Tuesday, May 15, 2012

What I believe (or rather, don't believe), human body edition

I'm impressed with what seems like increased interest in health and fitness in the poker community in the past couple of years. It seems that a lot of poker pros are realizing that the lifestyle they lead is not the healthiest, and are looking to better themselves. As kind of a health/fitness nut myself, I applaud this! However, it seems that there are still a ton of beliefs out there among the general populace over what to do and when/how to do it, and unfortunately a lot of these beliefs are way off.

The following is a nowhere-near-exhaustive list of things that most people believe but I believe are wrong. And to be truthful, I previously believed almost all of them at some point! Generally, the below statements are simply asserted and accepted as fact regardless of the evidence. In response, I will do the same and assert that the opposite of these statements is true without bothering with the pesky evidence. :) I am by no means an expert, but I read an awful lot. Sometimes I even read those boring medical studies that no one reads.

Anyhow, I have only included the most ubiquitous of beliefs. I have only included statements where you took a random sample of people in first-world, Westernized countries, I bet you would find that over 50% of people would agree with the following statements. But I now agree with none of them.

The List of Lies
  • Saturated fats are bad for you
  • Vegetable/canola oils and other polyunsaturated oils are better to cook with than butter or lard
  • Low-fat yogurt is better for you than full-fat (you may replace "yogurt" with virtually every dairy product)
  • For a healthier meal, trim the fat from your meat
  • You should limit fat consumption to 20-30% of total calories
  • Whole grains are good for you
  • Brown rice is better for you than white rice
  • Chicken is better for you than beef (or other red meats)
  • Eating 5-6 small meals a day and snacking frequently is better than eating 2-3 large meals a day
  • Skipping breakfast is bad for you
  • Eating a big dinner at night is bad for you 
  • To fight a cold/bolster your immune system, you should take lots of Vitamin C 
  • You should eat lots of "antioxidant" foods 
  • Wear lots of sunscreen to avoid harmful UV rays
  • Get a good stretch before you work out
  • If you want to lose weight, just do more cardio
  • People who run should get shock-absorbing shoes to minimize damage
  • You shouldn't work out on an empty stomach

I feel like I'm still missing a number of things, but I suppose these are the big ones. Of course, you should not just assume that I am right and popular opinion is wrong just because you're reading my blog. Do your own research. I'm just putting this out there as something to consider the next time you get some diet/exercise/lifestyle advice.

25 comments:

  1. The sunscreen one surprises me-- what leads you to believe that?

    I heard an interesting opinion about stretching the other day. They speaker asserted that stretching before a workout causes your body to believe that it's going to tear, and therefore causes your muscles to tense up.

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    1. sunscreen blocks VitD production. It probably also encourages people to stay out in the sun too long, too. The general idea is get lots of sunlight every day, but if you think you're going to burn, don't get out the sunscreen - get out of the sun.

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    2. Sun exposure is the body's main source of vitamin D. People who spend most of their time indoors (playing poker, for example) will often have below-ideal vitamin D levels and should not wear sunscreen (which blocks D absorption through the skin) unless prolonged sun exposure is expected. Recently, vitamin D deficiency has been linked with increased risk of several types of cancer. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/prevention/vitamin-D

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    3. Seeing as how you have strong opinions in these statements, please site your sources.

      Regards,
      -Ben Husmann

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  2. Steve FriedlanderMay 15, 2012 at 7:35 PM

    TC with the Primal Blueprint. Live long, drop dead.

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  3. wait why would 5-6 meals and snacking be a lie. Agree with almost everything else said. Also what about dinner i eat a very small dinner woudlnt eating a big one be bad... (for fat loss purposes)

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    1. Yeah the 5-6 meals thing is straight out of Berardi so I'm not surprised you're doing so...on the surface it seems like a good thing for regulating glycemic levels and stuff but the idea is that too many meals and your body is constantly digesting and never really gets a break. I mean if you believe in intermittent fasting then it's essentially incompatible with small meals, right? Because if you fast and eat small meals then you're simply not going to get enough calories.

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    2. Oh and as for the dinner thing, I know you've said you're usually not hungry late at night, so if you're not hungry, then don't eat a big meal. (I had a very small one last night myself.) It's not one-size-fits-all.

      Matt Metzgar has been blogging lately about the idea of eating when hungry/to satiety.

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    3. I was planning on doing the Stop Eat IF protocol. once a week intermittent fast (probably sunday)24 hour fast this week. my first try at IF.

      But okay if body is digesting and doesnt get a break I dont think bigger meals would solve this?

      Maybe IF to give your body a digestive break and back to small meals. I have no problem with the idea of skipping a meal but to havea big meal doesnt seem to fit

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    4. I am terrible at IF to be honest, so I have no good personal advice :) But yeah I do think you should fast only on Sundays because your exercise workload/intensity at this point is so high, you don't want to be doing it during the week.

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  4. I'm curious to your basis for disagreeing with some of these. Not all of them because some of them you're spot on.

    But, my rebuttal to a few of them...

    Some fats are good sure, but I don't think you can go wrong trimming fat off meat.

    Skipping breakfast is bad IF you don't replace it with something. I drink a protein shake within a few minutes of waking up everyday. It's proven to kick start your metabolism for the day, and because of that it noticeably wakes me up as well. That said, having bacon/eggs/toast and coffee every morning will likely have the reverse effect because its just too much.

    I know stretching helps, but that said I don't do a full body stretching 20 minute session or anything if I'm only doing an arm workout, what's the point?

    The weight loss one is a bone of contention with EVERYONE. I'm sure for you it's vastly different because you want to cut a few pounds before a fight or whatever so for you it might be as easy/hard wearing the sweat suit/not drinking water for a day and losing that water weight. For a fat person like me it's much broader, there's so many things I should be doing. Cardio is one of them, HOWEVER, there have been studies proving that effective weight training can/will burn more calories after the fact because your body is still working off that energy to repair the muscle tissue.

    Great post though, interesting.

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  5. Most of your statements make sense to me although a few suffer from being either straw men or too vague to really know what they mean. Or, well, the statements are that way (which is annoying about the health industry) but just disagreeing with them ends up no better.

    The sunscreen one seemed very context and parameter sensitive. I think it might be based upon assuming most poker played are roughly from the STEM troglodyte heritage and get no sun 'except for that day at the beach they either turned red or slathered so much sun tan lotion on they got whiter. If so, stop being a trog is a better idea. Get outside, do some shit. Use a combination of clothing, time, and sunscreen to get sun on your skin, not get burned, and well, do some shit outside.

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  6. Tell me more about brown rice vs. white rice, that's the only one I don't know the controversy on. (And BTW I agree with you on all that I know anything about.) It so happens I prefer brown rice, but I don't know anything about the health effects of either one...

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    1. Here's some material:

      http://www.google.com/cse?cx=partner-pub-4512995658587905:4215347163&ie=UTF-8&q=brown+rice&sa=Search#gsc.tab=0&gsc.q=brown%20rice&gsc.page=1

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  7. Each person's overall lifestyle, current eating habits, current exercise habits and current health situation should decide what if any of the "advice" you follow.

    For some, the advice above is sound and in moderation will be helpful towards a balanced diet. However most take the extreme of any one point and then it becomes, as you said "accepted as fact regardless of the evidence".

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  8. my favorite
    "Wear lots of sunscreen to avoid harmful UV rays"

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  9. Or: "things I thought were lies when I was a svelt 27 year old but now I've come to realize as a portly 38 year old were true all along." But even besides age, not to put too fine a point on it, genetics matters a ton on a lot of this. Having grown up in a tri-racial city. with others down the road, although no disclaimer was ever made, the diet advice on News Center 12 might not apply to you.

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    1. Although, I am willing to give credence to your opinions about the consumption of fat, as I have heard much of the same elsewhere. Tell me more.

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  10. When the cancer cells coursing through my body take root somewhere else and kill me, I dare you to re-claim the part about sunscreen.

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  11. Another good one to add would be "You should eat animal protein to maintain strong healthy body & toned muscles."

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  12. Are you going to do poker and martial arts versions?

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    1. Probably not. I don't think very much of I believe with respect to poker or martial arts would be considered very far out of the ordinary.

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    2. That's interesting. Why do you think that might be?

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    3. I suppose the somewhat cynical answer would be that there is no government intervention with respect to poker strategy or martial arts training. I think in both of those things, like nutrition/lifestyle, you have the average person who thinks he knows more than he does, but there isn't that reinforcement from government agencies and the positive media feedback loop that results from it.

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  13. The information I heard about stretching:

    http://www.npr.org/2012/05/09/152336802/stand-up-walk-around-even-just-for-20-minutes

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