Many people go to the gym for vanity reasons. It’s an undeniable fact. Lots of men & women want to “Look Good Naked”. There’s nothing wrong with that, it gives people confidence, better self esteem and many other things. However, many people also go to the gym for other reasons, such as the challenge of Personal Bests, physical prowess etc. It doesn’t matter what your reasons are. But what if I told you that despite all your best efforts in the gym, you may be short-changing the results you could get? What if i told you the foods you’re eating, the deodorant you’re using, the fitness regime you’re following is minimising your muscle gains and/or increasing your bodyfat? Would you sit up & take notice?
I’ve put together 5 common factors that could be limiting your progress in the gym!
Well, now I have your attention read on…
1. Too Much Cardio/Not Enough Calories
The subject of Metabolic Damage has moved into the spotlight recently, particularly after a video blog on the subject by Dr. Layne Norton & more recently a Facebook Post by former NFL Footballer-turned Fitness Model Joe Donnelly. Some trainers & coaches have been aware of MD of quite some time & the havoc it can wreck on a person (I say some, because some trainers are actually guilty of causing it!)
If you are someone that could be labelled a ‘Cardio King/Queen’ and eat a particularly small amount of calories, chances are, you’re suffering from MD.
Large amounts of aerobic training can increase oxidative and adrenal stress on the body which can result in an increase in bodyfat.
I’m sure there are many trainers out there that have come across people that say “I do hours of cardio and my diet is very clean, yet I just don’t seem to be able to shift this fat”. Repairing someones metabolism can take time, but reducing the amount of cardio, particularly steady-state cardio, in favour of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) & weight training are steps in the right direction. If any of the above sounds familiar, get in touch with a good nutritionist or trainer!
2. Inadequate Sleep.
Adequate sleep promotes recovery by increased growth hormone, DHEA and testosterone. These are important for body composition and our sex hormones. Sleep is also vital in decreasing insulin and cortisol with the end result being less mid section fat and insulin resistance. The average person only gets in around 6 hours of sleep a night, 2 hours less than the recommended 8 hours. Over a week that’s a deficit of 14 hours, over a month, 56 hours!
Late nights & early mornings are one of the reasons some people don’t get enough sleep, however another reason is some people take time to settle once they have retired for the evening, lying in bed for prolonged periods before finally dosing off. This can be down to many factors such as stress or external factors such as noise & light. If you are the kind of person that sits in bed watching TV, this can have adverse effects on your sleeping patterns. Personally, my bedroom is like a cave at night. No TV, no laptops, nothing that disrupts the sleeping pattern. This gives the brain the signal that i’m in this room for one reason & one reason only, to sleep!
3.Estrogenic Effects of Cosmetics
Parabens are chemical preservatives used to fight bacteria & fungus in cosmetics such as shampoos, moisturisers, shaving gels, cleansing gels, personal lubricants (oooo!!), topical pharmaceuticals and toothpaste. They are extremely cheap to produce and are widely used. Unfortunately, they have also been linked to an increase in levels of estrogen within the body, which is a known factor in the development of cancer. Researchers have found parabens in breast tumours and believe there is a relationship between parabens and tumours. In the July 2002 issue of the Archives of Toxicology, Dr. S. Oishi of the Department of Toxicology, Tokyo Metropolitan Research Laboratory of Public Health reported that exposure of newborn male mammals to butylparaben “adversely affects the secretion of testosterone and the function of the male reproductive system.” Although the research is still in its early stages, may be you should check out the products you are using, especially as the skin & hair are the 1st & 2nd largest organs of the body and are particularly absorbent of products placed on them. Sure, some cosmetics are a little more expensive, but if i told you that the cheaper protein powder your using may be increasing your estrogen levels, would you choose a more expensive alternative?
4. Soy – Not the Superfood you thought it was.
Following on from Parabens & their effects on estrogen is Soy. Soy is a grain which the isn’t digested properly and can often lead to damage of the intestinal lining. Soy is also one of the most sprayed crops produced, leading to an increase of the toxic load on the body, which in turn can promotes the storage of body fat. Soy also contains goitragens which lead to hypothyroidism, disrupts brain function (soy is full of manganese which leads to neurotoxicity), increases the risk of breast cancer (estrogenic stimulation can lead to breast cancer, so having a load of ‘healthy’ soy in your diet will definitely cause estrogenic stimulation) and decreases testosterone levels (high isoflavonoid intake result in deregulated sexual hormones). Soy can also inhibit the absorption of important macro-minerals such as calcium and trace minerals such as zinc due to its high content of phytates.
5. From Soy to Zinc
As mentioned above, Soy can effect the levels of absorption of important trace minerals such as zinc. Zinc deficiency is one of the most common and most serious of mineral deficiencies and is prevalent amongst the majority of people. It is so common in fact that World Renowned Strength Coach Charles Poliquin actually assumes all of his athletes are zinc deficient until they can prove otherwise. Zinc is involved in over 300 enzymatic and hormonal functions within the body. Combine this with the fact that low levels of zinc can slow muscle growth, decrease immune functionality, reduce testosterone levels, effect appetite, decrease sperm count and cause problematic skin, it’s quickly apparent that zinc levels are important. I carry out a Zinc Taste Test of all my training clients and recommend all of my online clients do the same.