The misinformation out there is becoming so frequent that I can barely keep up with it…
The American Medical Association just released a jaw-dropping recommendation that women should engage in medium-level intensity exercise for 60 minutes a day, 7 days a week for life in order to maintain their weight.
The AMA’s recommendations are “aimed at women of normal weight who don’t want to diet but do want to avoid gaining weight over time.” So essentially, the AMA is telling women that they can eat whatever they want as long as they’re willing to step up the cardio to an hour a day – forever.
This is astonishing in its short-sightedness, and there are several inherent flaws with this logic. But I’m going to focus on two key issues:
1. 80% of all unhealthy weight gain is due to poor consumption (read diet) habits – not a lack of exercise.
Or to put it more simply, if you eat too much of the wrong types of food, you are virtually guaranteed to gain weight – even if you a fairly physically active individual. This means that if you defer to high amounts of grain-based, high-sugar, and high trans-fat foods, you are going to abnormally spike your insulin levels and overload you body’s ability to process this garbage.
And stepping up the cardio or signing up for a year’s worth of heavy endurance training is not going to address this very fundamental issue.
2. The best long-term indicator of human health is having a high percentage of lean body tissue – especially muscle mass. And you get this primarily through resistance training – not through cardio or endurance training.
All the marathon training, treadmill workouts, and spinning classes in the world will not build higher levels of life-sustaining lean muscle mass. In fact, too much cardio will actually cannibalize it.
And higher levels of cardio with no period of recovery leads to increased cortisol levels and chronic systemic inflammation. If you combine this with the inflammation already generated by poor eating habits, you are setting yourself up for a downward spiral that will only lead to stress, burnout, and illness.
Remember, you are what you eat – and no amount of physical activity will make up for a bad diet.