I wrote about something a little while ago that was related to fear-mongering in the fitness industry.
We all know it exists. Recently, I’ve become more aware of just how deeply rooted it is and how damaging it can be.
You’ve got documentaries spouting pseudo-science and making people afraid to eat… well… anything!
If we based our decisions on Netflix documentaries it would look something like this…
- Red meat kills us
- Carbs cause obesity
- Protein speeds up the aging process
- Sugar is evil and addicting
- Plants are toxic
Ummm yeah, so da fuq are we supposed to eat??
I really don’t want to get into the fear-mongering strategies because I’ve discussed that before and it’s just sad.
Context is King
The bottom line is that context is always king and beware of any blanket statements.
Anyone who claims “this way of eating is the best for everyone” is 100% full of shit.
What I do want to talk about is how information is presented with a lack of context.
All of the examples above devoid of context.
There are some other concepts that are less obvious and seem to be grossly misunderstood.
Here’s my top 4 (in no particular order):
These are all things that are necessary for survival and health. However, they are often presented in a way that makes them all seem like evil monsters that are going to steal your lunch money.
Cortisol is anti-inflammatory, mobilizes stored energy to get you ready to handle business, and has cognitive benefits as well.
We often assume that anything that increases cortisol is a bad thing which just isn’t true. Training increases cortisol. Fasting increases cortisol. Even a mentally challenging situation will increase cortisol.
In the proper context, all of those things can help us become stronger, healthier, and more resilient. In an entirely different context, they can all be damaging.
It’s not that cortisol is evil and we always want it to be low. The goal is to provide an environment where any spike in cortisol is followed up by it returning to natural levels. The problems arise when cortisol is chronically elevated over a long period of time.
Insulin is another hormone that gets a bad rap. Some people would lead you to believe that any spike in insulin is going to cause you to blow up like a balloon. Regardless of how many calories you consume.
Insulin happens to be the most anabolic hormone we produce and is super important for the muscle-building process. Guess what insulin can’t do… cause fat gain without an excess of calories (caloric surplus).
Guess what else causes an insulin secretion.. protein and fats. So if we’re supposed to keep insulin low at all times, I guess we become breatharians?
Is it important to be insulin sensitive for health and longevity? Absolutely. Does that mean that insulin spikes are the devil? Absolutely not! Again… CONTEXT. We need insulin to build muscle and shuttle nutrients into our cells. Remember, if there’s not an excess of calories to store, insulin isn’t going to make you fat.
I talked about inflammation on Monday’s email so I’ll keep this one short and sweet. Without inflammation, we’d die. Fighting off infections and building muscle requires inflammation. Like cortisol, the issues arise with CHRONIC inflammation.
Stress is a tricky one. Most of us have too much stress in our lives. Remember that our bodies don’t differentiate between sources of stress. Physical, emotional, and mental stress is all real stress and handled the same way in the body.
However, removing ALL stress is impossible and also not healthy. The way that we adapt and evolve is through stress. The way we get stronger is by imposing a stressor and then providing the right environment to adapt to that stressor.
It’s the same thing with building mental resiliency. Stress ==> Adaptation.
Acute stress can be beneficial (once again, context dependent) and chronic stress is harmful. The goal isn’t to eliminate all stress or overreact to any and all stress in your life. It’s to be aware of your stress inputs so you can do your best to balance those with stress outputs.
Sometimes it feels like the wild west out there. My goal is to simplify these things for you and make them easily digestible.