Once upon a time
….there was a complex phenomenon called “Metabolism” and it seemed that the humans could not properly understand this phenomenon. Once they thought knew how it worked and had figured out how to keep the population fit and healthy, new theories arose. Some of the theories about how metabolism actually worked were tested and verified by scientific studies and experiments. The theories the humans could not verify with science have stayed theories, but some of them became myths. Myths that were used to explain individual diet and exercise outcomes, were given the umberella term, “broscience”. When using broscience one human would tell another human how they had exercised and eaten to become one of the words they could hashtag their instagrams with, like fit, ripped, buff, big, huge, skinny, slim…fill in the blanks, and therefore it must work for the other human too! On the other hand, it seems that everything is an option and there is no one right way to lose weight, change body composition or build muscle.
Food and exercise is information
In the world you live in today you are informed, over-informed and oftentimes misinformed. It’s not your fault, and if you find yourself confused, unsure of who to believe and what to believe with regard to how your body uses the information and what you should do about it, that’s completely understandable.
What can you do if you are lacking knowledge in the human health and performance department? You seek advice. However, you don’t seek advice in your friend who have just trained a lot and looks really fit. That would be asking for unqualified, biased opinions and advice, unless your friend is educated and a professional practitioner in this field of course. Would you ask a friend who is just really healthy for medical advice? Or a friend who is just really handy to lay a foundation for your new house? The consequences of bad advice are at best that nothing happens, but the worst…Let’s not even to go there..
Food is information and exercise is information. Because all the mechanisms behind exactly how the body utilize this information are not fully understood, new assertions claiming to be the truth will constantly pop up. We usually experience them as trends. However, some of the knowledge we have about metabolism and energy expenditure has been verified so many times by scientists independent of each other, that they have become what we call common knowledge in the field of nutrition and exercise physiology. We have collectively accepted that knowledge.
Then there may be some knowledge that you have accepted because someone of authority told it to you or you read it somewhere, that has not at all been verified systematically. That does not mean what you believe is not true. It may be your truth, but you can’t generalize that knowledge to all for your family and friends, even if you have a couple of studies to back it up. There are most likely just as many studies poking holes in your truth. Did you look for those studies? Did you read them? How did you interpret them? Or did you look for what you wanted to find? However much we like to think of ourselves as open-minded and investigative souls, we become colored by confirmation bias. If the shoe fits, wear it, right?
Perhaps not. We do not have the same shoe size, so to speak. Our genetic material is 100% unique and its expression is constantly evolving and developing with us as we are exposed to exercise, food, toxicity etc. Therefore, your truth may apply to you and only you. It might be that the way you eat, train, sleep and repeat works perfectly for your genetics, or it may not and that’s why you are not seeing the results you want.
Where do you find the truth?
Except for what is considered common knowledge, I think we are still searching for answers in the exercise and nutrition science world. If you are not a professional in exercise physiology and nutrition, you really should ask questions of those you consider authorities in the field, challenge them and we too should do the same. Please, just be critical about who to ask for what, and perhaps ask more than one person.
It is our jobs as professionals to read up, read the studies, interpret them, discuss them with our peers and try as best we can to be unbiased, so that you shouldn’t have to deal with this if it’s not your career. If we don’t, shame on us and no one can blame you for still being confused about how to train and what to eat. I have a responsibility to you. Your trainer has a responsibility to you, as does your teachers and your boss. We should lead you in the direction of growth and profit if you are willing to be lead.
Daily I discuss the the human physiology in some form with my peers, and weekly I answer questions about it to the best of my abilities. The discussions are never ending, and no matter how much explaining I do to my students, metabolism and energy expenditure is a concept none of us can grasp easily.
With limited knowledge about the human physiology, biology and biochemistry one can be easily fooled. Fooled into believing in bogus diets and dietary products, fooled into believing in that one perfect diet/training regimen, failing to understand why you do not look as fit, run as fast or lift as much as your friends when you train and eat exactly the same as them and fooled into believing that nothing will for you when “that” perfect regimen did not pan out as planned.
You are not that special and neither am I
Even if your genetic material is unique, you are unfortunately not so special that you can escape the aforementioned common knowledge that has been heavily verified by biochemical and physiological research. Regardless of your metabolism, some specific principles of energy expenditure apply to you too, in one way or another. It’s those inescapable principles that apply all of us no matter what, that I want to teach you. That way you will increase your own understanding of aerobic training intensities, specifically.
I have a passion for making science tangible for everyone no matter level of formal education. Once you know how your training works it is easier to take ownership of your own health or performance projects or journeys, one might say.
All though I am not the nutrition super-nerd that many of my peers are, I have based a lot of my educational and work practice on human performance and how the body utilize energy – meaning the metabolism in general and the energy expenditure during exercise. Therefore, I want to shed some light on the topic on metabolism and energy expenditure during aerobic exercise in particular, from an exercise physiologists point of view. I promise it is fun learning and easy to understand once you explain it right! I will lay off diets and very nutrition specific elements, I will however stay at a macro level with regard to energy substrate, which are the nutrients we get our energy from.
I have divided this topic into several blog posts and I could have made , but for now we’ll stick mostly to the need to know, with a touch of nice to know.
With that I welcome you to the Energy Expenditure Month from now until the end of November here on the blog. Is a lot more sexy than it sounds!