Every now and then we see or hear about something that just doesn’t seem to make sense, advice that just seems to “go against the grain.” In other words, ideas that are difficult to accept because they seem to represent the opposite of what we hold to be true. In the world of health, nutrition and fitness there is no shortage of these occurrences and I thought it would be fun and informative to come up with a list of 10 things that don’t immediately make sense, but, which are in fact true. In no particular order, here are the first five. Tune in next week for the rest.
1. Eat more to lose weight and get lean. One of the things that the human body is really good at is survival. During prolonged periods of scarcity or extreme exertion, it lowers the rate at which it burns calories (this is called metabolism) to simply hold on to stored energy in the form of fat. One way to effectively influence metabolism in a positive way is to take in more food and to exercise a little less to allow for better recovery and maintenance of muscle tissue. In this case, more muscle equals a faster metabolism.
2. When your joints are stiff and sore you should move them more, not less. If you have sore, achy joints the last thing that you might feel like doing is moving. In reality, moving less causes stiffness and lack of stability as the muscles surrounding joints become weaker, placing more stress on the joint itself. Additionally, aside from bringing lubricating synovial fluid into the joint space, exercise in itself has an analgesic (pain relieving) effect that lowers general and specific pain in the body.
3. If you know you will be splurging with a big celebration meal, you should eat an extra snack during the day of, to avoid overindulging later on. “Saving” calories for a feast might seem like a good idea. In reality, however, it just means that you’ll be showing up at dinner with no willpower as your hunger drives you to eat anything and everything that looks delicious. By eating during the day leading up to the event, there is a greater chance that you’ll be able to show restraint and truly enjoy only the foods that you love in reasonable portions.
4. Slow down to go faster. The health and fitness industry is notorious for “quick and easy,” “like magic” solutions to complex problems. The promise to lose weight (or build muscle) FAST with little effort can seem too good to be true and irresistible for many. The problem is that, almost without exception, gimmicky programs don’t bring about desired outcomes and when they do, the results are unsustainable for someone hoping to live a normal life. This all means that consumers end up back where they started looking for the next miracle plan, wasting time and effort. For long lasting, sustainable results, slow and steady actually ends up being the fastest way to go.
5. Eat before bed to burn fat. A study from the Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise reported that athletes who were given a serving of casein protein in the form of cottage cheese as a bedtime snack increased muscle synthesis while sleeping compared to when they were given a placebo helping them to build muscle, speed metabolism and burn fat more efficiently.
Health and fitness programming and products are part of a multi-billion dollar industry that sells stuff that sounds too good to be true, and usually is too good to be true. Reasonable, common sense advice, on the other hand, is often seen as being too boring to be marketable especially when it clashes with popular opinion. However, if you look at the fittest, strongest, healthiest and most fulfilled people, it’s a sure bet that they are following the long, slow, “boring” path that sometimes goes against the grain of what we imagine to be true. In next week’s column, I’ll feature five more items that don’t seem to make sense at first glance.