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5 Lessons from The Fitness Summit 2018

This past weekend I spent the weekend in Kansas City for The Fitness Summit.  I go to this conference because it’s the only one where you hang out with the presenters until 4 am and then hear them present the next day.  With that said, these are also the people who have shaped my career and dive deep into the research.

If you want to know why high protein intake is so important for fat loss, they can cite you hundreds of studies and the intricacies of the studies.  If you want to know the differences between men and women when it comes to training, you might want to talk to the person who works with hundreds of people, while also being the one person who ran the one meta-analysis of the difference between them.

These are the people that set the tone for the industry as a whole and their reach is far and wide, as they take complicated research and make it accessible to people in the field, who then train their clients differently.

Here are 5 Lessons that I’ve learned from these rock stars of fitness and nutrition research that may be useful to you.

5 Lessons from The Fitness Summit 2018

1. You are not “dysfunctional,” even if you have an injury that you have to work around.

For instance did you know that it’s estimated about 40% of the population walks around with a herniated disc…all without pain.

Did you also know that herniated discs can fix themselves with some rest.  Your job isn’t to label yourself “I have a herniated disc,” but instead to figure out a way to work with what you can do.

The same can be said about people’s shoulders, knees, hips, etc.  Even when there is a slight tear, which a good portion of the population has, doesn’t mean it has to limit you.

Take Home Lesson: You are a bad-ass, even if your training is different than the person next to you. It’s all you and you can still kick ass.

Presenter: Bret Contreras. If you want to grow your butt, this guy is literally known as the “Glute Guy”

2. There will always be fad diets.

Fad diets share a couple of features:

  1. Lack of strong scientific support
  2. Lack of options to allow individual preference of food choice and macro distributions
  3. They are good for Before and After pictures, but bad for Before, After and After the After pictures, as people gain the weight back because it’s not sustainable, often leaving the person worse off than where they originally started.

Here are three of the more current fads, not supported by research as being superior for fat loss:

  1. Paleo
  2. Keto Diet
  3. Low Sugar Diets

Take Home Lesson: Skip fad diets, and just start tracking calories and your macros.  Skip out the “middle part” of going on a fad, yo-yoing your weight and simply build the habits that actually matter when it comes to fat loss (aka, a caloric deficit and sufficient protein intake).

3. The important things to consider are as follows, as given by a “Cake Analogy”

  1. The Cake is your total calories and the macros of those calories.  The cake is what is important.
  2. The icing, the smaller portion, that doesn’t really matter unless you’re an athlete is the timing of when you eat.  You can eat at midnight every night and lose weight. You can go to bed completely full and lose weight if you’re in a caloric deficit.  The “post workout shake” after a workout is also a myth.
  3. The sprinkles on top of that icing are supplements.  And of all the supplements, there are only about 5 that really help (unless of course, you’re fixing a deficiency).

Take Home Lesson: As Dan John, a strength coach, has said, “The goal is to keep the goal, the goal.” In this instance, the goal is to remember that the calories and macro-nutrient intake (carbs, fats, and protein) is what holds everything together.

4. Since the Mid 1990’s Grain, Carbs and Sugar consumption has leveled out, while obesity has continued to rise.

Why is that?

That means that “Sugar isn’t making us fat.”  Extra calories are, but what has increased dramatically though is the consumption of fats. That has continued to rise, as obesity has continued to rise.

Since the 1970’s the largest increase from our calories has come from ADDED fat, with an additional 229 calories per day.

These extra calories are usually in the form of salad dressings, oils and cooking oils.

Take Home Lesson: Don’t demonize any one thing – breads, grains, fats, etc, but instead remember, calories matter more than anything else.

Presenter for Lessons 2, 3, and 4: Alan Aragon. If you want to nerd out on the research, the totality of the research when it comes to fat loss, muscle gain, supplements, etc and not simply cherry-picked data that supports a preconceived goal, his Research Review is gold.

5. Women can kick ass in the gym for a few reasons

Men will generally be stronger, but women can workout for longer, at the same intensity as men. Women can also recover faster, handle more overall volume and frequency of workouts better than men.

Beyond that, there is some research that during different phases of the menstrual cycle, women might be stronger and be able to handle more workouts during the follicular stage (before ovulation) as compared to the luteal phase (after ovulation), but the research is still young.

What this means is that from week to week, if you “feel weaker” it might be due to a hormonal aspect and not that you’re “getting weaker” overall.

Take Home Lesson: When it comes to working out, the differences between men and women are small and you can expect to see the same relative rate of progress in the long run.

Presenter: Greg Nuckols. His presentation is summed up in these two articles: