Monday, February 1, 2010

My favorite ridiculous things said about fitness / health / weight loss

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"I think I want to lose fat and gain muscle."
Oh, is that all? It's akin to shouting that you want to own a 3-story house but not spend a lot of money. Or perhaps you'd just like to eat whatever you want, never workout and yet have Brad Pitt's abs from Fight Club.

Okay, I understand that people are just stating their goal, and that goal is to be lean and defined. In order to lose fat you need to be in a caloric deficit (expending more energy than you consume) as well as using your muscles (lifting weights). You *could* just eat less and you would certainly lose fat, but without lifting weights you'd also be losing muscle mass (this is why marathon runners are so poor on muscle, and why sprinters are usually very muscular (they lift)).

In order to gain muscle, you need to lift weights and eat at a caloric SURPLUS (taking in more energy than you expend), because you can't build a 2nd story to your house without the raw materials. Now we all know that just eating more will give you fat (fat is the body's energy reserves, what it stores for a rainy day), so you need to be lifting weights in order for your weight gains to mostly be muscle gains.

The other additional component is giving your muscles enough protein to maintain itself.

"My fat is mostly in my mid-section, everything else is okay so if I could just lose the weight from there I'd be fine" - guys. OR "blah blah blah THIGHS" - girls.
There's a reason you think that's the only place you're storing fat, it's because that's where we're biologically programmed to carry it (the gut for guys, the thighs for ladies). But believe it or not, the rest of you is covered in fat as well and there's no such thing as "spot reduction", where you get to workout a specific area and the fat from only that area comes off. Seriously, how would you get your neck fat off if that were the case? Can you imagine doing 1000 "neck crunches" a day? Me neither.

Fat loss/gain is systemic, it slowly comes/goes and you don't get to pick where it comes/goes from. Unless you get liposuction, but that's gross and unhealthy. At a certain age your body stops producing new fat cells, so the remaining ones just expand/contract according to your diet. Therefore, I cannot imagine the havoc you wreak on your body by deleting fat cells like that.

"I can eat more after a workout without worrying about it being used as fat."
Not so much. While what you consume after a workout will certainly get quickly used for repairing your muscles, you were eventually going to eat anyway and your muscles would have then used that for repair. Eating quickly after a workout just ensures optimal repairs, but the reality is that a calorie consumed is a calorie consumed, no matter when you choose to eat it. There is no cheating your metabolic rate.

Now, these all sound frighteningly familiar for me because I've pretty much said each one of them at some point. Yes, I am the guilty ridiculous party....and so are you! :)


RoddyG said...

Wow... I must have a guy's build because all my weight (visible fattiness) collects in my gut and is never visible in my legs.

gradbot said...

Everything you just said I explain to people all the time and they react as if it's the first time that they have heard of it or they ignore it and think it's a lie.

Regina Quentin said...

What you said here is very valuable and I thank you. Not that you asked but: I'm losing fat right now and it's coming off some places I don't want it to. I'm lifting weights and pretty soon (when I get disciplined enough) I'm gonna eat at a caloric surplus for just a bit too gain a smidge of muscle mass. We'll see how this works out.

Wes Hemings said...

Rod - Well, I was speaking more in general, everyone is programmed a little differently of course. But I know you got the spunk to work it out!! :)

E - I know the feeling of breaking it down for someone yet they seem to do what they want anyway and stick to all the myths.
Not at all frustrating! /s

Reg - NICE!! I'm not gonna ask what this undesired location of fat loss is, but congrats all the same!

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