I was asked a question yesterday that everyone needs to hear the answer to.
How accurate is my body fat scale?
The answer is that it is not very accurate and it is very accurate.
Here is the deal: for actually telling you how much body fat you have they are woefully inaccurate.
For telling you if you are gaining or losing body fat they are quite accurate. What does this mean for you?
First, let’s understand what these scales are and how they work. Bioelectrical impedance. The brief/simple explanation is that the device sends electricity through your body from one sensor to the other and measures how long it takes. More accurately it measures resistance to the electrical current.
From this information total body water can be estimated and when used in conjunction with your body mass an estimate of your body fat can be calculated.
Key words for you: estimates, body water, and speed.
Why is that important? Because there are so many variables that are being guessed that a truly accurate number CANNOT be gleaned from this method. The least accurate bio impedance is the two point setup.
Like that scale you stand on with a sensor under each foot. Two points. The next most accurate is the four point system, which is two sensors on your feet and one on each of your hands. There is also an eight point system, which as you can guess, is more accurate than the four point system.
Most people will purchase the scale you stand on, so it is safe to assume a two point system is the most common unit out there.
What will affect the signal? Water. How much water is in your body will determine the results. This is determined by a number of factors: how much muscle you have, how much fat you have, how hydrated you are, how long your limbs are, and a few other factors. Even how recently you ate or exercised will affect this.
That means that changes to any of these variables will affect the resulting reading.
The scales don’t know how long your legs are, so really, how can they know how to measure the resistance? And what if you store more fat in your abdomen? That won’t even really become a part of the measurement. Leg to leg.
What and when you eat, how hydrated you are, the length of your limbs, and a ton of other variables affect the reading and subsequent measurement.
So, no, the reading is NOT very accurate. They are notorious for UNDERESTIMATING your true body fat percentage.
Now, they can be useful for tracking changes in your body composition over time. If a person uses the same device (scale) regularly over a long period of time and averages the results you will have a fairly accurate guide as to changes in that individuals body composition.
We don’t use them. Or any other scale for that matter.
Take photos of yourself. If you like them –awesome! If you want to have less fat – eat well, exercise and in a month take more photos. If you like the changes you are on track! If not, tighten up the diet ad some more exercise intensity.
We will also use measurements such as hips, waist, chest, arms, and thighs. Measure them. In a month measure again. If they change, you are changing. Combine these with photos and you have the only body fat and weight tracking system you need.
Our base rule: if your clothes are fitting looser you are on the right track. If they are getting tighter you are heading in the wrong direction.
Unfortunately, the author has taken a basic scientific principle and cast it as a truth bomb over the complex physiology of how your body actually works.
While I agree with the author that there is a ton of shit information out there in the internet and fitness world that absolute shit, the article in question is actually another part of that pile.
What is the article? Entitled, The Dumbest Myth in Nutrition, is a fantastic example of someone writing who does not understand how applying one specific physics law to the human body does not work and making bold statements like this with poor understanding makes them no better than the people and myths he is attempting to create a counter argument to.
The author lambastes typical fitness headlines, such as ‘sugar is as addictive as heroin,” and, “diet soda causes weight gain,” as glaring examples of, “a world rife with nutritional myths.” Yes, those headlines are nutritional myths. As is the authors own article, which is inclusive of its own scientifically overly broad bullshit.
The author’s assumption is that the first law of thermodynamics, that energy can neither be created nor destroyed, is idyllically applicable to losing and gaining weight. Unfortunately, this is absolutely not the case.
According to those making this assertion all that matters is calories in vs. out. If you eat less than you expend you lose weight, if you eat more than you expend you gain weight. This actually is very true.
Eat less calories than you expend you will lose weight. Eat more calories than you expend and you will gain weight. I guess I should offer the author an apology. On this fact he is correct.
However, this broad and overly simplistic view is as alarming as the sensationalist tittles he is purportedly attempting to debunk.
I agree with him, any broad statement is bad. And yes, a lot of people are taking the ‘I don’t eat enough calories so I can’t lose weight’ argument fully out of context. Let’s look a few actual science bombs when it comes to calories and the human body and gaining and losing weight.
#1 – Weight vs. Fat
The entire thermodynamics argument relies on the term weight. True fitness professionals don’t give a shit about your weight. Because your weight is most often irrelevant of your health.
Your weight is the total of your fat, muscle, organs, blood, and all other tissues, in addition to the water stored in your body. We can decrease your weight by taking away any of those elements. Drain your blood, lose weight. Cut your water, lose weight. Cut off your leg, lose weight. Decrease fat, lose weight. Decrease muscle, lose weight.
See how irrelevant your weight can be?
What most people are looking for when we entertain this topic is a reduction in bodyfat. And we shouldn’t be too hard on the general public if they don’t understand the difference between weight and bodyfat.
So yes, if you take calories below your daily required calories you will lose weight. But from where? Your fat? Your muscle? Your organs? Water weight?
You see, this author makes a completely untrue scientific claim hidden down in the belly of the text. “If you are eating fewer calories than your body needs to function, your body will get its energy from another source – in the form of adipose tissue. Bye, bye love handles.”
Um, overly bold untrue scientific statement there, sir? Maybe it is adipose tissue. Maybe it is muscular tissue. Maybe it is water weight. Your statement about love handles and assertation that it will be adipose tissue puts you on the same level as those whom you so fervently are lamenting against.
Just because you eat less than you expend does not mean you will lose fat.
It means you will lose weight. But there is so much more.
#2 – Metabolic Rate
You see, your body can change and adjust your metabolic rate. I know, makes things uber challenging. You metabolism can speed up or slow down based on your hormones. And your body changes this metabolic rate over time when patterns emerge.
Your body is always looking to conserve energy. It does this by slowing the metabolism to the minimum required. It also does this when a pattern of not enough energy becomes apparent.
So if we take the base law of thermodynamics and always consume fewer calories than we expend your body will slow metabolic rate in order to function on the lesser amount of energy.
Additionally, your body will make up the net energy loss with metabolically active tissue and it will preserve its storage tissue. So yes, it will break down muscle tissue and conserve fat tissue in addition to slowing the overall caloric requirements.
Will you be losing weight? You bet!
#3 – Long term Effects
What is the long term effect of this weight loss? A slower metabolism, decreased muscle mass, and increased fat storage.
All done for you own safety. This is where the term ‘starvation mode’ comes from. While overly simplistic, it is the body’s way of protecting itself in periods of decreased access to energy, aka, food.
Chronic under eating will cause this effect. And as the metabolism slows to match the reduced caloric intake you will have to further reduce the amount you eat to keep the weight loss going. A vicious cycle that is extremely detrimental to the body. Over time it has negative impacts on not just muscle tissue, but also bones, cardiac tissue, the brain, and other organs.
So the long term effect of simply reducing calories results in a slower metabolism and a body that wants to store as much fat as possible.
#4 – How people actually act
To this now, true fitness professionals must look at the way people actually act. In most western cultures we don’t under eat all the time. We diet and then eat whatever and then diet again.
Over time this cycle confuses the fuck out of the body. So if we counsel people to simply keep eating less calories to lose weight they will be stuck in a vicious cycle of the body thinking it is starving and then getting fed. Because of the starvation style signals, when the body does get extra energy, you know, like when on vacation, or birthdays, or the weekend, it will try and store more fat to prepare for the next round of dieting (AKA applying the first law of thermodynamics to your nutrition).
This is resultant from another scientific principle that you seem to have completely overlooked and disregarded, the fact that the body operates under the principle of homeostasis.
Homeostasis means the body is always attempting to stay the same. One hormone goes up another is released to bring it back down. Too few calories coming in and the body reduces the energy needs of the body to match what is available.
Yes, there is no magic number of how many calories people need. It is medically accepted that 1200 calories is the minimum needed to sustain life of most adult humans. But other than that the base needs change.
But applying the first law of thermodynamics to human weight loss is woefully overly simplified and in our culture a poor way to approach health from a long term perspective.
The goal must be fat loss and maintenance of a healthy body fat percentage. The goal should never be weight loss or achieving specific weight goals. That is as stupid as your assertion that , ‘a minimum of 1800 calories for adequate health [parenthesis removed and is added by this author] is complete bullshit.”
So what is one to do?
What then is the best way to take care of your health and diet?
The fact is that ‘starvation mode’ does exist and dropping your calories too low for too long will make these changes to your metabolism.
The other fact is that most people using this as an excuse why they aren’t losing weight are pretty full of shit and using it as an excuse. But for anyone who struggles with fat loss who has been on and off various diets for a long time, this process may vary well be playing a role.
As a coach who has worked with thousands of clients I have seen this time and again with those trying to lose fat. They don’t eat enough too often and then splurge and binge on holidays and weekends. See above why that is bad.
You need to know YOUR base metabolic rate. This is dependent on sex, age, activity level, body composition, and other factors. Once you know that then you can figure out how many calories you need to lose fat.
And stop tracking your weight. Who gives a fuck about your weight. You need to track how much fat you are losing.
The most current literature and the most current practice from some of the top coached in both fitness and nutrition as finding a caloric deficit of around 200 to 300 calories a day is effective for losing body fat. We have found it is also important to make that deficit half from lowering calorie intake and half from increasing calorie expenditure.
So if your metabolic rates requires 1800 calories a day then we would drop your intake by around 100 calories, to 1700, and we would add 100 calories more of exercise.
This is still a simplistic view as hormones, stress, and sex also play a role, as well as the style of exercise that you undertake. But for a good general place to get you started a modest calorie decrease with a modest exercise increase is most effective for fat loss.
Additionally, we only let our clients have even this modest calorie deficit 4 to 5 days a week and we match input and output the other days of the week. This we are also finding effective at staving off the body’s homeostatic need to slow the metabolism while you are trying to lose body fat.
This is how to apply all the pertinent science to the human body and not focus in on one physics principle that is only a small sliver of how the body actually works.
Episode 22 – Fan questions, trainer selfies, SUGAR, water aerobics, calorie deficits, workout journal, sex machines
Remember – also available on Itunes – search Strength Coach Taylor!
Welcome to episode 22 of Coach Taylor Radio.
This is definitely a jam packed episode so get a couple cups of coffee, sit back and enjoy!!! I wanted to try and get to all the questions I have been asked over the last couple of weeks, which means I have a lot of really great information in here that I think will benefit everyone!
The last segment is on Sugar. I write this first, however, because I don’t want anyone to miss it. EVERYONE needs to listen to this segment (starts around the 39 minute mark). Understanding what sugar is and how it works in your body is UBER important!!!!!
Intro and Overview
A segment dedicated to giving everyone an overview and more details on everything I have been having conversations about online. If you missed anything, click the link above to my facebook page where I try to be as interactive as possible on a daily basis!!
Fan Q and A
I asked everyone on my FB page to throw questions at me – and did they ever! Took the tope ones and answered them in this segment.
Highlights include: lifting for strength vs. bulk, wrist pain during pushups and planks, how to improve flexibility, carb cycling, alternative therapies and their effectiveness, lifting gloves, lifting belts, foot position during rear elevated split squats
I believe the fitness industry needs to establish a new level of professionalism and fitness ‘professionals’ constantly posting photos of themselves, often in revealing clothing, are doing a lot of harm to those of us trying to establish a new standard.
500 Calorie a Day Deficit Myth
Put out a blog last week on this topic, here is just a little extra information and some more details.
Why I don’t like it and why you should tell your grandma to stop going!
Do you need to track the weights you lift?
Ban the SEX machines!!!!!
Listen to this. I had a hard time not laughing while recording it. Lol. Seriously. Still chuckling. You can find it at min 37:50.
Questions, comments, concerns? Send them my way – would be happy to include the information that is most pertinent to you in future episodes!
Remember to check out my facebook page (link above) if you want daily doses of Coach Taylor’s thoughts on fitness.
I truly believe that everyone should track his or her calories.
Whether you have fat loss goals or you want to improve your performance you need to know what is going in and out of your body.
Stop freaking out. I know that there is a huge movement among a lot of the fitness world against tracking calories.
It’s too hard. It’s too much work. It creates unhealthy eating patterns. It creates a fixation on weighing and measuring your food. It isn’t sustainable long term.
Most of these arguments come from fitness professionals who are already obsessed with their fitness or from people who have tried every diet under the sun and still nothing works. Other fitness pros are welcome to their opinion but I write this for the rest of the population.
Why have you tried every diet and system yet still cannot achieve the fitness you want?
Have you ever thought that maybe it is because YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT THE FUCK YOU ARE EATING?
It’s true. People do not know what they are eating. They read nutrition labels at the supermarket and feel like a health rockstar. Aside from the fact that they look cool, most people are really wasting their time.
What are you looking for on that label? Ingredients. Ok, I get that. But then you are looking at what? Calories. That is the only other thing on there. Great – you read the calories. What the fuck was the point of that?
When you go home and consume the product do you measure out your portion? Do you know how many calories you are supposed to be eating? Do you know what percentage of carbs, fat, and protein you should consume in a day?
Then what the hell is the point of reading that label? You are just one of the people that think reading the label is the healthy act unto itself. This is not the case. The purpose of the label is to give you the information you need to make informed decisions as to your health.
But if you don’t know how many calories you should be eating and from what sources you should be getting them from, there is really no point to reading the labels.
And this my friends, is why I believe that everyone should spend time counting their calories and weighing/measuring their food.
Now, before we get to the reasons WHY you need to track your calories for a while, let’s talk about one of the biggest myths in fitness: the 500 calorie a day deficit.
Eat 500 Calories a Day Less to Lose 1lbs of Fat Per Week!
This myth hails from a simple mathematical calculation. And it is fraught with more holes than the BMI chart that the medical community just won’t seem to let die.
What is the hypothesis? 1 lbs of fat on your body has 3500 kcals of energy. So 3500 calories divided by 7 days = 500 calories a day.
Take in 500 calories a day less then you put out and WHAMMO; 3500 calories a day torched from your system. Seems logical.
Here is why it doesn’t work in real life.
First, what is a calorie deficit? It means that, say your body needs 1800 calories a day to live, you know, grow new cells, breathe, feed your brain, keep your heart pumping, let you walk around, good stuff like that. This is your BMR (base metabolic rate) or the number of calories you need to live. To. Live.
Generally, anything under 1400 calories is considered a starvation diet. 1400 calories if you lay in bed and do not move and just want to live. Base requirement. Less than this and you are starving. Obviously, this base number can be more for bigger people (taller or more muscle not bigger as in fatter) but we need a good base. Even if you are not active and don’t move much you still need calories to survive. 1400. Minimum to survive.
So, add some exercise and we determine you need 1800 calories to survive. But you want to lose a pound of fat a week! Perfect. Take out 500 calories a day. 1800-500 = 1300.
Not enough calories to live. And for all of you about to write me and tell me all the stories of how you eat 800 calories a day and feel great – don’t bother unless you also provide proof of how active you are and a full medical check of your health.
So we can see the issue here. Simply taking off 500 calories might not always work.
There is also the issue of increasing energy output and decreasing calories. A lot of people add exercise and also cut their calories at the same time. Adding 300 calories a day of exercise means your base need of 1800 is now 2100. But you are only eating 1400 a day – so now with the added exercise you are in a deficit of 800 calories a day.
YOU ARE STARVING YOUR BODY. Seriously. You are in a metabolic nightmare of starvation that will signal your body to do all sorts of things you don’t want; like eat its own muscle tissue and slow your metabolism.
But you want to lose fat and be healthy. No problem at all!
How much of a deficit should you be in to lose fat?
In my experience and based on the current research a calorie deficit of between 100 and 300 calories a day is the sweet spot. This puts your body into a calorie deficit but doesn’t signal your brain that you are starving to death. So when your brain goes looking for a way to make up those couple hundred calories it can dip into your energy reserve.
Your body fat.
Aaaaannnndddddd…..all of this brings me to my real point. You have to track calories.
Here are the 4 reasons you HAVE to track your calories
You have to know what you are eating.
Could you fix your car all by yourself? (Mechanics stay out of this, you do not fit this analogy!). No. Why? You don’t know all the parts, or how the parts fit together, or what all the parts do, or how much fluid is needed, or when to change which fluid.
Your body is the same. It is actually way more complex then a car. And it has certain needs. There is an appropriate amount of energy it needs and set ways to tune it to keep it healthy. You cannot fix or take care of your body if you do not know what you are putting into it.
Are you eating 50% carbs? 20%? Do you eat enough healthy fat? Are you sure? How do you know?
The fact is you don’t. You might guess but you don’t really know. And unless you have some training how could you possibly even guess? You might think you are eating 2000 calories when you are in fact eating 1100 calories. Or the other way, you might think you are eating 1500 calories and are in fact are eating 3000 calories.
The only way to know for sure is to add it up. Make sure you have an accurate portion and then add up all the portions and get the total. *fist bump* NOW you know what you are eating.
And we are talking about the difference of a few hundred calories setting the stage for fat loss or fat gain. It is vital that you know the numbers.
You need to understand what you need
This isn’t exactly counting the calories but it is uber important. You have to know roughly how many calories a day you need. I am going to give you a general rule of thumb. General. This is not a prescription but the base nubers I use with clients.
Fat loss – 14 calories per pound of bodyweight
-between 20 and 30% carbs, 40% protein, the rest healthy fat
Maintenance – 16 – 18 calories per pound of bodyweight
-30-50% carbs, 30 percent protein, the rest healthy fat
Performance – 18-24 calories per pound of body weight
-40-65% carbs, 30% protein, the rest healthy fat
Those are the general guidelines we use. Everyone is a little different so we use a little trial and error as the weeks progress. But we have to know the facts in order to know what to change. We have to have the data.
Otherwise you are just making a huge guess and guessing doesn’t get you results.
You’re Guessing Wrong
The untrained eye is very bad at guessing food. If I put down broccoli and potatoes in front of you, could you accurately portion out a 300 calorie portion of each? I bet you could not.
Yet that is what you are doing everyday with your food.
Now, if you learned what 300 calories of broccoli and 300 calories of potatoes was then I bet you could do it just fine. But you have to learn that first. Know a great way to do that? Weigh it and measure it. Do that a couple of times and guess what? You will then be able to figure it out without measuring it.
But unless you do that you will probably guess wrong.
I see it all the time. You are on a weight loss plan and all of a sudden your portions would make a sparrow hungry. Calories plummet, you feel like a lethargic piece of shit, and 4 days later your misery orders a pizza, wings, and an ice cream cake.
You dropped your calories too low, signaled your body that it was starving and then feasted it with enough glorious calories to pack a little more fat on those love handles.
Or maybe you have been eating healthy and making smart choices but do not realize that broccoli is far less calorie dense than rice and you are way under your calorie deficit, again signaling your body that you are starving.
The fact is that you cannot guess with your health. You have to know. And to know, you have to learn. And to learn you have to count.
You Have To Learn
As I have been alluding to, you have to learn what calories are in what food and what portion will get you the number of calories that you need.
You have to measure and count your calories for a little while. It isn’t to punish you for life or make you miserable. It is so that you can learn how many calories are in what you are eating. This, and this alone, will allow you to make the right choices for your health.
Sticking your head in the sand and arguing that it is too difficult and unnecessary is fucking stupid. It is a lazy way to give yourself an excuse for the lack of your success. Don’t do this.
You don’t have to turn yourself into a human abacus and calculate your food for the rest of your life. You have to do it long enough that you can make an educated and fairly accurate summary of what you are fueling your body with.
If you don’t know how to do this you will never be successful. I truly believe this is something that should be taught in schools. It is a skill that is vital to modern culture where we have access to more food than we could ever consume.
Calculating your calories isn’t a punishment or something you have to do forever. It is an educational experience and you need to do it long enough to actually understand what you are eating.
And frankly it is super easy now with the advent of apps. There is no excuse. Online sites and apps have made calculating your calories a simple plug and play experience. Not like the three years I spent with graph paper, a food count book, and a calculator. Yeah, that’s right. 3 years I did that. And now I can look at a meal and tell you the total calories pretty accurately
Take the time to educate yourself. Not only will it help with your fat loss or athletic performance goals but it will help ensure your health for the rest of your life.
Ep 21 – News summary, professional trainers, the Paleo diet, crossfit, how much fat, pre-workout drinks, cholesterol, online coaching, kettlebells
Hello and welcome to episode 21 of Coach Taylor Radio!
Sorry for the delay – it has been a couple of hectic weeks! Business is busy, some travel, and unfortunately I had to say goodbye to my best friend, Tyson, one of my German Shepards. 🙁
But episode 21 is the best yet and not just because of the snazy awesome new music track I found!
Here is what is in episode 21:
Whats Happening in Fitness
I put out a lot of material on everything fitness over on my Facebook fanpage – this week decided to try something new and do a good overview of all the most talked about information being shared around the fitness world! So if you don’t have the time to keep on top of it all – here you go!
The fitness world is sorely lacking in professionals so I thought I would discuss this and give everyone a brief look at what tends me to land in controversy most frequently!
Cholesterol in Food
Yes – people still get uber confused about this topic. Even Dr.s and other health professionals are not current on the latest research. Here is a little sound byte to let you know what to look for concerning food, cholesterol and your health!
The Paleo Diet
Wrote a long blog on this last week but have been getting so many questions on the topic I felt adding in a segment on this podcast would be able to clear up some more of the details about the good and the bad of the Paleo Diet.
Click HERE to learn about our Paleolithic ancestors and cannibalism
A listener wrote in wondering how much fat you should include in your diet and what are the best fat sources. Here is your answer!
What are they? Do you need them? Do they work? Which are best? What you should be eating pre-workout.
All of the answers are in this podcast segment!
Yes, I love kettlebells and think they are one of the best training tools, ever. EVER. Let me tell you why….
Always controversial and Greg Glassmans recent interview on 60 minutes has brought the company into the spotlight again.
What do I think about crossfit? Here you go!
There we go – episode 21 of Coach Taylor Radio. I sincerely thank all of you who are listening! If there is any topic you would like me to discuss please contact me and I would be happy to drop some knowledge bombs for you!
I know this is going to ruffle some feathers. But before you get angry at me and tell me I am an idiot, blah, blah, blah, just sit back and listen for a minute. Try to have a bit of an open mind for just the next 5 minutes of your life.
I watched last week’s episode of Shark Tank (cool business TV show for those who don’t know) and was moderately enraged by a woman on the show who is now selling Paleo Diet Bars. She is a dental hygienist by trade and is a hobby a fitness instructor. So yes, obviously she is qualified to be creating food products to improve people’s health. Alas, that is a topic for another day and I already seem to be digressing.
Let me open by saying if you follow the ‘Paleo Diet’ and the whole ‘Paleo’ movement, you are not doing any harm.
Overall it is a good diet. I mean, it isn’t the BEST diet and it cuts out a lot of stuff you really don’t have to cut out based on some quackery false as fuck pseudoscience, but overall Mr. Cordain at least isn’t recommending anything that is dangerous. And at least he has some credentials as opposed to Quack Oz and his trusty sidekick, the Food Babe.
According to the Paleo website you should eat grass-produced meats, fish/seafood, fresh fruits and veggies, eggs, nuts and seeds, healthy oils. You SHOULD NOT eat cereal grains, legumes (including peanuts), dairy, refined sugar, potatoes, processed foods, salt, refined vegetable oils.
All in all that is some healthy food. If you follow the To Eat foods, yes, you will feel like a million bucks and probably change your health for the better. Not to mention you will be eating better than 90% of those around you!
But really, no cereal grains at all? No legumes? No dairy? No potatoes? (FYI – potatoes are a fucking vegetable. They won’t kill you,in fact they can have a great place in your diet!). When you dig into the actual archaeological data, humans have been consuming cereal grains and dairy for 10,000 years-ish. Without the domestication of animals and the advent of farming and agriculture we wouldn’t all be here today living in urban centres and reading shit on the internet.
This is where I have issues with the ‘Paleo” diet.
Here are some honest truths for you:
-No one knows what the ‘paleo’ diet was. We have some good ideas and some great guess and detective work but it is still open to interpretation.
-The paleolithic era stretched from around 2.2 million years ago until around 10,000 years ago. That means it is an era 2.1 MILLION years long, from which we have found a few fossils. It is not much of a stretch to think that just MAYBE the diet of humanities ancestors changed a few times throughout this period. 2.1 million years. Rome was at the height of its power 2100 years ago. Think how much we have changed in the last 2100 years – and that’s only 0.1% of the total time of the Palaeolithic era. If we have changed this much since the time of the Roman Empire, think how much things changed during the other 2.1 MILLION years.
-The food eaten by Paleo Diet advocates is NOT what humans ate tens of thousands of years ago (more on that later).
-Without refrigeration or food preservations techniques, such as salting, you ate what was available when it was available. Banana’s and berries in Europe in February? Where the fuck do you think those came from?
-Different parts of the world: different diets. Yeah, that’s right. There wasn’t a Whole Foods 20,000 years ago with a selection of food from anywhere in the world that you could pick and choose from at any time of year. You ate what you were close to. Live in Northern Europe? You ate animal fat and root veggies. Live in South America? Plants and fruits. Asia? Fish and plants. The point? There is NO ONE diet.
Those are a few hard truths that people need to understand. The people walking around preaching this asinine ‘I am paleo, I only eat like a caveman’ bullshit are misinformed assholes. Sorry, sometimes the truth hurts.
I mean, even the fact that people say, ‘eat like a caveman,’ shows their complete lack of knowledge and ignorance of actual facts. Cavemen? Do you even know when people lived in caves? Which people did? Did you know a lot of people over the last 2 million years DIDN’T live in caves? They lived in all sorts of different environments and structures. If anyone uses the term ‘caveman’ you can instantly disregard the rest of what they are saying because it is just shit they are reciting from other misinformed people.
If our Palaeolithic ancestors followed todays ‘paleo’ diet that is making the rounds today – they would all die. They wouldn’t have access to most of the food most of the time, as what they have access to, of course depends on where in the world they lived. And the foods in the ‘paleo’ diet are not the most calorie and nutrient dense. 10,000 years ago you needed all the nutrients you could get.
Let’s look at what someone in this Palaeolithic era MIGHT have eaten based on surveys and studies by actual anthropologists. For the sake of this article we are going to assume a European ancestry. African or Asian ancestry will be different than this. Why? Because they didn’t have shipping and trucking to get food moved around the world to share with each other.
So you are living in Europe 20,000 years ago. You are hungry. WTF do you do?
Well, you could kill some large animal to get at the delicious juicy lean meats. But that is a shit-ton of work – days in fact. And you can get really hurt as well, so there is a big risk. Plus the energy to actually find and kill it is an enormous expense and lack of a kill could leave you in a pretty energy depleted state.
Most likely you will turn to a way better and easier to get at protein source: bugs and insects. Uh-huh. True story.
Add in some delicious roots and plants for fiber and carbs. Say it’s late summer so maybe you can scrounge up some berries. Enjoy them though because you will only have access to berries about, oh, 1 month out of the year.
That is a more typical diet. For shits and giggles, though, let’s say you do get a big elk or some other larger mammal killed. Awesome! Look at all the wicked nutrition. Here is what would actually happen:
-The LAST thing you would ever eat is the LEAN meat. What a waste of your time. You need calories, nutrition, vitamins and minerals. You only get big game every once in a while, so don’t waste it!
-First you drink the blood. Seriously. Minerals, vitamins, calories, everything about it is great for you!
-Next you need to eat the organs because that is where the most nutrition is after the blood. And while sharing liver with your grandpa as a kid seemed gross but you think you could handle it, that isn’t what we are talking about. You need to get at the brain, eyes, tongue, liver, heart, and other fatty organs. Maximize that nutrition!
-After that: the fat. Highest calorie counts in there and 20,000 years ago you needed the most calories possible all the time.
-Now once that is all done you can get to the fatty meat cuts and then onto the lean meat cuts. It is all about energy maximization.
And THAT my friends, is how most Palaeolithic people in Europe would eat.
Berries and fruit in February? Lean meat when the higher calorie nutrient dense organs are right there? I think not.
What about dairy? Well, pigs, cows, and goats have been domesticated since around 8,000 BCE – so that is for the last 10,000 years and there is strong evidence that humans have made use of the AMAZING and easy to get at energy from their milk since that time. We have been adapted to drinking milk from other animals for 10,000 years.
Now, what is the point of all of this?
I HATE self-righteous people who have read a book or a website and then feel like they know what the fuck they are talking about. Even worse, they start teaching this misinformed rhetoric to other people. Learn your facts before becoming an advocate. And especially before you go espousing the virtues of this diet to other people.
The ‘paleo’ diet in its current form is a mass marketing machine that is designed to sell products. For something that is supposed to be all natural and ‘just like our ancestors’ there sure seems to be a lot of packaged products you can purchase to help fit into your diet.
LMAO. Because Paleolithic people had some wicked protein powders and packaged bars.
No, it is a marketing machine. Designed to make money. Period.
If you follow the guidelines, for sure it can be a really healthy diet. Much better than what the majority of people are eating now. So go forth and ‘eat paleo.’
But don’t for a second believe that you are eating in a more natural way that your body is designed for based on ancient genetics. That is simply a bunch of bullshit.
Often something takes me over a tipping point and years of pent up frustration spill out. The fitness industry in general often has this effect on me!
I was recently was sent a photo by a friend off another fitness facebook page in my town. The photo depicted a person doing bicep curls, standing on a BOSU ball, while wearing ankle weights.
Yes, apparently you can still buy ankle weights. Who knew?
This post apparently caused quite the moral outcry. How could I belittle this trainer? Why was I bullying the trainer? How arrogant of me to say what another fitness trainer was doing was poor training!
Seriously? Shut the fuck up.
Here is an overview of the truth. If you are going to call yourself a professional and step into the public eye as an authority then you better have your big person pants on and be ready for critique. Because that is what the professional world is like and more importantly that is what the professional world SHOULD be like.
Every blog I write, video I post, and social media comment I publish is open for scrutiny. It should be. I am a professional. Like any researcher, doctor, lawyer, nurse, physiotherapist, or banker I must be held accountable and held to a high standard. I have to backup what I preach with physiology, biomechanics, and other pertinent science. Period.
If I can’t support it then I deserve to be ripped apart on it. Period.
The fitness world truthfully, is a disaster. It is an unregulated industry predominantly populated with people who do not have a level of understanding of scientific principles requisite to be allowed to take charge of other human’s HEALTH and LIFE.
That is what it really needs to come down to. Fitness trainers, coaches, and instructors are the front line in the health industry. There is more ability in the health industry to change the population for the better than in any other aspect of health care. Yet it is the wild west of the health care world.
Anyone can call themselves a trainer and start charging people. They then give out workout advice, attempt to heal client’s injuries, and provide nutrition programs. It’s a fucking joke.
It’s a disgrace. It is one of the reasons I have such a hard time building a professional network. How is a doctor or physiotherapist supposed to refer out to a fitness trainer and know that they are releasing their client to someone who is going to be able to help? Or at the very least not do harm?
Because the truth is that the human body is intricately complex. It has been studied for centuries in microscopic detail and we still learn new things everyday! And we still don’t understand everything about how the body works and functions!
Fitness is NOT as simple as doing some exercises and going paleo. IT IS NOT. If you are going to be a fitness professional you must be held to a higher standard of accountability. You must be constantly learning and researching. You must be attending professional conferences and clinics. You must be learning from mentors. You must understand the underlying physiology of EVERYTHING you do and everything you prescribe.
And on that note I will get on the 6 things I think need to change in the fitness industry.
The 6 Biggest Problems in the Fitness Industry
#1 – Just Because You Got Fit and Workout You Can Be A Coach
I see this, ALL. THE. TIME.
Person gets interested in fitness. Joins a gym or a fitness program. Loss weight or maybe competes in a fitness event such as a marathon, triathlon, or physique show. Person then believes they can train other people to do the same thing.
No. No you can’t. Just because you train does NOT mean you are now able to train others.
Have you ever been sick and gone to the doctor? Did they give you advice, maybe a prescription, and help heal what was ailing you? That is really great and I am glad that you are now happy and healthy. Does this also mean that YOU can now heal other people with the same ailment?
Surviving cancer doesn’t qualify you to treat someone else’s cancer.
No, that analogy isn’t too far fetched. We are talking about your health. Being fit will LITERALLY save your life.
If you want to be a fitness professional you have to go to the next step. Getting in shape or training is a great starting point. But then you have to start and continue to educate and train yourself.
Certifications, mentors, books, conferences, clinics, and research are
all imperative to becoming a fitness professional. If you are not doing these things on a regular basis (should be monthly at the least) then you ARE NOT a fitness professional. You are a hobbyist and you have no right or authority to be taking other people’s health into your hands.
So to all the fitness ‘pros’ out there who put a squat rack in your garage and charge people to train with you on the weekends because you really love it – stop it. You are either in or you are out. You are either a professional or you are a hobbyist.
#2 – You Have to Have a 6 Pack To Be a Fitness Coach
Seriously. This is the most ludacris argument in the fitness industry today.
Your outward appearance is not indicative of your health or your ability to coach others. We are talking about coaching and teaching not about a person’s ability to create a chiseled set of abs on themselves.
I have never had a six-pack. I never will. I do not have the dedication to my diet or enough of a desire to have a six-pack to do what it takes to be that lean. Does this have anything to do with my ability to coach fitness?
Is an oncologist who smokes less capable of treating your cancer?
No. They know better and are making a poor choice but they are not inept.
I don’t have a 6 pack. I can deadlift 400lbs, my blood pressure and cholesterol are awesome, I can pack my camera gear anywhere in the world with ease, and I am injury free. Guess what? I am healthy.
Having a hot body does not a fitness professional make.
Should someone be morbidly obese and eat fast food every night? No, that is something different. But there is a range of healthy and more health markers to monitor your health than what your stomach looks like.
If you are choosing your fitness professional simply by their physical appearance I can promise you that you are NOT guaranteed to get a quality provider.
#3 – You Want to Be a Fitness Expert, But You Don’t Actually Coach
You have to be working in the industry you purport to be an expert in.
The Internet is rife with ‘fitness coaches’ and ‘business coaches’ who don’t actually train anyone or run a business.
Be very leery of this. If you are going to hire a fitness coach you need to make sure they actually coach people. Regularly. Not 5 years ago they used to train people and now just read about it. Do not take advice from anyone who doesn’t actually do it for a living.
The same goes for all those supposed coaches out there who want to help you grow your personal training business who doesn’t actually run a personal training business. You would think that is logical. You wouldn’t believe how many people seem to ignore this simple fact.
The fitness world is constantly evolving and if you are not working in it on a regular basis then you have no business teaching others how to be operating.
#4 – The Lack of Regulation Scares the Shit Out of Me
The fitness industry is totally unregulated. Doctors, lawyers, physiotherapists, massage therapists, mechanics, nurses, and even financial planners all have colleges, associations, and regulatory bodies that they must belong to and that set standards of education and updated skills.
The fitness industry has nothing.
Anyone can train people. Teach fitness classes. Give out nutrition advice. There is absolutely no protection whatsoever for consumers and the general public to ensure that the person they are hiring and investing their health, their LIVES, in is in anyway competent to be their coach.
People get fit and then put a squat rack in their basement and start training others. No certs. No mentors. No updated education. They just put them through all the workouts they were put through, because hey, if it worked for them it will work for everyone else.
Other people have amazing inspirational stories about how fitness changed their lives and in some cases saved their lives. I think that is fantastic! Awesome! Change the world, help and motivate others, share your experience.
But that does not qualify you to be a fitness professional. Can you be a fitness professional? Absolutely. But you have to continue to hone and further your skills. As I have already stated – education, certification, clinics, courses, conferences. You have to keep learning and make yourself a professional. An inspirational story is just the beginning of that process.
It is scary. No regulation. No regulatory body. There really needs to be one. Unfortunately, the industry itself fights against regulation. I believe it is because more than half the ‘professionals’ in the industry wouldn’t have a hope of passing evidence based regulation.
But until it happens we can never be taken as serious professionals. And those of us who are truly dedicated to advancing the industry with evidence-based practice have an uphill battle proving ourselves.
#5 – Critiquing is Not Bullying
Critiquing is not bullying.
There is a serious issue with online bullying and people using the anonymity of the internet to belittle and rip apart others. I am a strong advocate for creating ways to prevent this.
But sometimes it goes too far. Too far.
Professional critique is not bullying. It is professional critique. And if you want to be a professional you must be held accountable to critique from other professionals. THAT is how we maintain a professional standard.
Bullying is the use of force, threat, or coercion to abuse, intimidate, or aggressively dominate others. The behavior is often repeated and habitual. One essential prerequisite is the perception, by the bully or by others, of an imbalance of social or physical power.
Bullying may be defined as the activity of repeated, aggressive behavior intended to hurt another individual, physically, mentally or emotionally. Bullying is characterized by an individual behaving in a certain way to gain power over another person. (Source: Wikipedia)
So often in the fitness world true critique is labeled as bullying. There is a strong difference. Personal attacks and slugging insults is inappropriate and uncalled for. However, critiquing exercises, blogs, videos, pictures, or other publically posted links is a necessary part of a profession.
We have to change a lot of what happens in the realm of fitness. We NEED to crituqe each other and make everyone accountable. And this critique needs to be limited to fitness and must not be personal or attacking a persons character.
#6 – Fitness Needs to Become Professional
The industry needs to change. We need to become a regulated profession.
There has to be a set of standards created. There has to be a regulatory body that oversees the entire industry. There has to be a certification process that has a clear path for people to follow in order to obtain the certification. There has to be an education credential that ensures a high standard for fitness professionals.
I preach this because I care. I care so much I have dedicated my life to setting a high standard of what a fitness professional should be. Not because I am a narcissistic asshole but because I hold myself to the same standard that I hold others to.
That is what a professional does. Maintain a high standard and make sure everyone else in their industry also meets the same standard.
All about cardio, No more squats, Stable surfaces, 1200 calorie diet, barefoot is best, the Food Babe
Welcome to episode 20 of Coach Taylor Radio. 40 glorious minutes of fitness and health information coming your way!
This week is a bit longer, why? Well because people keep asking me to put more info into the podcasts. Lol – yes – I get lots of requests for more info. So here you go – more info!
There will be links posted in this blog to anything I mentioned on the podcast!!!!
This topic has been coming up a lot recently. It isn’t weird for this time of year as most people have come to the sudden realization that they will be wearing a bathing suit in public in the next few months.
Cardio is hugely misunderstood – here is what I talk about this episode:
what is cardio
cardio isn’t the best way to lose fat
cardio does more harm than good
cardio isn’t that great for you cardio
Listen in to find out more!
Back Squats and Bench Press
This is always a hot topic. On the facebook page there has been a good discussion on these exercises and in the podcast I talk about why I don’t do them.
I believe that both of these exercises are sacred cows of the fitness industry and it is time to re-examine how useful they are for most people!
Stable vs. Unstable Surfaces
BOSU balls and all manner of other equipment took off in popularity over the last 15 years. But are they really worth it? Should you be training on an unstable surface?
I don’t believe you should and I chat about why!
1200 Calorie a Day Diet
Here you go! The secret to fat loss! I discuss the 1200 calorie a day diet!
I am a staunch advocate for training barefoot. I truly believe that almost everyone should be barefoot as often as possible! This section I discuss why you should be training barefoot as well as the best way to transition to barefoot training!
Here are links to the news article and the video that I mention in the podcast:
A great way to start strengthening those important foot muscles! Video from my physiotherapist!
The Food Babe
I had never heard of this Food babe person until a recent rebuttal from another blogger calling herself Science Babe went viral.
Let me tell you – the Food Babe is a shining example of the dangers of celebrity taking over from science. This person SHOULD NOT be allowed to dispense advise.
But hey, she is on Dr. Oz so she must be a reputable authority, right?
Here is a link to the Science Babe takedown of Food Babe – Click Here
And there we have it! Episode 20 of Coach Taylor Radio!
As always, I sincerely hope that the topics I cover are able to benefit your life and training! If there is anything you would like me to talk about on future episodes, feel free to comment here or send me an email or facebook!
This topic seems to be a hot button all over the fitness industry. Recently, I have been catching some flak with regards to recent articles on running and fat loss. Most specifically, on running being a poor fat loss method.
Yes, I said it. Running is bad for fat loss. So is most ‘cardio’ exercise. The facts of the matter are that these exercise modalities are not the best fat loss methods out there.
I am going to get to the biggest myths but first a little background!
This isn’t the first time I have written on this topic and if you want to read a little more after this blog, feel free to skim through the archives!
First I think we need to define the term cardio – it is a term that is horrendously misleading. We term low intensity, high volume exercise ‘cardio’. Jogging, swimming, cycling, and elliptical machines are usually what come to mind when we hear the term ‘cardio’. It is such a misleading term. These exercises have come to be associated with cardiovascular work and have perpetuated a belief that in order to keep a healthy cardiovascular system, ‘cardio’ exercises are the best way to train.
This couldn’t be further from the truth. For many years now the research has shown time and again that low intensity, high volume training has an initial positive benefit to cardiovascular health in untrained people but that this quickly reaches a limit. After that there is actually a DECREASE in cardiovascular health markers with continued participation in the same activities.
So for the purposes of this blog, we will use the term ‘cardio’ in the way it is commonly known – as a descriptive term for low intensity, long duration exercise; running, jogging, walking, swimming, elliptical machines, and indoor or outdoor cycling.
Oh, but you do intervals, so it isn’t low intensity exercise. I don’t want to burst your happy little bubble but no, it is still low intensity. Without getting into too much physiology I will grossly oversimplify this for you. High intensity work requires the use of your glycolytic system and creatine phosphate system. The longest either of these fuel systems can work is around 1 to 1 and a half minutes in highly trained individuals. Any work that goes longer than that moves into aerobic metabolism, which cannot sustain the same power and strength output (read that as intensity).
So if you do not take an equal break to work interval you end up automatically decreasing the intensity. Sorry spinners, but spin class is not high intensity training; it is a cardio workout that relies mostly on aerobic metabolism.
Don’t take this the wrong way. I need to clarify because I can see the nasty messages coming my way. I am not saying you cannot get a good workout from cardio-based training. I am simply showing you how it works and letting everyone know that you should not make this the ONLY component of your training!
How do I coach cardio? Why don’t you take a look!!!
#1 – Cardio Does As Much Harm as Good
Like the term ‘organic’ doesn’t mean healthy, *SHOCKER ALERT* cardio doesn’t mean it is good for your cardiovascular health.
Yes that’s right. For all the benefits of ‘cardio’ exercise, there are just as many negatives. Somehow, the fitness world has come to think of cardio as safe and not requiring much coaching. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
If you look at the biomechanics of cardio exercise we see one common theme – lack of full joint range of motion. Look at the hips and knees during cycling and jogging, they move in a very limited portion of their full range and they move through this shorter range hundreds or thousands of times during the course of a workout.
What is this potentially harmful about this? Prolonged decreased range of motion leads to tightening of the tendons, ligaments, and muscles around and related to those joints. So people who participate in just these cardio activities will experience decreased flexibility and range of motion over time.
This can be counteracted with a well-designed strength and conditioning program! But some basic warm-up and cool down stretches ARE NOT ENOUGH to counteract thousands of repetitions of these limited range movements. So when people get all or even most of their training via cardio we see a lot of muscle imbalances and eventually injuries happen.
Overuse injuries are extremely common with ‘cardio only’ enthusiasts. As I just mentioned, the body goes through thousands of repetitions over the course of a single training session, which over time leads to all sorts of overuse problems. Just ask runners to list their injury history: low back, knees, ankles, and hips usually take a battering.
Lastly, let’s chat cardiovascular health. Everyone wants to make sure that their heart and lungs are healthy and fit. Cardio exercise shows positive improvements to cardiac markers for the first few weeks of a program up to the first few months (depending on the previous fitness of the individual). After the initial stage, everything changes and your cardiac response plateaus. And in a lot of cases, some will actually see decreased cardiac health – because the body becomes more efficient and doesn’t have to work as hard to perform the exercise.
#2 – Cardio is Not Efficient for Fat Loss
Efficiency: thestateorqualityofbeingefficient, orabletoaccomplishsomething withtheleastwasteoftimeandeffort;competencyinperformance.Cardio is efficient for fat storage.
Most people do not understand that your body’s goal is to use the least amount of energy possible. Always. In everything it does.
What is an efficient metabolism? And efficient metabolism is a slow metabolism that burns as little energy as possible. The longer your body can function using less and less energy the better. Everything in your physiology is designed to keep as much energy storage as possible. We store energy as body fat.
You see having fat on your body is good. Your body likes that. It’s like a life jacket, or a safety vest – your body want’s body fat storage. That way if food becomes scarce it has reserves!
When you start asking your body to go longer and further it prepares by getting energy output as low as possible. If this goes on more and more frequently your body will do its best to create more safety energy storage at every opportunity it can get.
“But my friend runs all the time and has no fat at all!” Very possible. They eat well and the exercise is burning a lot of calories. Their body is still trying to store as much fat as it can, they are simply burning too many calories for the fat storage to happen. This doesn’t mean that their metabolism isn’t slowing down.
Ever seen a runner get injured and quit running but not modify their eating habits? Ever watched what happens to all those people rocking the elliptical machines when they ‘fall off the wagon’ and stop using the elliptical?
They typically gain a whole lot of fat very quickly. Why? Because their calorie output is gone and they have taught their bodies to store as much fat as possible when the opportunity arises.
I am trying to not delve too deeply into pure sciences here so I won’t go to in depth about hormone levels. But if you do a little research you will understand that growth hormone, testosterone, estrogen, and cortisol are all directly connected to health and fat metabolism and storage.
High levels of growth hormone and testosterone are good. More energy, more muscle, better recovery, and lower fat levels.
High levels of estrogen and cortisol are associated with increased fat storage and increased cellular breakdown. Ever wonder why women have more fat then men and typically store more of it? Higher estrogen. Ever notice how people who are chronically stressed and grumpy seem to get sick and injured more often? They have high levels of cortisol, which does really horrible things to your body.
Guess what? Cardio training tends to decrease testosterone and growth hormone and coincides with higher levels of estrogen and cortisol.
High intensity style training and pure strength training is exactly the opposite.
I will let you draw your own conclusions.
#3 – Cardio Will Destroy Your Strength
Yes. It is true. Long duration, low intensity exercise will decrease strength. Get a marathon runner and a 100m sprinter into a gym and see how much they each squat.
No, I do not think the squat is an ‘end all be all’ exercise so don’t bother writing me about that but it is a good way to test the strength of an individual. I promise you that you will see a huge strength difference between the marathon runner and a 100m sprinter.
Why? Because to go longer and longer outputting energy your body needs to minimize how much of that energy is needed. The more muscle you have the more energy is required to move. The less muscle you have the less energy is required to move.
If you need to move a lot for a long period of time it is better to have less muscle. Your body will find a balance of the least amount of muscle it can have that will still allow it to complete what you are asking it to do. It will eat up the rest!
Less muscle means less strength. Less strength means the demands on your joints, ligaments, and tendons are increased. Those tissues and areas take over doing as much work as they can so you can get away with having less muscle, thus saving more energy.
That is why cardio destroys your strength. I am not saying you will have NO strength. And if you haven’t trained for years or have never trained you will get some strength from cardio training. You still need strength to run. But it will be far less than your body is capable of developing.
#4 – Cardio Doesn’t Build Sexy
Now, I guess this is subjective because sexy is in the eyes of the beholder. But let us assume for a moment that the vast majority of people find a little less body fat, a little bit of muscle tone, and being strong to be sexy.
I think this is a safe assumption as after 12 years as a trainer and coach with the thousands of clients I have trained, these goals come up about 95% of the time.
Lose weight. (I say lose weight because that is what people say – I – and they – really mean lose fat).
See some muscle definition.
Well guess what? If you have read everything so far none of these goals are best served by traditional cardio exercise.
If you want a firm ass that fills out those new jeans and arms that make people want to touch you (which CAN get awkward) you need to be focused on strength and interval based training.
Arghhhh you are saying. ‘So what SHOULD I be doing for fitness?’
First, know your goal. If your goal is to change your physique, get stronger, and have less body fat, then you want high intensity strength based interval training.
If your goal is to run a marathon or do a triathlon, then you want to be doing some cardio training and some high intensity strength based interval training.
Second, you have to know your experience level. If you haven’t been active in a long time you need to work into higher intensity training slowly. Starting with some lower intensity cardio training can be a good first step before moving into higher intensity strength based work.
What is the moral of this story?
Cardio isn’t what people think it is. I am not saying do not do it or that it is bad for you. But you need to be informed.
If you passionately want to run a marathon or going out for a run turns you on, then go for it. But train smart and know that you HAVE to be doing strength based full range of motion training as well.
If you just want to be healthy, fit, active, strong, and fit into a sexier pair of jeans then cardio is NOT the best way to do that. High intensity interval based strength training is by far superior for those goals. With the added benefit that it takes less time and lasts longer if you have to take a break for any reason.