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Is There Any Real Science in Weight Loss

Is There Any Real Science in Weight Loss


A typical performance read-out on a gym machine


When we are burning calories on a gym machine, how is it calculated?

How does a machine calculate my heart-rate so quickly - it couldn't possibly have gotten an average in that time?

What sort of efficiency calculation does a machine perform to calculate how much energy I am expending at any one time?

These are all pertinent questions to put to the technology companies now involved in telling us how to lose weight and how well we are performing in our seemingly never-ending quest for the perfect body. It doesn't matter anymore if you are a soap star, an athlete, a schoolteacher or a librarian, everyone needs to have the perfect body...

And so we establish a plan to lose weight, based upon calorie intake and output, that's a scientific method after all. It is amusing that some fitness professionals are finally coming round to the idea that this is about energy in and out of a closed system. But that is not the whole truth, not at all. The average exercise machine (we're going to look at the cross trainer for a minute) can be used efficiently or un-efficiently, and this has a massive impact on how much energy you expend in it's use. With careful coordination of arm and leg movements you can drastically reduce the amount of energy you expend on, say a 50 minute workout that registers at 900 calories and 10km on the machine read-out. I see people with their arms high, pushing for all they are worth with both arms and legs, struggling with the cross-trainer and I see people who do not use their arms at all make the same exercise intensity look easy. This is all about motion and the pickup of which limbs are driving which part of the motion as well as how you are distributing your weight. If you can time your weight transitions using your legs and introduce the motion to your legs with a tiny precursory push from your arms (so that your legs take-up the motion you arms have already started) you can massively improve your performance according to the machine in measurable terms, I mean that if you are using a generator model you will increase the wattage you are producing, but the truth is that you are not losing weight faster, just generating electricity more efficiently.

The only real way to measure calories is to generate electricity as you go, and this will only give you the real figure as there will be a loss of efficiency in the generation process, but it will give you an exact relative figure to compare to what you generates last week or the week before, as long as you are using more-or-less the same technique. If you are developing your technique as-you-go then you can use your energy output figures to measure you effectiveness if you maintain a steady calorie intake and consistent exercise as you change your style. You will have to measure your output using your own weariness but this isn't exactly an unknown as your calorie intake will dictate how much energy you can easily expend (believe me I have tested this thoroughly.)

Many heart-rate readings are derived from skin temperature and this is not a given relationship for everyone. It is also heavily affected by one's environment and subject to rapid change under different conditions such as having held an ice-cold water bottle a second earlier. Many calorie or energy in watt calculations are formed of force over distance assumptions that may not take into account how you are distributing your weight or where you are standing or holding various parts of a machine.

1 Newton is 1 unit of weight or force under gravity which on Earth is usually assumed to be roughly 1/10th of a Kilogram; 9.80665 newtons make up a Kilogram in the lab.

Moving 1 Newton over 1 Metre takes 1 Joule

Generating 1 Joule per second gives a power rating of 1 Watt

And so moving the cross-trainer through 1 metre per second shifting a mass of 10Kg gives 100 Watts because

10 Kg = roughly 100 Newtons being moved every second.

1 Calorie = heating 1 ml of water 1 degree 

1 nutritional calorie is actually a Kcal (1000 calories)

1 Kcal = 4186.8 Joules

so 1Kcal requires lifting a 10 KG weight 42m 

So 100g of Branston Pickle means running  800m if you weigh around 80 Kg so just think what the cheese means!

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