence of a conspiracy, a matrix of seemingly disparate forces that are driving this holocaust.
The occult activity surrounding the abortion industry is exposed with numerous examples. But are these just aberrations, bizarre yet anomalous examples of abortionists who just happen to have ties to modern day witchcraft? Or is this representative of something deeper, more sinister and even endemic to the entire abortion movement?
As the allusion to the film of over a decade ago suggests, the viewer may learn that things are not always as they appear to be. The Abortion Matrix reveals the reality of child-killing and strikes the proper moral chord to move hearts to fulfill the biblical responsibility to rescue those unjustly sentenced to death and to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves (Proverbs 24:11,12; 31:8,9).
Speakers include: George Grant, Peter Hammond, RC Sproul Jr., Paul Jehle, Lou Engle, Rusty Thomas, Flip Benham, Janet Porter and many more.
Ten parts, over three hours of instruction!
Running Time: 195 minutes
$19.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)