NO PAIN NO GAIN
I shook my head, wadded up the print out, and threw it in the trash.
I knew what I was dealing with now.
This was the welcome email I got for my weight loss challenge. Along with this email came an attachment for a meal plan which, to make it simple, consisted of meals that results in a calorie total PER DAY less than 1,000.
It went to meet his sister in the trash shortly there after.
It did get me thinking, however, about the amount of bad advice being given by certified coaches and dietitians in the fitness arena. Most of the time they mean well, and for the most part it is information that was probably correct when they went through training, but where I start having issues is with relatively young trainers and coaches, even with the amount of information available at their finger tips, who still cling to false ideas and outdated concepts that have since been proven not only untrue, but in some cases can result in a bad performance.
Case in point the idea of carb loading. A number of studies, most predominantly one conducted by the Journal of Sports Medicine and Nutrition, have shown that the act of carb loading, i.e. stuffing your face with a pre-race meal of pasta, not only does not load your carb stores for the race the next day, but can actually hinder your overall performance because your body can only hold so many carbs in reserve.
But John, you say, I have signed up for a group half marathon and part of their program the night before states to “come out and top your carb reserves off with us”.
What can I tell you, Inquisitive Stranger?
I started thinking about all of the training advice I have been given in my life, dating back to high school football through most recently triathlon. Advice that I heeded as well through my Navy years and into this sport. The number one statement everyone gives when asked what the worst piece of advice they have ever received was what I stated at the beginning; No Pain No Gain. If not the single dumbest piece of advice ever given, it is certainly Top 5. Luckily you don’t hear it as much anymore (with the exception of the muscle heads yelling it at each other while banging free weights and carrying gallon jugs of water in the gym).
Our good friends at St. Pete Running Company asked the same question recently on Facebook, and the first answer given was “no pain no gain”.
So, as I am known to do, I started making a list of things I have been told, and/or currently being told, I should do for training that I have found to be total nonsense. They are:
- No Pain No Gain
- Ice Baths to relieve sore muscles
- Sugar is the preferred source of fuel for endurance racing
- In order to complete a race of XX miles, you must have a training session of the same miles
- Calorie In / Calorie Out is the only way you can lose weight
- If you want to lose belly, do sit ups
- You can eat anything you want as long as you burn it off with exercise
- This <insert supplement name> will help you achieve <insert goal here> and it’s just a coincidence that I happen to be a representative of the company
- Eating fat with make you fat
- Eating too much salt will give you high blood pressure
Science gets in the way of a good belief system doesn’t it?
Salt is widely believed to cause high blood pressure. Go ahead, ask someone next to you right now if salt causes high blood pressure.
I’ll wait …
They answered “yes” right?
No study has shown this to be true. Are some more susceptible? Yes … just like some can lose weight by a pure calorie in/calorie out diet … but there has not been any studies linking high blood pressure to salt intake. Not once. In fact, there ARE studies right now (go to the Journal of American Medicine site and search for Salt and Sugar) that show sugar intake is worse for you than salt intake.
So, this post in its base form is to just tell you this … don’t take anyone’s word as gospel (especially if they happen to be selling the supplements they are telling you will work). Find out what works for you and do that. Take in all the information you can and find the best course of action for your body. As someone who has gone from carrying a jersey full of gels, to carrying none, and now back to carrying one flask of honey and water mixed, it’s all a journey of discovery.