Does Eat Less Move More Really Help You Lose Weight?

The basic formula for gaining and losing weight is well known: a pound of fat equals 3,500 calories. When you consider that an hour of moderate exercise like walking only burns 350 calories you realize that one has to walk (run, swim, bike) a lot of miles to lose a pound.  As a busy mama, do you really have 10 hours a week to dedicate to losing weight? Do you want to?  Perhaps you should be working on your finances, growing a side business or spending quality time with your family.  Which is why this article from the NY Times caught my eye, “Debunking the Hunter-Gatherer Workout”

In this article, the author studies the Hadza tribe who live in East Africa, in hilly dry terrain.  The woman of the tribe gather, looking tubers, berries and other wild plant foods, while carrying heavy stuff like firewood, water and sometimes babies.  The men go out hunting for small game with arrows.

So does the Hadza tribe, who do not show signs of obesity and move way more than the average sedentary American, expend much more energy?  Is that why they’re ‘skinny’ and we’re (for the most part) not?  Many experts would have you believe that it’s the change in our acitvity levels in the past 100 years or so that accounts for America’s expanding waistline.

But wait – get this. As it turns out the Hadza tribe members didn’t burn that many more calories than the average American desk jockey, even though they are much more active. So in other words they don’t burn thousands of calories a day doing what they need to do to get their jobs done.  So why are they skinnier?

Well the author, who helped head up this study speculates it’s not their exercise level…It’s their diet.  Yup, the fact that the tribe eats moderate portions of animal protein,  fruits, honey and vegetables – no cultivated grains or processed sugar makes them skinnier.

So what can we get from this…Guess what – you don’t need to exercise constantly to lose weight.  You have to change the way you eat – you can’t go on a diet…you have to stop eating like an American and start eating like a hunter-gatherer — lots of veggies and some protein.  Grans for the most part are absent, as is sugar in all its forms (except fruit).

Sure perhaps getting up at 5 am in the morning to do a p90x workout sounds like fun to you, but I could really do something amazing with an extra 6 hours a week.

In truth, it seems that we need to get serious – we’re not getting fat because we don’t do aerobics.  We’re getting fat because we eat too much junk.  And it takes a whole lot of exercise to overcome the bad effects of a box of cookies or a bag of chips…So ask yourself – what you rather do – eat better…or exercise a lot…

I’d rather eat better.