I've just started reading a book entitled "The Japan Diet" which is by the same author as and inspired by "Why Japanese people don't get old or fat" which happens to contain quite a few brilliant recipes that I still enjoy cooking. It is starting well and based on a "Chapter a day" set up which is one I always enjoy. The author claims to want to slowly guide the reader throughout various changes which will make him or her awesome, healthy, fit and surrounded by delicious food. Okay, may be not fit and awesome, but you get the idea. I shall write more once I have read more. Personally I am particularly looking forward to the recipe part *nom*
The book did however start me on a general train of thought on dieting in general:
First of all, you are meant to walk 10,000 steps per day. A quick google search revealed that that's about an hour and a half, or an hour if you walk fairly fast. Then you are supposed to exercise half an hour a day to the point of getting sweaty, something that just walking is unlikely to achieve. So, there we have two hours. Finally, all of this will not help with actual muscles, more with stamina. So ideally you want another quarter of an hour of pure muscle exercises - although you are meant to only do those three times a week. Oh and you should stretch each day (something that neither walking nor muscle exercise nor stamina building exercises will help you with). I usually stretch for around 30 minutes per day (that includes yoga), but I am fairly certain if you did less yoga and focused more you could do it in less. Still, that adds up to around three hours if you also take the time to warm up and cool down properly. So, ideally you want about 3 hours per day just to keep fit. That doesn't include the time it takes to cook all those healthy meals you are meant to eat. I am fairly certain I don't have 3 hours spare, do you?
I also love how most diet books/homepages focus on usual things like "take the stairs instead of the elevator" or cut down on your meat consumption. I very, very rarely eat meat and always take the stairs. I also only take the car if absolutely necessary - an absolutely necessary I will hopefully be able to cut down on soon once I have my new bike... and I am still fairly overweight and not even close to fit.
Looking at studies out there - there is surprisingly little. The only longitudinal study on weight loss done by Harvard came back with none of their participants being able to sustain weight loss beyond 5 years - despite expert advice and their initial success. In a school district they tried switching all the school meals (2 out of 3 daily meals) for something with significantly less fat and introducing more sports into the children's schedule... and found no changes in obesity levels. Obesity is on a constant rise and no one has been able to find an actual cause. General statements like "less movement" and "more fatty food" are being mumbled, but one generation ago there was a similar amount of movement and fatty food about and yet the obesity levels were much lower. So what is it that is causing them? Every few years another professor seems to throw about a new food group that we should avoid like the plague, but none seems to have made any actual difference. At the same time however various government agencies and health professionals seem to consider it acceptable to shout at people about their weight - without offering a real solution. The justification for all this shouting is that apparently a lot of nasty illnesses can be brought on by obesity. Sadly, recent studies have shown that it is not obesity that is causing the illnesses - it is eating crap and not moving. However, eating crap and not moving is not the same as obesity. I know plenty of very thing people who live of crap and barely move... and I try to stay fit and eat very healthily and yet I am very much obese. Where is the logic?
May be if the government spend halve the money they are using to shout at people and shame them into loosing weight on actual weight loss research, we'd get somewhere.