There was an interesting article in the Mail this morning, which may be of interest to those who rely on the gym as a magical fix to all their weight-loss worries.
It states that rather than helping shed the pounds, working out can apparently make you fat.
This will come as music to the ears to those who feel nauseous at the sight of a treadmill, but to others, like me who work out daily, it is another thing to start fretting about.
Surely all those hours pounding the treadmill, straining to lift lumps of metal above my head and twisting myself into contortions around a giant, air-filled space hopper are not all spent in vain.
The answer is, thankfully, no. The message is - exercise will only go a little way to helping you stay in shape.
The article points out a fact many gym-goers with high weigh-loss expectations often fail to grasp.
Exercise only enhances a body-conditioning routine, the real secret, and the foundation underpinning what you look like is diet – what you eat.
Many people go the gym, and after an hour of pumping, grinding and sweating, think they have earned the go-ahead to eat what they like. Wrong.
An hour’s intense workout in the gym (and I mean intense, high cardio and high resistance) will only probably burn off 500 calories. And that is the sort of workout that most people don’t do.
But even so, it can be undone in minutes with a cream bun and a skinny latte.
The more normal calorie expenditure in the gym may only be a couple of hundred. Two bananas later and you may as well not have bothered.
The number of times I have heard people, after a massive calorie-laden meal, say “I’ll walk that off this afternoon”.
I have news for you – you won’t.
This article highlights the fundamental rule of keeping in shape - you can’t work off a poor diet. What you eat is the biggest factor governing what size, and to a certain extent what shape, you are.
A half-hour run on the treadmill, leaving you exhausted and dripping with sweat, can be undone by two glasses of orange juice (300 calories out, 300 calories in).
An hour’s walking can be immediately wiped out with half a Mars bar, and that is not much when you look at it.
The facts are quite scary, but true. What you eat is crucial, exercise will only give your getting-into-shape efforts a small nudge in the right direction.
This could be why you see so many overweight people in the gym.
The article claims working out increases appetite, so after a good “burn” you could end up eating more calories than you would have done if you hadn’t bothered.
There is also the pseudo comfort that it doesn’t matter because you have been to the gym.
The article also points out whatever you do, however much you work out, you cannot work off a big feed – especially if it is loaded with carbohydrates.
Many people eat energy bars and “healthy” snacks and drinks after or before a workout, when they might as well be spooning sugar down their throats.
These things are packed with the stuff, and also with dried fruit, bursting with fructose –one of the dieter’s worst enemies.
The good news is exercise does help burn calories, but only in very small amounts, unless you are an Olympic athlete in trainig, and even they watch what they eat.
A half-hour workout uses around 200 calories, and that is at some level of intensity.
It is a sobering thought to remember that you need a net loss of 3,000 calories to lose 1lb of fat.
It’s the same old story – If you want body beautiful, you’re going to have to work hard for it.