I read with interest the recent Newsweek cover story, Why the Campaign to Stop America’s Obesity Crisis Keeps Failing, by Gary Taubes. Taubes shines a light on the importance of eating the right types of calories to beat obesity and I want to share it with Koko Nation along with my own insights into some of the questions he raises.
As a professional in the business of helping clients get and stay in better shape long term, I applaud Mr. Taubes for questioning the status quo. My experience at Tufts Center for Nutrition taught me how sugars and white flour products can wreak havoc on the metabolism and lead directly to chronic weight gain. However, I believe Taubes’ assessment of the role of exercise in weight management is overly simplistic and may mislead readers to think exercise (especially high-intensity type training) is ineffective and possibly even a contributing factor in our nation’s struggle with weight.
One of the most powerful benefits of exercise is not how many calories are burned during exercise. Exercise, particularly strength training, is absolutely essential for maintaining our body’s lean muscle mass as we age. This, in turn, helps maintain or elevate our metabolism. By boosting our metabolic rate, our bodies naturally burn calories at a higher rate 24/7. Unfortunately, too many dieters today instead focus on low calorie diets that result in an overall loss of precious lean muscle mass, (research shows as much as 10-50%,) which ultimately slows their metabolic rate. And unknown to many, excessive cardio exercise (“chronic cardio”) can exacerbate this muscle loss.
Bottom line, the real key to long term weight control is both the right type of calories, as Mr. Taube states, and the right type of exercise. It’s that simple.
Michael Wood, CSCS
Chief Fitness Officer