The health and fitness industry is constantly changing, with new research coming out every day, and new (and often conflicting!) advice coming out every week. It can be impossible to keep on top of it all if fitness is just a hobby, which is why we have picked out the five best bits of research you can actually use in your own training, and why we will do this every month! Here are five things we learned about fitness in March.
1. Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) has no impact on fat loss - at least not in women!
CLA is a supplement that's often marketed as a 'fat burner'. There's actually very little evidence to support these claims. A recent study analysed the effects of the supplement over 8 weeks, alongside aerobic exercise, on obese women. When compared with a placebo, the CLA supplementation had no effect on body fat reduction or lipid profile improvement. So ladies, don't splash out on this supplement, it may not help you as much as the marketers claim!
2. Your sprint performance could improve by up to 15 per cent if you do hill sprints!
A group of 14 semi-professional hockey players were split into two groups to see whether hill sprints would perform their sprint performance on the field. One set swapped two of their usual hockey training sessions for 30m sprints outdoors with an eight per cent gradient and a one minute recovery time between sprints. The other group carried on with their usual fitness routine.
The players who had done the hill sprints saw a 15.2% reduction in their general sprint time, while the other group saw no significant change. So, if improving your sprint time is your goal, get outside and hit those hills!
3. Strength almost definitely improves athletic performance
Although we already know that strength training has massive benefits for applied performance, a recent study published on the Journal of Strength and Conditioning has hammered this point home further.
The study surveyed lots of other studies which had looked at power output, jumping ability, sprint speed and change of direction performance, along with other factors associated with athleticism. They concluded that muscular strength is moderately-to- strongly associated with superior performance during these tasks. This suggests that the development of muscular strength should be paramount for the improvement of sports performance, a principle we have included in our recommendations for years.
4. General protein recommendations may be set too low
The UK's recommended protein intake for an adult is 55g. Given that the average male in the UK weights 83.6kg, that's just 0.65g per kilo of protein per day! There's a similar recommendation in the USA, set at 0.8g, even though there is evidence to suggest that a protein intake this low can be detrimental when compared with a higher protein diet.
The researchers concluded that there is little evidence to suggest that a higher protein diet (say 1.2-1.6g per kilo) would have any negative health effects, and that this should in fact be the recommended amount.
5. You shouldn't base your calorie consumption on your fitness tracker activity
A recent study looked at how many calories a fitness tracker said were used, as opposed to what was actually used. It found that nearly all brands had an error margin of approximately 10%. On a 2,500 calorie diet for instance, using that estimate could put your calorie count out by 250 calories. If you plan on trying to match your energy intake to your energy expenditure (which we wouldn't recommend) then ensure you build in this 10 per cent margin of error.
While some developments in the health and fitness industry may just be common sense, or knowledge we already have, it's always great when new studies support them, and new training principles come out all the time. How many of these factors will you adopt in your next training regime?
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