In all parts of our lives, we use words known as 'buzzwords', words that are used to gain the interest of those we're selling our ideas to. Unfortunately, oftentimes, these words often lose their actual meaning. In the fitness industry especially, many of these words get converted into flashy adjectives that become attached to fads and myths created by the diet industry to sell a misleading idea and/or product.
A couple of months ago, I asked my Instagram audience to submit words that they'd heard myself and/or other fitness professionals (or influencers) using, but didn't quite understand the meaning of. I've chosen the top 5, and in this post I'll be breaking down the in's and out's to hopefully set the record straight on some of these buzzwords.
I don't even know where this one originated from, but commonly in the dieting world, the idea is that we need to clear out the "toxic waste" from our body's in order to stay healthy. Usually, in the dieting world detox's are often used after a period of heavy/unhealthy eating i.e. holidays, Christmas and birthday celebrations.
The actual premise of a detox usually revolves around cutting out food groups (commonly carbs, gluten, sugar and/or dairy), eating only whole fruits and vegetables, consuming an 'all liquid' diet and/or taking a variety of supplements/diet pills.
The problem with this thinking is that if our bodies really did accumulate toxins and harmful chemicals, then we would all feel ill most of the time. Not to mention the fact that detox diets have been found irrational and unscientific in many cases. In fact, if food groups are cut out or if our bodies are starved of calories our bodies are forced to create chemicals known as ketones which cause many unwanted side effects, making us feel ill.
In short, 'detoxing' is not a myth. However, the idea that detoxing is something we need to do sure is. Detoxification is not a food, a diet or a pill, it is a process. An essential process that our body does all on it's own. It is not a short term solution or a quick fix, our bodies protect us from these harmful chemicals and toxins by detoxing every single day. Without going into too much detail, our kidneys and our liver are responsible for these functions. They then remove these toxins from our body through our waste via our urine, faeces and sweat.
I'm not sure that it's so much the word metabolism that people misunderstand, so much as the way that it's used in a sentence. Commonly, you'll hear somebody say 'You must have damaged your metabolism', I'll start by making it clear that you cannot damage your metabolism.
Essentially, your metabolism is the process in which your body turns the food that you eat (calories) into fuel (energy). Oftentimes, somebody who eats a lot but has a slim figure can be assumed to have a quick metabolism whilst somebody who doesn't feel like they're eating enough and can't seem to shift their unwanted body fat can be assumed to have a slow metabolism. However, as always, it isn't always this simple as there are a lot of factors that play into how your metabolism functions.
For most people who believe that they have damaged their metabolism, it is a case of them having consumed a low calorie diet for an extended period of time (often accompanied by the act of over-exercising). What has happened here is not that they have damaged their metabolism, but that their metabolism has adapted to the consistency in their lifestyles. The correct term for a shift in your metabolism being 'metabolic adaptation'. As I talk about a lot, our bodies were created and designed to adapt to their surroundings and their circumstances. So when we consume a low calorie diet for an extended period of time, or we consistently over exercise, our bodies learn to adapt, in turn, using less of the energy for the task that it is given.
Antioxidants are probably one of the few health 'buzzwords' that aren't supported by a myth or diet fad as such. Antioxidants are substances (both natural and synthetic) which can help prevent and/or delay some types of cell damage. The most commonly known antioxidants are Vitamin C and E, but they are also found in other substances too.
Consuming a diet high in fresh fruit and vegetables has been proven to be the safest and healthiest way to gain the antioxidants that your body needs. Although antioxidants can be taken in a man-made supplemental form, there is not yet science to support that this can be useful in preventing disease.
As well as helping the body prevent disease, antioxidants also help protect the body from free radicals and oxidative stress. To keep it simple, free radicals are created when your body exercises and when it converts food into energy. These free radicals cause something called 'oxidative stress', which can then go on to create cell damage.
If you're looking to increase your intake of antioxidants, focus on getting more fresh fruits and vegetables into your diet as there is not yet enough positive research surrounding the use of antioxidant supplementation on long term health.
This is probably one of the easiest buzzwords to explain. I think the common fallback with this one is that when someone say's functional you think CrossFit/throwing yourself around the room/and screaming in a pile of your own sweat (just me?). In reality, the term functional fitness, just means fitness that serves your function. When programming for clients, I think a lot about functionality. By this I mean, how will this exercise (and it's affects), serve my client in their every day life? Functional training isn't so much a style of training, but a way of training.
Is a goblet squat or a barbell squat more functional? Well which one are you likely to transfer to your day to day life? I don't know many people who have to bend down with weight on their shoulders in their day to day life, so I could argue that for the general population (I'm thinking mothers carrying young children), that a goblet squat is more functional. However, on the flip side, you could argue that a barbell squat enables you to centre your weight better and load more resistance. You could then argue that combining both movements in training will more accurately translate to functional, it all depends on what you're aiming to achieve.
DOMS = Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. Chances are, you've heard the term DOMS thrown around, but you've never actually heard the term delayed onset muscle soreness. Essentially, DOMS are the aches and pains you feel 24-48 hours after a workout, most commonly when you change up your workout split, try a new exercise or come back after a holiday/break. This muscle soreness is caused by the breaking down and lengthening of your muscle fibers (tiny, microscopic tears in the muscle) which is necessary for building both bigger muscles and stronger muscles. However, it's important to note that just because you do not experience DOMS, that doesn't mean you haven't worked hard enough/aren't building muscle or strength.
It's also important that you get to know the difference between DOMS, muscle strain and injury. If you experience sudden pain/aches during or immediately after your exercise, consider taking a few days rest before getting back in and/or seeing a professional to correct your form/technique. If you also suspect you're straining your muscles or causing an injury during your workout, see an appropriate professional immediately, the sooner you get treated, the sooner you'll be back in the game.
I hope these descriptions cleared up some of the misunderstandings in the fitness industry for you. If you have any others you'd like explaining, or any other questions or topics you'd like me to cover, please feel free to comment down below or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a fabulous day! Always here,