Monday, September 8, 2008

Fitter Yet Fatter... the missing link is nutrition

John M Berardi - When Exercise Doesn't Work - in the Precision Nutrition Newsletters forum of Precision Nutrition.

This thread is located at:

Here's a great study presented by Gary Homan looking at a similar issue.* Homann, G. P., & Hoard, R. (2003, November). Fitter but fatter: Institutional diets counteract the benefits of exercise. Poster session presented at the annual meeting of the American Public Health Association, San Francisco, CA. *

A 4-6 month wellness program for adjudicated teenage girls provided an opportunity to examine the effects of diet and exercise on fitness. Fitness levels of 56 girls (ages 14-17) were assessed monthly. Assessment measures included: a step test and timed mile for cardiovascular fitness; height, weight, body mass index (BMI), skinfolds (for % body fat), waist and hips circumference for body composition; shuttle run for agility; standing jump, sit-ups and bench press test for muscular strength and endurance; and sit-and-reach and straddle tests for flexibility. The program included two hours of daily exercise including varied activities like hiking, running, circuit training, step aerobics and basketball. Diet was designed to follow the Food Guide Pyramid (USDA) and adhere to institutional guidelines.

Between intake and final assessment (Med=133 days), significant improvements were attained in all measures of cardiovascular fitness, muscular strength and endurance, agility, and flexibility. Median body composition measures worsened, however. Weight (+6 pounds), waist (+0.5 inches), hips (+0.75 inches), BMI (+1.0), and percent body fat (+0.6%) all increased.

Despite two hours of daily physical activity, body composition worsened. Diet is clearly implicated as the detrimental factor. This study demonstrates that following the Food Pyramid does not necessarily lead to healthy diet, and that the benefits of exercise can be undermined by a suboptimal diet. Exercise needs to be combined with improvements in diet to produce the desired improvements in fitness. Suggestions for modifications to the Food Pyramid and nutritional guidelines are discussed.

You may recall, Gary was the individual who we did the research with looking at the appropriate amount of exercise volume required to feel happy with your body and the use of social support in changing your bodies.

Here's that original research:

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