I could write ten blog posts about this subject, unfortunately. Most of my complaints come down to the fact that the proper way to state that is Calories In = Calories “Out”. The next thing out of the mouth of Conventional Wisdom is that “a calorie is a calorie.” Nothing allows for any possibility of calories not being burned efficiently. That, however, is a topic for another day. Today, I’d rather talk about Cognitive Dissonance from nutrition and exercise nannies.
Methods: Fifty-eight sedentary overweight/obese men and women (BMI 31.8 ±4.5kg/m2) participated in a 12 week supervised aerobic exercise intervention (70% heart rate max, 5 times a week, 500kcal per session). Body composition, anthropometric parameters, aerobic capacity, blood pressure and acute psychological response to exercise were measured at weeks 0 and 12.
And the results that cause a certain type of health nanny’s brain to explode?:
Results: Mean reduction in body weight was -3.3 ±3.63kg (P<0.01). However, 26 of the 58 participants failed to attain the predicted weight loss estimated from individuals’ exercise-induced energy expenditure.
I generally like Calorielab.com, but their nutritionist suffers from the usual delusions about ARTERYCLOGGINGSATURATEDFAT and ACALORIEISACALORIE.
Her piece starts:
A major news magazine’s cover story sent out ripples of shock waves when it suggested that exercise, although good for you, may not make you lose weight. Actually, research shows that if you burn more calories without increasing calories from food and drink, you will lose weight.
Except that it doesn’t. That was the WHOLE POINT of the study! Then we have this:
A 150-pound adult who adds that activity daily (and doesn’t cut back on other activity) burns about 120 to 140 extra calories per day.
With no changes in diet, that should lead to weight loss of one pound in 25 to 30 days. On the other hand, if the new walker rewards that walk with an extra muffin, 24-ounce soda or second helping at dinner, after 25 to 30 days his or her weight would probably be a pound higher, not lower. That’s because the increased calories from any one of those are more than double the calories burned in the walk.
Here’s what I take away from that paragraph: You people adding exercise to your lives to lose weight? You’re far too stupid to realize that adding an extra muffin or two cans of coke or another plate of food at dinner? That stuff might make you even fatter!. One of the overwhelming ideas one sees coming from those who think they know better than us is that everyone’s fucked but me.
Whenever we hear about how something that tastes good is also good for us, these people have to come out and yell NO IT ISN’T or say that just because resveratrol is a good thing doesn’t mean we should take up heavy drinking to get more red wine into our diet. Because, you know, we couldn’t figure that out because we’re all idiots and morons.
On to one of my favorite idiot columns, the The New York Times Well blog by Tara Parker-Pope. This article has a by-line by Gretchen Reynolds, but presumably, Ms. Parker-Pope is the final arbiter of taste.
Near the end of the article, a different study is being discussed. This one is specifically about the idea of afterburn, but there’s something really important they discovered. It’s worse than the idea that afterburn apparently doesn’t exist:
Each of Melanson’s subjects spent 24 quiet hours in the calorimeter, followed later by another 24 hours that included an hourlong bout of stationary bicycling. The cycling was deliberately performed at a relatively easy intensity (about 55 percent of each person’s predetermined aerobic capacity). It is well known physiologically that, while high-intensity exercise demands mostly carbohydrate calories (since carbohydrates can quickly reach the bloodstream and, from there, laboring muscles), low-intensity exercise prompts the body to burn at least some stored fat. All of the subjects ate three meals a day.
To their surprise, the researchers found that none of the groups, including the athletes, experienced “afterburn.” They did not use additional body fat on the day when they exercised. In fact, most of the subjects burned slightly less fat over the 24-hour study period when they exercised than when they did not.
Um, wow. So, that number of calories burned you see on your Wii or the treadmill or elliptical at the gym? 100% fictional. I’m not especially surprised by this, but the Well Blog decides to point out how stupid people are:
“The message of our work is really simple,” although not agreeable to hear, Melanson said. “It all comes down to energy balance,” or, as you might have guessed, calories in and calories out. People “are only burning 200 or 300 calories” in a typical 30-minute exercise session, Melanson points out. “You replace that with one bottle of Gatorade.”
Because no one is aware that every snack sold in the U.S.? It has this thing called a Nutrition Facts label on it that says how many calories are in it! WOW, who knew, right?
Then right after that:
This does not mean that exercise has no impact on body weight, or that you can’t calibrate your workouts to maximize the amount of body fat that you burn, if that’s your goal.
“If you work out at an easy intensity, you will burn a higher percentage of fat calories” than if you work out a higher intensity, Carey says, so you should draw down some of the padding you’ve accumulated on the hips or elsewhere — if you don’t replace all of the calories afterward.”
Because we don’t like the results of the study, we’re just going to ignore it. Obviously, those people in the lab were not working out right.
In fact, it always comes down to saying that Americans are fat because they just aren’t following the government’s advice closely enough. It’s never that recommending the same thing over and over and expecting different results THIS TIME is simply insane.