Sunday, August 16, 2009

Dear Mr. Cloud

I read your recent article in Time magazine entitled Why Exercise Won't Make You Thin. Although you made a few valid points, unfortunately, your article was full of incorrect information.

I won't debate specific research studies; Tom Venuto did that far better than I ever could but I will address some of your other comments. (A link to Tom's rebuttal is at the end of the post.)

First of all, I find it incredibly irresponsible of Time magazine to allow someone who believes that exercise turns fat into muscle to write an article on exercise. It is impossible to convert fat to muscle or vice versa. Muscle and fat are two completely different tissues. You can't turn bone into artery, you can't turn wood into metal, you can't turn water into oil, and you can't turn fat into muscle.

Bookmark and Share

After listing all the exercise you perform weekly, you wrote, "I still have gut fat that hangs over my belt when I sit. Why isn't all the exercise wiping it out?"

You can't out-train a bad diet.

You also wrote, "Friday will bring a 5.5-mile run, the extra half-mile my grueling expiation of any gastronomical indulgences during the week."

Do you realize that extra half-mile will burn just 50-70 calories? How would that in any way make up for overindulging during the week? Was 3/4 of a cheese stick your entire "gastronomical indulgences" for the week? It appears that you are one of the many people who wildly overestimate how many calories they burn during exercise.

Mr. Cloud, you admit to often consuming more on the days you exercise than on the days you don't. What exactly are you eating? Do you reward yourself with things like fried food, ice cream, pizza etc. Do you stop for a few beers on workout days?

Fitness pro, Mike Geary, purposely overate for 6 weeks but limited himself to "unprocessed natural foods." He trained the same as he always does (no longer or harder) and after stuffing himself "with as much healthy food as possible" for 6 weeks, his weight stayed exactly the same. You can read the entire article here ==> The Weird Results Of Mike Geary's 6 Week Overeating Experiment

I realize that most people do not eat as strictly as Mr. Geary but the point remains that the quality of the food you eat makes a huge difference in whether or not you lose weight. If you do feel hungrier on days you exercise, reach for whole, natural, non-processed food. Focus on fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, lean meats and fish. If you eat this way at least 90% of the time you will shed fat.

What kind of exercise are you doing?

You also mention working with a trainer. What type of workouts do you do? Are you spending the majority of your time on machines or using free weights? Do most of your exercises isolate muscles or is your routine focused on compound movements? How many times a week do you strength train? How challenging are the weights you use? Contrary to popular misconception, cardio is not the most important type of exercise for slimming down.

As far as cardio, I think it's a good guess that your 5.5 mile run and 30 minutes on the step mill are done at a steady pace. Steady state cardio is not the most effective way to lose weight. Cardio intervals, metabolic bodyweight circuits, etc. will help you drop pounds better than steady state cardio.

All of this makes a difference. Exercise for the sake of exercising definitely has health benefits but the right exercise done at the right intensity for the right amount of time will be far more beneficial for weight loss.

Bookmark and Share

Click here to read Tom Venuto's ==> Why Time Magazine Owes the Fitness Industry a Big Fat Apology.

Edited to add another good rebuttal ==> Is Exercise Derailing Your Efforts to Lose Weight by Brad Schoenfeld

Here's one more good one from John Berardi at Precision Nutrition ==> Why Exercise STILL Doesn’t Work



Marla said...

YES! I saw that "converting fat into muscle" thing too, and couldn't believe they allowed that to be published. Nice rebuttal.

Mickey said...

The especially sad part is that "Time" just gave people one more excuse for not exercising. With the obesity epidemic in this country, we simply can't afford that. Much of the general public expects that if a magazine like "Time" publishes something the author is knowledgable in the subject s/he is writing about.

Marla said...

There is also a nice rebuttal on Precision Nutrition:

Mickey said...

I saw that the other day but thanks for reminding me about it- I added it to the post.