Myth: Train in your "Fat Burning Heart Rate Zone" to Lose Weight.
How many well-meaning friends and family have advised you to go running, walking, or hiking to lose weight? No matter what we fitness professionals do or say, the idea that going from the couch to a 5k is the best way to lose weight has a stronghold.
With the increased use of wearable technology like Whoop, FitBits, etc., many folks are spending time in low intensity pursuits in order to maximize their fat burning zone. The truth is there is no target heart rate for weight loss.
There is a fat burning zone, and it doesn't do what most people think. Yes, you burn more calories from fat than carbohydrates in this zone, but you don't burn MORE calories and burning more calories is an important component of weight loss.
However, we can't out exercise our diets, so to lose weight you have to consume LESS calories than you burn. But, I digress, let's get back to the fat burning zone.
Here's a handy dandy chart from the smart folks at Whoop.
When we exercise we burn both carbohydrates and fat as fuel sources. At lower intensities like when we walk, run or hike we are at a lower heart rate and our bodies prioritize fat as a fuel source, aka "fat burning zone." When exercise intensity increases like when we sprint, lift weights, pull a heavy sled, or do CrossFit our bodies burn more carbohydrates because they're easier to break down. When you're working hard at high intensity your body doesn't want to mess around with burning fat. It's denser and harder to break down into fuel.
However, according to the Whoop folks, "the percentage of fat you’re burning relative to carbohydrates is not what determines weight loss." What determines weight loss is the TOTAL amount of calories you burn. If you exercise at high intensity, like you do with CrossFit, your body burns MORE calories. Combine that with eating fewer calories than you burn and you've created an energy deficit and you will lose weight.
So why spend any time in the low intensity fat burning zone? I strongly believe that time spent in that heart rate zone has a positive impact on our mental health, much more so than it does on our physical health. Think of how good you feel after a long walk, run, bike ride or hike. How many time have you solved or forgotten all of your problems while you're out on a long slow distance jaunt?
If you really want to lose weight you have to create healthy habits like eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, prioritizing protein, getting plenty of sleep, drinking lots of water, and improving your mindset. These healthy habits set a solid foundation of a bulletproof lifestyle. Once all those things are second nature, and NOT a struggle, then the real struggle on controlling your food is not so hard.
Myth: Food cravings are our body's way of telling us that we need certain nutrients.
If today's myth were true, you would crave peas, tuna, oysters, spinach, and Swiss cheese since these foods are high in zinc, omega 3 fatty acids and Vitamin D. These three micronutrients are the most commonly inadequate in our diet. Cravings for pizza, ice cream, chips, chocolate, fries, bacon, cheeseburgers are all learned behaviors.
Before we dive into today's myth let's first use some common language. Cravings are a state of heightened eating motivation that is directed at a specific food. Hunger is a nonspecific motivation for calorie-containing food in general. It's important not to interchange the two. If you're really hungry, you'll be willing to eat fish and steamed broccoli. If you're not, you're most likely craving something based upon a learned response to it. Cravings follow a predictable pattern of cue, routine, reward.
Our brains are hard-wired for specific physiological and psychological needs such as water, social support, physical comfort, sex, and of course, food. When we successfully acquire one of those things our brain releases dopamine. Dopamine is an incredibly powerful feel-good biochemical that we instantly want more of. We form an association, a cue, that the thing we just ate, drank, touched, or had sex with is what makes us feel so good. Of course, we don't know that we feel so good because of the dopamine release. We just want more of the thing. Every time we get it we get more dopamine which reinforces the thing and thus our routine is created.
Let's explore a real world craving example of pizza. In the very primal part of our brain, pizza is an outstanding source of calories from delicious fat, carbs and perhaps protein. As you eat it your brain releases dopamine and also catalogs all of the smells, sights, and tastes of the pizza. The association becomes so strong that all you need now is a reminder of the pizza and you'll start salivating and craving it. You experience this when you see a pizza commercial on TV or when someone suggests going out to Bridger Brewery after Friday night's workout. You start salivating and obsessing about pizza. This is because the last time you ate it your brain released one of the most addictive chemicals on earth into your blood stream. Here's an illustration of how this works from the smart folks at Examine.com.
Since we're all unique snowflakes some of us crave salty things and some of us crave sweet things. But none of us crave healthy things. That's because cravings are a hold-over from ancient times when highly-palatable high caloric food wasn't available 24 hours of the day. Back when we had to hunt, gather and travel for miles and miles just to get something calorically dense our brains rewarded us. It motivated us to find that amazing food source again. Now, all we have to do is call and it will be delivered to our front door.
Chocolate and sugar cravings are even more interesting because of the addition of another highly addictive biochemical called theobromine. Theobromine is a stimulant that accentuates fat and sugar’s natural ability to spike dopamine signaling. That's why sugar cravings are the hardest to control. Some research suggests that sugar is the most addictive drug on the planet, more so than crack, cocaine, meth and heroine. Good luck controlling that craving!
Since cravings are driven by sensory cues (sight and smell) the most straightforward way to control cravings is to avoid exposing yourself to those cues. If temptation is not around you can more easily avoid it. Clear out your freezer, fridge and pantry and "it's out of sight out of mind."
This time of year, the Winter holidays eating season, is a particularly challenging time because we are surrounded by beautiful and wonderful smelling food. We are missing family and togetherness. Eating "comfort food" is a way we feel connected to traditions, emotions, and all the other things we're craving. It's ok to feel this way. Try to establish a plan for this season. Perhaps you eat only homemade things and nothing store bought, or eat just ONE piece, or take 20 mins to eat the thing you crave. These strategies can help you navigate all of the temptations about to come our way.
In the meantime, the next time you see a social media post about how cravings are our body's way of telling us that we need certain nutrients you can confidently call "bullshit." There's a LOT of silly bullshit on social media and I want you help you identify it. Do you have a myth you want me to explore? Tell me in the comments.
I have written before about how to use reason and critical thinking skills to help wade through all the silly bullshit you see on the interwebs. In our current situation, misinformation, silly bullshit and conspiracy theories are at an all time high.
Every day I see something on "the" Facebook that makes me scream into my computer screen. It's a time of uncertainty and people are taking advantage of our collective vulnerability to gaslight us into thinking that the deep state, big pharma and modern medicine is out to get us.
Keep calm and do CrossFit my friends, and also take comfort in the laws of math, specifically the lovely predictability of probabilistic statistics.
Probabilistic statistics is our way of determining if something is plausible, or in other words if it's probable that something is true or not.
We live in an ethos of you can do anything if you just try hard enough. Anything is possible so keep reaching for the stars. This is great for memes and encouraging Hallmark cards, and it sets us up to give credit to silly bullshit because, "it's possible".
"It's Possible" is not the same as "it's probable" and probability is the world we live in. Thinking that anything is possible is giving equal weight to all possibilities or potentialities. In the real world, the one we all live in, all possibilities do not have the same probability.
Let me explain it this way. What if I say to you, "It's possible that you can do a muscle up." Do you believe that? Based on your knowledge of your body, physicality, mobility and strength it may not be possible that you can do a muscle-up. However, with a focused training program and lots of skills progression you might be able, some day, to do a muscle up. You will have increased the probability through specific action. Some people will never get a muscle up, no matter how hard they practice and progress.
You see? Possibility is "everyone" can do a muscle up where probability is the mathematical likelihood that it can happen for people who work towards it.
Just because something is possible does not mean it is likely to be true. When it comes to conspiracy theories and other silly bullshit on the internet people are preying on our collective "it's possible" belief even though it's highly improbable that it's true. The more complicated the conspiracy theory the less probable it is purely based on mathematics.
I hope this helps you wade through all the silly bullshit that is floating in the sea of Covid craziness. When you get caught in a wave, take a deep breath and ask yourself how probable this thing is. Recognize people are trying to capitalize on your fear, and rely on your calm logic and reason to keep your head above water. Good luck!
It's Myth Busting Monday and I'm revisiting some blogs I've written previously about how to wade through mis-information and silly bullshit so that you can critically explore the memes and "headlines" you see on Facebook.
With COVID-19 cases surging exponentially across the county and country the amount of mis-information, silly bullshit, and outright lies are increasing at the same rate. It's important to stop, breathe, and take a step back from the latest meme or headline so you can think critically about what you're reading.
There are two very important science concepts, correlation is not causation and confirmation bias, that I want to explore today. Understanding these concepts can help us see through the pseudoscience that often accompanies the latest alarmist meme.
Correlation is not causation means that just because two things have a relationship it does not mean one thing causes the other. An example might be, every time you have a PR your Coach is wearing black pants. Therefore, your coach's black pants are the reason you PR. Or, after you washed your car, it rained. Therefore washing your car causes rain. Or, people who have died from COVID-19 used the 5G network, therefore being on 5G increases your risk of dying from COVID-19.
Sounds crazy right? What about when someone shows you the data?!? Here's one of my favorite examples of correlation is not causation. This graph shows a relationship between the U.S. per capita consumption of cheese and the number of people who died by becoming tangled in their sheets.
Based on the data you could erroneously conclude that eating cheese increases your risk of death by becoming entangled in your sheets. But, you won't conclude that because there is no causal relationship.
What if that graph was people who use 5G and COVID-19 deaths? You might be more inclined to believe that using 5G will increase your risk of dying from COVID-19 because the data "show" that people who die from COVID-19 used 5G. But there is NOT a causal relationship. Believing that 5G will increase your risk of COVID-19 death is an example of your confirmation bias. If you want to believe you will, no matter what the data show. We are more likely to believe a relationship is causative if it reinforces our beliefs.
So the next time someone tries to tell or SELL you something, and they show you a graph that correlates their amazing claim with an amazing outcome, remember, correlative data points on a graph do not show cause and effect AND if you want to believe that this thing is true you're more likely to believe it even if there's no science to support it.
Critical thinking skills are fundamental to being able to successfully navigate life and not fall prey to charlatans, quacks and snake-oil salespeople. Want me to explore a myth? Suggest one in the comments.
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