Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Rules for Fitness and Nutrition

I consider many things to be completely bogus when it comes to fitness and health.  I decided to make up a list of them. 


Here is my list of what I consider bogus, harmful and plain old silly health practices and fads: (feel free  to disagree with me…but know that I’ve done some fairly extensive research of FACTS as well as having a lot of experience regarding several of these and find no legitimate reason to believe or follow any of it. This list is by no means complete, there are lots of fitness frauds out there, these are just the most popular that I have a particular level of disdain for.)

  • Chiropractic in all its forms
  • Acupuncture (both this and Chiropractic can make you feel good for a short time, but neither will cure you of anything…unless you are looking to be rid of $$)
  • Essential Oils
  • Veganism/vegetarianism
  • Yoga (this includes elaborate stretching programs BEFORE exercise)
  • Claims of special anti-oxidants for certain, over-priced foods (hint: nearly all leafy green veggies and dark berries contain a load of anti-oxidants)
  • Paleo-diets, Atkin’s diet, XYZ diet…basically ANY diet other than one that advocates a PERMANENT change to a healthy, well-balanced way of life, for the rest of your life.
  • Any exercise that claims to target or isolate specific area of body fat…belly fat is a particular target with these
  • Any piece of odd exercise equipment sold on late night TV (Shaker Weights anyone?)
  • Diet pills
  • Exercise machines in general. (though they are useful for physical therapy and rehab…they are useless for legit exercise)
  • Magnet bracelets or any piece of jewelry that claims to improve balance or any other health aspect. 
  • Elaborate and expensive shoes (like those horrible “Strength Training Shoes” with the big disc on the front under the ball of the foot)
  • Expensive supplements.  I will confess that I use a whey protein powder in my recovery drink, but unless you are a fitness model you don’t need all that other stuff if you just eat healthy. I also take Vitamin C, Vitamin D and Calcium.

With that, I’m sure you are asking… “so what do you believe in then?” (if I haven’t offended you and you’ve stopped reading at this point)

SO here is my list of fitness and health maxims that I personally adhere too.

  1. Dieting doesn’t work.  I’m an advocate of the “USE YOUR HEAD” diet…it’s heavily based in COMMON SENSE, you just eat healthy all the time.  Any diet that advocates severely altering or restricting what you eat for a period of time isn’t going to work in the  long run because a) you do lose weight really fast but it’s mostly muscle weight and b) when you go off the ‘diet’ and back to old eating habits you will just put it back on.  There are no days off, you just eat healthy. Restricting food intake actually makes people fatter in the long run.  The more you deprive your body of food, the more it will learn to store up reserves in fat cells.  Muscle cells provide more long term energy so the body will start to consume those first and weight drops, all the while storing up more fat so in the long run people get fatter when they do a lot of dieting.
  2. The essential key to any weight loss is to consume less than what you burn but not too much. I’m a strict believer in the “Calories in vs. Calories out” model.  Losing weight is simple math.  Burn more than you consume.  It’s a tried and true, scientifically proven model backed up by the laws of physics.  There are good calories and bad calories but the OCCASIONAL consuming of some bad calories isn’t going to ruin your entire diet.
  3. Sugar is public enemy #1.  Our American diet is so crammed with sugars that it’s hard to avoid and easy eat too much.  Products can call themselves ‘Low-fat’ and still add a bunch of sugar to compensate for the taste.  Don’t worry so much about FAT content and worry more about Sugar content.
  4. Carbs are over villianized.  CARBS ARE GOOD.  We need them…just in the right ways.  You should consume 1.1 grams of carbs per pound per day. Bread is loaded with carbs, but often it’s also loaded with sugar so be careful there.  Otherwise GET YOUR CARBS from healthy sources.
  5. The more natural the food the better it is. Buying ingredients and making stuff for meals will ALWAYS be the healthiest way to eat. You eat a LOT less sugar and salt that way and the fats are the good kind.  It does cost a bit more to buy the fresh veggies and stuff, but your health will benefit in the long run.
  6. Control PORTIONS and know when you’ve had enough to eat. We overeat at nearly every meal in our culture. Even our plates are bigger now than they used to be. We don’t know when to stop.  If something tastes good we just keep eating it and eating it.  It doesn’t matter if we are full, we still eat and that is REALLY bad.  We also have a love affair with food.  We don’t “Eat to live” but we “Live to eat” and as a consequence we get fatter and fatter. I can remember when I was a kid that ‘desert’ was just a Sunday thing…today we have it with nearly every meal… I heard someone the other day say “you mean to tell me that in America you have so much food that you actually have people that get paid to tell you to eat less of it?”  That is how gluttonous we’ve become.
  7. Only exercise can change metabolism.  There are lots of claims out there that certain things we eat will alter our metabolism (Green tea comes to mind) but the reality is that food has a very small impact on metabolic rates.  Only exercise can really affect metabolism. And it has to be the right kind of exercise. You have to build lean muscle to have a real impact on metabolism. Too many guys spend way too much time doing cardio and as a consequence don’t see the results they’d like.  Cardio should not be the main part of our workouts, the majority of exercise for men should be strength training (weight lifting).  I noticed this when I tried the “Insanity” workout once.  I dropped ten pounds pretty fast, but I was also weaker.  My muscle density dropped and I could tell that even though I was skinnier, it was muscle mass I was losing not necessarily fat.  The only cardio I do is running and sprinting AFTER I lift weights. 
  8. There are two key pieces of exercise equipment every guy MUST HAVE: Free Weights (lots of heavy ones with bars) and a good pair of running shoes.  I would also include a good weight bench with a squat rack.  Avoid weight machines like the plague.  Using free weights with a few key exercises is all you’ll ever need.  For cardio, put on the running shoes and go outside and run! Especially if the weather is bad.  Go RUN! It’s the only cardio workout you’ll ever need.
  9. Guys need fat and protein. Both of these items have gotten a bad rap in our culture. Bottom line, if a guy is going to do strength training for exercise he needs both fat and protein to rebuild the muscle and get stronger.  (you should eat 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight every day, and .4 grams of fat per pound per day.)
  10. Increase your Testosterone levels I’m glad that there is a growing awareness of this hormone going on.  It has to be done naturally (In rare cases you may need a if you have a Thyroid problem) and is something that guys should really pay attention too.  It’s the chemical that makes us MEN. Be very skeptical of trying to increase T levels with medications or lotions.  If you artificially enhance your testosterone your body may stop making it on its own and that is BAD.  There are 5 important keys to maintaining T levels naturally 1) Lose weight and eat healthy (body fat kills T) 2) Rest – getting good sleep 3) Exercise – lift heavy, work hard, lose weight 4) A healthy sex life and 5) Thinking manly thoughts.  That last one seems odd, but it’s been shown that guys who foster cowardly, discouraging thoughts actually produce less T than guys who think more manly things.

There is also a lot of talk out there today about Cortisol.  This is a chemical released in our bodies when we are stressed.  It has a negative impact on testosterone and overall health.  Many people claim that excess exercise (like distance running) actually produces more cortisol and is consequently really bad for you.  This is only partially true because exercise also releases endorphins to combat stress and they can negate the effects of the cortisol.  In fact studies show that people who regularly exercise are capable of handling greater amounts of stress and they eliminate cortisol faster than people who don’t exercise as much.  This is why you feel so amazing after you run or work hard!  It’s the endorphins!  Feeling great helps in the production of Testosterone.  So don’t worry about Exercise related stress…it’s good for you.

So if you’ve stuck with me this far…I appreciate it.  I hope you found something useful in this rambling.  I want to help men be fit.  If you want to be a body builder, or a model then you are probably not reading the right blog for tips on that.  But if you want to be a healthier, more fit husband, dad and man of God then I hope these tips help you out.