Exercise Equivalent Labelling

So last week a new initiative was discussed in that food manufacturers should put exercise equivalent to burn of the calories in their products. Apparently this will make us all do more exercise and solve our weight problems…………………….

It has become more common on recent years for restaurants to put the calorie content next to menu items so I guess this is just upping the ante.

Like would you like a chocolate muffin and 500 burpees? Would it make you think twice? I’ll be honest it probably would for most people. I know I definitely look at calorie content on certain foods but I do have concerns with this new scheme.

You see at the end of the day we do need to eat, we need food for fuel for all of body systems, organs, cell renewal alongside moving round and using our brains so we don’t have to burn off all of our food! There is also the fact that the nutrient density of food will determine how many of those calories your body actually uses for cell repair and/or energy and how many it will deem useless and store as fat. That big calorie Avocado will be burnt much easier than that small calorie low fat (read pointless) yoghurt.

Yes in its basic form calories in and calories out does determine whether we lose or gain weight, but how long it takes us to burn off a mars bar is actually going to be different in all of us.

Firstly because of our current weight and metabolism, my rate of burning calories is not the same as say Mr A’s-he is bigger and more muscular and therefore will burn it faster than me. Secondly, say the suggestion of 20mins on a bike, how fast is it? What does my heart rate need to be? What is the resistance, uphill or flat? Do you see what I mean? I could burn 200 calories in a very short of long space of time.

I know this from personal experience of my riding lessons. I wear my Fitbit and sometimes will look how many calories I burn from start to finish in the 45 minute lesson. Despite them being pretty similar in terms of content the calorie burn is actually going down each week. As my body has got back into the swing of it I’m not working as hard, it also hasn’t been as cold, nor has it been particularly hot so this may also influence it. I have had readings from 300 to 600 calories so quite a big difference! That’s from the same person, doing the same activity on the same horse! The Fitbit itself is not 100% but most studies have shown up to 20% variants so although still not 100% it’s as close as I’m going to get without a sports science lab following me around.

I think what worries me is the unhealthy relationship this could cause with food. It essentially gives us the mind-set that is common in people with eating disorders-food is bad and you must be punished for eating it! Food is not bad, in fact chocolate and prosecco are not “BAD” foods, are they nutritionally optimal-no but including small amounts of them in your diet should not mean you also have to run a marathon that week-unless you really want to!

It also puts me in the mind-set of what is predominantly women (sorry ladies) who will go to the gym spend half an hour dawdling on a cross trainer watching the kardashians and then have a piece of cake afterwards because they “earned” it. Said women then wonders why she does not lose weight despite all these hours spent on the cross trainer.

So I get what they are trying to do here and maybe it will make people think twice before eating higher calorie foods if they do not currently have a disposition to exercise. But I think most people know they shouldn’t be eating fast food and cake every day the reason they do it runs much deeper than lack of knowledge or laziness and continuing along the trend of eating food should be punished I think will only compound those behaviours further.

I’d like to be completely proved wrong on this

and suddenly see people shunning junk food but …………………………….

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