Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Diet vs. exercise

The latest season of The Biggest Loser just got started Tuesday night.  I've been hooked on NBC's  inspirational weight-loss show for several years now, and have enjoyed seeing the astonishing transformations that contestants undergo during the six-month process (three months on the show, followed by three months at home before the final weigh-in).  I regularly participate in the BL message boards posted by my friend Gail, on her Weight Loss Examiner site (here's a link, in case you're interested in following it further). 

These contestants clearly have a huge advantage over the rest of us: Three months spent on the "ranch"  -- time dedicated exclusively to weight loss, with crucial support in all areas: nutrition plans, physical trainers (Jillian and Bob), psychological counseling and medical monitoring.  

Still, it has always seemed to me that exercise is the most important factor in their success, for the contestants spend HOURS in the gym every day.  And I certainly have made working out a significant part of my own battle of the bulge.  My exercise regimen has allowed me to be a little bit looser in my eating habits,  indulging in "moderation" foods more than I might otherwise. 

But a new article in Live Science may make me rethink this blase attitude about my eating habits.  Researchers compared African American women in metropolitan Chicago with women in rural Nigeria. On average, the Chicago women weighed 184 pounds, while the Nigerian women were 127 pounds.  Both groups had similar levels of exercise in their lives, but "the Nigerian diet is high in fiber and carbohydrates and low in fat and animal protein. By contrast, the Chicago diet is 40 percent to 45 percent fat and high in processed foods."

So, bottom line: Keep moving, absolutely; but you really need to watch what you eat! 


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