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What Doctors Don't Tell You

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January 2020 (Vol. 11 Issue 4)

You really can't outrun a bad diet
About the author: 
Bryan Hubbard

You really can't outrun a bad diet image

If you want to lose weight, what matters more—exercise or diet? New research suggests the amount and type of food we eat has a bigger impact on our weight than how much exercise we do, so underlining the adage that you can't outrun a bad diet.

It's eating too much, and it's not moving too little, that has a long-term impact on weight gain, a process that can begin in childhood. It flies in the face of current thinking that urges young people in particular to move more and lead less sedentary lives.

The emphasis should instead be on diet, say researchers from Baylor University after studying the lives of children in the Amazon rainforest, who are, on average, 25 percent more physically active than children in industrialized countries.

The body seems to have the capability to adapt to less exercise but can't adjust for a poor diet or eating too much. In other words, the idea that we can burn calories is simplistic; instead, the body doesn't keep burning calories endlessly but will stop after a short time and will store them for other metabolic functions.

The researchers studied 44 Shuar children, aged between five and 12, living in Ecuador and who depend on foraging and horticulture for their food. They also hunt and fish and although they are far more active than their counterparts in the West, their total daily calorie burn is almost identical.

Exercise is important, the researchers emphasise, especially for maintaining muscle mass and heart function—but it doesn't, on its own, have much impact on our weight.

The Get Well Show

If you are keen to learn more on some of the conditions mentioned in this topic, the Get Well Show is your chance to hear from some of the leading minds in alternative medicine.

Katrina Mather will be promoting simple ways to nourish the body, reduce stress and ultimately help ourselves to thrive on Friday, February 21st.

Book your tickets here


References

(Source: Science Advances, 2019; 5: eaax1065; doi: 10.1126/sciadv.aax1065)

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