Why you shouldn't always believe the hype...

It seems like every week there's a new study showing a quick and easy way to lose weight, gain muscle, or some combination of the two.  Often, each new article can also contradict a previous one which makes life confusing for people trying to keep fit and healthy.  While researchers are doing their best to help the general public, how these studies get communicated doesn't always make this easy.

Sometimes, well a lot of the time actually, we need to look more closely at the details of these studies and think more critically about them to determine whether the things we are reading live up to the hype surrounding them.  Basically, we need to ask the following question:

"Are the results of the study saying what I think they are?"

Here are some important points to consider.

Sample size and study length - how big was the study and for how long was the research conducted?  If it was a case study of one person and it was a weight loss trial run over 10 days, then it is less likely to provide good carryover to the general public than a study of 5,000 individuals run over 12 months.

Who was studied?  Was it a study looking at how to improve your squat strength which used bodybuilders who had a long training history?  That's fine, but it won't necessarily relate well to someone who has just signed up to a gym for the first time. Was it a study of highly obese diabetics looking to lose weight rapidly on a very low calorie diet?  They may show great results but if you only have a couple of kilograms of weight that you want to lose the approach may be more drastic than you need.

Who funded the studies?  Like a lot of things, it pays to follow the money.  Was a study showing no weight reduction through replacement of soft drinks with water funded by a soft drink company or one of their subsidiaries?  Often this is harder to find out than the other questions above, but it's worth considering - be a little skeptical, dig a little deeper if you are able to before accepting things at face value.  There is no real loser when you discover 8 reps are better for strength gains than 6 reps. There is a big loser when you say that sugar causes obesity and fat doesn't.

Lastly, you need to determine whether the results of the study really make a difference to you and how you train or eat.  To put it another way, if the cost of a new piece of magical gym equipment is exorbitant, but the strength or fitness gain that it will provide you compared to what you have access to now is minimal, is it really worth making the investment?  The same question can be asked about training methods - is it really worth the 0.3% increase in muscle gain you will get if you work out for an extra 40 minutes each day?  

This blog post may seem a little over the top in terms of it's nerdiness, but the big takeaway from it is this.  Don't always take things at face value.  Dig a little deeper, think a little more critically, and consider whether new and shiny training methods, diets and equipment are really that big a deal for you personally.

The big question is always this - will it make a difference for me and how I train and fuel my body?

I would love to hear your opinion on this blog post, so feel free to contact me through my website. 


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