Your personal case study is more important than any research you read about.
For every piece of fitness and nutrition research sensationalized by the media, there are thousands of people out there waiting to use the conclusions to defend their current way of life. Did you hear the one about eggs being as unhealthy as smoking?
It’s NOT true.
Trust me. Or don’t, but at least have a look at the study yourself and not just the skewed conclusion formulated by an opportunistic journalist. It seems everyone is just waiting for the nutrition evidence that backs up their lifestyle decisions, even if they aren’t getting the results they want.
Let’s say a study showed that eating large quantities of dairy products was great for weight-loss. So what if you’re an overweight person who has been consuming large quantities of dairy products and you’re not losing weight? Should you keep eating them because this one study says so?
Of course not! Every potentially positive lifestyle modification deserves a fair trial, but if something clearly doesn’t work for you then it’s time to change it – no matter what any study says.
WHO WERE THE SUBJECTS?
This may seem like a small issue, but let’s say the researchers studied 14 sedentary elderly women between the ages of 60 and 70 and compared the weight-loss effects of steady-state cardio versus weight-training. First of all, the study is way too small to make a statistically significant conclusion. If you’re a 32-year-old male who’s been working out all his life, the research wouldn’t apply to you even if there were 15,000 sedentary female subjects. Newspaper articles tend to shout about the overall conclusion of the study, but only casually mention to whom the information applies to.
EXPERIMENT ON YOURSELF
There are not enough double-blind, placebo-controlled studies for every fitness and nutrition topic that apply to a demographic exactly like you. You have to use common sense and be willing to step away from the conventional to find out what’s best for you. It constantly amazes me how many people continue to defend what they’re doing, even if it isn’t giving them the results they want. You may defend the need for whole grains in your diet by saying you need them to be energetic and lean. Great!
Are you energetic and lean? No? Then common sense tells us you’ve made an incorrect assumption and need to change your thinking.
BE AN INDIVIDUAL
What works for some people doesn’t work for others, which is why there are thousands of ways of eating and just as many people who swear that their way is the best way for weight-loss, health, or muscle-building.
There are generalisations that apply to most people (veggies are good, consuming fewer processed carbs is good), but there are so many individual differences that it’s best to try things out for yourself rather than just trust your trainer or that really muscly guy at the gym. Check out the trends in fitness and nutrition and decide if they instinctually appeal to you. Don’t believe that Veganism will work for you if you’re always loved meat and would rather sell your first-born than give up the opportunity for a juicy steak.
MAKE UP YOUR OWN MIND
You will find an article on the Internet to support just about every silly form of nutritional advice, and probably a peer-reviewed article too. Use the guidance of professionals that you trust and the assistance of some legitimate research. Make up your own mind by using common sense and your best instincts. Find what works for you and don’t be paralyzed by research, no matter how legitimate it seems.