4 Fitness Trends That Need to Go
Fitness trends come and go but we can do without these.
Whenever a personal training client asks me “what do you think of……” I start to cringe. It’s not that I don’t like questions- quite the opposite actually- it’s just that I have to brace for what is about to come. It happens too often: a friend of friend has a cousin who swears by this new trend and now the client wants in.
Now, on the surface, the client may be asking about supplement X, but in reality, they’re really trying to find out:
“Will this get me maximum results in minimal effort?’
The answer, regardless of the question, is always no. Hard work is still the way to go towards results. But that doesn’t stop people from closing their eyes, crossing their fingers, and praying to the fitness gods that the latest fitness trends will do the trick. I’m here to burst that bubble.
Now, before I begin, this doesn’t mean that everything you hear is garbage. Someone pointing out to you that you shouldn’t do a back squat with a barbell on top of your head is probably on to something. What you want is to listen to the advice that acts as guidance rather than an empty promise to be a quick fix. That’s what a trend is: something everyone rants about and then it’s gone in five minutes. Here are four things you don’t need to worry about.
1. Soy is the greatest thing in the world/Eating soy will kill your testosterone
The consumption of soy is quite a polarizing topic. The issue is that soy contains these things called phytoestrogens (PE’s) and these can literally mimic estrogen in your body. The PE’s compete with your real estrogen – the one your body makes on its own- for binding sites with proteins. Should the PE’s hog all your protein carriers, your body has excess estrogen laying around.
This extra estrogen can be quite an issue to things like health, mood, and performance. You also have to worry about your testosterone levels (this applies to men and women).
The problem with this is that you’d have to eat A TON of soy for this to happen. PE’s are measured in milligrams, and you would have to consume well over 1,000 mg each day for this to happen. Furthermore, this seems to be only an issue when people a) consume way too much soy, and b) that excess comes from highly processed soy products. So think soy protein concentrate over things like miso or tempeh.
Oh, and on the other side of this debate, soy isn’t anything really special. Ingested in moderation like any other food it can help control bodyweight. Obesity and heart health is a matter of your lifestyle and doesn’t rely solely on the soybean.
2. Your metabolism is damaged
The latest trend in the nutrition world is claiming someone has a broken metabolism. This is a relief to those who struggle to lose weight as it appears to offer some explanation for stubborn weight loss. Those who claim that your metabolism is wrecked have their miracle cure with cutting edge workouts and supplementation protocols.
Spoiler alert: metabolism really isn’t damaged. Of course, those who are more active and have muscle will burn more calories. That’s just a fact of life. The law of thermodynamics is still in play here though: you need to burn more calories than you take in to lose weight. Now, research has shown that those who yo-yo diet can slow down their metabolism. And if you’ve lost a drastic amount of weight – like 70 pounds – you’ve lowered your metabolic rate. This can make creating a calorie deficit that much more difficult. But your body still works like everyone else’s.
Starving yourself isn’t a wise choice. It’s better to build good habits. This means consuming more protein, eating breakfast each morning, and weight training. Do this at the extent of trying to “diet” and you’ll notice that you won’t have to go to such extremes to lose weight. If you tend to be a tad impatient, I have bad news for you: research says it could take 6-12 months of consistency to see a change in metabolic rate.
3. You need (a lot) of probiotics
The bacteria in your gut are getting more attention, and rightfully so. Healthy gut bacteria are vital for losing weight and keeping a strong immune system. Lots of booze, inactivity, stress, and a crappy diet won’t help your tummy. But taking an assembly line of supplements isn’t the way to go either.
The problem is that we don’t know a lot about gut bacteria. We’re still learning and on top of that, your gut is a lot like your fingerprint in the sense that it’s unique to you. That means the medical community can’t come up with any standards of how many zillion (literally) strains of bacteria you should have in your stomach. Anyone telling you otherwise is just trying to get you to empty your wallet on their “therapy.”
Probiotics, and prebiotics for that matter, are a real thing. They help support good gut function. Yogurt can help, as well as getting 3 servings (each) of fruits and vegetables since prebiotics occur naturally in food. To keep a happy tummy, you just need to do 3 things:
1. Chew slow
2. Be active
3. Eat less crap
A lot of people don’t want to fess up to eating crap, but it needs be stated: the average American eats over a cup of refined grains per day. Refined carbs are the bad stuff. Being honest with yourself and cleaning up the food in your cupboards will do wonders for your gut.
4. Carbs don’t agree with me
With ketogenic diets currently riding a massive wave of popularity, I now have a large pool of clients who swear they’ll balloon up if they so much as smell a carb. Interestingly, this carb phobia comes with lethargy, a weak immune system, and poor recovery.
Let’s just be honest here: pretzels and the bread from your Jimmy Johns sandwich are not actually carbs. These are processed foods that offer little to no nutritional benefit; after all, no one’s waistline blew up from a bowl of quinoa. This falls under the “don’t eat crap food “ ideology I brought up in part three (remember all those refined carbs people are eating?)
When you eat real carbohydrates your muscles store them as glycogen. By real I’m referring to rice, oats, potatoes, and quiona, Think of this as a form of energy you have on reserve. Doing work – lifting weights, sprinting, manual labor- burns off that energy. Eating more carbs then replenishes your muscles and the cycle continues.
Side note: there’s an added benefit to making your muscles bigger- you can consume more food and have it stored in those big biceps of yours.
With that being said, I wouldn’t have sedentary office worker ingest pounds of rice. Should you choose to just say “screw it” and never your workout, the receptors in your muscles may ignore the carbs you eat. This is officially coined “insulin resistance” as your body now may be predisposed to store more of the food you eat as fat.
In the end, people can’t blame carbs for this. They do their job just fine. It’s up to your body to do the rest, assuming you take the right steps towards good health.
Information overload? Here’s a quick summary:
-Soy won’t kill you nor is it a magic food
-Just focus on good habits and your metabolism will be fine
-Move and eat less garbage and your gut will be fine
-Don’t eat bad food and then blame carbs