Simplistic sayings, images, and analogies reign popular in the fitness world because it makes complicated subjects much easier to understand.
The simple phrase of “Eating fat, makes you fat” caused people to ditch avocados and replace the healthy fats with processed carbs, which ended up making them fat.
Simple phrases help prove our points in an industry where we are argumentative. Most of these phrases are completely untrue or misinterpreted. Here are three that come to mind:
Admittedly, when I started as a trainer I used the fat analogy too, even though, I never truly believed it. Thankfully, I now realize it’s a complete falsehood.
First, every competitive sprinter has more than 90-fast twitch muscle fibers, which represent an ACTN3 RR profile. ACTN3 defines your bodies muscle type and reaction to training.
The ACTN3 profile is only found in roughly 10 percent of the world’s population and has a high concentration of fast-twitch muscle fibers. The growth in fast-twitch muscle fibers has the potential to grow at a faster rate than slow-twitch because of the mTOR reaction to workouts (muscles repair from damage quicker, absorb protein easier, and can lead to quicker growth).
Competitive endurance athletes are reported to have more slow-twitch muscle fibers than sprinters.
People built for endurance have lower mTOR (more slow-twitch muscle fiber) and higher AMPK (great for endurance, bad for muscle building). Muscle repair is a lot slower, but there are a higher VO2 and fat usage capacity.
Athletes who succeed at sprinting have the genetics for fast, strong, muscular, and powerful strides. In comparison to athletes who are built for endurance that have the opposite.
Sprinters lift heavy and execute a variety of compound exercises like squats, deadlifts, benches, and power cleans, etc. The average competitive sprinter squat in the 500 range and bench around the mid-300 range. The advanced squat in the 600’s and bench in the 400’s. Granted, these aren’t world-class powerlifting numbers but cause you to gain plenty of muscle along the way.
Do endurance runners lift weights? Never. All joking aside, they do. Apart from a few smart exceptions, they all participate in 15-25 rep range BOSU ball exercises, curl-lunges combos, and quarter squats. It’s all for endurance. They don’t believe in rigorous training sessions to push their limits.
They don’t have great genetics to build muscle and stimulate specific areas of the body. Marathon runners don’t lift heavy and sprinters do.
Sprinters don’t do intervals. Yet, their bodies are proven to give you a lean muscular physique, which presents a number of problems.
I’ve trained everyone from sprinters to bobsled athletes and have never seen any of them do interval training.
One training session for a 100m sprinter is between 4-6 sprints (30-100m based on the cycle) with a lot of rest in-between sets–sometimes, as much as 10 minutes between sets. Any knowledgeable track coach wouldn’t advise a sprinter to participate in intervals. It would eliminate CNS and annihilate good sprinting mechanics.
Quality is the basis of all sprint training. They avoid tiresome activities that deplete the muscles. Fresh muscles produce the highest quality workout. This type of training is the antithesis of intervals, where you deliberately build up lactic acid to induce fatigue in the muscles.
Endurance athletes incorporate plenty of interval training in their weekly routines.
I never said endurance training doesn’t have any problems. Endurance training makes it hard to gain muscle mass by putting you in a caloric deficit, and by activating mTOR to produce large amounts of cortisol. Thirty-minute sessions 2-3 times of week of steady-state cardio aren’t endurance training.
What an endurance athlete does has no relation to thirty-minute cardio sessions a couple of times per week. The two styles of training don’t correlate.
There’s no question that plenty of endurance training increases cortisol levels. In comparison to interval training in gyms, the release is much higher– cortisol release relates to the adrenaline release an amount of fuel being burned. The results show both are higher in interval training.
Intervals and steady-state cardio both have their place in training, depending upon your objectives. The comparison of the sprinter and marathon runner is dishonest and false.
“Muscles are like the engine of your car. The bigger the engine the more fuel you burn. So having more muscle will burn a lot more calories.”
This analogy is a bit less dishonest, and is basically true, but exaggerated. One pound of muscle increases daily energy output by 15-25 calories. It isn’t much. Roughly about 1/3 of an apple.
Potentially, if you gain 10 pounds of muscle, it can create a window of 200 extra calories. However, it isn’t as much as people believe it to be.
The average person won’t gain 10 pounds of muscle in a year, even a beginner can add on 10 pounds, but it won’t be entirely muscle. The average male adult has the potential to gain 30-40 pounds of muscle throughout their training career.
Increased muscle mass isn’t a license to eat like a monster. Keep your portions moderate.
Gaining muscle mass makes it harder to store fat and easier to get lean.
One pound in muscle equates to 15-20g of glycogen storage. 5 pounds of muscle equates to 75-100g of glycogen storage.
Bigger muscles mean more glycogen stores, so carbohydrates aren’t stored as fat.
More carbs in the system on a daily basis means your metabolic rate is stabilized at a higher level to convert T4 into T3. T3 relies on carbs to regulate cortisol levels. Consuming plenty of carbohydrates has the ability to decrease cortisol because cortisol exists to move glycogen stores to increase blood sugar levels.
Higher muscle mass keeps your metabolism in check at a higher level, which allows you to eat more carbohydrates and keeps your body in an anabolic state, meaning a higher level of insulin and IGF-
The more muscle mass you have makes your muscles more insulin sensitive, which is great for two simple reasons:
- If your body is insulin sensitive, you can produce less insulin to complete the job. When your insulin levels aren’t rising frequently, it means you can lower it faster. When insulin levels are high, you mobilize fat slower. The faster insulin levels lower, the easier it is to utilize fat as energy.
- Muscles store nutrients easier when insulin levels are moderate. There’s more to the body than a simple car engine analogy. However, the body doesn’t burn much more fuel when attempting to build muscle. Especially, in comparison to the number of calories, you shoved down your throat last weekend.
Paleo is a good way of eating. No macronutrients are cut out of your diet and you focus on consuming natural foods that benefit your body.
The caveman/paleo diet is a form of selling. A natural diet doesn’t have an appealing sound like the “paleo diet”.
The stronger the emotional connection you have to a diet, the easier it is to stick with following the regimen. Cavemen didn’t have a Facebook group of supporters to help them remain consistent.
Paleo diets have very little to do with eating like a caveman. Diets varied back in prehistoric times. The only consistent factor was cavemen ate what they could find.
Focus on eating a more-natural wholefoods diet. Stay away from the foods full of chemicals.
Eating like a caveman is a marketing ploy. Only use the expression if it helps you stay on track with maintaining a healthy diet. Nobody has the resources to eat as cavemen did in their time.