RANT 🙂 Why Jogging and a “Balanced” Diet are Harmful
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Hey, Everyone. Jonathan Baylor back with another Smarter Science of Slim show. An excellent show planned for you today. Can I give a bit of maybe controversial but scientifically valid perspective on a specific and very popular form of exercise? And then I am going to talk about the infamous “balanced diet”, very valid, because both of these topics are things that individuals bring up all the time as being critical to living a healthy lifestyle and we will see that the science, and in fact common sense, do not necessarily support that conventional wisdom, so let’s get right into it.
First and foremost, let’s talk about the “go to” prescription when the mainstream talks about exercise, and that is jogging. Just wake up early and head out for a jog. How many times have we heard this? “Lace up the old shoes, hit the pavement and make it happen.” Now as always, a quick disclaimer. When we talk here on the Smarter Science of Slim show, we’re talking about the most effective and scientifically proven and safe ways to heal your metabolism, aid in long term fat loss, prevent to disease and to do that in the most practical and permanent fashion possible.
I like to give that disclaimer because I know there are some people — I am not one of them but there are millions of them — who, for example, like to run marathons. Running is their hobby. My hobby for example is reading. I really like reading, but I don’t think that reading is going to help heal my metabolism. I know it’s not going to; that’s my hobby and I do it for fun. I don’t do it to heal my metabolism.
If jogging is your hobby, I am in no way, shape or form recommending that you stop getting joy in your life from your hobby. Joy is key to life, so if jogging brings you joy and you do it because it’s a hobby and it makes you happy, please, please, please keep on being happy. But now if you don’t like jogging or have considered jogging and it hasn’t worked out for you or you feel like you’re a failure because you’ve tried to jog in the past and it hasn’t effectively burned fat on your body, you are not a failure.
You are not a failure completely separate from this conversation in general but that’s a whole other podcast, but you are especially not a failure because jogging was not an effective means for metabolic healing for you, because the science shows quite clearly that not only is it not very effective at fat loss but it can actually be counter productive for our health.
One of the key reasons is that jogging honestly, jogging can cause more harm than good if we look at it from just a science perspective… Again, not to say that no one should ever jog. Like boxing certainly has side effects and we know that if we chose to box as our form of exercise, someone might say, “Hey, you know there are forms of exercise that require your head getting smashed less frequently.”
Similarly for jogging, there are forms of exercise that require your joints and ligaments and spinal column and knees and hips and ankles getting smashed less. So think of jogging maybe as boxing for your lower body and spine, because when an individual goes for a jog, let’s say for every mile we run our feet hit the ground about 900 times. Of course that’s an estimate because we all have different stride lengths and such. Let’s consider a 150-pound individual.
That means for a 150 pound individual, for every single mile she runs, her feet hit the ground 900 times and if we do the math about the force against her joints, ligaments and everything else that she’ll need to be happy and healthy for the rest of her life, that is 135,000 pounds of force smashing against her lower body and spine and frankly her entire body. To put that in perspective, 135,000 pounds is obviously a lot, but that’s like dropping 37 Toyota Camries on your body. Why drop 37 Camries on your body when you can achieve dramatically more metabolic benefit with none of those high-impact side effects? Why? There is a smarter approach.
Again, if you enjoy it and that’s what you like to do, keep it up. My brother is a big fan of boxing, however he doesn’t come to me and say, “Jonathan, the most effective form of exercise with minimal side effects for long term fat loss and health is boxing,” because obviously it is not. Jogging is boxing for your lower body and that is why the American Heart Association has told us that exercise-induced injuries can be as high as 55% among men and women involved in jogging programs. It’s not about exercising more.
If we just exercise more and listen to the conventional wisdom, more than half of us will get injured. And the fastest way to sabotage your health and happiness is to hurt yourself. It is very difficult to stay motivated when you sprain or break your ankle, not a fun thing and extremely common when we have these repetitive, high-impact movements.
I like to think of exercise, in general, in a quadrant format. If you are not driving and you are able to draw this out, it may be a bit helpful. Imagine plotting the four different types of exercise. Along the X Axis, the horizontal axis, draw Low Impact on the left and High Impact on the right. Then on the vertical axis, up and down, draw Low Intensity at the bottom and draw High Intensity at the top. Now we have a little graph here where at the vertical axis at the top it says High Intensity and at the bottom of the vertical axis it has Low Intensity, at the leftmost side of the horizontal axis it says Low Impact and on the right it says High Impact.
Now if we just draw a little square we create four quadrants. We’ve got the upper left hand quadrant being High Impact-Low Intensity, and then the top right being the High Impact-High Intensity and so on and so forth. The reason this is a useful breakdown is that we can look at exercises through these two lenses.
We can say there are Low Impact, Low Intensity exercises. These are great. These are things like yoga, Tai Chi, walking, playing with your kids, playing with your dog, activities that are more just movement, restorative type things. They are not putting negative stress on our joints and we’re moving. We’re having wonderful mood-enhancing effects. These types of low-impact, low-intensity movements and restorative activities are brilliant. The more of these we can do, the healthier we will be, no questions asked. The healthier we will be, not necessarily great at fat loss but critical for health. So low impact, low intensity.
Now we move on the the quadrant to the right of that, or Low Intensity-High Impact. Jogging fits in this quadrant and when it comes to long term efficacy at health, not breaking down our body, and breaking down our metabolism, this just isn’t the quadrant we want to be in. We do not want to engage in the low-intensity activities (aka minor metabolic benefit) and high-impact (aka major negative side effects). The cost/benefit isn’t there. We’re not dialing the intensity up high enough to do anything helpful but the impact is high enough to do something harmful. Jogging fits in that quadrant; that’s why we want to steer away from it.
If we just hop up from that quadrant, up to the top row, High Intensity-High Impact. These forms of exercise can have significant metabolic benefits. There is no question. For example sprinting, like an actual sprint, sprinting up stadium steps, there is no question that that will have dramatic metabolic benefit because it’s got that burst, it’s got that high intensity. Just keep in mind that it’s also got that high impact. Cross Fit for example, or any type of Plyometric, explosive movement is going to fit in this quadrant of High Intensity-High Impact. Again, because it’s high intensity, it will have those metabolic benefits we’re looking for but at a cost. Boxing fits in this quadrant — high impact on your skull, high intensity.
So not that they are ineffective but if we just move to the quadrant to the left — or High Impact, Low Intensity — that’s when we really hit the sweet spot because now when we do things like High Intensity Interval Training but on a stationary bike where we crank the resistance up all the way so we’re not flailing around uncontrollably, but we’re just exerting ourselves as hard as we can for short bursts, say 30 to 60 seconds, until we have to stop because we just can’t do any more. Or things like eccentric resistance training — super slow and heavy resistance training — very safe, very slow, focusing on lowering weights rather than raising them, minimizing any and potentially all negative impact on our joints and ligaments while maximizing intensity and therefore maximizing hormonal benefit and metabolic benefit, that is the sweet spot.
High Intensity-Low Impact — brilliant for long term fat loss, metabolic healing and then Low Intensity-Low Impact — things like Pilates, yoga, walking, playing with your kids, playing with your dog, recreation, brilliant for health. My recommendation is stick with low impact. Don’t drop 37 Toyota Camries on your joints. There is just a smarter approach if your goal is long term fat loss and health.
If your goal is just to have fun, well of course do whatever you want to have fun. But our goal here, in the Smarter Science of Slim show is to show you how to transform your body to make it burn fat rather than to store fat and to simplify slim and to help you be accidentally fit and healthy just like basically every single person was for the entire history of our existence up until about two generations ago, because remember, 100 years ago the rates of obesity were sub 5% and the rates of diabetes and pre diabetes were about 1000% lower than they are today. So we can do this; we just need to have the right information.
All right now on to PART TWO: “BALANCED” DIETS. “Balanced”. We’re going to have to cover this is in many podcasts because there is so much. There are so many shows with this content here, but let’s stick to just part one and that is wrapping our head around what Balance actually means because we hear “eat a balanced diet,” “part of your balanced breakfast”, “everything in balance” all the time.
But we have to ask “Balanced around what?” What does that even mean? A balance of… huh? Look at that balanced breakfast right on the back of the cereal box. If you actually look at what is being served for breakfast in that scenario, it is almost always a bowl of cereal in milk with a side of toast, some sort of fruit and then some sort of juice.
Now I may not have a PhD in math, but that meal right there is about 80%+ sugar because remember starch and sugar are exactly the same when they leave your stomach. It’s glucose, so whole grain just means “long chain of sugar.” That is not my opinion, that is “A complex carbohydrate is a long chain of glucose.” The only difference is that many molecules of sugar are joined together rather than few.
We look at this balanced diet on the back of a cereal box. It is balanced. This “balanced diet” gets about 80% of it’s calories from sugar. To put that in perspective, the Atkins Diet which is world renowned for being a high fat diet, in fact Congress required Dr. Atkins to come and testify before them for recommending such an imbalanced diet.
This admittedly imbalanced, high fat diet, which in later shows we’ll talk about can actually be phenomenally healthy for you according to the research rather than conventional wisdom. This admittedly unbalanced, high fat Atkins diet recommends getting about 65% of your calories from healthy fats. How can a diet that recommends getting 65% of your calories from one macro nutrient, that is fat, be horribly imbalanced and acknowledged as such but a breakfast consisting of 80% carbohydrate, or more — 80% is the low end of the spectrum — be a balanced breakfast?
Taking it one step further, the Food Guide Pyramid we’ve all been told about and the new My Plate, if you look at the composition of these “balanced” diets, they are about 65% carbohydrate which doesn’t in and of itself make them unhealthy, but we’ve got to take a step back and say if a “balanced” diet in our country is defined by a diet where we get 65% of our calories from the one macro nutrient that is not required by our body — remember, our body can create its own sugar from protein if it needs to and it can also fuel itself from fat — when did “balance” become 65% of our calories from carbohydrate?
Then to compound the confusion here, the American Heart Association Nutrition Committee has gone on record calling a “more balanced breakdown of our macro nutrients” a 40% carbohydrate, 30% fat, 30% protein. That’s balanced. We have three sources of calories basically and we’re getting about a third of our calories from each. That is mathematically balanced. That is inarguable. 40% here, 30% here, and 30% here equals 100%, so certainly that is more balanced that 65%, 20%, 15% breakdown. Right?
But that 40% carbohydrate, 30% fat and 30% protein “balanced diet” (mathematically)… The American Heart Association calls this a “Low Carbohydrate, Very High Protein Diet”. I’m quoting directly. 40% carbohydrate, 30% fat, 30% protein is referred to as a “Low Carbohydrate, Very High Protein Diet”. Again, I don’t want to turn this into an Algebra class but if getting 30% of our calories from protein is a very “high protein diet”, then what is the Food Guide Pyramid in terms of carbohydrate when it recommends that we get more than double that from carbohydrate?
Is the balanced diet we’ve all been told about actually a very, very, very, very, very high carbohydrate diet? Because if a 30% protein diet is a very high protein diet and balanced is 65% carbohydrate… You can see this gets a little wacky and confusing and this is why back in 2011 there was an edition of USA Today where the author was mocking Americans because there was a statistic that 72% of Americans believed they ate a balanced diet. The implication of course in the article was that well with 70% of Americans being overweight, clearly 72% of us are not actually eating a balanced diet because if we were, a balanced diet is synonymous with a healthy diet. So if 72% of us were actually eating a balanced diet, about 70% of us wouldn’t be overweight. Right?
Wrong! If the balanced diet we’ve been told about is actually horribly out of balance, then it actually makes sense that if about 70% of us are eating that supposedly “balanced” diet, about 70% of us are experiencing horrible health and weight gain because it’s actually completely out of balance! It is not a balanced diet when you get 65%+ of your calories from a single macro nutrient. That doesn’t necessarily mean the diet in and of itself is unhealthy. It just means it’s not balanced.
So just be careful, friends, when you hear people talk about “Oh, it’s balanced. Just everything in balance.” Well, balanced relative to what? How are you defining balance? Is it balancing the interests of the dairy producers in our country while also balancing the interests of artificial food product manufacturers? Is it balancing the interests of the beef industry with the interests of the tobacco lobby? What are we balancing? So take a step back, because what we’ve been told is a balanced diet is simply not.
Remember, think for yourself. Basically, don’t listen to the mainstream media. That is what we’ve been doing for the past 40 years and look where it has gotten us. We don’t fly in the same airplanes we flew in 40 years ago. We don’t practice heart surgery the same way we did 40 years ago. We don’t use the same cell phones we used 4 minutes ago, yet the mainstream media continue to tell us the same eating and exercise theories that we were told 40 to 50 years ago. Because of that, balance has become horribly unbalanced, healthy has become horribly unhealthy, and the good news is there is a simple solution.
Eat things you can find directly in Nature. If you cannot find it directly in Nature, you may not want to eat it. It doesn’t mean you can’t eat it. It just means you want to be careful while you are eating it because chances are it may not do what you want. Directly in Nature. Non starchy vegetables, whole plants, plants you could eat raw (leafy greens, cucumbers, mushrooms, olives, tomatoes, carrots), nutrient-dense proteins (seafood, nutrient-rich meats not processed meats), whole food fats (cocoa, coconut, chia, flax, avocado, Macadamia), delicious low-fructose fruits such as berries and citrus…
There is no shortage of delicious, whole, natural, healing nutrient-dense foods that we can enjoy. And what is amazing is when we eat those whole, natural, healing, nutrient-dense and hormonally helpful food, in order of nutrient-dense vegetables first, nutrient-dense proteins second, whole food fats and low fructose fruits third you will be shocked as your diet just automatically balances itself out and you’ll be shocked as your body fat levels automatically balance themselves out around a much slimmer set point and you’ll be shocked as life just becomes much more balanced. Remember Friends, this week and every week after, eat smarter, exercise smarter and live better. Chat with you soon.