myths

Even this guy admits he didn't live by Subway alone.

Even this guy admits he didn't live by Subway alone.

The latest issue of Time magazine features the cover story, Why Exercise Won’t Make You Thin. While this is technically true (I’ll get to that), the problem is how this widely read US magazine demonstrates the way the mass media muddies the waters and prevents you from looking and feeling healthier.

The crux of the Time article is the incredible finding that — hold on to your hat — exercise makes you more hungry! And apparently it took scientists from LSU, Columbia, and Harvard to figure that out for us. On the story goes, for three whole (internet) pages, debunking the “myth” that exercise helps people lose weight. One thing I didn’t see was an explanation of why Michael Phelps must consume 12,000 calories a day so that he doesn’t lose mass while training.

Then the author (not the scientists, but the author) starts drawing the conclusion that it’s “not clear that vigorous exercise like running carries more benefits than a moderately strenuous activity like walking while carrying groceries,” a conclusion that study after study have in fact made more clear. And how do you define “walking while carrying groceries”? Two large bags, a mile and a half, with a hill or two? Just to the car? It’s fine and dandy to suggest that we should all just do a few more physical things like climb a couple of flights of stairs, but we no longer live in a world where most of us walk to work or school and back, or split kindling, or have physically engaging jobs. The article concludes, “You should exercise to improve your health, but be warned: fiery spurts of vigorous exercise could lead to weight gain.” Borderline irresponsible, but it’s exactly the kind of “Man Bites Dog” story the news industry loves.

Basically, the article assumes the worst in the American people: we’re all hypocrites who give lip service to exercise while chowing down on Big Macs — and because we worked out today, we’ll add a Quarter Pounder! But because they need to sell magazines, they don’t say it like that: they say “you poor dears, no need to knock yourself out! Just eat a few egg whites instead of the Mac, and feel free to couch surf the rest of the day!”

Well, I’m not here to coddle anyone, and it’s clear that many of us men are, if not rationalizing those Whoppers and KFC buckets (they make grilled chicken now! Try it!), perhaps not taking their training seriously.

Why You Don’t Get Thin When You Exercise

  • You don’t work out with enough intensity. You go do 10 reps of dumbell curls, then talk to that hot chick in the red leotard or read Time magazine for 5 minutes, then do 10 more curls.
  • You don’t work out often enough. Your commitment wavers and you make excuses for not getting it done. Something is always better than nothing, but you get out what you put in.
  • You don’t pay enough attention to your nutrition. Probably the most important, but it doesn’t make for a very sexy headline, does it?

The real finding in the Time story is that the average American still doesn’t eat healthy foods often enough to make a difference. Let’s make no mistake: you absolutely need to cut the crap in your diet to be healthy.

But again, we’re not helped much by the media, who don’t want to piss off their advertisers by shouting loudly that all those “low-fat” prepackaged desserts make up for their low-fattiness by adding huge gobs of sweeteners. Did you know that a serving of Yoplait yogurt has more sugar than an 8 oz. serving of Coca-Cola? Or that you need adequate fats in your diet — but they should be good fats, like nuts and olive oil?

Or that most men shouldn’t concentrate on weight loss at all? (It’s about lean body mass.)

Exercise alone won’t make you thin, but neither will an article that works hard to convince you not to work out.

Why Exercise Won’t Make You Thin [Time]

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Today’s Men’s Health Minute features two methods of making your teeth whiter that have proven to be pretty much old wives’ tales.

If only our teeth were glazed like tile...

Stains are so much easier to remove after a professional tooth glazing.

First, the Minute recommends you spring for an electric toothbrush, claiming it removes stains and plaque better than the hand-cranked model. Unfortunately, actual science has proven that electrics are no better than a manual brush. (Here’s a tip MH doesn’t give you: a “rotational-oscillation” (high-speed back-and-forth circular spinning) model will remove more plaque, which is good, but not necessarily more stains.)

Second, the friendly MH lady pushes some “whitening” gums at the camera. While both sugarless gum chewing and Xylitol are proven to prevent cavities (I’m infamous among my friends for having a pack of Stride handy at all times), whitening claims have been summarily dissed by the American Dental Association.

To sum up, if you’re already brushing your teeth and chewing sugarless gum, this video is a minute of your life you now don’t have to waste.

You’re welcome.

Get Whiter Teeth [Men’s Health]

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