Every now and then we see or hear things that don’t seem to make sense, seem to be just “counter-intuitive” suggestions. In other words, ideas that are difficult to accept because they seem to represent the antithesis of what we believe to be the truth. In the world of health, nutrition and fitness, there is no shortage of these incidents, and I thought it would be interesting and informative to list 10 things that, while not immediately meaningful, were actually true. In no particular order, here are the top five. Tune in next week for the rest.
1. Eat more to lose weight and slim down. One of the things the human body is really good at is survival. During prolonged periods of food deprivation or extreme exertion, it slows down the rate at which it burns calories (this is called metabolism), thus maintaining stored energy simply as fat. One way to effectively influence your metabolism in a positive way is to eat more food and exercise less in order to better restore and maintain muscle tissue. In this case, more muscle equals a faster metabolism.
2. When your joints are stiff and painful, you should be moving them more, not less. If your joints are sore, the last thing on your mind is activity. In fact, as the muscles surrounding the joint weaken, more stress is placed on the joint itself, and reduced movement can lead to stiffness and lack of stability. Additionally, in addition to bringing lubricating synovial fluid into the joint space, the exercise itself has an analgesic (pain-relieving) effect, reducing both general and specific pain in the body.
3. If you know you’ll splurge on a celebratory meal, you should snack extra on the day to avoid overindulging later. Seems like a good idea to “save” calories for a feast. In reality, however, it just means you’ll show up to dinner with no willpower because your hunger drives you to eat whatever looks delicious. By eating the day before your event, you’ll be more likely to show restraint and actually enjoy only reasonable portions of your favorite foods.
4. Slow down to go faster. The health and fitness industry is notorious for “quick and easy”, “like magic” solutions to complex problems. The promise of quick weight loss (or muscle gain) with very little effort seems too good to be true and, for many people, irresistible. The problem is that, almost invariably, fancy plans don’t bring about the desired results, and when they do, the results are unsustainable for someone hoping to live a normal life. This all means that consumers end up going back to where they started looking for their next miracle plan, wasting time and energy. For long-lasting, sustainable results, slow and steady is actually the fastest way.
5. Eating before going to bed can burn fat. A study in the Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise reported that athletes who took a cheese form of casein protein as a bedtime snack had increased muscle synthesis while they slept, which helped them build muscle, compared with athletes who took a placebo , speed up metabolism and burn fat more effectively.
Health and fitness programming and products are part of a multibillion-dollar industry that sells products that sound too good to be true, often too good to be true. Sound, commonsense advice, on the other hand, is often considered too boring to sell, especially when it clashes with popular opinion. However, if you look at the healthiest, strongest, healthiest, and most fulfilling people, it’s a safe bet that they’ve followed a long, slow, “boring” path that sometimes runs counter to what we imagine is really going on. In next week’s column, I’ll highlight five projects that might not seem to make sense at first glance.