One of the most common misconceptions on health is that the key to lose weight is to be more active and sweat more. While this may help a little, sports is the most inefficient way to lose weight. It can also be damaging to your health. Proper nutrition is the proper way and will help you, without starving and without sweating.
It has been known since the 80s that sports has very little effect on body weight or help obesity. And there are now more mainstream scientific evidence showing this as indicated seen below.
First, I want to stress that I am not anti-sports, anti-gym and anti-personal trainers. I believe that if you are healthy and within your weight range, then you should do a combination of physical exercise two or three times a day, whatever your age, gender and situation. And if you can benefit from being in a class or with a professional trainer, this is even better for you.
However, the Fitness industry (and the industrial food industry) has been great at promoting the idea that sweating was a good way to lose weight, and they would point to all these top-professional sports people looking so fit. The honest truth is that top-people want as little extra-fat anyway, ad especially before their competition (check a picture of semi-naked top-athletes and you will see little of that). What you are not told is that they all follow strict nutritional programs to achieve this.
First, sports being good for you depends on your Body Mass Index (BMI). The BMI is a formula, which helps to define your ideal weight depending on your body frame. If you are generally healthy and your BMI is between 19 and 25, then you are considered within your weight range, and sports is a great thing for you – if well done, sports help build muscles, increase flexibility, strengthen the heart and blood circulation and also calms the mind.
However, if you are overweight (BMI between 25 and 30) and suffer from a chronic health condition, or if you are technically obese (BMI over 30), then you probably need to lose weight through a proper nutritional plan before becoming over-active.
This is because your extra-weight may increase your risk of joints’ injury and brings stress to your body and cardiovascular system. This can make sports even more challenging than it should be. Also, muscles require a lot of sugar to function, so sports will increase blood sugar levels, which can cause metabolic problems if you are obese.
Following a nutritional programme, which does not restrict your amount of calories or “starve you” is much more effective to make you lose weight and also regain energy as your body will thank you and support you better by being well nourished. This is why I offer many of my patients, including athletes the Medically-designed Metabolic Balance programme.
Here are two interesting studies, which went into the mainstream and prove this point:
– The British Journal of Sports Medicine published an article called “It is time to bust the myth of physical activity and obesity: you cannot outrun a bad diet“, pointing to a host of studies showing that exercise is not the key to fight obesity.
– The second article is from the BBC “Trust me, I am a doctor” programme”, they split overweight/pre-diabetics volunteers into 3 groups. One was given diet suggestions only, one mild physical activities and one heavy activities, with the aim to lose weight around the waist. While there was some improvement in weight loss with the first group, there were almost none for the one who were doing physical activities (but they lost some of their waistline). The clear winner was the diet-control group, with an average weight loss of 3.7kg over just six weeks and an average waistline reduced by 5cm.
Metabolic Balance can usually achieve much more, faster, without hunger by the way!
Common sense can also help: check pictures of professional marathon runners, and you can see how thin they are before the race – and you can surely imagine how little fat, they have actually burnt after running 26 miles at a hectic pace. The same is true with professional tennis player or cyclists at the Tour de France.
I hope this clarifies the myth around the place of sports and health: sports is great to be fit but not a good way to lose fat. And you need to lost the fat before improving fitness.