In Other News…. Part 1.

In a way of consolidating some of the interesting things I have been reading/ looking at and also to avoid the constant stream of social media I have put together some of the interesting articles/ bits of science that I have found interesting over the last week. Hopefully these will dispel a few myths in between entertaining you/ stopping you looking at what  cute kittens are doing on Facebook etc.

First of all press ups… Most people hate them and everyone should do them. As we have laid a new floor it has highlighted poor form if you don’t have your hand position right (e.g. directly beneath your arm pits). As for a couple of days the gym was more slippery than a slippery snake in slippers due to the way they make rubber flooring it meant that if the push from the press up was not vertical then bad things where going to happen e.g. face plant! Consider also the rounding of the shoulder blades at the top of the movement as your shoulder blades move around the rib cage (this is a good thing and doesn’t happen in bench pressing which can be advantageous for those managing shoulder issues).

The first piece is from Men’s Health and basically covers is late night snacking bad. The take home point is that calories are pretty much equal dispelling the outdated notion of no carbs after 6pm!

This piece of research indicates that prolonging the rate of carbohydrate ingestion is beneficial for those looking to improve insulin economy and glucose disposal. Perhaps more relevant for those with diabetes  it sort of highlights that having large volumes of carbohydrates (as opposed to consuming the same amount over a period of time) can have a more extreme effect on insulin levels. Why is this useful? Most people consume carbohydrates at breakfast, lunch and dinner- perhaps consider the amount you are consuming and break it down in to smaller snacks spread through the day, you may find it stops that mid-afternoon malaise.

Typically that malaise may be cured by black coffee, but as this article suggests black coffee drinkers may have more psychopathic tendencies (GULP!). So if anyone is training with me this or any evening please bring milk and a nice chianti. For those in to movies this is what Hannibal was on about when he was talking about his previous high protein/ low carb meal.

Why Your Diet Doesn’t Work…

You have made that commitment…

You are willing to forgo all treats…

You have changed your Facebook profile picture to Linda Hamilton/ Arnold Schwarzenegger from Terminator 2: Judgement Day or someone equally bad ass….

Your life is about to become a Nike commercial…

But…. that was yesterday and now you are hungry.

It will pay off, won’t it? I mean a little bit of a short term sacrifice to get the body you always wanted?

You have dropped calories and eliminated as anything that isn’t green or your have to kill with a spear.

Six weeks later you are miserable- the initial weight loss has plateaued and you aren’t losing body fat any more.

You might have been taking advice from someone who has recommended chicken and broccoli at every meal, carbs and sugar are worse than the devil so you best avoid them as well, you may even have bought a super food smoothie to get all your nutrients in. The problem remains… you are still bored and hungry.

This is where we find a lot of our clients.

Fat loss nutrition has been sold to them as a short term approach

It will work in the short term but you are screwing yourself in the long term.

So try this instead…

If you are calling it a “diet” you are doing it wrong…

Be less strict and get to understand what sensible nutrition is…

Your nutrition plan needs to focus upon a number of things for success.

1. Your food preferences and overall goal.

In the context of this article we are looking at fat loss. Food preferences come down to like’s, dislikes and tolerances. I spoke to someone who cut gluten from each of his clients meal plans- I asked if all his clients where gluten intolerant, he said no. My point is that there needs to be flexibility in choice. In some cases some people may want to limit the consumptions of certain foods but I consider if you remove a food group you are actually cutting back on your food choice options. Personal preference comes in to this things as does personal health.

2. The flexibility to change up what you eat and when.

Some days are just a nightmare when you can’t find quinoa (I said never). I have used calorie counters with individuals in the past and often people become slaves to these obsessing over the minor details. The route cause of this is that we have lost touch with what actually a portion size is. Socially it can be awkward to make choices when on a strict plan and you don’t have a “healthy option” which leads to the next point…

3. A loose structure which is maintained even if you overeat.

At some point you may make what you consider a “bad” choice for fat loss. This is totally not the point.

The fundamental approach that runs through the core of losing weight is that calories need to be reduced to lose weight. To make a point that it can be hard to reduce calories if someone eats in an unstructured way e.g. very low calories during the week with massive binges at the weekend. The necessity to perhaps bring calories up in some cases in order to help people make the right choices rather than binging or defaulting to emotional eating can help to create better overall “structure” and help create a better framework for success. If you overeat or eat an undesirable food it won’t torpedo your overall results if you have a structured approach to balancing your nutrition.

What happens when you “diet”?

When people set up a diet two things happen. You become immediately focussed on the short term results and failure to maintain the diet is seen as absolute failure. In fact you often become heavily focussed upon short term achievement because your approach is so stringent with no flexibility. You may loose weight but ultimately you will plateau. Why? Your calorific intake know matches your expenditure- you are now a smaller person so you need less calories. What do you now?

I consider this the “friends” zone of dieting, I mean you are reaping the rewards of the diet from losing a bit of weight but you want to lose a bit more and aren’t happy- what do you do? Stay on the plan? Revert to what you did before? It’s generally pretty confusing at this point especially when you have to consider at a lower body weight you may need to drop your calories lower- however, that sounds horrendous at this point and is where most people fall of the wagon as they revert to their previous habitual eating pattern which is different to their stringent “diet.”

Setting up a”diet” for success!

Follow these pointers and you will be on the right path:

1. Create a structured way of eating that you can maintain without extreme behaviour or food avoidance.

A great example of this is that some people love breakfast, other people can take it or leave it. The strategy of forcing someone to eat breakfast is unnecessary- it’s a cultural norm from our society as it wraps the working day. You have to work with what’s comfortable before changing everything.

2. Educate yourself to understand what a protein, carbohydrate and fat is and what foods are rich in these.

Probably the most important point, if you have no idea what you are eating then you have no position to revert to. A great example of this is meal replacement supplements and why people put weight on when they go back to normal food- they don’t know what is in them so they can’t stratagize to replace the calories in them sensibly. Simply this generation have such an abundance of food that we don’t know what is in it or what enough is, hence the soaring obesity rate.

3. Understand your personal needs for protein, carbohydrates and fats.

This will vary on individual differences and activity levels. Simply though we are all pretty similar and total amounts are a factor when it comes to weight loss.

4. Set a long term “health” goal rather than a short term “avoidance” goal.

Regardless of how you eat if you can’t maintain some semblance of your target weight/ body fat over a period of time then you need to slightly reset your targets or your calorific intake.

In conclusion…

These words should remain with you “eat in a way you can maintain.”

If there is no or minimal transition to eating in a different way you are more likely to be successful. If this way of eating becomes the new “normal” then you level out the boom and bust approach to calorific consumption.

Remember you are in charge of your calorific consumption and you make the decisions. You can have your cake and possibly eat it- in this way of working it helps if you understand what is in the said cake and how it relates to your daily needs. In itself this decreases the necessity to beat yourself up about making bad decisions/ failing and should make you more determined to emphasise the healthy structured approach to how you mange your relationship with food over the long term.

From the Gym Floor…. Part 3: Beginners Press Ups, Fat Loss and Speed Deadlifts.

In this months thrilling installment we wrestle with the questions that count!

1. Learn to do full press ups. It’s not about being sexist but this applies to both men and women. On a full press up you are lifting approximately 75% of your body weight an impressive achievement either way. One mistake we find is that people spend too long performing chest press/ barbell/ dumbell variations without first mastering press ups. We also find that challenging yourself to full press ups even if it is only one or two done well ultimately becomes three or four over time. One good intermediate is to elevate a press up. Start with a 45 degree angle for the body and over time slowly lower it to the floor. Although perhaps good for beginners, press ups off the knees lack enough core involvement and full body strength to transfer to full press ups effectively.

2. Speed can be a priority in a workout only when technique is strong. With a lot of our clients and athletes we don’t prioritize speed until technique is perfect. A good example is the deadlift- quick singles at around 60-70% of your maximal lift are a great tool for improving and enhancing acceleration and bar speed. With a lot of our athletes in season we tend to do either heavy or quick work. We don’t do a lot of work in your traditional rep ranges of 8-10. The reason being is that we don’t beat up too much tissue, recover quicker and therefore don’t have many sessions where we include what we call “junk reps.” This is unnecessary training volume which doesn’t guarantee us a result.

3. Fat loss is not weight loss. A basketball of fat weighs the same as a baseball of muscle. Changing your body shape is a process of what we call a “recomposition.” It’s easy to cut weight- drop your carb intake and your weight will plummet.  This will be mainly water and stored carbohydrate from the body, it is not body fat. Calorie consumption and the amount of food you consume are still the best guide for getting long term results if appropriately applied. The number of people who are on unnecessarily harsh dietary regimes is staggering as is the incompetence of the people who prescribe them. There is no one size fits all strategy but I will give you a hint- if it’s called a diet then you are probably doing it wrong!

 

 

 

 

 

From the Gym Floor… Episode 2: calories, deloads, British Titles and a thank you.

In keeping with the running theme of training anecdotes from the gym floor at Results FAST here is part 2 of an ongoing series of what we see every week while training/ working with our clients nutrition at our gym.

1. Calorific deficit does not mean starvation and constant hunger, it also doesn’t mean just eating vegetables and boiled chicken. The take home point here is that most people are confused over what a portion size is in relation to total calories consumed. I read a post by a well meaning online personal trainer who indicated that getting people to make the right choices is more important than amount. Well, guess what organic food still has calories and whatever you say calories count when it comes to fat loss or fuelling performance. In turn balance your meals (if you want 2,3,4,5 or whatever number) from a calorific standpoint and you will be successful if your average calorific intake over a period of time is lower than you need. What you eat does matter but organic peanut butter, coconut oil and avocados have a high net yield of dietary fat and can be consumed in turn with good dietary variation and sensible portion control across your weekly diet. These are not bad foods but they are high calorific yield foods so you still need to be conscious of the amounts consumed.

In turn with other nutrition sillies this week apples will not get you addicted to diet coke… yes, I know it was a stupid comment- that is more than enough shaming for you, you know who you are!

2. Deload weeks are pretty useful e.g. a reduced week of training volume after a period of high intensity to back of from training. This month with a number of our strength training clients we have been running some new loading protocols which have been quite brutal. One of last weeks programmed sessions was Back Squat 8 sets x 3 repetitions and Speed Deadlift 10 x 3 with a finisher of Walking Lunges left most of the guys craving an upper body day. This weeks back off week was well received, in-line with that we have seen some great returns from a strength perspective and even in a deload week with reduced volume some of the guys are looking strong going in to next week and a change of programme direction. As a side point- you don’t earn a deload from two sessions a week and three sessions a week is not overtraining 😉images

3. One of our clients took her second adult British Tennis title last week. I play down a lot of our successes at Results FAST but this has come from a period of good training both from a strength and conditioning perspective as well as a technical viewpoint so it deserves to be celebrated. If you see Mollie in the gym I suggest a well done/ bro fist or a celebratory salute…. and then tell her to get back to work.

internet-bro-fist

4. Bizarrely this has been the busiest month on the blog. After taking a few months off writing I did actually wonder if anyone would bother reading these posts but the readership is up massively on this time last year. I hope you are enjoying the more informal/ applied side of writing about fitness/ training/ nutrition and performance and please feel free to let us know if there are any topics you would like us to cover!

 

 

Getting What You Want From Your Training and Nutrition Programme

It’s pretty obvious that most people who walk through the doors of a gym or who buy personal training are looking to improve themselves in some way. Now that could be their health, fitness, physique or mentally but most people enter with a goal in mind. Now what are the factors that lead to successful goal achievement?

It’s quite simple do your programme and eat the food that will help you achieve your goals.

Now this is where the confusion comes in because….

(a) Most people do not train, they exercise. They partake in random fitness classes, go for an occasional run and are generally non-directional about their goals. In today’s sedentary society it is by all means a good thing to be more active. The next step on though rather than to achieve a good result is to try to achieve a great result by making your training relevant to what you want to achieve.

Generally, people chase fatigue when they exercise… like being hot and sweaty and out of breath means it’s working… sometimes yes, but not all the time. Broadly speaking pick a few parameters to measure yourself. If body composition or weight is your goal then measure weight and % body fat. Power- a full body explosive movement e.g. cleans or a standing long jump. Strength- traditional moves like the squat, deadlift or pull ups, beginners may consider getting to 10 press ups or monitoring how long it takes to get to chest press 15kg in each arm. Endurance- 400m, 5km or whatever distance you are in to by whatever training modiality. Once you have a goal then you can frame your training. Is what you are doing leading you to improve…. or are you just making yourself tired?

(b) If your diet has a name it’s not working. Not because you labelled it but ultimately you will not stick to this plan. Now we have a quite a few Paleo dieters come through our doors at Results FAST, indeed a diet that emphasises quality protein and vegetables isn’t the worst thing on my list. However most people are not sticking to “the plan” when you see paleo granola as someone’s breakfast cereal it makes you wonder how middle class cavemen existed without supermarket- they would have been hunting and gathering all day to make that. Importantly if you are removing a range of foods from your diet because a book said so it doesn’t mean that all those “bad” foods are not good for you. Primarily dairy, wheat and grain are removed- in about 1/100 cases it can make sense. For most people it is totally unnecessary and you are cutting down your options to make good choices when your “ideal” is not available.

If you are on a diet or considering one- recognise this fact. In the absence of disease it’s simply a case of over supply and under activity. Some may describe this as calories in/ calories out- in most cases this is the point.

I prefer to describe it in a slightly different way…..

“What you eat will determine your body composition. How much you eat will determine your weight.”

Why do most people not hit their goals? What we find at our gym (before they train at Results FAST obviously :)) is that exercise is non directional or designed to give instant gratification e.g. fatigue and that a diet is unrelated to what someone needs.

A great example of someone who came in to see us the other day who performs a high intensity aerobic programme called “Insanity” (yes, the same one they sell on late night info-mercials) who was looking to lose weight. Nutrition wise she was on 900 calories a day- she had cut all carbs, her exercise sessions where gruelling and guess what… she lost weight for the first few weeks but she had started to plateau out. She was tired, sore, had the start of shoulder tendinitis/ simply her shoulders hurt….. but hey, she was 4 kg (8pounds) lighter after 6 weeks. So the question is what was her goal and what happened? Well she lost weight (tick) but couldn’t train because of shoulder pain (cross), couldn’t eat anything (bigger cross) and life was pretty tough as work became more demanding (low carb diets can be brutal and simply doe not suite everyone).

Let’s go back and look at her goal- lose weight. On talking to her she said “I don’t care what I weigh as long as I look good.” On talking to new clients I hear this 9 times out of 10.

So initially we are looking for a exercise/ nutrition programme that enhances her body composition by building lean muscle (resistance training being mindful of her injuries) and reducing body fat (a combination of different exercise modalities n.b. not just high intensity work).

Let’s consider the nutrition programme. Well we want to preserve lean muscle that dieting often reduces so we want to create a small calorific defect. We want to eat enough carbohydrates, proteins and fats to support the body. In this case we increase protein intake, match carbohydrates to activity and try to keep fat intake consistent. The rest is down to likes and dislikes from a food perspective.

So that is the programme set for the client, it’s a step wise process. Set some goals, set up your exercise programme, apply a nutrition programme that is relevant for your goals and the way you live your life and you should be on the way to hitting your targets.

The next part is probably the most relevant and where I will finish the article.

You could have the best programme in the world but each session you miss will take away from your overall results, every poor food choice will limit your returns. So be realistic- you may not be able to push hard all the time but consider that to get a great result a period of dedication will always be needed.

 

Things I Learnt From 2013….

Every year I tend to way in with my opinion of a few things that we either do at Results FAST, have borrowed of other people and use at Results FAST or changes in approach to the way we work as professionals at the gym. These often can be translated in to many things whether it’s fitness industry related, business issues, down to nutrition and exercise tweaks we have put in place. So here goes this years run down:

1. Attitude is everything…. This crosses over to what goals you want to achieve, what new challenges you want to take on or in some cases just holding it together to make an omelette for breakfast everyday because eating a high protein breakfast is congruent to your goals. Life is tough sometimes but that doesn’t mean you let your health and fitness slide. Do you keep on getting ill? Are you looking to improve your health because of this? Are you overweight and want to lose weight? What are you doing to improve this situation is the question you should be asking. Your attitude then will define your actions. As a conversation point I now have morning omelettes down to 3 minutes 15 seconds….. so if someone says they have no time then there is your answer…. Can you spare 3 minutes 15 seconds!

2. Top post this year was on Glute Bridging– people simply must enjoy glute bridging! Bret Contreas would be happy!

3. People still love reading about trainers– this post is over a year old but still gets plenty of hits. The content for me still stands up for what is available in the current market and for the way we train clients at Results FAST.

4. Running your own business is the most fulfilling career move you can make if you dislike your current job. The fitness industry in no way rewards mediocrity- you have to be hard working to be successful. In all of the companies I have worked for there are some good guys who are going somewhere and there are people who watch the clock and punch in and out. There are good bosses and bad bosses. There are people who want to tell you what to do and people who want to help you (it’s not the same). When you are the head honcho I found it a weirdly cathartic experience. My expectations now have become my own limits. I wasn’t living up to someone else’s ideal or business practices which I no longer believed in. When you own your own business you have to have full engagement and a “buy in” with what you are doing and where you are going. It becomes your job to engage your clients and employees in that vision. That’s when your company grows… That’s also when you create what you can call a “brand” because it is more about what you do and how you act  and do it rather than what you say and what you tell other people to do.

5.  Language is important in your interpretation of peoples goals. Understanding that what people say occasionally has a hidden meaning and their use of phrases indicates where they see themselves in the world. My wife is a counselor with a major in psychology so I have only considered this when she became fully qualified and started analyzing my psychological make up (not quite Silence of the Lambs level but close). Getting a grip on understanding that if someone defines their place in the world by describing them self in a certain way does not highlight what is reality…. but it in turn is there reality. It means that your responses should not be about just what people say but understanding the sub text of their statements. For example, if someone describes themselves as a certain type of person e.g. happy, sad etc. then they are categorizing them self. It may not be true, we see it with body dismorhphia when guys see them self as small when they are large and women see them self as fat when they are a normal size. Understanding how people display this is important, as is your ability to discuss this with your clients. When someone redefines how they see themselves in the world it can make a major difference to their confidence, attitudes towards training and health as well as their whole personality and how they deal with change (which is what all fitness coaches deal with).

6. Yoga press ups are a great teaching exercise for progression to full press ups. I didn’t have time to shoot a video so the above is from Eric Cressey. We have used a lot of yoga press ups this year for two reasons. Firstly it creates controlled upward rotation of the scapular if performed properly which is great in exercising populations who’s shoulder blades may get fixed back and down. Secondly, a press up is a big torso exercise. If performed badly you will see dropped hips and a hyper extended back. Simply the yoga press up takes the tension out of the exercise at the hips high portion meaning that the elbows can be tucked on the decent portion of the movement and better overall form can be maintained.

7. Diets are for children and people looking for a cult to follow. Grow up and start thinking about nutrition like an adult. The reason that the human race colonized the planet was not that we had to only eat carrots on a Tuesday or that caveman represented our evolutionary peak for health. It’s because as humans we can survive under a broad range of nutritional intakes. Be it Eskimo, Sioux, Mayan, Viking, Hippie, Mod, Rockers etc. they all had variable diets and guess what pretty much all survived to pass their genetic line on to today. Some were better than others at this but it really had little to do with eating in the Zone. What do you need to survive. A bit of protein, some fat and ideally to keep you moving a bit of carb. Over do it on any of these and you find bad health. Eat healthily- you don’t need to remove food groups to do this. Detoxing and juice diets are sold to you- it’s not sustainable it’s not “healthy”. Eat fruit and vegetables and some lean protein at every meal, eat healthy options of fat, avoid overly processed food types. Is it that hard? My main point is not a discussion on the best diet but dealing with people as individuals is key to them understanding what healthy is. Ditch the diet attitude and aim for long term health.

8. Use bands to get your pull up numbers up. Everyone at Results FAST has had a crack at pull ups. We have had few niggly shoulders which need to avoid them but on the whole as long as the exercise is scaled back properly to the individual then most people can attempt them. we use a lot of band supported variations. When we started putting these exercises in during a strength phase of training for a lot of our new members the one reaction  they where not reacting was sore abs- most expected sore arms and shoulders but not the ab workout of a lifetime. Pull ups still stand up for us as a defining guide to upper body strength as well as a great developer for torso strength and can be utilized for both young and old.

9. Using a prowler is an awesome way of building lower body strength in individuals without them knowing. Simply said push a heavy object along the floor is the equivalent of performing barbell overhead walking lunges with a little more stability. The prowler is a great way to get people under load while making them think they are not weight training.  It’s also weird how many people enjoy this vomit inducing torture element!

grgrowler

So there you have it a round up of some of the more technical bits around how we work at Results FAST. This is my last post of the year as we head towards Christmas so I would like to thank all the supporters and regular readers of the information that we put out and look out for some exciting news of some of our new projects in the New Year. Have a good one!

Research Review: 4 Links To Make You Strong, Get Lean and Perform Better.

L Carn it Doesn’t

Supplements claims are abundant and one that is getting a lot of press recently is L Carnitine. It is proposed that it gain help reduce body fat among other things. From a fat loss perspective this study highlights an insignificant changes in fat mass after a period of supplementation

And While We Are At It….

Coconut oil is proposed to burn more body fat. Well it doesn’t…. or at least that is what the science says. The incredibly intelligent guys at Examine.com highlight “the inclusion of coconut oil in the diet is unlikely to induce any fat loss effects of noticeable magnitude inherently but its inclusion in the diet in lieu of other dietary fatty acids can be a part of fine-tuning a diet plan.” Check their review out for more information.

Stop Quicker to Go Quicker….

This paper is relevant to anyone who plays a sprint based sports. We work with a few tennis players and rugby players and we have found that teaching someone to “stop quickly” allows them to change direction quicker. This piece of research highlights the benefits of unilateral strength on an “enforced stopping” protocol.

Put Your Hands Up… Or Not…

This paper from Mike Reinold is on pubMed as free review so check it out. It highlights the issues of managing overhead athletes and how to build rehabilitation programmes. It talks about microinstability and the issues around spending and exerting a lot of force from an overhead position. This was a great read for me as we work with tennis players and swimmers- both who spend a lot of time with their arms elevated. That said the information relates to anyone who is physically active and wants to maintain great shoulder health.

 

 

Pulp Fiction: 5 Fitness Myths Never Explained Properly

Welcome to a number of themed articles based on popular media comments and preconceptions that continually are circulated in the popular press. The fitness and nutrition industry is a wacky world where science and opinion are blurred.

5[1]

 

This means that opinion often leads fact when there is no relevant science or data. What I am going to do here is highlight where the rumor came from, how it has gained traction and then attempt to smash it with the hammer of fact.

1. Cardiovascular exercise makes you fat….

Where it came from? This myth has been proliferated in the last few years. The concept espoused by a number of American gurus is that cardiovascular exercise causes a fat storing environment. Indeed if you are not interval training you may be gaining body fat this very second. Knowing that you can wrap everything in science the idea is that cardiovascular exercise causes a catabolic, muscle wasting environment resulting in a lower amount of lean tissue meaning a lower metabolic rate and a crushed metabolism from circulating anti-muscle hormones.

The truth? Excessive activity may cause this to happen indeed holding on to lean muscle mass is a prerequisite in all our fat loss plans. However, a couple of hours a week of cardio though won’t cause your metabolism to fall of a cliff.

Does everything need to be an interval? Hell no. In fact steady state cardio can be a good recovery tool for other forms of intense training. What the above statement did is it sent out a negative message that goes against the grain of common sense. With a lot of trainers trying to stand out and be different it meant that the anti-cardio weight loss programme has prevailed even though if you look in to tapping in to different methods of burning energy the best method is always going to be a combined approach. The above approach was highlighted by comments like how many fat people do you see doing aerobics/ Zumba or how many fat joggers do you see? That does not necessarily dictate cause and effect and correlation rarely proves cause, if anything it highlight other aspects such as an individual’s approach to nutrition.

2. Weight training makes women bulky…

Where it came from? Fear, Madonna and Gwyneth Paltrow’s personal trainer Tracey Anderson and in general women’s magazines.

With the Times now leading a campaign that strong is sexy and effectively now the new lean it confuses everyone. Some women don’t particularly care about being strong, they just want to look awesome. If strong is a side product of this then great!

Enter the celebrity trainers highlighting that weight training make your legs bulky. Tracey Anderson gets published in leading news papers highlighting that if you lift anything over 3kg you will be a female hulk- the journalists who write this should be ashamed of themselves and be made to live with Gwyneth Paltrow only eating from her cookbook. A side point this is from Amazon about Gwyneth’s book…

Last spring, after a particularly grueling schedule and lapse of overindulgence, Gwyneth Paltrow was feeling fatigued and faint. A visit to her doctor revealed that she was anemic, vitamin D deficient, and that her stress levels were sky high. He prescribed an elimination diet to clear out her system and help her body heal. But this meant no coffee, no alcohol, no dairy, no eggs, no sugar, no shellfish, no deep-water fish, no wheat, no meat, no soy, nothing processed at all!

Are you kidding me- no wonder she had such a small part in Iron Man- how did she even get to lunchtime. Anyone would look skinny avoiding that much food.

The truth? Weight training will build muscle and shape. If you have a layer of fat covering it you will look bulky. This is not weight training- this is your body fat. Females are in a position that their hormonal status does not promote muscle building as much as it does in males. Therefore you will not get big and bulky. In fact a kg of muscle is considerably smaller than a kg of fat in appearance (consider a tennis ball versus a football).

3. Protein shakes build muscle…. Right?

Where it came from? Look at the front of most sports nutrition products. They usually have a man who looks like a Greek god flexing as if his life depended upon it. It says eat this, look like me. Well done… you got fooled.

The truth? Weight training builds muscle drinking a shake doesn’t. It will give you the building blocks to build muscle as you adapt to training but so do a lot of other foods. It usually depends upon the nutrient breakdown of the shake and whether it is a pure protein shake or a mass builder containing carbs and protein. The take home point is that chugging three of these a day is a great way of getting fat if you are not training. But hey at least you can fill out those tight T-shirts now.

4. Eating fat makes you fat….

Where it came from? The low fat revolution pretty much demonized fat to the level where people preferentially avoid consuming it. Indeed making fat the bad guy meant that you could remove a massive amount of calories from your diet. That’s good isn’t it? Oh and pretty much eating low fat means my cholesterol levels will drop so it’s healthy as well. Saturated fat is bad for me etc. No it isn’t.

The truth? Fat is used to make hormones, hormones tell your body what to do and when to work and when to slow down. Fat plays a role in the maintenance of a number of the body’s systems therefore cutting large amounts of fat out of your diet then can have a negative effect on your health.  It also helps absorb and store vitamins which are vital. As a side note eating any macro-nutrient excessively will cause fat gain but it depends upon your whole nutrition make up over a period of time.

5. Eating carbs makes you fat….

Where it came from? In short carbs produce insulin. Insulin causes fat storage. Therefore, carbs = fat gain. This has been popularized recently in varying diets from the Paleo diet, high fat/ low carb as well as Gary Taubes author of the Diet Delusion highlighting that carbohydrates are the root cause of fat storage.

The truth? It’s a compelling case however fat storage is not a singular event, there is an ebb and flow dictated by a number of other things including hormonal activity as well as energy demands from movement. There are a decent amount of studies on low carb diets versus lower fat diets. The issue with a lot of the studies is that protein intake is rarely matched meaning that it is hard to compare. This quote from Alan Aragon highlights a recent study…

Another recent trial compared two 1500 calorie diets, a non-ketogenic diet and a ketogenic one [Johnstone CS, et al. Ketogenic low-carbohydrate diets have no metabolic advantage over nonketogenic low-carbohydrate diets. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006 May;83(5):1055-61.]. Insulin sensitivity was equally improved between the groups. No inhibition of fat loss was seen in the non-ketogenic diet (carb based) despite the fact that it was moderate in both fat (30%) and carbs (40%). In fact, the non-keto group lost more bodyweight and bodyfat than the keto group, although neither of these effects was statistically significant. It appears that any threat of fat/carb combining slowing fat loss is imagination-based.

It appears that carbohydrate restriction can cause fat loss but eating carbs appears to help fat loss. Pretty much highlights a few misconceptions there!

In my next article i’ll answer why “I have a bad back because it is weak” and why your metabolism probably isn’t slow.