Regular exercise provides several health benefits. It reduces your risk of developing cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, elevates your mood, boosts your energy, and gives you better sleep.
But, according to an editorial in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, exercise is typically not enough to make you lose weight, that is if you continue to eat poorly. Having a healthy diet that is low in added sugar and fat is still necessary to a healthier, fitter you, said the experts.
“According to The Lancet, poor diet now generates more disease than physical inactivity, alcohol, and smoking combined,” wrote the authors, one of whom is Dr. Stephen D. Phinney, a professor of Medicine Emeritus at the University of California Davis.
Counting calories, however, is not the final answer to a proper diet. In fact, these experts are strongly against it, putting the blame on the advertising and the “manipulative marketing” of unhealthy food. “Members of the public are drowned by an unhelpful message about maintaining a ‘healthy weight’ through calorie counting, and many still wrongly believe that obesity is entirely due to lack of exercise.”
So where should you turn to if you want to lose weight? “It is where the calories come from that is crucial. Sugar calories promote fat storage and hunger. Fat calories induce fullness or ‘satiation,’” added the experts.
The editorial acknowledges that in the world we live in today, it’s too easy to choose unhealthier options over, say, whole foods, and vegetable and fruits. We are surrounded by instant, pre-packaged, junk food every day. A change in supermarkets, food stores and even gyms selling sugary drinks is necessary, said the authors. “Healthy choice must become the easy choice.”
What parents can do for now is be mindful of the food being served at home. Be extra mindful of your family’s saturated fat and added sugar intake especially with pre-packaged food. To help you out, here are the most recent added sugar recommendations for kids and adults from the American Heart Association (AHA). Read the nutrition labels on food packages to find out if the recommendations are consistent with your family’s daily diet.
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Kids below 2 years old -- no added sugars at all including sugary drinks
Kids ages 2 to 18 years old -- less than 25 grams, or six teaspoons, of added sugars daily
Adult women -- no more than 25 grams, or six teaspoons, of added sugars daily
Adult men -- no more than 36 grams, or nine teaspoons, of added sugars daily
Along with avoiding eating unhealthily, continue with exercising regularly. Here’s what the AHA recommends for aerobic activity for overall cardiovascular health:
Adults Option 1 At least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise 5 days a week, or a total of 150 minutes a week Option 2 At least 25 minutes of vigorous exercise 3 days a week, or a total of 75 minutes a week