It’s a personal gripe of mine so I am probably a little brash when it comes to this subject but it’s getting harder and harder to put any faith in the NHS and their educational approach to helping the nation with it’s rapidly growing obesity issues. Every few years a new report reveals something else that the nation uses as it’s scapegoat for being grossly unhealthy. During a time in which social pressures on taking pride in your appearance and the social media fuelled rise in the general level of base narcissism in virtually everyone, it’s really shocking to see that the UK continues to rise in the obesity rankings.
While everyone needs to take responsibility for their own health and fitness and ultimately reap the rewards of better standard of living that comes alongside improved health ultimately lies with them as an individual, it isn’t helpful in my opinion for the NHS to offer such generalised and poor education around topics like this. As the image below shows in a nicely concise manner, we’ve been playing the blame game for years, we just keep changing it.
We Blamed Fat
Fat is the cause of obesity you need to reduce the amount of fat in your diet and steer clear of fatty foods. Thanks NHS i’d imagine that was a real wake up call at the time (that’s sarcasm for those who can’tr see through my typed mannerisms.) The media reacts and ultimately of course so do the FMCG companies and we start seeing reduced fat and fat free products hitting the shelves. More often than not packed with sugar despite the fat reduction.
We Blamed Carbohydrates
We are over consuming carbohydrates and our diets are too rich in bread and starchy carbs. Chips get taken away from kids lunch menu’s at least 3 days a week and the media pipes up again resulting in lower carb products hitting the shelves and majority of the weight loss conscious members of the nation trying to cut carbs out of their diets entirely. Resulting in ridiculous quick fix weight loss plans, Atkins diet revival and other unsustainable yo-yo diet concepts.
Now We’re Blaming Sugar
For anyone with any health and or fitness education, or a half bucket of common sense on them, it’s not going to be news that a high sugar containing diet is going to make fat loss difficult. Like many fats, it’s high calories which can be compact into a small physical mass, meaning you can get considerable calories from just a few mouthfuls of the wrong stuff. Not that I’m suggesting you’re all at home eating highly processed added sugar jam by the spoon, but you see the issue. And yes, to an extent I can see how sugar has gone a little unchecked as far as it being made very clear on food packaging etc as to a products overall sugar content etc. But come on now, it’s not as if you thought Cocopops and Peanut Butter Kit-Kats were low sugar, did you?
The Reality and Why You’re Fat
The reality is actually really simple and in my view it’s this brash educational news flash most overweight people who claim to not understand the nature of weight loss need. You’re fat because you’re living like a fat person! Let’s break this down to it’s bare essentials. We’ll ignore malnutrition and micro-nutrients and all the rest of it for now and stick to weight gain 101. In order for you to gain weight, muscle or pretty much any form of genuine mass on your body, you need to consume calories. Your body needs energy, it needs energy just to perform the basic functions which keep you alive, which is why you die from starvation. Your body also requires energy to move.
So by a very simple equation if you were to take the base calories required for your body just to do it’s thing and keep you alive and you add that to the calories required to support your movement (physical activity) for the day, you have your daily required calorie intake. In a very basic sense you cannot gain weight if you stay within this required amount of calories. Quite simply, because all the calories you consume that day your body is going to use up.
So it all boils down to the very straight forward the more you eat and the less you move, the more likely you are to gain weight, probably in the form of fat because that’s how the human body stores the majority of it’s energy surplus. So no, it’s not too much fat, too many carbohydrates or Coca-Cola hiding extra sugar in your soft drinks. The reality is we’re just gorging ourselves and we’re consuming far more than we need because alongside our increasing food intake we are also less active.
I remember as a kid in school being told by a PE teacher that Olympic Gold Medallist Michael Phelps would very often consume 10,000 calories by lunchtime. Easily 4 times the average calorie requirement for a regularly sized adult man, by lunchtime! But there’s a reason for this, that human fish used to train for up to 6 hours everyday. 5 of which were spent in the water and I don’t mean the hot tub. It is impossible for a 6″6 muscular guy to possibly build up a calorie surplus with that kind of exercise regime. Hence he’s as lean as a race horse, if race horses could swim…
Blame Your Calorie Balance
If you want to ditch fat then ditch the calorie surplus regardless of where it comes from by either reducing overall calorie intake or by increasing your calorie expenditure through a more active lifestyle. You can ignore to an extent, what and where the macro-nutritional breakdown is, but you need to take responsibility for creating a balance in your lifestyle. There is no one to blame but ourselves.
Eat less, move more.