The billion pound industry of weight loss supplements, books and magazines containing diet secrets and miraculous results surely cannot all boil down to just eating less and exercising more, or can it? The answer, as you might guess, is really not that straightforward but for the majority of cases then yes, it really is that simple.
It’s hardly a difficult concept that whatever you eat that isn’t used to fuel your body, burned off through exercise, or flushed down the toilet is stored away as excess body fat. In most cases an incorrect balance of too many calories consumed versus too few calories expended can lead to weight gain, then obesity and ultimately death by cardiovascular disease.
This is not the full story, though, and in a minority of cases, losing weight through correct diet and exercise is difficult and sometimes impossible. The way the human body utilises and burns food is a very individual process and the internal regulation system controlled by our hormones plays a significant part.
One study in Canada on monozygotic twins demonstrated just how different we all are at metabolising food. In the 100-day experiment carried out on 12 pairs of twins, all were fed 1,000 kcal more than their usual calorific intake for 84 out of the 100 days.
Despite exercise levels being closely monitored and regulated, the amount of weight gained varied from 4.3-13.3kg (9.4-29.3lb). Interestingly, the weight gain response of both twins in any given pair was similar but the threefold variation in weight gain clearly demonstrates how we all metabolise food differently.
Unfortunately this principle is often used and abused by overweight people who simply eat too much. I remember seeing a documentary featuring an overweight woman about to have her stomach stapled to help control her weight. She claimed to have tried everything from exercise to dieting but nothing, she insisted, worked. This heart-felt interview took place in a pizza restaurant with a meat and double-cheese pizza in front of her!
Science has proven that we all handle food differently and some people are more prone to carrying a little excess weight than others but when overweight people deny the fact that they eat too much and exercise too little, the ‘genetic variance’ card cannot be justifiably played.
For these people, the advice of ‘eat less and exercise more’ could not be more accurate.