When it comes to weight loss, health and fitness, there are so many conflicting theories, diets and training methods, that it would be very understandable for the average person to get totally confused and give up altogether.
A recent report claiming that a high protein diet was “as bad as smoking” is just the latest obvious example that will have some people diving into their biscuits, chocolates and sweets in an attempt to save their lives.
Unfortunately, this study along with many more before it, made it’s conclusions based on an association between a number of deaths from cancer, and protein consumption among a certain number of people. However this is not the same thing as saying that the higher intake of protein caused the deaths from cancer, because no other relevant factors were taken into account (exercise, processed food consumption, cigarette smoking, pre-existing health conditions, family medical history, etc)
Let’s see why that may not be sound scientific research: It’s been shown that murder rates in American cities like New York and Chicago tend to rise during the summer months and especially during heat waves.
The sales of ice-cream also increase during summer and heat waves. Therefore there’s an association between increased ice-cream sales and an increased number of murders. Based on the logic of our protein study, we can now safely say that eating ice-cream leads to murder!
This all reminds me of what a lecturer told me many years ago as he started his presentation: “Assume everything you hear is Bullshit!” This little gem of wisdom has stuck with me ever since, and it is something that I encourage my clients to do.
When it comes to the fitness industry, I try to avoid getting caught up in theory, dogma or blind belief and prefer to look instead at what really matters: Results.
One thing is very obvious in all areas of life and it’s certainly true for fat loss: One Size Does Not Fit All. If it did then everybody would get the exact same results from applying the methods of any given training programme or diet book. And I think it’s fair to say that it doesn’t happen quite like that.
Individuals come in all shapes and sizes with different genetic codes, personalities, lifestyles and body compositions.
While some people will thrive on a high-protein, low carb-diet, others will feel very unwell on the same food plan. Some people love endurance events, while others see best fitness results by interval training and lifting weights.
So how do you know what is going to work best for you? Well, it’s simple but it’s not easy. Try the following steps:
- Decide On a Fitness Goal. Whether it’s weight/fat loss, improved strength, or better running performance, pick a goal that can be measured.
- Keep a Diary/Log. Record what you’re doing on a daily basis. Training sessions, amounts and types of food eaten, amount of water consumed and duration and quality of sleep should all be recorded. Stress and energy levels are also good indicators of how you are functioning and are well worth recording.
- Measure Your Progress Regularly. Weekly measurements are recommended for fat loss goals. If your goal is sport or performance related, you can record increases in weight lifted, or increases in speed/distance depending on the particular target. For general health, it is also advisable to visit your GP and have regular blood pressure, cholesterol and blood glucose levels monitored.
- Adjust Programme based on RESULTS! If what you are doing is taking you closer to your goals, congratulations, keep going! If it’s not, SOMETHING needs to change.
Remember that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Even a programme that works perfectly for you now will cease to have meaningful effects after a certain amount of time.
As long as you continue to record and measure your progress – and make changes where necessary – you’ll ensure that you’re getting the most from whatever training or nutrition programme that you decide to tackle.