A low fat diet is the key to fat loss
Coming in at 9 calories per gram, fat was an easy target for health gurus to tell us to drop it out of our diet. However, this completely ignored the impact low fat diet can have on our body’s hormones, blood sugar levels, insulin sensitivity and cell health. Fortunately, the world of Paleo and similar trends have begun to make fat sexy again.
Fruit juices are super healthy
Many a fitness guru has spouted the benefits of ‘juicing’ (fruits, not steroids). Claiming it is an excellent way of getting in your vitamins, they couldn’t have been further from the truth. Fruit juice is extremely sugar dense and big brands even add sugar to their drinks. Not only this but all the natural fibre found in fruit has been removed, which normally contributes to slowing the digestion of these sugars. Expect a sugar crash, damage to your teeth and roaring hunger after your morning glass of orange juice. Obviously fruit plays an important part in our diets, so opt for homemade blends/smoothies that still keep in all the fibre and preferably favouring dark skinned berries – these are forgiving if you are trying to lose weight as they mainly fibre and come with heaps of antioxidants.
To lose fat you need to use light weights with high reps
The era of aerobics ingrained this mistruth in the fitness world. I can still remember seeing the fitness shows during the 90s that had a pair of 2KG dumbbells in the hands of sweaty trainees seeking to ‘sculpt and tone’ their bodies. Adaption is only brought about in the body if there is progressive acute stress, to which this style of training brings about zero stimulus. This is why a lot of trainees see no difference in their physique despite spending hours in the gym. To change your body you need to lift heavy objects. Females in particular need to abide by this rule in order to achieve a toned, sculpted body, by training in the lower rep ranges (4-8). This avoids adding volume and size to their muscles, which typically females wish to avoid.
Remember, progression is key to positive adaption – every session seek to either increase the weight or squeeze out an extra rep.
Going for long runs is the best way to lose fat
Go down to your local gym and take a look at those running on a treadmill for hours at a time versus those who do a short intense workout in the weights area. Can you tell me who has the better bodies? Long cardio does very little for fat loss, other than spiking your cortisol and adding to your little pot belly. Let me make this plain and clear, running is not the most optimal modality for fat loss. Sure, you may burn more calories in the actual training session versus weight lifting, but it is what happens in the hours following training that matters. Weight lifting causes a metabolic spike that lasts for hours, plus your body goes into overdrive to adapt to the stimulus of lifting heavy weights. This means you burn more calories in a 24 hour period from that training session versus the 5k of jogging.
If you want to incorporate running into your fat loss program, try HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) instead. Any exercise is a good thing so if you enjoy running then go for it and I actively promote that. For those of you looking to lose fat in the shortest time possible look to weight lifting, modified strongman training and HIIT.
Supplements are the be all and end all
Sometimes it is difficult to trust the advice of anyone in the health and fitness industry who has a product line to sell. They can appear very genuine and passionate about the product they are selling. This is especially true when they tell you about studies X, Y and Z that suggest their product will help you to put on 50 pounds of muscle and lose 100 pounds of fat in a week. Firstly, supplements should be the last thing you add to your training protocol. You need to get get your diet in check, then your sleep, then your other lifestyle factors, then your training and then, and only then, should you even consider supplements.
If you do decide to add in supplements then do your own research, try to ignore the marketing and gradually add them in one by one so you can see if it has any effect on you (‘Why you should only add one supplement at a time’). What works for one person might not work for you and vice versa. A lot of the time with supplements there can be a placebo effect, which if it is a positive effect, such as increase in motivation etc. then I have no problem with this. Personally, I would rather spend money that would go on supplements into better quality ingredients such as switching to grass-fed beef, organic vegetables and wild, line caught fish.
Cholesterol is the best bio-marker for health
This is laughable. A complete red-herring in the pursuit of optimal health thanks to our friends in government. Now our parents generation are so fixated on their cholesterol levels they ignore all their other biomarkers such as blood pressure, triglycerides, fasted glucose levels, heart rate variability, inflammation, stress levels… the list could go on. Never get fixated on just one aspect of your health, but ensure you are looking at the bigger picture.
Start your day with a bowl of porridge and whole grain toast
This is arguably the worst advice on this list. Granted, this is a step up from sugary cereal but if you want to really maximize the start to your day then switch to a ‘meat and fats’ breakfast. I am sure for most of you this will sound crazy, however if you try it for two weeks I guarantee you will never look back. Opting for meat and fats in the morning stabilizes blood sugar levels (preventing the dreaded crash mid morning), sets up your neurotransmitter programming for the day ahead, keeps naughty cravings at bay and keeps you feeling full for longer thanks to the protein. If you want to read more than please head over to Charles Poliquin’s website.
As a general rule, try to stick to proteins and fats in the early part of the day and switch to protein and carbohydrates in the evening. Carbohydrates have a calming effect on our nervous system and raise serotonin, which is ideal just before bed.
When I attended a seminar of Charles’ he gave a good way to test this style of breakfast and its effects on you. On a Saturday, wake up and rate how your brain function feels out of 10. Then, eat a meat and nuts breakfast. An hour later re-rate your brain score. The following day, repeat the same test, but instead try it with orange juice and carbohydrates. I’d be interested to hear in the comments the results of your test!
There really is a myriad of misinformation out there and I do get frustrated at ‘the man’ for this. I see a lot of people with good intentions working hard not achieving what they want as they follow the mainstream dogma. If you do feel stuck please get in touch with me directly and I’ll do my best to answer any questions!