Can you find health in a gym?

More people than ever are now ‘members’ of a gym. Are more people than ever healthier because of this?

Many people use the gym as part of their weight loss program. This is based on the flawed idea that if you burn more calories then you will lose more weight. For most people this just does not work. The way to lose weight is through diet. The gym is not your friend if your diet is not right. You will probably end up eating more to compensate for the strenuous activity in the gym.

Using the gym as compensation – I can eat some ‘naughty’ foods because I go to the gym to burn it off. This is sadly misguided and does not work. Again, this is based on the flawed “calories in vs calories out” idea. “Naughty” foods will affect your metabolic hormones, affecting your ability to mobilise body fat and affecting your hunger. The nett effect is weight-gain.

Many people want to build muscle mass. Human metabolism is geared to ensuring that you have the muscle mass that you need to perform the functions that you are doing. If you sit still all day, then the body does not need a lot of muscle and unused muscles will shrink. If you lift rocks all day, the appropriate muscles will grow to support the level and strength required.

If you want to build muscle mass then you are wanting more muscle than your body needs for its current level of activity. To keep any muscle mass that you do build in the gym, you will need to keep going to the gym for the rest of your life. As soon as you stop, your muscles will begin to shrink back to what the body actually needs.

If you are heavily overweight such that your activity level is restricted, you should concentrate on losing weight through diet first, and increase your activity level as your ability to do so increases with weight loss. Exactly the reverse of how you got to where you are. Thinking that you can fix that level of extra weight in the gym will just lead to injury and disillusionment.

So, to achieve health objectives, instead of spending a lot of money on gym membership, concentrate on getting your diet right and having an enjoyable, active life.

Ok, then who is the gym for? The gym is a useful place for performance athletes, body builders or those people who just want to look good in the mirror. In summary, it is for people who use it for reasons other than their health.

Deciding to adopt a very low carbohydrate diet is the most important decision you will make in your life. Nearly everything that you now think is important comes a distant second place to being healthy first.