"We are born to be fit, strong, and healthy." Robb Wolf

May 14, 2011

Food Is Not Optional

I had a conversation with an athlete recently about concerns of abdominal fat and how to get rid of it. I gave my answer of:
  • you can't isolate a particular body area to remove fat from (unless you look into liposuction - NOT RECOMMENDED)
  • performing high intensity workouts along with a clean diet will allow the body to start burning fat to be used as energy
Then I was asked about running and getting rid of abdominal fat. My jaw clenched for a second:
  • running is a great exercise to keep the heart rate elevated and experience the feeling of "runners high", like you accomplished something great
  • any type of moderate intensity, long-distance running causes a hormone in the body, cortisol, to be released
    • leads to a breakdown of muscle protein (that's why distance runners are skinny and possess no muscle mass) - NOT GOOD FOR OUR INTENTIONS
  • with prolonged cortisol secretion, the adrenal glands become exhausted and weak resulting in adrenal fatigue
    • can lead to increased body fat, depression, and other symptoms
  • so, if you're going to run, do sprint intervals
Afterwards, I remembered a great post the I had read with regards to how important nutrition is whether you are exercising or not. Click here for the site or continue on for the article:


"Once again, I’m sorry if I get a little rough.  This is another subject that gives me fits.



No matter what your goals may be, nutrition will make or break you.  Period.  I could seriously stop typing now and leave you with just this, but I will explain myself.  Allow me to state my pertinent points in the following paragraph.
You cannot compensate for crap nutrition by training harder or more often.  You cannot compensate for crap nutrition by training harder or more often.  You cannot compensate for crap nutrition by training harder or more often.  You cannot compensate for crap nutrition by training harder or more often.  You cannot compensate for crap nutrition by training harder or more often.  You cannot compensate for crap nutrition by training harder or more often.  You cannot compensate for crap nutrition by training harder or more often.  You cannot compensate for crap nutrition by training harder or more often.
Are you with me so far?
In relation to most of my clients, I think of my business as a nutrition education company that also offers fitness training, although I am usually the only one who sees it that way.  My perspective is based on the fact that people who make good use of all that we teach, namely our nutrition coaching, are often those who have to set new goals because the old one was too easy.  We don’t charge extra for our nutrition coaching – it is included in our memberships – but there are always those members who think they can just work a little harder and eat like they always have.  As I type, this mentality is on display all around the western world on cardio machines where people, either naive or in denial, are working their asses off because they ate dessert last night.
Here are a few heart breaking facts for you:
- Exercise really doesn’t have much to do with fat loss.  The main contribution that exercise brings to the table is helping you to regain insulin sensitivity in the beginning, but a poor diet quickly negates this benefit.  In the minds of the public and on shows like The Biggest Loser, exercise is used to create an even larger caloric deficit when caloric intake has already been reduced to unbearable levels.  This is starvation.  The human body panics when you starve it and the result is stress, namely elevated cortisol.  You must get your head around the fact that your body wants you in homeostasis (balance) and stressors will be battled with vigor.  Want temporary weight loss with lots of stress on your body?  Caloric restriction is for you!  And it’s so much fun to watch all that weight come back, making all your misery pointless.
- While exercise does absolutely have the potential to improve your health, including your mental health, nutrition will always have the final word.  For example, exercise might help you with depression, but not if your low fat diet is the cause.  Exercise might invigorate you, but not if massive swings in your blood sugar levels are stealing your energy between meals.
- When it comes to performance, nutrition is once again the trump card played by the most dedicated athletes.  Contests between athletes who are well matched physically will be decided by nutrition.  Of course there are anecdotal exceptions, but the vast majority of elite athletes could not perform to the best of their ability without proper nutrition.
- If hypertrophy (muscle mass gain) is your goal, you won’t get far without nutrition.  To be perfectly honest, bodybuilders aren’t always using a nutrition plan that I would recommend, but their focus is not health.  (I firmly believe that a paleo version of their caloric intake and macro nutrient ratios would be more effective, while also dramatically improving the overall health of most bodybuilders.)  But my point here is that no serious hypertrophy goal will be reached without nutrition considerations and adjustments.  Eating how you always ate and lifting weights in a program designed for mass gain will only get you so far.
Please stop fooling yourself!  Nutrition is not optional for anyone with anything that remotely resembles a health/fitness/aesthetic goal.  Paleo nutrition isn’t even hard!  It beats the hell out of starvation and hours of cardio.  As Nike says, 
We Make Terrible Shoes!
 Just Do It!"
(courtesy of Primitive Stimulus)

1 comments:

hann said...

The thought of rigorous training through the use of different abdominal exercise machines may give you second thoughts about trying such a workout. If you really are eager to build your body but do not like these types of exercises, you can always go for natural bodybuilding. Natural bodybuilding workouts are comprised of resistance training and cardiovascular exercises.