50 Shocking facts about diet and exercise; Channel 5

After watching this programme, the instant reaction of a lot of people was that of sensationalism and scaremongering by the documentary contributors. However, most of it (if not all) was not to scare you but to educate you in what you are eating, drinking, breathing etc.

This is my take on the programme – I’ve extracted the main talking points.

Gyms

TV: they are dirty (a breeding ground for germs), contain unnecessary equipment and encourage bad technique.

My view: No doubt that you should always wipe equipment after using it and shower before you head home. Personally, I’m not a fan of gyms as they encourage the ‘hamster on the wheel’ routine, e.g. 20 treadmills in a row and every single person on those treadmills just jogging away with no real results in mind. They just run and run but in 12 months time, they haven’t achieved the results they were after. Plus, they text on their mobiles or read the latest ‘Hello’ magazine – how can they get results when they are not even concentrating on their technique? Hence, knee and ankle joint problems ensue and body weight hasn’t even budged.

Oh, and you’ve seen the guys who do a Bicep Curl using their backs rather than their actual biceps?? Plus, they grunt a lot!

Bread and Milk

TV: They contain chemicals to preserve their shelf life and to make them taste nicer.

My view: I hear a lot of people who tell me that they feel less bloated when they avoid bread. Their stomachs aren’t as full and they feel sharper too. The same for milk. Plus better skin and more energy. So what does that tell me about bread and milk? Well, it could mean that you have an allergy, either gluten in the bread or lactose in the milk. I would suggest trying a detox for 5 weeks, avoiding bread and milk products altogether. Substitute bread with rye or rice flour and milk with any of these types of milk – almond, coconut, quinoa, fermented soy, oat and rice. All can be purchased in a good health food shop.

Exercise

TV: You only need to exercise for 3 minutes per week for effective health benefits, long distance running is bad for your heart and joints and a six-pack is almost impossible to achieve.

My view: The 3 minutes per week principle is based on HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) and I agree with this principle wholeheartedly. However, 3 minutes per week is not enough in my opinion. There’s no doubt that when you are running, short sprints followed by a recovery period is the most beneficial for fat loss and for effective heart and lung adaptations. If you get on a gym bike and do 15-20 seconds of hard intervals followed by 60 seconds rest after each interval, that will be much more effective than a slow, steady cycle. You will burn body fat up to 48 hours AFTER the workout when you perform intervals this way. Your heart becomes stronger and your lungs become more efficient. I endorse 12-minute workouts and recommend them to my clients. Do 3 12-minute workouts per week and you’ll achieve far better results than 3 1-hour gym sessions.

As for the six-pack, you are definitely wasting your time doing situps and crunches if you aren’t burning the body fat which sits around your waistline. Perform the HIIT training and start to build some muscle. Then you may have a chance of seeing your abs! Remember, muscle burns fat so get building that muscle.

Skipping Breakfast Makes You Fat

TV: You put your body into starvation mode when you consistently skip breakfast and are more likely to put on body fat.

My view: I agree. Breakfast is crucial. Say you have your last meal of the day at 7pm the previous evening. You then skip breakfast the following day because you think that it will help you to lose weight. You may then eat again at 11am, which could be an unhealthy cereal bar. So you have now gone 15-16 hours without food. That is starving your body of nutrients and it will start to go into ‘starvation’ mode, which means it hangs on to its fat. You don’t lose fat when you skip breakfast, you store fat! You should eat a wholesome breakfast, consisting of healthy fats, carbohydrates and lean protein. Organic oats, eggs and lean bacon, natural yogurt with berries and walnuts, smoothies – all good examples.

Diet Drinks, Margarine and Breakfast Cereals (including Cereal Bars)

TV: All of the above contain either sugar, artificial sweeteners or chemicals. Replace diet drinks with water, margarine with butter (in small quantities) and cereal bars with fruit.

My view: I can’t argue with any of that. To me, drinking diet drinks long term can have devastating effects. The artificial sweeteners in them are not natural (hence the name), therefore your body won’t recognise them and won’t process them very well.

Margarine usually contains the evil trans fats, which are the main cause of heart disease and certain cancers in the western world (typically from the 50s and 60s onwards). Chemicals are also added to preserve their shelf life.

Breakfast cereals and cereal bars (the majority of them anyway) contain sugar and lots of it. Instead, choose organic muesli, oats, wholegrain cereals and 100% natural health bars available in most health food shops. Always check the label – if you see something you haven’t heard of then your body won’t recognise it either.

Dieting

TV: Fad diets are unhealthy, dangerous and can lead to long term weight gain.

My view: I totally agree. The problem with most diets is that they typically limit consumption of a certain food group (e.g. a low-carbohydrate diet or a low-fat diet) and therefore tend to fight against what your body needs to function most efficiently.

For example, a low-carbohydrate diet will typically cause a loss of muscle tissue rather than body fat and lower your Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR), making it easier to put body fat on in the long-term.

A low-fat diet will usually contain lots of refined carbohydrates (especially sugary snacks) to replace the fats and will lead to endless sugar cravings and weight gain.

There is no reason to eliminate or limit your consumption of any one food group. Restrictive diets will always fail at some point.

Strive for a healthy weight loss of 1-2lbs per week (3,500 calories = 1lb of weight). This will maintain your muscle tissue and ensure your body still gets the nutrients it needs to function properly.

Personal Trainers

TV: There are a number of unregistered ‘Personal Trainers’ operating in the UK who are training people without the proper qualifications.

My view: I know there are! I know a few and that scares me. It seems to me that anyone with an interest in fitness can set themselves up as a Personal Trainer or start a new bootcamp from the boot of their car, without attaining the proper qualifications or licences.

I am a fully qualified Personal Trainer and Massage Therapist. I have over 17 years experience in the fitness industry and I pay my licence fees for the use of parks and premises. Would you trust somebody like me or somebody who cannot prove their credentials?

Oh, and just to clarify, I am not one of the 33% of Personal Trainers working as a stripper or in the escort business!!!

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