The health, wellness and fitness industry push toward being scientific and evidence based coaches is a fantastic thing, however there are unintentional mistakes made by doing this. Using research papers and conclusions from researchers to prove why something should or should not be done is not how it works in the real world.
Research is reporting on an average and the fact is, that research subjects have outliers and subjects generally form a bell curve. Some saw benefit, some saw a negative effect, some saw no effect and most saw something in the middle.
Here’s an example.
In this study, the researchers overfed people by 1000 calories per day for 8 weeks. By conventional math, everyone should have gained 7 kilograms. Of course, this is not how it played out.
Everyone gained weight, one person gained 4.2 kilograms, and one gain 350 grams!
The biggest difference was their change in NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis) output. On average, all subjects saw their NEAT output rise by 336 calories per day. Or about one third of the excess calories fed.
So, if we just coached by research averages, we would deem the outliers in this study as “impossible”.
Fact is, one male subject expended an extra 692 calories per day via NEAT, or nearly 70% of his excess calories. (This was the guy who gained 350 grams.)
And one poor woman expended 98 *fewer* NEAT calories than before. (She’s the one who gained the most weight, at 4.2 kilograms.)
This is reality. Humans differ from one another. And our differences cause us to respond to elements in ways that seem to contradict what the research says.
That’s what happens when we forget that people aren’t research averages.
The lesson to take out of this, is that there is always a range of possibilities. Remember to focus on what is happening, rather than what should be happening with regard to your training and nutrition