Although I don’t like to just “re-post” from other sites if at all possible, this one truly stood out. It’s by our friend Adam Bornstein and makes many very interesting and eye-opening points. Take a minute to look through it. You may be quite surprised at what you learn!
Posted by abornstein | December 20, 2011 – Adam Bornstein
Do you know what’s affecting your health?
It might seem like a ridiculous question. After all, you control what you eat, how much you exercise, and all the other behaviors that influence your overall health.
But if you’re like most people, your actions are oftentimes influenced by the information you receive. And a lot of that information—too much, in fact—is diluted with mistruths, inaccuracies, or in some instances, ridiculousness (yeah, it’s a word) and false promises.
How else would you describe these staggering statistics: Right now 35 percent of all adults are obese and 62 percent are overweight. And as I’ve mentioned before, the future doesn’t look so good, either. Recent estimates show that by the year, 2020 80 percent of the country will be obese.
The simple answer: Eat better and exercise more.
The real answer: Remove the misleading ideas and increase awareness about the bad habits that make it harder for you to be healthy. With that in mind, we’ve put together a guide of the worst trends of 2011. Avoiding these mistakes will give you a better chance of improving your health in 2012.
LACK OF SLEEP
When the National Sleep Foundation announced that Americans were sleeping less with each passing year—and spiking in 2011—it ignited an immediate red flag. For one, it made me focus more on my own sleep struggles. (yes, I’m guilty too) But more importantly, it highlighted a strong potential underlying cause of the obesity battle in adults. Sleep isn’t just important for creating mental clarity, reducing the risk of diabetes and heart problems, and fighting off depression. The amount of sleep you get is directly linked to the ease with which you lose weight and build muscle.
Consider the following facts:
Just three consecutive nights of bad sleep can increase insulin resistance, says researchers. Translation: you’re more likely to store fat.
People who sleep less than 6 hours per night also eat an ADDITIONAL 220 calories per day.
Sleeping less alters your hormones, forcing you to experience great and more intense feelings of hunger.
See the trend? Sleep might be the most under-rated aspect of living a healthy life. And that’s exactly why we should all make it a bigger priority in the upcoming year. No excuses.
THE “BEST” DIETS
Diets are nothing new. Every year it seems like there’s a new “fat loss” breakthrough that will help everyone finally reach their goals—and 2011 was no exception. But this past year saw a rise in diets that highlighted the most unsuspecting of suggestions. Among the specialty diets: The HCG Diet (which features human placenta), The Cookie Diet (cookies that include meat protein—yes, meat protein), The Dukan Diet (no carbs and a limit on vegetables) and the Donut Diet (scones and croissants sold separately).
All of these diets have two things in common: They claim to help you lose weight, and all of them lack any substantive research to prove that their approach is actually effective. While any super low calorie diet can lead to weight loss (regardless of what foods you eat), and there’s nothing wrong with the occasional snack or indulgence, none of these options are sustainable or a suggested way to eat. If it seems too good to be true (all snacks all the time) or too odd (no veggies) to be healthy it probably is.
PIZZA IS NOW HEALTHY
Everyone should add more vegetables to their diet. They’re healthy, keep you full, and offer micronutrients that offer endless health benefits. And while it’s rare that I’ll ever argue against eating any vegetable (I consider them free foods and eat them in large quantities), The United States Congress declared in November that frozen pizza qualifies as a vegetable. The reason had nothing to do with nutrition: It was a financial decision that related to foods in schools (and an attempt to avoid upsetting large food companies).
Nevertheless, I wanted to take this chance to clarify the subject: Pizza is not a vegetable. It tastes good, but it’s not a vegetable. Let’s move on.
FAT MAKES YOU FAT
I’ve been trying to fight this debate for the last 10 years, but the issue persists. Whether it’s the virtue of eating whole eggs (and not just the yolk) or enjoying the fat in steaks and nut butter, people still have a hard time believing that fat DOESN’T make them fat.
So I’m here to share it again: It doesn’t. In fact, fat is an essential part of your diet and a vital nutrient that helps balance your hormones in your favor. To prove the importance of fat as a weight loss agent, researchers compared a higher fat diet to one higher in carbs (the typical replacement on low-fat diets). The result: Dieters who ate more fat lost 10 pounds in 25 FEWER days than those who used a high-carb approach.
That’s not to say that you should go fat crazy. There still are some fats that are bad (mainly the evil trans-fats), and overeating is still overeating no matter what you’re consuming. But you should keep in mind that the low-fat fad that started in the 1980s was a gross misunderstanding of the foods you need in your diet.
THE ANTI-COFFEE PUSH
There were several initiatives in the early parts of 2011 to have people kick the coffee habit and replace the old cup of Jo with other energy sources. And while I don’t drink coffee (I don’t like the taste and probably don’t need the caffeine), the benefits of coffee are nothing short of amazing. Recent research has linked coffee to reducing fatigue and helping your workout, fighting diabetes, lowering cholesterol, increasing brain activity, and having more antioxidants than most fruits and vegetables. I’d say that’s reason enough to enjoy your morning…or afternoon…or evening cup of coffee, assuming you can handle the buzz. And if you can’t, most the benefits still exist for those who prefer the decaf version.
DROWNING IN CALORIES
I was shocked when I found out that the average American drinks 550 cans of soda per year. That needs to stop. Now.
THE SHAKE WEIGHT
Need I say more? I think this video says enough.
A recent analysis found that the average snack is 580 calories. While I now prefer eating 3 large meals per day, I have no problem with the grazing method and eating 4 to 6 smaller meals per day. But if you choose that option make sure your snacks are really snacks, and not just well disguised meals. If you’re trying to lose weight, the grazing method won’t work if you’re overeating. No matter how much some people might believe that eating more means constantly boosting metabolism or keeping insulin levels in check, that’s not really an accurate interpretation of how your body works. Choose the eating plan that’s right for YOU, but understand portion sizes and meal profiles (balancing protein, carbs, and fats) to make the most of your eating plan and see the results you want.
These bracelets seemed like a hoax waiting to happen. And sure enough, it was. The makers of the bracelet, which was supposed to help balance and athletic performance, admitted earlier this year that there was no scientific evidence to back their claims. Unfortunately, that didn’t stop more than 2.5 million people from buying the piece of rubber. I guess Shake Weight owners are in good company.
Yeah, I’m talking about that Situation. Apparently he has a “fitness” video. Watch at your own risk.
If I told you that simply wearing shoes would give you the body you desired, would you believe me? My guess is no. But that didn’t stop millions of people from buying several varieties of “toning” shoes. The situation became so egregious that Reebok had to pay $25 million to settle a FTC lawsuit that the marketing claims didn’t transform people’s bodies as advertised.
If you want to get back in shape (or in better shape), the same principles still apply: Exercise and eat well. There are many ways to achieve these goals, but there’s no use trying to beat the system.
The same functional training that was once popular has become the downfall of current fitness practices. That’s because what is “functional” is now more of a gimmick than a solution to make you move and feel better. Real functional training is designed to improve your movement patterns and fix weakness that are created by sedentary lifestyles and exercise programs that are short-sighted and flawed (they lack a balanced approach, which increases the likelihood of injury). That is not what is practiced in many commerical gyms. Instead it’s a mix of hybrid exercises that trick you into thinking you’re doing your body a favor.
While it might look cool, standing on balance balls for every exercise does not make your muscles work harder or improve your core strength. Just the opposite. Research in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that when you performed exercises on a stable surface you worked your core more than when on a balance board or ball. That’s because the stable surface allows you to use more weight, which forces you to engage more muscles (and stabilizers) and works you harder.
The balance craze is just one example of an industry that now focuses more on creating fun-looking exercises rather than emphasizing what’s really important: RESULTS. The hope is that through continuing education we can spread the word on what really works, and help ensure that the workouts you perform will help you look and feel good, rather than offer a few moves that do little more than provide a cool party trick.
The supplement industry brings in about $30 billion per year. I’m not in finance, but that’s a lot of supplements. I’m not saying that supplements are bad. I use them, believe in them, and for many people they can fill nutritional gaps. But, they are called supplements for a reason. Unfortunately, too many people have become over-reliant on supplements and are looking for the next magic pill or powder to answer their health needs.
Here’s what you need to know: The majority of your nutrition should come from real food. Eat more fruits and vegetables and you will be better off. For protein, whole food sources are superior to powders. Again, the problem is not using supplements, but instead developing unrealistic expectations or becoming dependent on them. (of course, unless use is specified by your doctor)
ARE WE STILL CRUNCHING?
At least three studies came out this year that showed doing crunches and situps don’t give you a flat, toned stomach and don’t burn belly fat. In one study, one group performed crunches 5 days a week while another group did nothing. At the end of the study, there was no difference in belly fat between the two groups.
The lesson: You still can’t out-exercise a bad diet, and you can’t spot reduce. So stop crunching away and focus on the bigger picture with your workouts. Do full body exercises, push yourself hard, eat better and you’ll see the type of changes that hundreds of crunches would never provide.