“What might be right for you, may not be right for some.”
Yes, that is part of the theme song from “Different Strokes”
And yes, a catchy song from a sitcom in the 70’s provided you with one of the most important rules of thumb when it comes to training and nutrition.
Trust me, this is going somewhere.
Well, think about this: individuality is praised in almost every other walk of life, but when it comes to training and nutrition, people think all of their answers lie in equations and templates that “seem to work for everybody else.”
How does this make any sense?
The way your body responds to different types of training and different types of diets is likely going to be the BIGGEST determining factor in sustained success.
We all probably know “that one guy” who can slam Pop Tarts and Mountain Dew all day long and stay lean. The majority of us would probably inflate faster than a blimp if we ate that way.
And no, it’s not because “he ate less than 2,000 calories worth of Pop Tarts.” The human body isn’t a math problem. It’s the most intricate, highly advanced piece of machinery we’ll ever own, and no matter how hard we try, we’ll never know all there is to know about it.
So what are some of the factors that impact how we react to specific changes in diet and training? Here’s a short list:
-Epigenetics (i.e.: our environment)
-Current Training Status
-Variance in Circadian Rhythm
And on, and on, and on. And it’s not as if one factor acts in isolation. Nearly every aspect overlaps with one another to help create a highly individualized framework. And unless you’re monozygotic twins with somebody, then you should never blindly take recommendations from someone else and expect them to work in the exact same way for yourself.
This is the same reason why someone can workout 7 days a week and feel fine, while another person can be absolutely cashed with 3 workouts in that same time span. This is why one person can struggle to maintain weight while slamming 800 grams of carbs a day while somebody else can gain weight eating a quarter of that amount. And yes, this is also why some people can thrive on a Vegan or Vegetarian diet while others can’t last a day with that type of lifestyle.
YOU are context-based! You’re surely encouraged to look into the training and diet plans that seem to be working the best for the most people, but this should simply provide you with a starting point for your personal experiment. You should never pass judgment on something until you try it first.
Never fall into dogmatism. It doesn’t work in regards to religion; it doesn’t work in regards to politics; it doesn’t work in regards to health.
I’m a guy who loves to pour over research and studies “for fun.” But just because the latest research indicates that Supplement X will help me gain 10 lbs of muscle in record time, or that eating X amount of carbs, fat and protein each day will get me shredded, I always force myself to take a step back and say: “well, was I a participant in that study?”
To date, the answer to that question has been a hard “no.” So I can do one of two things: 1) blindly follow the recommendations and expect things to work exactly as described, or 2) set aside a few weeks of time to test a new method out, and then compare the progress to my traditional routine.
#1 will lead to crushed hopes, failure and tearful late-night Netflix and Chill sessions with you and your good pal Ben & Jerry’s when you realize your efforts actually took you in the wrong direction. #2 will lead to meaningful data, constant progress and the desire to continually test new things to find out what actually optimizes your health and performance.
I encourage everyone to treat themselves as THEIR OWN experiment. The process of being a guinea pig is fun, and you’ll find out quite a bit about yourself that you probably never realized.
Being diligent with data collection is an absolute must. Remember, whatever gets measured, gets mastered. The feedback you get from tracking your progression will help you lay the groundwork for a long-term plan of success.
With every passing day, technology is advancing to help you along. You can use a service like Muscle Genes or 23 & Me to show you a map of your specific gene sequences, which allow you to have a better idea of what type of training or diet your body might respond best to. You can test you respiratory quotient by using a metabolic cart, which allows you to find out what type of dietary fuel your body prefers and in what quantity. You can even use apps on your phone that help you track your heart rate variability to cue you in on situations that may stress you out so you can do your best to avoid them in the future.
The list goes on an on. And once again, these results would serve as a starting point; an educated guess as to what might work best in your situation.
But you’ll never know what the best laid plan for you will be at any given time without testing it first.