So today’s lesson is: Mac’s guide to spotting weight-loss bollocks.
Here are my three weight-loss truths – if some one tells you something that seems to counteract this stuff they are either lying or selling you something.
Calories in / Calories out
This is both the simplest and most complex one of all three points. What it means is if your total calorie consumption is less than your total calorie expenditure then you will lose weight. If your consumption is more than your expenditure you will gain weight. Every single person who has ever lost weight, other than by amputating something, has burned more calories than they consumed. Sounds simple right?
It isn’t. There are so many factors that go into deciding the calories out part of that equation that it makes calculating it accurately impossible. The thermogenic effect of food, base metabolic rate, E.P.O.C, skeleto-muscular nitrogen uptake post exercise, the list is long and mostly sounds like gibberish but what it means is we can’t calculate how many calories you are burning at rest, when you are in motion or post exercise. Our best guesses are just that – guesses. Hell, we can’t even be sure that the calories in part is accurate, one person’s digestive system may be better suited to some foods and strip more nutrients and calories from certain types of food than others. I have never seen any reputable studies done proving this but I would be surprised if it wasn’t the case.
So the calories in, calories out thing is never going to be the whole truth, and “Hey fatty; eat less” is neither constructive nor a viable diet plan. It is not exact but it is still a very useful guide. We may be out by a few points here and there but fundamentally calories in, calories out will decide your weight loss/muscle gain success. The problem for fitness businesses is that it is really hard to sell someone less of something. There’s not a lot of profit margin in convincing someone not to buy stuff. So health companies will try and convince you to buy this product, eat this amazing food or drink this tea all promising the pounds will just melt away. In almost every case it is bollocks, you can’t reduce the calories in number by eating more.
You can’t spot reduce
Doing sit-ups will not make your waist smaller. Doing sit-ups will not make your waist smaller. Doing sit-ups will not make your waist smaller. Really.
You burn fat by transporting it from your fat cells to your blood, which carries it to the liver to be processed into sugar, which is then pumped back into the bloodstream and finally into the muscles that are working. It doesn’t matter which muscles are working or where the fat is coming from, it all has to run via the liver so your body doesn’t care that your doing push-ups or burpees or sit-ups or crunches. Remember that calories in, calories out thing above? Burn more than you consume is the key here, not doing sit-ups till you are ill. Besides, if you could spot reduce my face would be a lot slimmer form all the eating and talking that I do.
There are no magic movements
Every few years some new fandangled machine or exercise program comes out that promises to revolutionise the way people get fit. Sometimes it is a good idea from the past repackaged for a new age, like Body Pump or Zumba. Sometimes it is a bad idea from the past repackaged for a new age, like those shake weights that make the models look like failed porn stars with palsy. (Google it, it is hysterical.) What they all have in common is a claim to some new and incredibly powerful secret technique that you too can own for only 5 easy payments of $49.95. Less ridiculous but still fundamentally wrong is the “you can’t lose weight swimming” or running or walking or skipping or whatever. Its crap because they are, again, trying to sell you something, be it an ab cruncher to gather dust under the bed or a membership to a large mirror filled room with hulking lumps of metal and wankers in lycra. They are trying to collate fitness with a product so that purchasing said product becomes a viable means of getting fit. This sort of thing really gets me because it makes fitness about buying something rather than doing something.
The most important thing is NOT the reps, it is NOT the weights that you do, it is NOT the machine or the movement or how fast your heart is beating. The most important thing is how hard you are working, and that is the whole truth.
See you in the gym, Mac