It seems that the fitness industry is constantly swimming in an endless sea of scams, misinformation, and flat out BS. I learned this unfortunate truth years ago (after witnessing the dishonesty and naively falling for some of these cons). This gave me a bad taste, which led me to remove myself from the spotlight of the industry and just work in my training center with my clients (a.k.a. my guinea pigs).
The misinformation that turns me off so strongly is perpetuated by two types of people:
1) The classic snake oil salesman- These guys/gals are not even fitness experts. In fact, their only area of expertise is marketing. They will promote and sell just about anything people are willing to buy, regardless of the validity of the product, program or concept. This crowd of scam artists deceitfully endorses products like The Cookie Diet, The Pizza Diet, The Shake Weight, etc. Im not going to waste any more time on calling these guys out because they exclusively target the less educated population, and my blog readers tend not to fit that description.
2) The honest fitness expert who is just misinformed him/herself- These experts typically try to stay on the cutting edge. When they read about a new concept, they will quickly regurgitate the new information as fast as possible to everyone they can, in an attempt to beat their competitors to the punch. You see, everyone wants to be the first to bring something new and unique to the market.
Unfortunately, when this information is rushed out and printed in a magazine, book, or blog, its validity and effectiveness has usually not tested by the author. I understand what these guys are doing to a point, but is this really fair to the customers? I think not. So in an attempt to set the record straight, Im going to clear up some of the misconceptions that were well-intended, but caused a reaction in the industry due to readers trust of a particular author.
The first part of this series is going to be about fat loss nutrition.
Fat Loss Nutrition
There are a lot of concepts that could be addressed here. Addressing all of them would be impossible, so Im just going to cover the most popular new trends, as well as others that have been lingering for quite some time now. Here they are in no particular order:
1) Avoid high glycemic fruits and vegetables- Okay, I get it. Its not the best idea to walk around with elevated blood sugar levels (especially if you want to lose body fat). But do you really think that people eating beets and carrots are causing our diabetes epidemic? Or do you think that the prevalence of obesity is directly correlated with the consumption of baked sweet potatoes? Come on. If the worst thing someone did was to snack on an afternoon banana, there wouldnt even be a single diabetic outbreak in this country.
Rigidly cutting out these foods is an overreaction to some misinterpreted science. Science has proven the correlation between unregulated blood sugar and the likelihood of winning the prizes of obesity and a host of deadly diseases.
That being said, high glycemic fruits and vegetables are not the real problems here. Instead the problems are: processed foods, sugar consumption, and trans fat ingestion. The solutions are just as simple. First, cut all the sugars, processed foods and trans fats from your diet! Then be sure to reduce all carbohydrates at least three days per week. This can be best accomplished by exchanging fibrous vegetables for some of the starches in your diet and/or practicing some type of fasting on these days.
And lastly, be sure to combine a high glycemic food with other foods at the same time. In other words, eat a normal meal. For example, when you eat a high glycemic food (such as a carrot) on a salad with olive oil dressing (which is low glycemic), the foods balance each other out and the combination doesnt cause your blood sugar to spike. Because of this often-ignored yet crucial fact, it turns out that referring to a foods glycemic index to determine how dangerous it is to your body fat levels is relatively useless.
2) Stay away from whole grains! Whole grains make you fat and cause inflammation in the body- Okay, there is some truth to this. But again, the overzealous fat loss experts have caused yet another overreaction. Im going to ask you to use some common sense for a second. Do you really believe that an occasional bowl of organic steel cut oats or a side of organic brown rice is what is causing obesity and arthritic symptoms in this country? Of course not.
The problems associated with grains are directly related to the type of grain, the frequency of consumption and the amount ingested. Heres my advice to thwart off grains potential ill effects:
a) Dont eat any overly processed grains.
b) Three days per week, cut them out completely
c) Grains are one of those foods that when you do eat them, they need to be measured. I cant give you precise guidelines because the maximal amount should be based on your weight, along with many other factors.
3) Dont eat beans! They throw off the balance of bacteria in your intestinal flora, lead to candida issues and disrupt your entire digestive system- Really? I agree that the majority of Americans have serious digestive issues. But do you think that people eating an occasional bowl of homemade black bean soup caused this problem?
Traditional cultures have successfully eaten beans for thousands of years and have had less instances of documented disease than our culture does. On a personal note, I have eaten approximately four to five servings per week of some type of bean or legume for the past six years. I feel great and my blood work has never been better. In fact, my last blood test had my doctor so impressed that he asked me to write a diet for him to follow!
The bottom line is that beans provide a great source of protein and fiber. I recommend that most people eat them in moderation.
So where does the stay away from beans advice come from? There are several reasons for this misinformation:
a) When most experts attempt a switch to a vegetarian based diet, they try to maintain the same protein intake that they got from a meat based diet. Attempting to do this requires a massive amount of beans. This is a big mistake because such a large amount of beans can be difficult to digest (especially if you havent eaten them in the past).
b) You must cook beans properly to improve their digestibility. Beans contain oligosaccharides, which are difficult to break down. This is because the human body does not produce the enzyme alpha-galactosidase. This is the enzyme that breaks down oligosaccharides. To deal with this problem, you need to ingest beans that are already partially broken down. Our foremothers seemed to have figured this out and counteracted the potential digestibility issue by employing slow cooking methods. This included fermenting, soaking and sprouting. If we utilize these techniques, most of us will have no problem digesting beans at all.
c) If you dont eat beans with some regularity, add beans to your diet slowly and gradually. Adding legumes to your diet progressively will allow your body to get more efficient at digesting them. I have no proof of why this happens, but I suspect that through an adaptive mechanism, the body produces more digestive enzymes over time when this technique is employed.
4) Every meal must be built around a base of animal protein- I followed this advice for years. Chicken omelets and steak and eggs were typical breakfast choices for me. Then one day, I got sick and tired of carrying around and eating meat all day. Over the course of a year, I methodically decreased my protein intake until I was only eating .5 grams per pound of bodyweight.
I was amazed that I never lost any muscle mass or strength. Dont get me wrong, there is a minimal amount of protein that you need to maintain or build your muscle mass. But it doesnt have to be evenly distributed at each and every meal. This is a very liberating realization. Now I can have a snack consisting of a handful of nuts and a piece of fruit instead of always searching out the perfectly structured, meat-based meal every 3 hours.
Well, there you have it. I hope that this post freed you from some of the fear based advice that is floating around out there.
Stay tuned for Part 2, where will cover the BS advice about fat loss cardio being circulated around the industry.
Dedicated to your success,