The latest trend to hit the fitness industry is an extremely low calorie diet coupled with high intensity cardiovascular exercise at a rapidly growing gym chain. This popular workout destroys your health.
First let’s take a look at their diet plan, which food quality-wise is pretty good. Lots of chicken, tuna, and kale chips, etc. The main issue I had was that the daily caloric intake was really, really low…Average caloric intake over 30 day diet plan: 1025 (Some days were as low as 733 calories)
That average is about the same as the recommended intake of a sedentary 2 year old:
Now, I understand that a caloric deficit is necessary for weight loss, and I also get that losing lots of weight in 30 days is a tall order, but the big question is this: Will that yield long-term benefits? Because the goal, of course, is to be healthier–and more fit– for the rest of our lives.
With a diet plan like this, people are extremely likely to rebound because they have built no sustainable habits or skills that will carry over to the rest of their life. FAIL. But at least they’re eating vegetables…
And now, on to the workout, because I have a bone to pick there too.
The workout is a mish-mash of running on a treadmill, rowing, and “weight lifting.” Weight lifting is in quotes because really it’s just a clusterf&#! of light weights with no rhyme or reason. I actually saw some pretty horrifying weighted Jumping Jacks. It becomes clear, that the ONLY goal is to burn as many calories as possible. IF you decide to operate at maximum intensity, it’s important to stick with exercises that don’t require a high level of skill and can be completed safely at those high intensities.
This fallacy that more caloric burn = more benefit is probably the most pervasive in the entire fitness industry. The additional calorie burn from flailing around like a maniac for an hour is negligible compared to a more goal-oriented training session. Cardio is definitely an important part of a healthy exercise regimen, but there might be better ways to approach it–taking up a sport, surfing, tennis, kickboxing class, cycling, running, or even Zumba if that tickles your fancy–but hiring a coach to yell at you while you run on the treadmill is likely the least efficient use of your time and money.
To avoid getting too far off-topic, I’m going to simply quote their website here:
If weight loss is your goal, you can expect to see an estimated loss of three to five pounds per week by attending three to five sessions per week and with proper nutritional planning. If performance is your goal, you can expect to see an increase in power, speed and strength after your first two weeks of attending two to four sessions per week.
Our clients burn an estimated 500 to 1000 calories per workout.
There is so much wrong with this, where to start?
Let’s start with the underlined phrase, about how one can EXPECT to lose 3-5 pounds per WEEK.
This is a downright ridiculous claim, no one should expect that kind of weight loss–unless they are massively overweight. Then we have the silly notion that we’ll improve speed, strength, and power by doing hour-long cardio sessions.
Well which is it?!
This is typical sensational marketing preying on the fact that the average person has absolutely no clue how strength, power, and speed are improved. Will a person be in better shape if they exercise 5 times per week? Absolutely, especially if they were doing zero exercise before then. However, to say that we can expect to lose 3-5 pounds per week AND build strength/power/speed, is about as realistic as the tooth fairy bringing you a Christmas tree on Easter.
This kind of blatant lying is a real problem. Not only does it present an absolutely impossible goal for people to shoot for, but it actually damages their health and metabolism.
If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Ready for the truth?
Food and nutrition is something that needs to be addressed on a case-by-case basis and adjusted over the long term. The most important thing is to educate ourselves about food and nutrition, and build sustainable habits. Those sustainable habits probably SHOULD include some ice cream here and there.
Exercise should be so much more than punishment and chasing a caloric burn (especially not something that destroys your health). It should build us up instead of tearing us down. We should use that time to build skills and strength that will last a lifetime and make the rest of our lives easier. Exercise should improve flexibility and reduce injury, while eliminating nagging aches and pains.
We all want to look good naked, but there is no need to sacrifice all the amazing benefits of exercise to simply burn more calories and waste time. Chasing calorie burn is a 1 way ticket to nowhere.
To sum up, let’s avoid bullshit crash diets, and train with purpose, not just to punish ourselves with calorie burn. Check out How to Build A Fitness Program for tips on designing a smart training plan.
Better Every Day,
P.S. I developed Ultimate Athleticism to help you design a perfectly-balanced training program, enhancing both your altheticism and sex appeal.