Chapter 4: The Exercise Myth
Y'all. I needed this chapter right now in my life.
LONG story short(ish), I can't work out right now. Like.... at all. Now, I've never been a huge FAN of working out, but I went. I did zumba for awhile, I had a personal trainer for awhile, I would do the elliptical and watch Judge Judy after work... But for the majority of the last two years (and the ENTIRETY of this last year), I. Cannot. Work. Out.
So, number one, keto has been a LIFESAVER in that regard (if I gained 15-20 pounds when I WAS working out..........) and number two, I feel incredibly guilty for not being able to work out when I am trying to lose/maintain weight (which is quite silly to feel GUILT about an injury.... But I do....)
So, anyway, Dr. Fung has stepped in and made me feel okay to be human again. Let's recap chapter 3.
Total Energy Expenditure
We talked last time about how calories in/calories out is a big fat MYTH. So you have to go into this with that mindset. (if you aren't convinced, go back and read chapter 3/my summary. If you still aren't convinced.... research those studies. If you still aren't convinced... this book might not be for you...)
He begins by discussing that "calories out" is more accurately called "Total Energy Expenditure" , which is NOT synonymous with "Exercise" as many try to equate. In reality, "Total Energy Expenditure= Basal metabolic rate + thermogenic effect of food + nonexercise activity thermogenesis + excess post-exercise oxygen consumption + exercise" (52). Exercise is a tinnyyyyyy little part of your TEE. Fung explains that MOST of your TEE is actually your BMR- Basal Metabolic Rate, "metabolic housekeeping tasks such as breathing, maintaining body temperature, keeping the heart bumping, maintaining the vital organs, brain function, liver function, kidney function, etc." (52). Essentially all those things we talked before about SHUTTING DOWN IF YOU DON'T EAT ENOUGH CALORIES. See the link?
Anyway... We tend to think of the BMR as constant, and so we fall into this false trap of "if I want to increase my TEE, I need to increase my exercise, so I burn more calories. EXCEPTTTT, like everything else so far discussed in this book.... the lie detector test determined..... that is a lie (sorry, I was channeling my inner Maury there....) On the contrary, the BMR does NOT stay stable and "decreased caloric intake can decrease BMR by up to 40 percent... increase caloric intake can increase it by 50 percent" (53). Make sure you caught that. Eating less can actually mean you burn fewer calories...
Exercise and Weight Loss
How often do we hear "diet and exercise" paired up together? Almost always, right? Fung points out that the flaw in that phrase is that it assumes they are equal partners.... He argues, instead, "But diet and exercise are not fifty-fifty partners like macaroni and cheese. Diet is Batman and exercise is Robin" (Have I mentioned I love his writing style?) "Diet does 95 percent of the work and deserves all the attention... Exercise is still healthy and important- just not equally as important" (53).
I want to continue this quote, but I need to slow down and make sure you are paying attention, because this next piece is a doozy and many of you are going to throw your phones, tablets, laptops, whatever when you read this next piece.... Be prepared, and stick with me, okay...?
"Exercise has many benefits, but weight loss is not among them. Exercise is like brushing your teeth. It is good for you and should be done every day. Just don't expect to lose weight" (54).
GASP. I hope you didn't shatter your screen throwing your phone like that!!! Is it okay?!
Are you still with me, folks?
Fung has another analogy for you. (He's the king of metaphors, I swear) This time it's baseball...
"Bunting is an important technique, but accounts for only perhaps 5 percent of the game. The other 95 percent revolves around hitting, pitching and fielding. So it would be ridiculous to spend 50 percent of our time practicing the bunt. Or, what if we were facing a test that was 95 percent math and 5 percent spelling. Would we spend 50 percent of our time studying spelling?" (54).
(I really appreciate these metaphors/analogies because he makes them so DUH without making you feel ridiculed or dumb in the process!)
Recently someone told me that if information was in a book, it wasn't research based... I don't know quite what was meant by that, but another reason I appreciate Dr. Fung is ALL THE STUDIES HE CITES!
He isn't just spouting from his tushie (like maybe sometimes I do....) but he's backing his stuff up! (Seriously starting singing *BACK, BACK, BACK IT UP! Alright STOP OHhhh* I was trying to make it Dr. Fung related but I got nothing and I need to go to bed soon. So. Yea. Sorry.)
Compensation: The Hidden Culprit
So.... what gives? Fung blames these results on something called "compensation" which is twofold.
"First, caloric intake increases in respond to exercise- we just eat more following a vigorous workout" (55). And I don't know about you, but I always ate more and felt it completely JUSTIFIED. Sometimes, in a "I deserve" this sort of way, and sometimes in a "man my body NEEDS THIS RIGHT NOW sort of way...
Fung references a study from Harvart of 538 students who ate an extra 292 calories for every extra hour of exercise they did. This is because, "caloric intake and expenditure are intimately related: increasing one will cause an increase in another. This is the biological principle of homeostasis. The body tries to maintain a stable state. Reducing calories in reduces calories out. Increasing calories in increases calories out" (55). Do you think he ever gets sick of dropping BOMBSHELLS on us so casually!?!
"The second mechanism of compensation relates to a reduction in non-exercise activity. If you exert yourself all day, you are less likely to exercise in your free time" (55). Again, looking at children, a study found that kids who got PE didn't actually exercise more than kids who didn't get PE. The kids who got PE did less outside of PE time, while the kids without PE did more on their free time... It all evens out!
ONCE MORE, MAKE SURE YOU ARE NOT SKIMMING RIGHT NOW BUT ARE REALLY PAYING ATTENTION...
"You CANNOT make up for dietary indiscretions by increasing exercise. YOU CANNOT OUTRUN A POOR DIET" (56- emphasis of shouty capitals mine). I mean think about all those shirts you see... "Exercise: Because I like Ice Cream" Welllllll Fung is saying this isn't exactly true.
Another important piece to note: "More exercise is not always better. Exercise represents a stress on the body. Small amounts are beneficial, but excessive amounts are detrimental" (56). TAKE NOTE.
Exercise and Obesity
So far we've learned that battling obesity isn't as easy as "just eat less!" (decrease calories in)
Nor is it as simple as "just move more!" (increase calories out).
So, if neither of these works, WHAT DO WE DO TO LOSE WEIGHT, DR. FUNG?
Unfortunately, like every chapter, Fung leaves us with a cliffhanger.... "If we want to reduce obesity, we need to focus on what makes us obese. If we spend all our money, research, time, and mental energy focused on exercise, we will have no resources left with which to actually fight obesity" (56).
And, to return to our test analogy... We spend our time 50/50 on diet and exercise, but diet is 95 percent and exercise is only 5 percent.... So where should we really be focusing our time and energy...?
Until Next Time...
I wish I could stay and chat, but remember that injury I was talking about earlier? Yea, it hurts.
I go to a specialist on Wednesday (which MAY OR MAY NOT be the right department....) so hopefully I will have more answers then (though I am not holding my breath).
Anyway if you're looking for a TL;DR:
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