FLIPPING THE PARADIGM OF FITNESS: EXERCISE FIRST, DIET SECOND
What We Keep Getting Wrong About the Fitness-Fatness Crisis
The most famous catchphrases used in fitness by professionals and amateurs alike are that:
• – Diet is more important for your results than training.
• – Abs are made in the kitchen.
• – You can’t out-train a bad diet.
We’ve devised HUNDREDS of new diets in the past 20 years, YET:
- – Fatness is at the highest levels in history.
- – Metabolic disorders are skyrocketing.
- – Degenerative conditions have become commonplace.
- – Depression and suicide are rising at dangerous rates and levels.
We are seeing obesity and its myriad related conditions and diseases and immediately assuming that the primary issue is our diet. However, this is just a knee-jerk RESPONSE. We blame the CAUSE to be the most obvious and superficial action—our eating. But it’s NOT the full story—not by a long shot. So let me be clear: We DO need to fix our food issues. The claim that “Diet is more important to fitness results than training,” when reduced to absurdity MAY become true. We DO eat too much and mostly highly processed pleasure-food; that’s for sure. The corporations have taken hold of our food supply and source, cheapened production, maximized palatability and marketed its dominant viability. I don’t blame the market fully, but to deny they have manipulated a large swath of people by researching how to trigger human behavior would be foolish; they spend hundreds of millions on researching consumer behavior and how to “redesign” it for profit. Don’t get me wrong, we DO need to eat less food, overall.
Ideally, we should be consuming almost nothing from the processing machinery of capitalist corporations that are ONLY focused on getting you addicted to their product to maximize their profit.
We must also acknowledge that we DO have a systemwide problem as we have allowed food to become an industrialized product. How to fix that dilemma is beyond the scope of this book, so I’ll digress. This first-order response/reaction (that I mentioned above), in which we immediately blame diet for all modern issues of metabolism, means we intervene in the process of feeding in ways that only make things WORSE (iatrogenesis).
These interventions include but are not limited to:
- – Dieting (a multibillion-dollar industry based purely on short-term results and turnover).
- – Diet supplements and drugs (another multibillion-dollar industry).
- – Weight loss procedures and clinics (and yet another multibillion-dollar industry).
And what is causing all this obesity and ill-health? If you ask mainstream scientists and experts related to the problem, they will squarely blame “the western diet.” Let’s ignore the fact that there is no one singular “western diet.”
These “experts” will tell us that:
- – The foods that comprise the modern diet are the culprit—slowly fattening and poisoning us all at once.
- – The corporations are feeding us low-quality garbage designed with scientific precision to be as hyperpalatable and the least filling as possible.
- – The corporate food industry is the/a problem.
And some of that is true including the fact that the large food corporations—that own all the important land where the food grows, the labs that upgrade it, the factories that process it and the channels of distribution that deliver it to your door—only care about bottom line profit, not your health or fitness. While the fitness industry is perpetuating ideas like 80% of your results come from diet, abs are made in the kitchen, and other such nonsense, the food industry has been coming up with radical, creative, and artificial forms of “food” and feeding (telling us that they have removed the “bad stuff” and increased the “good stuff” components). They are essentially screwing with nature even further and deeper. And messing with nature comes with a price.
But We’ve Missed the Gorilla in the Room:
- – We’ve Designed Modern Life to Be Movement Free.
- – The gorilla in the room is a lack of movement.
- – Dr. John Ratey says that “We have engineered movement right out of our lives.”
We are automation-tech obsessed, and though this has improved our lives in many ways, there has been a price to pay for taking the lived experience of humanness away from civilizations’ works and functions. Needing to spend less time doing physical work probably (and this is not a sure bet) allows us to be more cognitive, creative and introspective as a species, but movement is such a critical need for health and fitness that we’ve come to a point where our technological slicing out movement from our daily life has become an infected wound.
Let me share some of the insights I’ve come across over the years that will, hopefully, convince you of my argument for MOVEMENT and activity as the fundamental need of modern society:
- (a) Australia’s Professor Adrian Bauman (Public Health and Epidemiology, University of Sydney) says that people just a century ago were much more physically active; “Their energy expenditures were three to five times the amount that people spend today. And that was just a regular person going to and from work.”
- (b) Researchers Frank W. Booth and P. Darrel Neufer have written, “Many of the metabolic characteristics of modern humans evolved to support high levels of work efficiency and physical activity, a fact that undoubtedly contributes to the health problems facing sedentary 21st century societies.”
- (c) The international journal of environmental research and public health by Rowbotham and Clayton mentions that people in the Victorian era had around 10% of the incidence we do of degenerative disease. And they moved at least TWICE and as much as FOUR times as much as we do.
- (d) A 2018 study in Obesity Reviews led by Herman Pontzer suggests that the health of hunter gatherers can be attributed to their high activity levels rather than any specific diet.
As you can see, the lack of modern human movement has made exercise a NECESSITY, not a luxury. Movement is so important to human health that Daniel Wolpert would tell us, “We have a brain for one reason and one reason only—and that’s to produce adaptable and complex movements.” So important that Rodolfo Llinás would go further and tell us, “That which we call thinking is the evolutionary internalization of movement.” But that’s not all. Let’s delve into the world of mechanistics and mechanisms—the more down-to earth practical and scientific reason for making critically sure that we move DAILY, OFTEN and a LOT— Mechanotransduction.
What is that?
“Mechanotransduction refers to the processes through which cells sense and respond to mechanical stimuli by converting them to biochemical signals that elicit specific cellular responses.”
It is how physical forces initiate a biochemical response in the cells of the body.
It is literally how the cells are nourished.
It influences the epigenetic/ genetic expression of the cell and organism.
Mechanotransduction is essentially a translation of external input into internal output.
Precisely what exercise is as well.
In living things, without physical movement, metabolic hell breaks loose.
Ever been bedridden or know someone who couldn’t or wasn’t allowed to get out of bed because of injury or sickness?
Notice how weak they become and how quickly it happens?
The decay due to inactivity is fast and accelerative.
Use it or lose it isn’t just a saying—it’s a physiological fact.
Movement, lots of it and as frequently as possible, and at varying effort levels, is also resistance to entropy.
It’s how we fight against decay.
As we age, unless we regularly exercise, we:
- – Lose movement quality and quantity.
- – Weaken.
- – Become slow.
- – Gain fat.
- – Lose strength.
- – Age at an accelerated rate.