A few years ago, I decided to educate myself on what popular fitness influencers were saying. I don’t follow these people, because every time I’ve seen any recommendations of theirs, they completely deviate from known science. Also, since I actually work in the fitness industry, I've spent my time... working. It didn't leave a lot of time to observe inexperienced influencers talk about their opinions. At the time I did this review, I looked for reposts or posts from people with 200k to 5 million followers. It was a sort of meta-analysis of the “literature” in my industry, if you will.
I’m not entirely sure how to explain the phenomenon. It’s as if top influencers just never worked full time in a large health and fitness facility. They tend to have no mentors and no evidence of observing many case studies. Largely, they’re young, inexperienced, with almost no background in coaching the hundreds to thousands of people which even a newer coach would have if he or she worked at a larger organization. As such, their recommendations for weight loss for the average person are friggin bonkers. The one guy was talking 400g of carbs per day for weight loss for someone around 200lbs.
I just... *shaking my head* ... I don’t even know where to start. Maybe he’s never worked with a sedentary person. Maybe he’s never worked with broken metabolisms. Maybe he’s never worked with clients who aren’t on piles of stimulants and anabolic drugs. Maybe he has very few experiences with older populations. But this DOES NOT WORK even for someone like me with significantly higher-than-average lean tissue and activity. I know. I’ve tried it. Many, many, many times.
It’s not as if all popular influencers are bad guys and gals. Though their websites look like a clickbait trap with “Buy It Now” links every other line, I don’t actually believe that they’re all clueless underhanded fakes or snake oil salesmen. In fact, the one guy making this outrageous recommendation above clearly does know a few things about exercise science. He seems like an otherwise genuine strength coach, focusing on intelligent practices for lifting technique. For LIFTING. For nutrition... go elsewhere, please.
I’ve been thinking about and studying nutrition science for over 30 years. Professionally, this is a large part of my life of the past 17. And I have come to a point of ZERO ideology. I’m simply a pragmatist. Whatever works works. An average person whose activity is low MAY succeed somehow magically listening to these kooks. I’m open to that possibility. But the likelihood is very low. Possible, sure. Probable, no.
Beware the ideologues. I mean, I get it. Young and inexperienced people find an approach and it becomes their TRUTH. In 1989 I picked up a textbook on nutrition, and that was my TRUTH. In 1994, I got a complete food counts index and food scale, and that was my TRUTH. In 1996, I ordered MuscleNow, and that was my TRUTH. The following year, I obtained a copy of Eat Right 4 Your Type, and that became my TRUTH. By the time I took Fundamentals of Health And Human Physiology in college (2003), my rigid nutrition beliefs were becoming nuanced. But think about that. That took almost 15 years to become more mature in dietary understanding. A lot of these famous influencers and online weight loss programs or applications are just now in their developmental journey where I was in the 80s.
After I started this career, one of my first specialty certifications was in sports nutrition (2005). By that point, I wrestled truth away from “expert opinion” by just running my own experiments with glucometers and metabolic measurement masks. By 2012, I had over a dozen nutritionist certifications, but still decided to watch the entire USMLE1 medical lecture series, be in the pilot group for Precision Nutrition, and complete LTF’s Weight Loss Coaching cert. Nearly 10 years later, I can say firmly that none of those are my TRUTHs. They’re each valuable perspectives. They inform.
32 years into it, and I have no truth. I have only pragmatism. Every year I hear about some “new” fad, some “new” app, some “new” diet idea; and it always turns out to be something I ran experiments on 10-25 years ago. Why am I no longer doing it? Because each approach is incomplete. No one has THE truth in nutrition. There are many effective approaches. There is no single superior tactic which forever and always beats all others.
Beware the ideologues. Beware the popular influencers. Beware the weight loss apps and online services. They grabbed onto a weight loss “truth” or fitness “truth” because they’re inexperienced and don’t know any better. In time, they too may grow. Give them time. But don’t give them your attention.
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