The number of fitness plans, diets, workouts, fitness wearables and types of gyms and classes in the fitness industry is growing and it looks like that trend isn’t going to stop anytime soon.
So how do we make sense of all the information out there? As I write this, I am in front of the bookshelf in the gym and on it are competing nutrition books. The Hunger Fix is beside The Paleo Coach which is beside The Starch Solution which is beside Whole. All of these books are selling a different message, but are advertising the same goal: get healthy and look great.
When we walk into the nutrition section of a bookstore we see The Bread Eaters Solution next to Grain Brain. Opposing views side-by-side both claiming to get similar results, both claiming the majority of the population should follow their information and even more alarming both backed up by numerous studies. It seems now all you have to do to write a nutrition book is pick a nutrient and argue for or against and voilà! A new book to save the masses from their terrible diet.
So how do we know what advice to follow and what advice to throw away as nonsense? Every year I spend as a trainer this answer gets more and more complicated. The more studies that are published the fuzzier the picture gets. It leaves most fitness professionals giving answers like “If it works for you keep doing it!” Of course, this is useless advice as well, at the very best just common sense.
I do think as we continue to pursue the fine details of fitness, nutrition and health that we collectively will start to find some best practices, but at the moment it is rather alarming how little is understood when it comes to our health. What is the perfect diet and fitness plan for you? We just don’t know at the moment, at least not with enough certainty. What we do know is that there are some generalities that will work for all of us.
What does almost everyone agree on? (I say “almost everyone” because as I am writing this I can see the Internet commentators disagreeing with me already.) I think the four below are safe.
Exercise is great. The benefits are widespread from being able to pick up a heavy bag to improving our mood and mental health. Almost every state of disease can be improved by exercise. However, just like anything too much of a good thing is a bad thing, but as long as you are not planning any ultra marathons through the desert you should be in the clear.
Eat less processed carbohydrates. This is junk food. High sugar drinks, chips, frozen meals, Oreos, Fruit Roll-Ups, Captain Crunch and the list goes on. Most of us recognize how bad junk food is for our health, however, there are some processed carbohydrates that keep sneaking by the junk food label: bagels, muffins, maple almond cereal. Don’t be fooled by the names, check the label to see how many grams of carbohydrates are in these foods. These items might not be completely void of nutrients but they are closer to cake than carrots.
Eat more vegetables. Fibre, vitamins and phytochemicals are essentials and nothing delivers on these nutrients like vegetables. Our body runs on more than just calories. Some functions require the presence of certain nutrients and that means our health requires us to keep up with our vegetable intake. Vegetables also give us a sense of fullness while not adding a great number of calories to our daily intake.
Quantity matters. The volume of food we eat is going to affect not just our waistline, but our health as well. This is true when we are consuming even the healthiest of foods. Too much of a good thing is a bad thing.
If you are trying to lose weight get healthier or just enjoy life, finding an approach to diet and fitness is important. Health is a combination of a lot of factors and the experts disagree when it comes down to the details. The people who have success, though, are not afraid to try something new and are skeptical of any one thing being the reason for success or failure.
So as all good health professional say “If it works for you keep doing it!” 😉
Thanks for reading,