The Importance of Adherence For Program Design

When it comes to creating a program for yourself, there’s one thing that is often overlooked when someone begins creating a routine. No, you shouldn’t start with exercise selection. No you shouldn’t pick how many days you’re going to train or what body parts of lifts you’re going to do on what days.

You should be thinking about adherence.

Adherence is probably overlooked because it’s so simple and you’re just itching to do the absolute most training you can do to maximize GAINZZZZ. But what happens when life gets in the way?

It’s important to design a program that is not only effective but will allow you to stick to what you actually have planned for yourself. I’ll pose some questions you can consider when developing your plan to getting jacked and tan (like that rhyming?)

Will My Program Help Me Reach My Goal?

What exactly are your trying to accomplish? Stronger, more muscle, fat loss? Knowing what you’re trying to get done will anchor you and keep you from straying off and foregoing adherence for the sake of doing things or exercises that aren’t useful to your goal. Of course, it’s fine to play around and throw a wrench in the gears every now and then to keep things fun, but it shouldn’t be common. Write down your goal, keep it in your mind, and consider it when you’re thinking of straying away.

Is What I’m Doing Practical?

A major issue that I have with a lot of online trainers or fitness personalities is that they promote what is “optimal”. Sure, it’s optimal to train every single day, but is that practical? When I say practical, I am referring to how realistic and flexible any specific component is of your training. It’s not useful to yourself if you’re only doing what’s optimal because chances are you have to sacrifice something else that’s more important for that optimal outcome (spending time with people, taking time away from school or work, etc.)

The second point about practicality is that it is not always far from optimal, and it’s likely worth doing what’s practical at the expense of a marginal improvement if that requires a major sacrifice of time elsewhere.

For example, I’m just making this up here, but suppose that research shows that eating 5 meals a day is optimal and produces the greatest improvement in hypertrophy; however, eating 4 meals a day has the second greatest result and it holds 95% of the same amount of benefit to 5 meals/day. If eating 4 meals a day fits with your schedule perfectly, but eating 5 causes you additional stress and prep time, should you suck it up and eat 5 meals? No, dammit! You’re getting most of the result anyway from something that meshes perfectly with your schedule. Maybe you do get a 5% benefit but at the cost of a lot of time elsewhere. It’s simply not worth what you give up. Consider this question when reviewing optimal vs. practical strategies.

Will I Have Fun With This Program?

One of the most important things (in my mind) is whether or not you are actually going to enjoy your training. If you wake up and absolutely hate going to the gym every day, you’re not going to stick with it or you will cut corners or simply not put in the effort needed to continue growing.

Having fun is different from easy, however. Your training should still be challenging, but in a way that keeps you coming back for more. If needed, throw in a “whatever” day where you go in and do whatever you want that’s off the program for a day. If that is going to help you stick to the rest of the training days, then that’s awesome! Find out what works for you to keep you on track.

Do I Have Enough Time For Other Things In My Life?

While I am a huge advocate of weight training and fitness in general, it should not be the only aspect of your life. In order to improve ourselves inside and outside of the gym, we must find things that light that fire inside us. It can be found in work, hobbies, music, etc. Maybe training is that for you! If that’s the case, then spend time outside of the gym learning more about training and nutrition and ways to optimize your training. If you enjoy training but it’s not that one thing that fires you up, give yourself enough time for those things that do.

This is important for adherence because if you’re giving up time for things you enjoy because you feel like you NEED to train, you won’t be able to put in your best effort in the gym. Find out for yourself what works for you and develop a plan to allow that flexibility.

Fitness should improve your life, not become your life.

Takeaways

  • Know your goal and design your training to stick to and reach it
  • Practicality will almost always be the best choice
  • Have fun with your training
  • Give yourself time for other important matters in life

In addition, here’s the YouTube video I made that goes along with this read. I will be putting out more videos breaking down the pyramid similarly to what I’m doing here on the blog because I know some people like to read whereas others like to watch!

What are some other things you think about when developing your own program or for a client? Let me know in the comments below!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Understanding The Basics of Strength & Hypertrophy Training

Before someone can design an exercise program, it’s important to understand the basic terms and jargon that come with strength and hypertrophy training. These are going to be the foundation of any regimen you conjure up, because, whether you know it or not, an effective training program will incorporate most or all of these terms and variables. That’s why it’s effective! Anyway, let’s dive in. Here’s a terms list for understanding the basics.

Strength Training: We’re getting very basic because I STILL hear people inappropriately using “strength” and “hypertrophy” in a synonymous way. Strength training is the pursuit of getting physically stronger so you can lift more weight over time. The best example is a powerlifter. They are not concerned with how much muscle they build, just how much they can lift.

Hypertrophy (Training): This is typically referred to as “building muscle”. The term ‘hypertrophy’ actually means that your muscle cells are literally growing in size. They get larger, hence, you get bigger! Simple! When people talk about making gains, this is it. An important distinction between strength and hypertrophy is that they are related, but they are linear. This means that people can be strong but relatively small in muscle size and vice versa: there can be huge bodybuilders who are not relatively strong.

Okay, now that we have the super duper basics down, let’s dive a bit deeper.

Volume: This is, in its simplest form, is a calculation. It is (weight lifted*number of sets*number of reps). Volume is incredible important. The purpose of the calculation is to measure the amount of work you’re performing. For example, if you’re squatting 200lbs for 5 reps and 3 sets, that means your volume is 3000lbs (200*5*3=3000). We’ll discuss later why these numbers are important. For now, just make sure you understand the definition.

Frequency: This is how often you train over a defined range of time (typically a week). For example, if your workout schedule has you lifting Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, that means your frequency is 3 days/week. You can also consider frequency when thinking about training certain groups of muscles or lifts. If you squat 2 times a week, your squat frequency is 2; if you train shoulders 3 times a week, your frequency is 3. You get it, it’s easy!

Intensity: This is most simply the weight of what you’re lifting (usually measured in kilograms [kg] or pounds [lbs] if you live in ‘Merica) as the percentage of your 1RM (one rep-max). If your’re lifting a weight that is close to your 1RM (which is typically 80-100%). This is going to be a heavy lift and so you can say it’s ‘high intensity’. If the weight is lower than 80%, then it’s typically considered ‘moderate’ or ‘low’ intensity.

Load: This is closely related to intensity. This is simpler and defines only the weight that you’re lifting. If the weight is of high load, it’s going to be heavy relative to what the person can lift and vice versa for low-load.

Progressive Overload: This is one of the very most fundamental concepts in exercise science. It’s very simple: if you want to improve your physique, get stronger, reach whatever fitness goal you desire, you want to do more work over time. Once again, we’ll dive into this deeper and understand further how to apply it. I simply want you to know what the concept is right now.

Absolute Strength vs. Relative Strength: These terms simple relate to how strong someone is. Absolute strength is focused on just how much you can lift without taking anything else into consideration. If you squat 500lbs, your absolute squat strength is 500lbs; however, relative strength has to do with your strength relative to your body weight. Powerlifters aim for this through a “wilks score“. In high school, there’s typically guidelines about athletes should be able to squat 2 times their body weight. This is an example of measuring relative strength.

Programming: This term means the establishment of an exercise program. If you program for an athlete or other person, you’re creating a complete exercise program for them that leads to a specific and defined goal.

Periodization: This is the component of programming that involves how the program changes and progresses over time. There are many types of periodization that we will go into in a different post. Periodization is very useful when programming because it provides a structure and plan of attack on how you’re going to reach the goals you set for yourself or someone else.

Here’s our foundation. We’ll go deeper into what these terms mean, why they’re important, and how to apply them into your own training. Think I missed something? Let me know in the comments and I’ll add it in!

 

Bro Science: 1 Science: 0.5 (The Mind Muscle Connection)

It’s been a long thought among the bodybuilding community that, in order to maximize GAINZZZZ (aka hypertrophy), you need to establish a “mind-muscle connection”. What that means is the person who is performing the exercise is actively “thinking” about contracting the muscle as opposed to simply going through the motions. Now, in 2018, there is empirical evidence to support this idea.

The concept has long been touted by bodybuilders such as Kai Greene and Arnold Schwarzenegger (pictured here) that it’s essential to eek out those small, fine details of building muscle. Interestingly, last year at the International Society of Sports Nutrition Conference that was held in Phoenix, Arizona was the first time I heard about this study. Brad Schoenfeld, the lead researcher and OG of muscle science, talked for a short time about the findings of the study; however, since research takes a long time to publish, it was only recently made publicly available. So here we are! Let’s see what the study said!

To begin, let’s talk about where this idea fits in the scope of science. The broader term for this concept of mind-muscle connection is known as “Attentional Focus”¹. This is simply what floats through people’s minds while performing a task. It’s broken down further into an External and Internal focus¹. In a hypertrophy and bodybuilding context, an internal focus is what we consider the mind-muscle connection. It’s thinking about squeezing the working muscle and contracting it as hard as you can to “maximize gainz”. An external focus, the way I see it, is more motivational/supportive in that either yourself or someone else is keeping you focused on the outcome of the exercise¹. In this study, external focus was enforced by a trainer instructing the lifter to “Get the weight up!”, so you can see that it’s more focused on finishing the lift and completing the exercise as opposed to the muscle contraction¹.

“Okay, but how did they do it?”

Great question! The researchers took 30 males who were untrained (meaning they don’t normally exercise) and put them through 3 day/week training sessions for 8 weeks straight of barbell bicep curls and leg extensions (these exercises are easy to measure and isolate the muscles being studied)¹. As mentioned earlier, both internal and external groups were given different cues by the trainers depending on which group they were in (“squeeze the muscle!”) vs. (“get the weight up you weenie!”[no participants were called weenies during this study])¹.

Biceps and quadriceps muscles were tested to by an ultrasound machine for muscle thickness (MT)¹. MT is an indicator of muscle growth.

Side note: Could you imagine only doing curls and leg extensions 3 times a week for 8 weeks straight? I personally would get so bored! Applause to these guys who did it, because that sounds boring to me.

“So they made them do this boring routine..what happened?”

What happened next may shock you! (Are you tired of those headlines like I am?)

After the trial, the participants saw some interesting results. In the biceps, the internal focus group saw greater increases in hypertrophy over the external focus group¹ via increased MT. The study also found what was called a large effect size favoring the internal group for the biceps muscles¹. A large effect size basically reinforces that the cause of the increase in hypertrophy is actually because of the internal focus rather than something else.

The quadriceps muscles observed did not differ greatly in hypertrophy between both groups¹.

“But WTF does any of this mean?”

It means that the bodybuilders were right! However, this is only one study that has tested the mind-muscle connection theory in this manner with the machines and methods that they did. Nevertheless, this is exciting to see that the concept of actively thinking about contracting and “squeezing” your muscles may have some validity to it! Next time you’re in the gym doing some curls, benching, or leg curls, stop listening to your music and have that voice in your head (I know I’m not the only one) tell you to SQUEEZE!!! Try it for yourself! You may get more gainzzz that way.

A word of warning though: from my own experiences playing with this, I have had to use a lighter weight because the concentration does make the exercise feel harder, so you may want to try with a lighter weight than you normally do.

As for why there were no differences in the groups for the quadriceps muscles, the researchers offered a potential explanation for this phenomenon: Lower-limb muscles are not used for small, meticulous, and fine movements like muscles in the upper limbs are (think careful movements with your fingers and how precise you can be with the muscles and actions of them)¹.

We don’t have that precise control over our leg muscles like we do the muscles in our upper-limbs, so it may be more difficult to actually “squeeze” the muscles harder than you already do. Not to say that it’s impossible! Another reason might be because the subjects were untrained and had not a lot of experience exercising and learning how to “squeeze” the muscles like an experienced bodybuilder may have¹. I believe we would see a different picture if bodybuilders could be tested.

Takeaways

  • The mind-muscle connection has long been a theory among bodybuilders about thinking about the muscle you’re training to make it work harder and therefore, get more gainzzz.
  • This study supports the idea for upper-limb muscles only because that was the only area where internal focus (aka mind-muscle connection) appeared to make a difference.
  • Lower-limb hypertrophy may be greater if an internal focus is taken if the subjects are trained, but this study can’t say that. More research must be conducted first.
  • Consider trying it for yourself!

As always, thanks for reading!

References

¹Differential effects of attentional focus strategies during long-term resistance training

Flexing muscle with blue background graphic Created by Dooder – Freepik.com

 

How Do We Acquire and Use Energy From Food? Part 2

Welcome back to our discussion of energy systems! I appreciate you coming back and your desire to learn! That’s the whole goal of this website: to learn ya’ somethin’! Upon reading a comment from the first post, a reader enlightened me on my neglect to go into detail about what ATP is or what is stands for. So, before I dive into the final energy system, aerobic glycolysis, I’m going to briefly talk about what ATP is! Let’s begin!

ATP Revisted

ATP stands for Adenosine TriPhosphate. This is the molecule our body synthesizes from all these different energy systems in order to make us move in all the ways that we do. Chemically, it is composed of a DNA molecule known as Adenine (in this case, adenosine), ribose, and phosphate groups.

Adenine is one of the four components that create DNA (Only four things known as nucleotides make up your entire DNA sequence! That’s amazing!). Adenine then binds (connects) to ribose, a sugar molecule. Finally, this sugar is bound to a chain of 3 molecules known as phosphate groups.

What makes ATP the OG energy molecule is those phosphate groups. These are known as “High-energy bonds” that, when broken off the ATP molecule, release A TON of energy that our muscles, cells, etc. use to do all the activities that we do.

When a phosphate group is removed from ATP, it becomes ADP (Adenosine DiPhosphate) and AMP (Adenosine MonoPhosphate) when two groups are removed. Here’s a nice visual from Khan Academy¹ to summarize what I mean by molecules, phosphate groups, etc.

Untitled design (8)

Phew. Okay. That covers ATP. Now! Onto the star of the metabolic show, aerobic glycolysis!

Aerobic Glycolysis

Why do I refer to this energy system as the star of the show? This is the system that not only provides the most energy, but it is also in use the most amount of time because typically, we aren’t jumping, sprinting, etc. We only do that for a relatively short period of time (even though it may feel like it never ends).

When we’re just walking, sitting, working, doing normal people stuff, we’re using this energy system. ADDITIONALLY, this is the primary energy system in use when we’re doing light to moderate-intensity exercise for a long period of time.

What’s the reason behind this? Well, for everyday stuff, we’re not in dire need of energy at that very moment like we may be if we’re sprinting away from a bear or angry girlfriend (which are equally dangerous).

Our bodies are built for survival. If it doesn’t need energy ASAP, it’s going to break it down slower but provide more of that energy on a per-cycle basis. What I mean by this is for each “cycle” completed of aerobic glycolysis, we get more energy molecules, meaning more energy for us! Woohoo!

After the lactic acid cycle is depleted/unable to work further, this system kicks in for the remainder of the exercise. Interestingly, long-distance runners can actually notice when their metabolism “switches” to aerobic glycolysis. It’s characterized by fatigue, tiredness, and a feeling of “hitting the wall”. They feel this way because energy isn’t being produced as quickly as we need it.

Also a fun fact, this system is aerobic which means it requires oxygen to start working. Ever notice that you start breathing more the longer you exercise?? You’re taking in that oxygen for a reason. Your body knows when it needs oxygen, and so your brain will tell you to breathe more to take in more oxygen! BOOM!

Why does it take so long to acquire this energy? Aerobic glycolysis relies on fat consumed in the diet or from body fat stores once dietary fat is consumed in order to synthesize glucose and/or ATP. I say ‘and/or’ because when we use fat as energy, it actually breaks into its two components (glycerol backbone and three fatty acid chains, refer to this article on fat for a refresher on the structure of fats).

Glycerol produces a small amount of glucose while the fatty acid chains cannot be converted into glucose; so they have their own metabolic pathway to produce ATP. Creating glucose from sources other than carbohydrate (protein, glycerol, lactate) is known as gluconeogenesis². We actually saw this during the lactic acid cycle! Lactate becomes glucose during the cycle!

Back to the question, fat, as an energy source takes a while because of those damn fatty acid chains. These chains are composed of a lot of carbon atoms that go through a lot (a lot!) of steps to become usable energy. This metabolic pathway is known as Beta-oxidation or fatty acid oxidation.

Why Does This Matter?

Well I’m not going to teach you something if it’s not important! Also, this information will be on the test next Thursday, so make sure you study it.

It’s important because if you do long-duration exercise, you will be using this energy system for most of the time. Additionally, this is the system in use most of the time throughout daily life!

Yeah. So what?

So what? SO WHAT?! This is a sign for you to see that dietary fat is not bad for you. It’s an energy source that is very important for prolonged energy production! Also, if you know that you’re going somewhere without food for a few hours, having fat in a meal prior will help you stay energized. ‘Energized’ does not equal ‘full’ though, keep that in mind. Combat stomach emptiness with fiber and protein!

But, if you need energy for a long time because you won’t get to eat, having some fat from nuts, peanut butter, oils, avocados, seeds, etc. will keep you moving forward! THAT’S why this is important, dammit.

Here is a helpful graph from Precision Nutrition³ to summarize what these last two posts were about. I encourage you to read that linked article too. It’s super informative!

As you can see, ATP stores in the muscle are used up almost instantly, followed by the ATP-PC system (Creatine Phosphate) in purple, then the lactic acid system in green after about 2 minutes. Finally, aerobic glycolysis kicks in for the remainder of the activity at the expense of exercise or activity performance aka “Hitting the wall”.

Image result for energy system use over time

Takeaways

  • ATP is the primary energy molecule made of adenosine, a sugar molecule, and phosphate groups
  • Aerobic glycolysis kicks in after the lactic acid system and continues pumping out energy for the duration of exercise or the activity being performed.
  • Dietary fat and body fat are the primary fuel sources for aerobic glycolysis (Does not mean you can sit on your ass and claim you’re burning body fat. It doesn’t work like that.
  • When used for energy, fat is broken into two components that enter two different metabolic pathways (gluconeogensis for glycerol and beta-oxidation for fatty acids)
  • If you can understand what system is used, you can better prepare meals for exercise or if you’re going to be out for the day!

Do you like posts like this where I explain nutrition science topics?? I love talking about this stuff because I feel that science needs to be communicated to the public more often and in a better way. That’s one purpose of this blog if you couldn’t tell by now! Let me know what you think in the comments! All feedback welcome! Thanks for reading!

References

¹Basic concepts in bioenergetics: phosphoryl group transfers and ATP hydrolysis

²Glucose Can Be Synthesized from Noncarbohydrate Precursors

³All About High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

How Do We Acquire and Use Energy From Food? Part 1

Ever think about how we, as the crazy people we are, get energy to do everyday stuff? Walk, run, jump, pick up kids, throw said kids because they’re annoying, even getting out of bed! Everything you do takes some bit of energy!

Where do we get that energy? Caffeine? Well, it may seem like it, but caffeine provides no ACTUAL energy. It’s just a stimulant that makes you FEEL energized. There’s a huge difference. We derive our energy from food in the form of calories from carbs, protein, and fat (and alcohol)!

But, let’s dig deeper..how exactly does your body break food down into components that it can use for energy? More importantly, why is this important? Well, if you know what and how your body fuels itself, you can provide it better fuel at better times to feel better, without stimulants!

So, what gives us the energy to live the awesome lives we live? These awesome things known as energy systems!

Energy systems are typically discussed in the context of exercise because that’s one of the few times that all the systems may be utilized during one time period. Typically, at rest, only one (aerobic glycolysis) is used; but, keep this in mind, whenever you’re doing strenuous work like moving or lifting heavy objects, the other sports-related systems may be in use.

There are a few ways our bodies use the different fuel sources. It all depends on the activity you’re doing and the amount of energy needed to perform that activity. Let’s begin by talking about what our body actually uses as energy. Hint: It’s not glucose (technically).

ATP

ATP is THE energy molecule. Whenever we’re doing literally anything, we’re using ATP. While we can acquire ATP from different forms (carbs, fat, protein, alcohol, etc.), it all funnels into ATP and some other secondary molecules. This happens because we have different systems in our bodies to break down the different macronutrients. With that in mind, let’s talk about what they are, when they’re used, and why this applies to you.

In part 1 of this series, I’ll talk about the exercise-focused energy system, Anaerobic Glycolysis; but remember, whenever you’re doing intense, strenuous work, these systems are working, so don’t skip this if you don’t exercise! Part 2 will cover the more general system known as Aerobic Glycolysis.

Anaerobic Glycolysis

To begin, we discuss Anaerobic Glycolysis. This refers to systems that generate energy WITHOUT the use of oxygen. Oxygen is the primary distinction between aerobic and anaerobic systems. Oxygen as a chemical has some interesting properties to it that allows us to create energy in different ways. The next two systems-Creatine Phosphate and Lactic Acid Cycle-do not need oxygen to create energy. Let’s begin!

Creatine Phosphate System

This is the very first system used when doing typically high-intensity exercise or activity. Anything from deadlifting 1000lbs to picking up some heavy furniture. This system is used for, as Deadpool says, MAXIMUM EFFORT. Creatine phosphate is made up of a few atoms-the things on the periodic table-to make a molecule (Chemistry 101 lesson right there, you’re welcome). This molecule, Creatine Phosphate, will donate some atoms to make ATP.

All of this occurs inside the muscle tissues, so energy is able to be generated very quickly, hence why it’s used first; but there is a very limited supply of creatine phosphate in muscles, so this system will deplete in a matter of seconds. So why does this matter? Well, if you’re an athlete, or someone who just likes to exercise (running, lifting, etc.), then this is what jumpstarts you whenever you start your exercise! If you’re going to sprint, that quick jolt of energy is this system at work. Knowing what systems are at work can allow you to better fuel up for training! Creatine is most commonly found in meats. Vegans and vegetarians may have to supplement it.

Creatine supplements work by flooding your muscles with creatine, thereby allowing this system to last longer than a few seconds and continue to produce energy quickly which can lead to better training sessions since your endurance is improved! This is some seriously cool stuff. Think about it next time you pick up something heavy, or move some furniture!

Lactic Acid Cycle

After the Creatine Phosphate system is exhausted, the body shifts over to the lactic acid cycle for up to roughly 2 minutes of continuous work (think two minute run or two minutes straight of lifting). This is typically when someone will start to “Feel The Burn”, especially in terms of weight training. The reason this occurs is because there is an accumulation of hydrogen in the muscles, which causes the muscle tissue environment to become more acidic.

What this results in is that fatigue and tiredness experienced when lifting weights. The acidic environment inhibits the working muscles from contracting and causes that burning sensation and fatigue.

So why do we use this system if it’s just going to burn us? That’s some BS.

Not quite, dear reader!

The lactic acid cycle is great in its ability to produce energy quickly and for a relatively long time. If we couldn’t produce energy this way, we’d be pooped much quicker. Here’s how it works:

The cycle is between the working muscles and your liver. The things that are cycling are glucose and lactate. Remember glucose? That’s the primary source of energy and ATP and guess what? It still is in this case! As glucose enters the muscle cell, the glucose will produce some ATP for the immediate energy demand and then be converted to lactate.

Then, this lactate will travel to the liver to be converted back into glucose. When converted back to glucose, the lactate also produces some ATP for immediate use. The lactate (now glucose) will travel back to the muscle cell to produce more ATP and continue the cycle until the hydrogen atoms inhibit further muscle contractions.

As you can probably imagine, this system pretty much produces energy on demand, meaning that there is none stored for future use. The ATP that is synthesized is immediately used.

Takeaways

Once again, this system only lasts for a few minutes, then the aerobic glycolysis systems kick in and produces a TON of energy but at a slow pace. This will be the topic for part 2 next week! Stay tuned! Check out my other articles about the sources of ATP (Protein, carbs, and fat) to learn more about the awesomeness of our body’s interaction with food! Thanks for reading!

  • The body utilizes the macronutrients through different energy systems for different demands of energy
  • Higher energy demand is derived from anaerobic glycolysis systems
  • The Creatine phosphate system is the initial system used for high-intensity work but only lasts a few seconds
  • The Lactic Acid Cycle allows us to work at high intensities for a couple of minutes until muscle contraction is no longer possible. This is accomplished by cycling glucose and lactate between the liver and muscle cells.

 

3 Types Of Misinformation + How To Protect Yourself From The BS Part 2

Welcome back! I’m glad you’re interested in checkin’ yourself before you wreck yourself! Let’s jump right into it. A lot of what I discuss here is mostly just personal experience and observations, so it may be a bit more informal than usual. LET’S DO THIS.

If you don’t have the time to read the full article, summary points are at the bottom of the page

Protecting Yourself From The Interweb Snake Oil Salesman

Too Good To Be True?

My personal favorite screening process to do when I come across something questionable is this: Ask yourself if the claim you’re seeing is too good to be true. “Lose 20 pounds in a week, eh? This seems too good to be true.” If an analysis like that goes through your head, It’s very likely that the claim/product doesn’t work and the company or person is just trying to make money to no benefit for you.

 

“All-or-nothing-ers”

Next up is the “All-or-nothing-ers”. What I mean by this is if someone tells you that a certain Thing A delivers Result B 100% of the time or that Result B ALWAYS happens, run away. Almost nothing in any field of science (nutrition and exercise included) is absolute. Even that previous statement wasn’t absolute! This means that there is always an exception to the rules in science.

For example, when someone says “All sugar is bad and sugar will make you fat rah rah rah!”. That’s a statement that falsely encompasses all foods containing sugar as “bad”, whatever that means. If someone can say that an entire nutrient is harmful, they better have some damn good evidence to support it. HINT: They won’t because they don’t know what they’re talking about.

To summarize, words like “always, never, it’s proven that.., believe, every time”. Anything that boxes your choices down to “this or that” is likely a red flag. There’s over 7 billion people on the planet, I can’t think of anything that can be narrowed down to just two options that would categorize everyone in the world properly.

The mark of a credible (and sometimes frustrating) source are key phrases like “may, could, potentially, theory, likely, etc.”. The difference here lies in the degree of certainty in each word. The only thing we can be certain of is our uncertainty! Feel free to use that quote. I said frustrating because we just want a precise answer, but credible, no BS people know that that usually isn’t the case, unfortunately.

If you are unsure of the source, claim, whatever it may be, ask the person pushing the product or idea why this thing is effective. Ask them to provide evidence in the form of peer-reviewed research, the creme-de-la creme of credibility!

Now, not all credible things or people are supported with science 100% of the time. There’s that exception again! It’s your job to make an informed decision on who and what to trust. One thing you could to is to look at past clients or users of a product/service and ask them if they liked it and found it effective. If you’re still unsure, that’s probably a sign from your intuition that it isn’t the right choice for you.

Fear not! That doesn’t mean you should stop your fitness journey! This information should arm you with knowledge to help me wage war on the internet gurus and BS people of the world. That’s what I feel like I’m here to do.

Anyway, back to the goodness.

My Way Or The Highway

This person is closely related to the “all-or-nothing-er” in that they believe the “schools” of nutrition and/or exercise they ascribe to are the only righteous way to train/eat. If you go against them, you are wrong and stupid.

If a person is very close-minded about other ideas and viewpoints, especially when presented evidence that goes against their ideas, run away from them.

Fear Mongering

This one makes me sick. This is where people prey on the lack of knowledge of someone and make them feel like they need a certain product or service in order to be healthy, lose weight, not get cancer, whatever it may be. It’s very sad because not everyone has the time to study nutrition, so it’s up to those who do to provide the correct information. Rather, these assholes exploit that lack of information for financial gain.

If someone is trying to scare you into buying/doing something, it’s likely BS and they just want money.

Cookie Cutter BS

Next on this list of BS-I apologize in advance if this web page smells whenever you open it because of all the BS-is cookie cutter programs! It’s very easy to be a fitness/nutrition coach nowadays, just look good and people will ask how you got there! Often, the person doesn’t actually know, so they just hand out programs based on “what worked for me” or they just put together some quick list of exercises or foods and want $200.

Don’t fall for the trap. If they’re an online coach and it seems like they always have spots open, that likely means that people are dropping them and/or they’re taking on WAY more people than they can adequately coach, lowering the quality of the service.

Proprietary Blends

Another red flag is what is known as a proprietary blend. Typically, you will find this term on supplement labels. A proprietary blend is a special chemical formula that a supplement company will use to create products.

The problem with these blends is that the company can put whatever quantity of ingredient they want without making it clear the amount per serving. For example, a pre-workout may contain caffeine, a common ingredient in this supplement that stimulates and increases focus in many people. If the product is a proprietary blend, they can put either 500mg or 5mg of caffeine. You’ll feel 500mg while the 5mg likely won’t affect you at all. But, they don’t have to tell you how much is contained per serving because of the “proprietary blend”.

My advice? Just don’t buy products that hide behind this label.

To summarize

  • Ask yourself if the product/claim is too good to be true. It often is
  • Proprietary blends for supplements usually mask a gimmick disguised as an exclusive formula.
  • “Always, never, it’s proven that.., believe, every time” BAD
  • “May, could, potentially, theory, likely” GOOD
  • Close-minded people don’t deserve your attention in the fitness world jut as much as they don’t in the political world.
  • Cookie cutter programs and constant open coaching spots are a big red flag for low quality

Did I miss anything? Have you come across misinformation-read:bullshit-in a different form? Share it here and help me fight the crap!

References

¹ Celiac Disease Facts and Figures-University of Chicage Medicine

 

 

3 Types Of Misinformation + How To Protect Yourself From The BS Part 1

(See meme above)

Alright. Now that you had a formal introduction, let’s get down to it.

There’s so much misinformation (formally called quackery) out on the internet, TV (*cough* Dr. Oz *cough*), you can’t escape it! However, that doesn’t mean you have to become a victim of it either. According to the American Dietetic Association, there are 3 major types of misinformation-read: bullshit-out on the interwebz and other places.

  • Food Fads
  • Health Fraud
  • Misdirected claims¹

Keep in mind, there may be only 3 overarching types, but these problems take many different forms. So today, we’re going to define these three types of misinformation-read: bullshit-and discuss some of the ways you can protect yourself from falling victim to the snake oil salesman.

Food Fad

“Food fads involve unreasonable or exaggerated beliefs that eating (or not eating) specific foods, nutrient supplements, or combinations of certain foods may cure disease, convey special health benefits, or offer quick weight loss”¹

That’s taken straight from The ADA’s position stand on misinformation-read:bullshit. Here’s my definition: “Food fads derive from a zealot who believes that their way is the only way to eat, live, etc., and you’re wrong and an idiot if you think or do differently.” You see this a lot in politics too on either side, unfortunately. Food fads are perpetuated because a group of people for whatever reason think the whole world needs to do what they do or they’re going to get cancer, toxins, whatever. You mostly see food fads in the guise of diets (keto, vegan, paleo, etc.).

Let me get one thing straight: I don’t have a problem-nor do I care how you eat-with any of these diets. As I discussed in a previous article, diets of many types have all been shown to be effective. That includes fad diets. Often, the basis of the diet isn’t bad. Take paleo for example: more whole, unprocessed foods like nuts, seeds, meats, vegetables, etc. Doesn’t that sound like what the government has been telling us for years? It’s because this diet CAN be healthy and sustainable. BUT the problem arises when a cult-like following of pompous assholes tries to push their ideals on other people (sound like politics yet?).

Bottom line: Food fads can take many forms, but the basis of each is that there is a magical food, diet, supplement, workout routine, etc. that will give you all of these health benefits that sound amazing (“melt away body fat!” comes to mind).

One note: Sometimes, people fall victim to, or create, a food fad because they truly believe it works. Maybe it did work for them! But, that’s not strong enough evidence to say everyone should do it. If this occurs, be sure to kindly help the person understand that their way isn’t the cure-all for everything and to allow people to eat/live however they want to live.

Health Fraud

Health fraud and food fads often overlap, because often, the person pushing the food fad has a financial gain to make from the person buying their supplement, meal plan, food guide, etc¹.

Here’s an example: What the Health. There are many a “credible sources” in that documentary who stand to benefit financially from more people going vegan because they sell vegan meal guides, recipe books, and other vegan-related products. Especially with that documentary, a lot of the information presented is either just straight up wrong or misleading and an example of cherry-picking information (more on that later, don’t let me forget).

The documentary frames veganism as the panacea to all ailments. But it’s not true. Vegan diets are fine if you enjoy it, but they don’t cure cancer.

Health frauds know their product-diet, supplement, what have you-either doesn’t work at all, or hasn’t been shown to work with scientific and peer-reviewed data¹; but they market it as though it does work and produces AMAZING results that normal food, your doctor, or other supplements can’t replicate. SO I HAVE TO GET IT, RIGHT??? No, silly reader, you don’t.

Misdirected Claims

These are annoying. A good example of this is slapping the “A gluten-free food” sticker on a bag of pre-cooked broccoli. WELL NO SHIT IT’S GLUTEN-FREE STUPID IT’S A VEGETABLE. Misdirected claims aim to mislead the consumer into thinking their product is healthy or produces some type of health benefit when really it’s just a cousin of health fraud¹.

Going back to my broccoli example, of course broccoli is gluten-free, however, what they don’t mention is that that broccoli was cooked with a ton of butter and salt for taste. Well now you get broccoli, which normally has a very small amount of protein and carbs, that has a bunch of fat and sodium. The “healthiness” of the broccoli has been negated by the high sodium and ton of saturated fat. FYI: Butter and salt can be a healthy component to a diet in moderation. I’m not demonizing butter. But thank God it’s gluten-free right?? Now I can enjoy my hypertensive broccoli knowing there’s no gluten in it!

To reiterate: Misdrected claims do exactly that: they direct your attention to the wrong idea or something unimportant.

“How do I know what’s BS and what’s not?”

Fear not, dear reader, all of this and more will be explained next week. I’m giving you some homework. As you scroll through your social media or webpages, try to identify misinformation-read: bullshit-in your everyday feeds. You’ll be surprised on what you find.

Next week, we’ll go over how to identify BS and stay safe from all the misinformation-read: bullshit. Thanks for reading!

References

¹”Position of the American Dietetic Association: Food and Nutrition Misinformation