Archive for Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Fitness myths exposed

September 2, 2009


I recently had the opportunity to attend a three-day course at The Cooper Institute in Dallas on “Weight Management Leadership.” During the training, there were several weight-loss myths that were identified as fiction. Here are a few that I’d like to share with you:

1. Moderate amounts of physical activity result in large increases in metabolism.

Fiction. Physical activity only increases metabolism slightly for the period of time when the activity is being performed and while the body recovers. An individual moving from a light activity level (at least 30 minutes of intentional lifestyle physical activity or exercise three to five days per week, with an activity factor of 1.2) to a moderate activity level (at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity or exercise, such as brisk walking, aerobic dance or yard work, on five or more days per week, with an activity factor of 1.3) only expends an additional factor of 0.1 calories per day.

For example: Person’s resting metabolic rate = 1200

Total calories needs at light activity = 1200 x 1.2 = 1440/day

Total calories needs at moderate activity = 1200 x 1.3 = 1560/day

Difference of (1560 minus 1440) = 120 calories/day

2. Eating after 8 p.m. causes weight gain.

Fiction. The total amount of food you eat and physical activity you do during the whole day determines whether you gain, lose or maintain your weight. Positive energy balance (more calories consumed than expended) — no matter when you eat — causes storage of extra calories and weight gain.

3. Eating six small meals is the best plan for weight loss.

Fiction. Weight loss is not dependent on the frequency or timing of meals; it is the overall energy balance in a day that matters. Eating more frequent meals can prevent an individual from becoming overly hungry and then eating more at the next meal. Eating more frequently can also help maintain energy levels through the day. However, there is no magic formula or number for weight loss.

4. Exercising in the morning makes it OK to eat a double bacon cheeseburger for lunch.

Fiction. A person who weighs 170 pounds burns about 100 calories by walking or running one mile — the number of calories in one apple. So to burn the 600-plus calories in the burger, that person would have to walk or run 6 miles (don’t forget they’re also getting a day’s worth of saturated fat in that burger).

5. Very low calorie diets (VLCD) always results in significant weight loss.

Fiction. The long-term results of VLCD vary widely and weight regain is common. VLCD are medically supervised diets (usually liquid shakes and bars) that typically contain 800 calories or fewer. While rapid, or significant, weight loss is the intended outcome, minor side effects such as fatigue, constipation, nausea or diarrhea can also result. Since the diet is so restrictive, long-term compliance is low.

6. If a person can not complete at least 30 minutes of exercise at one time, it’s not worth the effort.

Fiction. Studies have shown that overweight individuals who accumulate 30 minutes of walking in short (10-minute) bouts lose as much weight as those who complete their activity in one long bout. Some exercise is better than none in order to balance out the calories consumed during the day.

7. Strength training burns a lot of calories and helps a person lose weight faster.

Fiction. The best way to burn calories is to do continuous, aerobic activity such as brisk walking, running, bicycling or swimming at a moderate pace. The actual amount of calories burned during strength training activity is relatively low.

— Susan Krumm is an Extension agent in family and consumer sciences with K-State Research and Extension-Douglas County, 2110 Harper St. She can be reached at 843-7058.


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