Popular Post Topics

Best Diet Ever   Weight loss   Diet   Exercise   Fast Food 4-1-1   Nutrition   Strength Training   Running

Monday, May 7, 2007

Fitness/Health/Nutrition Myths, Part Deux


Of the tips sent out so far, the fitness myth tip got the most positive response, so I've decided to do another one. Besides these are very easy to put together due to an enormous amount of misinformation out there in the areas of health and fitness.

Weight gain with age is inevitable

As we age, certain physiological changes do take place, but weight gain doesn't need to be one of them. Weight gain with age is common, but it's a result of a decrease in activity, not an increase in age. This decrease in activity leads to a decrease in muscle mass and a resulting decrease in metabolism. What can you do to avoid this? The best thing to do is to strength train. By doing resistance exercise, you can maintain or build muscle mass and keep your metabolism from slowly decreasing. If you do 30 minutes of cardio at least 4 days per week, you can offset the metabolic decrease by burning more "activity" calories. If exercise just isn't your bag, then to keep the scale from creeping upwards, you must eat less food. I hope you are beginning to see a pattern in each of these tips as far as what behaviors will aid you in maintaining your weight.

Eating at night will make you fat

Occasionally a "diet" will come out that touts some variation of meal timing as a main component. Not eating after some arbitrary time at night is a very popular anecdotal weight loss strategy. Pure bunk. If you consume more calories than you burn, you'll get fat...it doesn't matter when you consume those calories. I've said this a few times...but there is one exception that I haven't mentioned. Post-workout calories. Carbohydrates consumed within about 2-4 hours of performing moderate to intense repetitious exercise (i.e. cardio or very intense strength training) are more likely to be stored as glycogen in muscles and the liver, than as fat. If you are a competitive athlete at any level, you should use this "window of opportunity" to reload your glycogen stores so that you can be optimally recovered for your next workout. If you've got to be seen with the latest, greatest, coolest recovery drink, Endurox works great. If you value price over coolness, chocolate milk has been shown to have the right protein-to-carbohydrate ratio to be optimally effective and doesn't taste like crap.

No pain, no gain

Pain is never a good thing. This myth does acknowledge that improving is not easy, but pain is never a requirement of success. If you are just beginning an exercise program of any type, then discomfort is a part of the process. If you push your body a little bit beyond its current abilities, you will create small muscle tears that we perceive as soreness. The aching typically peaks 48 hours after the activity that caused the micro tears. After this time period your body begins the process of healing, but it doesn't heal back to its original state...it overcompensates by becoming stronger to better prepare in the event that you need to perform the task again. This "overcompensation" is the key to improvement. On the other hand, if you push yourself too hard you can become injured by causing acute and/or long-lasting injuries to muscles, tendons, or even bones. How do you know the difference? Most injuries cause sharp, acute pain. If the pain causes you to yelp, then you need to cut back or stop the activity until you can resume the activity with no pain, or if the injury is severe you may need to see your doctor. If you have a localized, dull, aching more than likely its delayed onset muscle soreness and a normal part of progressing.

Exercise burns lots of calories

Unfortunately, it doesn't. It is much easier to consume lots of calories than burn them. I always talk about calories this and that, but what exactly is a calorie. It is simply a unit of measurement of energy. Here are a few foods whose calorie content is restated in terms of the amount of exercise required to burn them off:

  • Subway 6" Turkey Breast Sandwich (280) calories = 2.35 miles of running
  • White Chocolate Frappuccino (610 calories) = 5.12 miles of running
  • P.F. Changs Mongolian Beef (no rice) (1180 calories) = 9.92 miles of running
  • McDonalds Big Mac Value Meal w/soft drink (1420 calories) = 11.93 miles of running
  • P.F. Changs Great Wall of Chocolate (2240 calories OH ... MY ... GOD) = 18.82 miles of running

By the way, the above calculations assume a 150 pound person. Lighter people would require more running, heavier people would require less running, but only about +/- 10%.

Bonus Factoid

OK, just a little trivia for you. Assuming that we could consume gasoline for fuel, how many miles could a 150 pound person run on a gallon of gasoline? Well, a gallon of gasoline contains about 31,000 calories of energy, approximately the same as is contained in about 8.85 pounds of fat. Someone who weighs 150 pounds requires 119 calories per mile. A 150 pound person could run 260.5 miles on a gallon of gasoline. What does that prove? Well, gasoline is an extremely cheap source of energy even at $4.00/gallon. It also demonstrates that humans are VERY efficient at storing and utilizing energy. We are engineered to aggressively store energy to survive when food sources run low, but for better or worse, in our society, the lean times never come.

Recommended Posts: