Thursday, March 1, 2012

Why is getting in better shape so confusing???

Anyone who is trying to achieve a higher level of knowledge in any field of study has probably faced some sort of "information overload".   With all of the books, blogs, articles, dvd's, and magazines relating to fitness and nutrition there is a plethora of information that is either recycled or contradictory.  It can be a little confusing to the majority of the general population that is trying to get in better shape or shed a few pounds.

Most of the stuff we are learning has been around for a while and had just been rewritten with different words or phrases that make the exercise or nutrition plan more appealing.  Terms such as "muscle confusion" and "metabolic conditioning" have a nice ring to them and make people feel that they are doing something groundbreaking.  Meanwhile, back in the late 80's and early 90's (when I was in high school) we did tons of metabolic conditioning, we called it football practice.

I think some of the information that is thrown out to the fitness world is developed just to contradict someone else's article, idea, or  book.  There are a few fitness/nutrition "experts" that make a living out of putting down another trainers/coaches programs and boasting themselves as the "all mighty" king of the throne when it comes to getting people shredded or increasing performance.

A lot of stuff does make sense, but sometimes things that make sense tend to contradict one another.  Take Gary Taubes information on insulin and obesity- he kinda throws out the law of thermodynamics and places the blame with obesity on excessive carbohydrate consumption and hormones.  It makes sense when you look at the external variables, but experts that preach "calories in, calories out" will be quick to disagree.

Then you have the "Twinkie Diet" in which a college professor lost 27 pounds in 2 months while eating sugar filled snacks and chips instead of meals.  This diet was based around reducing daily caloric consumption, not so much about the quality of food, but less calories = more weight loss. Right???

The eating "strategies" listed above are two very different pieces of information that have "proof" that each theory "works", yet they couldn't be anymore contradictory.  So which program will produce the most significant fat loss?  Which form of eating will be better for long term health? Hmmmmm......

Most recently, the "mainstream" approach is to follow some form of intermittent fasting.  Now you have another nutrition strategy that looks very intriguing, and quite possibly could lead you to a muscular and lean physique.  People are having great results with the IF approach, and there is a lot of science to back up the claims so obviously this is the correct way to EAT!

Not so fast my friend......

If the IF approach doesn't fit in you schedule, or if you just enjoy a healthy breakfast and the 6 meals a day strategy is something that has produced adequate results for you so far,  maybe a this eating plan isn't ideal for your lifestyle.  Just some things to think about......

When it comes to exercise finding the right regimen to get the results you want  is just as complicated.  Are you going to lift total body 3 days a week or do an upper / lower body split?  Should you avoid back squats and focus solely on single leg movements?  Are plyometrics dangerous for overweight individuals?  What is better for fat loss,  HIIT or steady state cardio?  Is crossfit really the "be all, end all" in the pursuit for an optimal fitness level?

If you want to find information to justify your way of exercising or eating, it's out there.  Just google whatever fitness concept that you want reinforced and you'll find a series of websites that will provide you with the information you WANT to hear.....

You can look up "The Benefits of Pilates" or "The Dangers of Pilates" and there are pages of information on both topics that are very believable and provide viewpoints that couldn't be more different.

So what is the trainer, coach, or exercise newbie to do in this world of recycled, regurgitated, contradictory information?

First off, I don't suggest the "Twinkie Diet".  There are so many ways to reduce calories with nutritious food, personally I think that foods like Twinkies should be avoided even when having a "binge meal".   Try to eat lean protein, fruits and veggies, and drink plenty of water.  Avoid fat-free foods and stick to natural sources of fat like olive oil, avocados, real butter and fish oil.

If you want to eat 6 smaller meals a day that will work, so will 3 medium sized meals. Structure the way you eat around your lifestyle. Breakfast or no breakfast- that's your call- just remember to eat protein with every meal (I think we ALL can agree about that).

As far as exercise, lift weights (push, pull, squat), do some interval work, and add in some steady state cardio if you feel like it or when you have time.   Perform some body weight movements and some single leg stuff and have some variety with sets and reps.  Sometimes you should perform 5 sets of 5 repetitions of an exercise and other times change it up to 2 sets of 12 repetitions or perform an exercise for a specified time.

Try to get some variety with your training sessions, add in some sprints and jumps at a park or go run up a hill a bunch of times.  If you want to do Pilates or Yoga, it's your time and money- just don't think that type of training is the only thing you need to improve your health and physique.

One really important piece of advice, do yourself a favor and avoid Jillian Michales articles, dvd's, and supplements like the plague!  She is all that is wrong with health and fitness! 
I vomit a little in my mouth every time Jillian gives advice...... 
Follow the above guidelines and don't confuse yourself with everything you hear and read.  Stick to the basic principles of human movement and fundamental nutrition guidelines and you'll be more advanced than the majority of "fitness bandwagon" people out there.

“Adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your own.” 
― Bruce Lee

1 comment:

James said...

Nice article Damon-james