The fitness industry is very opinionated.
I won’t pretend that I don’t have my share of strong feelings on certain aspects of nutrition and training either.
However, what I completely disagree with is the idea of their being one way and only one way for a person to eat and train.
Having a one track mind when it comes to the “best way to workout” or the “best way to eat” is naïve and close minded.
In simple terms, those who pursue fitness in this manner are wrong.
In my opinion, the purpose of fitness is to progress the state of the body from a muscular and aerobic standpoint while learning healthy eating habits that allow you to further your specific goals. This is all done while lowering body fat to a healthy level and building/retaining lean tissue enabling you to successfully do life.
THE KEY: All of this must be done in a manner that is sustainable for life. Not a couple months, but life.
Sustainability is one of the largest aspects that people fail at when it comes to fitness.
Finding the balancing point between training and eating well enough to see progress, but not so intense that you cannot sustain it, is something most people have a hard time getting right.
When a program can’t be sustained, all you have is a fad.
A short lived fling of workouts and some healthy meals yet no long term changes.
Yet many “trainers” approach fitness with a “my way or the highway” program and clients end up with nothing more than a fad.
The “trainer” concludes “well they just couldn’t handle it”, but the truth is, the “trainer” had no clue how to apply the correct programming to their client. They have their specific way that works for some, but it will never work for everyone. Or worse, they do know how to modify it for their client, but their ego won’t let them.
To be clear, I do not mean their program couldn’t get results if it was done correctly, but rather the lifestyle of the client or their personal preferences do not line up with the trainer’s one track program and therefore it cannot be sustained.
Of course the flip side to this coin is not doing enough to see results.
I am certainly not implying that if a person has a busy schedule and is “addicted to junk food” that it’s okay to barely workout and still eat garbage and they will see progress.
There are loads of different ways for a person to get results and having the ability to apply the right program to the right person is what makes fitness work.
For the sake of not making this article a thirty minute read, I am going to simplify some concepts, so don’t get too worked up that it’s not more in depth.
But anyway, nutrition.
I don’t need to tell you that there are a million different viewpoints here, involving many hot topics such as gluten, sugar, organic, etc.
That isn’t what I want to get into.
On a slightly broader scale, let’s first talk low-carbohydrate versus higher carbohydrate eating plans.
General gist — low-carb is combined with higher fat and protein. Higher carb is combined with higher protein, and lower fat.
The answer is both. At certain times.
The problem is when it is believed that one or the other is the God of eating plans and the other is the devil.
I see all the time where one style works fantastic for a client, but the other has no chance.
Often times it is based on personal preference. One works for them and the other doesn’t, so having a dogmatic bull-headed worship of one style over the other is stupid.
When a person is just starting out in a program it usually makes sense for them to go low carb and reset their insulin sensitivity. Simply put, they are re-sensitizing their body to carbs since the typical American diet is overly carb saturated.
After a period of carb restriction the body is able to better use what carbs the person does take in for the right purposes.
It is at this point that most people can transition to what I like to call “earned carbs”. Based on activity, you add the correct amount of carbs to your day to aid in those processes.
If someone is on a quest to build considerable lean tissue that is when the next step would be to add even more carbs to further those goals.
From a general standpoint, most people should probably end up in the “earned carbs” category. Not zero, not the dominating macronutrient, but moderate and earned.
Low carb/high fat can be very effective in regards to getting lean. However, every client I have ever had who began adding carbs back in after being low carb/high fat felt like they had the strength of a super hero.
When carbs are reintroduced you will feel MUCH stronger. This is based on feedback I constantly hear and the weight I watch people push in the gym. Nothing more, nothing less. No, I don’t mean boat loads of carbs, but a moderation.
Before you go all gaga for carbs, keep in mind I am referring to someone who has been in a low carb state for a period of time.
Finally, as much as science is of obvious importance when it comes to the best nutritional strategies, personal preference needs to be considered as well.
For example, let’s say a person has a long term goal of slowly losing weight while getting stronger. In their situation let’s also say a low carb/high fat approach would be most effective and the fastest way to their goals.
However, after a month of doing this the person begins to flounder. They keep eating exactly what their plan calls for, but also start adding in some carbs. The WRONG approach is to keep telling them to “stop doing that” and “stick to your plan”.
Instead, even though it may not be quite as optimal for results, the person could be put on a moderate carb diet with lower fat that still hits their calorie goals.
The big kicker?
Their eating plan becomes sustainable for them in the LONG TERM.
An obvious win, but with the stubborn one track “my way is the highway” view, it would never turn out like that.
Nutrition has to be made to work for each person as an individual.
Yes, of course there are many obvious do’s and don’ts that apply to everyone, but there are also many aspects that have flexibility allowing a person to stay committed for the long haul.
Just last week I wrote an article discussing the idea that there are many forms of strength training and the correct type to choose is the type that is right for you and your goals.
I want to expound on this.
My friend Mike has a client that he trains seven days a week.
Does his client need to train that often to reach his goals?
Both Mike and his client are fully aware of this.
However, his client prefers the momentum that training everyday gives him.
He doesn’t lift heavy weights every day of course. Some days are more stretching and mobility based as well as a day of yoga.
The point is, for this particular client the best way for him to be successful in his fitness journey is to train in some fashion every single day.
He is NOT wrong for doing this.
It’s what works for him and it works well. Very well.
On the opposite end of the spectrum you have the people who follow a two day per week training protocol of 30–45 minutes per workout.
Are there people that get great results from this?
Does it mean it’s the best way to train?
For certain people yes and for others, no.
The argument from the 2–3 day per week camp is, “if we can get results from only a couple days per week with minimal session times paired with quality eating, why spend any more time taxing the body?
Reasonable logic, however fitness is SO much more than science.
There are humans involved and human beings require all different approaches to be successful.
A “trainer” must understand that the right approach is the one that gives a client success for the long term.
Meaning, if a person wants to be active in some capacity for 4, 5, or 6 days per week, there is NOTHING wrong with that. The program will need to be designed in the correct way, but it is completely doable.
Momentum is a very powerful thing.
Often times, the days people work out they tend to stay more on track with their eating. If that is what it takes for someone to build up good eating habits, so be it.
We can work around that.
Simply telling someone “deal with it” or “man up” when there are others ways to make them successful is stupid and egotistical.
That is the problem with the “my way or the highway” mentality.
It doesn’t account for the routes of fitness and nutrition that may work better for a particular client, but rather focuses on the “trainers” ego.
I will take a program that gets a client slow results that they can maintain for the long term over fast results that are not sustainable, ANY DAY.
The simple guide to always follow is to do what is right for the person.
There is usually a “fastest” way to a goal, but, often times that way will not be successful with certain people.
Unfortunately the answer from many “trainers” to that is, “screw it, they just can’t handle working with me”.
If that is the demeanor you carry in life and you see that as helping people, you have been greatly confused in your upbringing.
The one caveat is elite individuals. If you are at an elite level and looking to do whatever it takes to progress, then obviously looking for alternative routes that may not be as successful is NOT what you should be doing.
But for the 98% of you reading this, it all applies.
Remember this: No matter what nutrition and training program you are on, progressing in fitness is not easy.
You WILL feel deprived at times.
You WILL want to go off plan.
You WILL want to skip workouts.
But, there are multiple routes that can be taken to give you the best fit and chance at success.
If you want to get started on YOUR perfect route, I want to talk to you.
Email me right now at: JwaltersPT@gmail.com
OR learn more at: JonWalters.CO