12

votes

Sedentary Lifestyle, but Eating Healthy - Sustainable or Not?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created October 04, 2011 at 12:28 PM

I am starting the fourth month of my eating paleo, or to be more specific, for now I settled with the "archevore diet" of Dr. Kurt Harris (link).

I am amazed how my body composition changed in those few weeks, I lost about 25 pounds, but not only that, my body is slowly morphing towards how Dr. Harris himself look like ;-) (jpg). I find it really interesting how the composition of food (in my case a lot of meat, no junk, no drinking calories) determines how the body composition is.

From the opposite perspective, I was surprised how little the physical activity determined it, at least in my case. At first, I did strength training and a lot of walking, then I settled with walking only, and in the last weeks, I did nothing but a little walking, like going from bus to my workplace or going outside with my little daughter.

But surprisingly, my body transformation still continues without any exercise! My wife even laughs at me how athletic I look now, as if I did some sport ;-). But in reality, I found that I can very easily regulate my weight just by how much carb I eat daily - I can even quite accurately predict how much I'll weight the next day. If I go lower carb, my weight will go down slowly, or when I'll eat a bit more, it will keep constant.

I work as a software developer, so my lifestyle is pretty sedentary, and I am not a fitness junkie. Now the logical question is - will something bad happen to me, health-wise, if I will long-term not do physical exercises? I am not writing it to endorse sedentary lifestyle, I just wonder how much positive impact fitness training really has on one's health, in case when one eats healthy... especially when I now see how little impact is there on one's physical shape. I know there are a lot of scientific studies supporting the notion that fitness is good for health, but in a lot of them, the subjects followed standard high carb diet and ate unhealthy stuff daily. So I don't know if the fitness training really contributed to something essential, health-wise, or just mitigated the effects of unhealthy diet, and therefore the subjects ended up with improved health.

3432683fc74c2d2a40efe1e8f16ac1f6

(1130)

on October 05, 2011
at 06:54 PM

@cliff: Actually, I see very small number of people on SAD, who have a good body composition ("paleo style" body). Most people just don't.

66e6b190e62fb3bcf42d4c60801c7bf6

(12407)

on October 04, 2011
at 07:17 PM

same experience with my dad. 95 lbs in 9 mos and not one minute in a gym or on a track. he started at 360 and is now 265.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on October 04, 2011
at 05:44 PM

Yes, its old book. But I didn't recommend its weight loss approach, but exercise ideas. Its amazing book anyway and has some great Excel applications you can use to monitor your weight and other stuff.

C56baa1b4f39839c018180bf63226f7d

(3499)

on October 04, 2011
at 05:30 PM

With your weight reduced, you may find yourself unconsciously more active, in subtle ways that mesh into your lifestyle. I wouldn't even bother doing real exercise; just take up an active hobby that you devote some time to a few times each week.

C56baa1b4f39839c018180bf63226f7d

(3499)

on October 04, 2011
at 05:27 PM

The Hacker's Diet is entirely CI/CO based, which runs counter to most of the actual experiences of people who have reported weight loss here (...that I have read). Some people have even experimented with meat-only overfeeding and still lost weight. Personally, even though I have lost some weight, I push myself to eat more just to maintain energy levels.

2c2349bc7af0fedb59a5fe99dac9fae2

(2707)

on October 04, 2011
at 03:38 PM

You could still be giving your body what is needs on SAD, just also probably giving it more toxins.

E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c

(12857)

on October 04, 2011
at 02:27 PM

"Also most agree that body composition really comes from around 80% diet 20% activity." If this were true everyone eating a healthy diet would be an adonis and it would basically be impossible for people on SAD to have a good body composition. This is clearly false.

E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c

(12857)

on October 04, 2011
at 02:27 PM

"Also most agree that body composition really comes from around 80% diet 20% activity." If this were true everyone eating a healthy diet would be an afonis and it would basically be impossible for people on SAD to have a good body composition. This is clearly false.

E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c

(12857)

on October 04, 2011
at 02:25 PM

You tried to invalidate the study, no? "So I don't know if the fitness training really contributed to something essential, health-wise, or just mitigated the effects of unhealthy diet" thats what you stated, if your not trying to invalidate these socalled studies what does this mean? Furthermore if people do something and it makes them healthier despite there so-called unhealthy diet doesn't that show doing that must be really healthy??

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32564)

on October 04, 2011
at 02:18 PM

Besides stress relief, I think that walking and some minimal resistance work are helpful for maintaining boned density and balance as we age. This doesn't need to look like "exercise" though! Housework, gardening, walking the dog are probably sufficient for most folks who don't need to be more fit in order to do an activity they love.

3432683fc74c2d2a40efe1e8f16ac1f6

(1130)

on October 04, 2011
at 01:51 PM

@cliff: Just to clarify - maybe "invalidate" is not a right term, and I did not use it, but I wanted to say something like this: Let's say some people eat too much sugar and carbs, and then some study will determine that it is healthy to drink more water, because those people health improved after that. But the study didn't mention that those people needed to drink more water since they were eating too much sugar, without which they wouldn't probably need to drink that much. That is just an example... but still, that was meant just as a question following n=1, I didn't claim nothing absolute.

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on October 04, 2011
at 12:44 PM

Nothing bad has happened to me and I'm lean and surprisingly muscular. I also eat carbs now and nothing bad has happened. I probably exercise 2 hours a week, though my commute is quite active. But based on my Movnat experience I know I would feel better if I exercised more and I'm going to be changing my job in order to do that. I suggest trying more exercise and seeing how it makes you feel.

3f3c952a1a31a12fc2ac49528888c073

(135)

on October 04, 2011
at 12:38 PM

Sounds like my experience, and I have the same question. I'm a software developer as well, and work a lot. I don't exercise, but I do a lot of outdoor activities when I get the chance. I've been eating Paleo for about 5 months, have lost 25lbs and have sorta stalled. I've been thinking I need to make time for exercise too, so I'm very interested in the answers you get. --Matt

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8 Answers

3
26b7615ef542394102785a67a2786867

on October 04, 2011
at 07:12 PM

Your activity level can have surprisingly little to do with the way you look but a lot to do with how well you feel and your long-term health. This doubly true for me - NOTHING I eat or do has had more than 5 lbs effect on the way my body looks, but the difference in the way I feel eating right and being active (as opposed to the times I am so depressed I barely get out of bed, or have a desk job) is astronomical.

I think as much low-level activity as possible is a key part of health. Luckily I don't much care about money and have been able to structure my life around furthering this.

Also having more muscle mass is protective. I am a string bean who will probably always be super-skinny but I still put quite a bit of focus on building muscle and strength, for the sake of my bones especially (I'm a woman). I'm hardly a workout junkie though - I just lift heavy for less than 15 minutes a few times per week, do a fair amount of yoga, ride my bike (only cardio I'm doing at the moment), walk a lot, and try to work jobs and have hobbies that keep me moving my body in many different ways (hiking, camping, owning pets, gardening, etc).

3
E95216c62a14d21c371fcbf2fed8469b

(1867)

on October 04, 2011
at 01:39 PM

My husband was 427 pounds and a couch potato, more like a computer chair potato when he changed his diet. He added walking and that was it. He's walked a half marathon. He just loves to walk. He's lost 70 pounds and added kettlebells. Kettlebells are perfect for the sedentary desk job. I have a deskjob on the weekends and I get up and stretch every half hour or so.

66e6b190e62fb3bcf42d4c60801c7bf6

(12407)

on October 04, 2011
at 07:17 PM

same experience with my dad. 95 lbs in 9 mos and not one minute in a gym or on a track. he started at 360 and is now 265.

2
Medium avatar

on October 04, 2011
at 03:11 PM

Think: human genome. Think about: the evolutionary process that shaped your genetic endowment. Ponder: your distant ancestors who ate real food and were extremely fit due to the way they lived. Will the health benefits of your eating well be multiplied by engaging in regular cardiovascular and weight-bearing exercise. Of course. Will you live a shorter life in a less healthy state, if you continue eating well but not exercising? Life is multifactoral, so no way to be sure. Decide what matters to you, how you want to lead your life, and go all out.

2
E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c

(12857)

on October 04, 2011
at 01:27 PM

You can do it but its an expirement, no one on here can possibly no whats gonna happen to you. If your goal is longevity its a bad idea imo, all healthy cultures do lots of physical activity in the form of walking. New research is coming out that sitting for prolonged periods is extremely harmful http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/17/magazine/mag-17sitting-t.html .

Fyi just because studies were done on people who you think ate high carb doesn't invalidate them, that's probably one of the most absurd things I've ever heard.

Exercising allows you to eat more food which means more nutrients and it also enables your body to better uptake those nutrients, this is basically a scientific fact. If you want to take advantage of that do some exercise, at the very least take an hour or 2 to walk each day.

The only thing your regulating with your carb intake is glycogen and water, carbs don't magically make you gain fat overnight.....,

E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c

(12857)

on October 04, 2011
at 02:25 PM

You tried to invalidate the study, no? "So I don't know if the fitness training really contributed to something essential, health-wise, or just mitigated the effects of unhealthy diet" thats what you stated, if your not trying to invalidate these socalled studies what does this mean? Furthermore if people do something and it makes them healthier despite there so-called unhealthy diet doesn't that show doing that must be really healthy??

3432683fc74c2d2a40efe1e8f16ac1f6

(1130)

on October 04, 2011
at 01:51 PM

@cliff: Just to clarify - maybe "invalidate" is not a right term, and I did not use it, but I wanted to say something like this: Let's say some people eat too much sugar and carbs, and then some study will determine that it is healthy to drink more water, because those people health improved after that. But the study didn't mention that those people needed to drink more water since they were eating too much sugar, without which they wouldn't probably need to drink that much. That is just an example... but still, that was meant just as a question following n=1, I didn't claim nothing absolute.

1
Medium avatar

on October 04, 2011
at 09:24 PM

I think it depends a lot on the person. For me, activity doesn't get in the way of life, activity is life. I'd feel like I were rotting away if I couldn't take several long walks every day. On the other hand, other people find activity to be torture and may actually have the thought of it and the experience itself to be a stressor whose magnitude exceeds the potential health benefits of the activity.

Most people probably aren't that extreme and would like to be more active but just haven't taken the time to reschedule things so that it fits in. I think it's a rare person indeed who can't pitch some TV time and replace it with walking.

One thing I've noticed is how startled people are when they see an exceedingly old person who is highly active. They want to tell them to take it easy, but the person isn't healthy in spite of the activity, but rather because of it.

1
345c1755efe005edd162b770dc6fb821

(8767)

on October 04, 2011
at 01:42 PM

I'd say that this has also been my experience, at about month 7 the weight just started melting off, I reached my goal quickly at this point and continue to loose weight and inches without effort.

At this point I'm adding in lots of starchy carbs because I'm now loosing more than I need to. My exercise is limited to walking mostly and I just try to keep moving all day.

I am working on countering the skinny fat effect, so I don't agree that just walking is enough if you need toning. It really does depend on your situation I guess.

But, it is nice to know that through proper diet one can achieve weight goals over time. Congrats to you!!!

0
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on October 04, 2011
at 01:07 PM

OK, I work as software developer too, so I know your situation.

Walking, like 30 min per day is must for programmers and is probably enough to keep your 'athletic' look. I am still testing this myself but so far results are even better [when weight is in question, appetite etc] then when I was exercising every day, although I felt better with more exercise.

However, I would consider using supplements anyway.

About your "I can even quite accurately predict how much I'll weight the next day", its water, you can't gain or lose more like 50g of fat during single day in best scenario. If you eat nothing, I think weight loss is around 100g of fat per day optimally which isn't measurable by house scales. Its not a problem if you fill up your glycogen stores, the problem is to overflow it with carbs. Every time you fill in your glycogen you get 3x more water in pack so thats the difference. If you encounter stool content you can vary between 1-3 kg per day depending on what you ate previous day.

There is a free nice and unordinary book called "Hacker's Diet". You may want to look its exercise plan because its minimal (I think around 15m) and its written by somebody with similar life style.

C56baa1b4f39839c018180bf63226f7d

(3499)

on October 04, 2011
at 05:27 PM

The Hacker's Diet is entirely CI/CO based, which runs counter to most of the actual experiences of people who have reported weight loss here (...that I have read). Some people have even experimented with meat-only overfeeding and still lost weight. Personally, even though I have lost some weight, I push myself to eat more just to maintain energy levels.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on October 04, 2011
at 05:44 PM

Yes, its old book. But I didn't recommend its weight loss approach, but exercise ideas. Its amazing book anyway and has some great Excel applications you can use to monitor your weight and other stuff.

0
2c2349bc7af0fedb59a5fe99dac9fae2

(2707)

on October 04, 2011
at 12:57 PM

I think most people put too much into exercise. They think they can burn off all the food they ate. Using exercise as a way to burn calories, IMHO, is not the way to go.

That being said I walk every day (3 times a week the walks are usually longer ~40 minutes) and do heavy lifting 3 times a week. Used to spring weekly but that has dropped off.

It is really amazing how our bodies are engineered and when put into the right environment can thrive. Some people just have really good genes are more naturally muscular. Seems like you are in this camp. Which should be really exciting, because if you decided to do some, you would probably have really excellent results.

I would still try to get at least some more walking in as it is really great for the mind, improving fat metabolism, good for the heart, and great at reducing stress.

Also most agree that body composition really comes from around 80% diet 20% activity.

E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c

(12857)

on October 04, 2011
at 02:27 PM

"Also most agree that body composition really comes from around 80% diet 20% activity." If this were true everyone eating a healthy diet would be an adonis and it would basically be impossible for people on SAD to have a good body composition. This is clearly false.

2c2349bc7af0fedb59a5fe99dac9fae2

(2707)

on October 04, 2011
at 03:38 PM

You could still be giving your body what is needs on SAD, just also probably giving it more toxins.

3432683fc74c2d2a40efe1e8f16ac1f6

(1130)

on October 05, 2011
at 06:54 PM

@cliff: Actually, I see very small number of people on SAD, who have a good body composition ("paleo style" body). Most people just don't.

E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c

(12857)

on October 04, 2011
at 02:27 PM

"Also most agree that body composition really comes from around 80% diet 20% activity." If this were true everyone eating a healthy diet would be an afonis and it would basically be impossible for people on SAD to have a good body composition. This is clearly false.

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