One of my good friends always has a few food-related questions saved up for me when we meet up often leading to a good chinwag on the latest diets and food fads. Recently he's been encouraging me to read 'Why We Get Fat' by Gary Taubes, one of the few recent books on nutrition to bring some original ideas to the table.
Whilst I would love to read this book my 'to read' list is longer than most of my blogs and my free-time not so 'free'! Still my friend kindly filled me in on Gary's theories, one of which is that the amount people exercise makes no difference to how fat or thin they are.
Contentious as it may sound I actually agree with his argument. That is to say that if you listen to your appetite and only eat enough to satisfy it all times then it will adjust to exercise (increase) neutralizing the extra calories burnt and your body fat percentage would then stay roughly the same. But there are a few problems with this argument in practice:
Firstly, there are very few people who eat strictly according to their appetites - most people are influenced by the portion size they are given and other factors such as comfort or boredom eating. Therefore by exercising, and burning off some of these spare calories consumed, these individuals will be slimmer than they would be without doing any exercise.
Secondly, this just addresses body fat and ignores the benefit of increased muscle mass and muscle tone. Anyone who belongs to a gym just has to have a quick look around the changing room to see how different peoples bodies can look even at the same level of fat. A slim woman who doesn't exercise may look good fully clothed but in her bikini a saggy bottom and undefined abs won't look so good. As BeachCamp is designed to get in shape for the beach, incorporating regular toning exercises for a toned behind and firm stomach is pretty fundamental.
Thirdly, it ignores the important health benefits of exercise, mainly strengthening your muscles including your heart, protecting your bones by increasing bone density and reducing the risk of breaks and fractures, improving circulation and detox and upregulating your immune system.
Beachcamp is about more than losing weight, it's about getting into top health to reach the summer full of vitality and have the energy to do more than just fall asleep on the beach!
So BeachCamp rule #6 is to exercise for 30 minutes 5 days a week.
I'm sticking to only half an hour as at this level exercise doesn't add any stress on the body. It is also easy to fit in/achievable which is important as stressing about not fitting in 1.5 hours of exercise a day may actually make you put on weight through the production of stress hormones.
I'm going to alternate a cardio workout with weights and toning. The important thing is to do something enjoyable and try and work out every major muscle group once a week. If all else fails go for a brisk walk ... just get moving!
For the non-UK NITC readers please note that we have a UK bank holiday on Monday so Beachcamp will be back on Tuesday.