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Selling “controversy”

August 16, 2009

I’m kinda back. The kinda part being that I’m still packing and doing all that other stuff that comes along with relocating. So instead of any real posts, I’ll mostly be doing short ones and link dumps for the next few weeks.

So I know I’m probably the last person in the world to blog about this article in Time Magazine titled “Exercise won’t make you thin” but I don’t care.

First I should say that my initial instinct was to completely and totally dismiss any article on exercise that includes the following

After all, doesn’t exercise turn fat to muscle, and doesn’t muscle process excess calories more efficiently than fat does?

Yes, although the muscle-fat relationship is often misunderstood. According to calculations published in the journal Obesity Research by a Columbia University team in 2001, a pound of muscle burns approximately six calories a day in a resting body, compared with the two calories that a pound of fat burns. Which means that after you work out hard enough to convert, say, 10 lb. of fat to muscle

WTF?? Is this guy for real? Please pardon me a moment while I go slam my head into a wall for at least five minutes.


Ok, so obviously this guy is not the most well-informed science writer on the planet, but what about the rest of the article? Basically, the idea that exercise alone is not going to result in substantial weight loss in most people is neither new nor particularly controversial. However, the conclusion that exercise is therefore bad if you want to lose fat is ridiculous. Most people simply don’t burn that much when they do moderate exercise. If these kinds of articles would just interview people who knew what the hell they were talking about (like the fact that fat doesn’t do some kind of alchemic transformation into muscle) they could get a much more accurate and complete picture of the scientific consensus when it comes to exercise and weight.

So now I’m gonna let some other people who are chock full of good information talk about this article.

Tom Venuto gives the goods on where Time Magazine went wrong on the science.

Andy Bellatti has an excellent post that you really must read if only because it contains the following paragraph which is so utterly reasonable that you wonder why in the hell an article like the one in Time magazine can get published in the first place:

Secondly, if Mr. Cloud knows he gets hungry after exercising, why can’t he schedule his other meals accordingly? If he, for instance, works out at 6 PM most days, he can simply have a lighter breakfast and lunch to accomodate for a more substantial snack after working out.

RIGHT!!! I mean, DUH!

The Booster shots blog takes exception to the article’s conclusions too.

Go forth and read.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. August 17, 2009 3:45 am

    That article incensed me for so many reasons. Ultimately it was poorly written and misleading. Time Magazine should be ashamed of itself for publishing it.

    Good luck with the rest of the move!

  2. August 17, 2009 8:55 pm

    That article ticked me off as well. Sensationalist, not well researched or presented, and ultimately misleading.

  3. August 18, 2009 12:53 am

    Hope your moving is going okay, I’m moved, most of my stuff is still in the yard, with me wondering how I’m going to fit it in here. Anyway, another take on this article you might like is from those guys at Obesity Panacea, Personally, I enjoy my exercise, and my mental health suffers quickly without it. While I’m sure I eat more when I’m very active as opposed to sedentary, I don’t think it’s enough to undo the exercise, usually. I don’t eat sweets as a reward for torturing myself with exercise, I eat real food because I’m hungry and have long ago burned off my last meal. Very strange article, not prone to agree with much of it.

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