By Rosemary Marchese
Physiotherapist and mum of 3 fit kids
Another ‘Holy Grail’ diet
Yep, here we go again. Your quest for a ‘perfect’ body program have been answered. Or have they? New Canadian research has claimed to have uncovered what has been named the ‘Holy Grail’ of diets because the results showed that you can lose fat and build muscle at the same time while on this diet. And yes, the participants (they were males) had some amazing results. Here’s the catch.
Or several of them:
- The participants had to consume really low amounts of calories, in fact 40 percent under the amount that your body requires to stay at its current weight.
- They had to consume really high amounts of protein. How much? Well, they had to consume almost 2.4 g of protein per kilo of body weight per day. Um, body builders are typically recommended 1.7g per day for muscle building. Anyone for lots of eggs and chicken with that?
- The participants had to train, and train hard with a program that involved high intensity interval training (HIIT) six days per week.
Now, when the senior investigator on the study, Stuart Phillips, has been quoted in NineMSN Coach as saying that the one month regime was ‘gruelling’ for the young, overweight men that were involved in the study, one has to question the usefulness of such a program for the general population.
So should we all follow this diet?
For a start, let’s remember it wasn’t just a ‘diet’. Sure, these participants were following an eating plan that many people may struggle to follow for a week, let alone a month, but they were also training really hard six days per week. Not much recovery happening there. We already knew that resistance training helped to build muscle. We already know that by watching what you eat you can lose fat and build muscle. What we don’t know is the long-term effects of such an extreme program.
What happens to the participants after the study is finished? Do they keep up this routine and if they do, what happens to their liver, their muscles and even their mind? What are the injury and burnout risks involved here? There’s so much unknown. So while, I completely endorse a healthy eating and regular exercise routine, there’s got to be questions raised before the general public hit the gyms today for their 6 day per week blood and guts workouts followed by a day consuming more protein than the average body builder.
Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE HIIT workouts. I use them 2-3 days per week most weeks myself. And I’m pretty fit. Well, as fit as I can be within the realms of the life I choose to lead. There are fitter people than me, but there are also a lot of unfit people out there. Sure, this ‘Holy Grail’ approach may be the start of something new, but let’s keep the reality of real life in perspective here too.
These participants were already overweight, much like a lot of people. Perhaps it’s the fundamental principles of this program that should be followed so that people can follow this in every day life for the long term but at a much less extreme level. Yes, protein is good for you. Yes, HIIT training is good for you. But no weight loss and muscle building approach that is extreme works in the long term. Humans have a history of jumping on the bandwagon of something ‘new’ the minute it is announced, AKA the ‘low fat diet’ craze of the last few decades, only to find out down the track it’s a whole load of crap. Just be careful, that’s all I’m saying.
Rose is a Fit Busy Mum of 3 fit kids. She aims to empower mums who are time poor. She acknowledges that mums are ‘busy’ but tries to inspire them to regain their fitness through simple everyday habits that she promotes through her book ‘The Fit Busy Mum: Seven habits for success’. Visit www.thefibusymum.com.au