The American Heart Association Diet Says "Eat Less and Exercise More"

According to the American Heart Association diet, Americans are instructed to:

"Use up at least as many calories as you take in. Start by knowing how many calories you should be eating and drinking to maintain your weight. Don't eat more calories than you know that you can burn up every day. Increase the amount or intensity of your physical activity to match the number of calories you take in... Regular physical activity can help you maintain your weight, keep off weight that you lose and help you reach physical and cardiovascular fitness."[1]

So what the American Heart Association diet tells us is that, to lose weight, we must eat fewer calories and exercise more. Appetite control and increasing one's activity level will cause us to mobilize more fat for fuel than we deposit in the fat tissue.

This idea could not be more 'obvious sounding' to most Americans. But before you reject any and all criticism of it, let's consider its origin.

As we've discussed, the Caloric Balance Hypothesis (which serves as the foundation for the American Heart Association diet and others like it) tells us that the amount of energy we store (presumably as fat) must equal the calories we eat minus the calories we 'burn off.'

Energy Stored in the Body = Calories In - Calories Out

The theory tells us that when "Calories In" goes down (e.g. when you eat less) and/or when "Calories Out" goes up (e.g. when you exercise more), this will CAUSE you to lose weight.

Here's a quote from a Harvard professor, Dr. Frank Sacks, from a February 26, 2009 article in the New England Journal of Medicine:

"We have a really simple and practical message for people: it's not so much the type of diet you eat... it's how much you put in your mouth.'" [2]

Here is another quote from Rena Wing, who serves as the Director of Weight Control and Diabetes Research Center at the Miriam Hospital in Rhode Island. She tells us:

"The obesity epidemic won't go away simply because people switch from whole to skimmed milk. They need to substantially cut their calories and boost their physical activity to get to a healthy weight... Dieters who remain diligent about diet and exercise are much less likely to gain weight back."[3]

So the gauntlet has been thrown. Caloric Balance Hypothesis backers and other supporters of the American Heart Association diet have made their predictions:

Calorie restriction (i.e. decreasing "Calories In") will cause weight loss:

If it does, it would appear to confirm the Caloric Balance Hypothesis.

If it does NOT, it would appear to challenge/refute the hypothesis.

Increasing activity (i.e. increasing "Calories Out") also will cause weight loss:

If it does, it would appear to confirm the Caloric Balance Hypothesis.

If it does NOT, it would appear to challenge/refute the hypothesis.

In order for the mainstream theory to be true, both calorie restriction and increasing physical activity MUST cause weight loss. If they don't, the American Heart Association diet theory is flawed. So keep this idea in mind: any time a diet fails, it could represent a catastrophic breakdown of the foundational theory behind almost all modern diets.

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References

1. www.americanheart.org. Diet and Lifestyle Recommendations" http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=851 (Nov 28 2009)

2. Sacks, Dr. Frank as quoted in Time (online). What's the Best Diet? Eating Less Food" http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1881795,00.html (Feb 25, 2009)

3. Wing, Rena as quoted in www.sciencecentric.com article. "Large changes needed to address global obesity epidemic" http://www.sciencecentric.com/news/article.php?q=08021714 (Feb 17, 2008)

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