Why it’s not “All About Calories”! My take on this Mind-Blowing Study

“Despite the exact same amount of calorie excess between the two groups, there was a difference between them.”

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This study, published in 2013, clearly shows the importance of staying physically active. This is even more important if you have a problem maintaining your ideal and healthy weight.

The Study

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J Appl Physiol (1985). 2013 Nov 7. [Epub ahead of print] Normal Physical Activity Obliterates The Deleterious Effects Of A High-Caloric Intake.
Krogh-Madsen R, Pedersen M, Solomon TP, Knudsen SH, Hansen LS, Karstoft K, Lehrskov-Schmidt L, Pedersen KK, Thomsen C, Holst JJ, Pedersen BK.

A high-caloric intake combined with a sedentary lifestyle is an important player in the development of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM).

The present study was undertaken to examine if the level of physical activity has an impact on the metabolic effects of a high-caloric (+2,000 kcal/day) intake. Therefore, healthy individuals on a high caloric intake were randomized to either 10,000 or 1,500 steps per day for 14 days.

Step-number, total energy expenditure, dietary records, neuropsychological tests, maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max), whole body dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA)- and abdominal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)- scans, continuous glucose monitoring (CGM), and oral glucose tolerance tests (OGTT) with stable isotopes were performed before and after the intervention.

Both study groups gained the same amount of body weight. However, the inactive group accumulated significantly more visceral fat compared to the active group.

Following the two-week period, the inactive group also experienced a poorer glycaemic control, increased endogenous glucose production, decreased hepatic insulin extraction, increased baseline plasma levels of total cholesterol and LDL, and a decreased cognitive function with regard to the capacity of attention.

In conclusion, we find evidence to support that habitual physical activity may prevent pathophysiological symptoms associated with diet-induced obesity.

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My Take on This Study

The structure of this study is very straightforward.

  1. 20 healthy young men were selected to eat approximately 2000 kcal every day.
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  2. In the meantime, half of the men should keep a limit on their steps walked every day to under 1 500 while the other half should aim to walk at least 10 000 steps each day.

The Calorie excess was upheld by giving both of the groups a box of snacks every day. The more active group was burning more calories and was compensated for this by giving them some more snacks.

The participants were monitored with the help of an accelerometer, which is kind of like a step-counter but could also monitor movement upwards and downwards.

The participants were also told to keep track of everything they ate over the 2 weeks the study lasted. This kind of data is not very trustworthy but it’s not completely useless when it comes to comparing two groups of 10 people in each group.

The Result – Less Negative Effects for The ones That Stayed Physically Active

Despite the exact same amount of calorie excess between the two groups, there was a difference between them.

The inactive group had a surplus of 1500 kcal each day and the active group had a 2000 kcal surplus each day. This difference in calorie intake did not show any significant difference in weight gain between the two groups. Both of the groups gained the same amount of weight, approximately 2.2 pounds.

There was, however, a difference in the new fat that was stored between the two groups. The inactive group stored its fat around the organs, meaning it became visceral fat, which is something that has a more negative effect on the health than other types of excessive fat.

Added to this was that the inactive group had a decrease in the maximum amount of oxygen consumption and a lower blood sugar control due to the spike in glucose and an overall higher dose of blood sugar.

The reason for the increased dose of blood sugar is due to the fact that the blood sugar levels spikes after each meal.

The body needs to be in check with its insulin levels in order to maximize the control over fat storage and the livers’ ability to adjust the levels of glucose the body needs, this affects the spikes in blood sugar after a meal. This was also something that affected the inactive group negatively.

The levels of concentration were also seen to be decreased in the inactive group.

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No Noticeable Changes for the Physically Active Group

The results of this study show that there are more negative effects of inactivity in conjunction with a calorie surplus.

Whats interesting is that there were no noticeable changes for the physically active group. Sure, they gained weight by eating too many calories, but the fat stored was subcutaneous instead of harmful fat around the organs.

Ways to Stay Active

Finally, some ways to stay active while still living your life as usual.

  1. Take the stairs! This is possibly the best advice, besides all the obvious ones.
  2. Walk to places. Don’t confuse exercise with sweaty gyms or 1 hour running.
  3. Find ”clever” ways to keep a slightly increased heart rate. Something like a desk bike peddler could be a great way to keep a steady pace of exercise. It does NOT need to be 40 miles per hour – resulting in you sweating through your shirt. Just keep it at a normal and relaxing place.
  4. Find ways to Increase blood flow, as this will help with your body transferring oxygen to parts of your body – resulting in a lot of positive health benefits. There are a lot of devices that help with blood flow, including massage chair recliners, Massage Seats, and even Spike/acupressure mats are great tools for helping the body keep everything as replenished as possible.
  5. Find an activity you think you’d like. Both you and I know that there is something that you always wanted to try! Might it be Tennis, basketball, Yoga or swimming? Try it!
  6. Track your progress with an app! This is a fun way to stay motivated!
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2018-08-10T12:47:40+00:00 By |

About the Author:

MisterBack is a 26-year-old student that has a bachelors degree in Kinesiology, a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist and currently studying the Ph.D. Physical Therapy program. He has been providing information to people that have asked for it long before he started to write his own articles. As a strength and conditioning specialist, he has had the fortune of being in an environment of award-winning physical therapists and doctors, where he also had great access to a lot of rehabilitation product.

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