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Meal Frequency and Gaining or Losing Weight

Some folk maintain that the most effective way of losing excess bodyfat is to eat 5-6 smaller, well balanced meals a day? Interestingly, this is precisely what some people advocate as the best way of increasing lean body weight. In other words, it appears

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Busting Stretching Myths

Mon, 03 Aug 2009 03:45:00 +0000

Dr Mel Siff in his usual style, addresses a number of myths about stretching in this great post from the Supertrainig Mailing List - here is the question that brought his response

In keeping with this discussion I recently found an excellent literature review-
“Myths and Truths of Stretching” at the following website:
It discussed some interesting principles such as desensitisation to stretch
rather the muscle spindle lengthening, which make one think about our
treatments and advices in the past.

**Several of us have been questioning the necessity for the use of
dedicated “stretching” and “warming up” sessions for many years, so it is
good to see a review of this stature examining these issues in depth (see
Siff MC “Facts and Fallacies of Fitness” 2000). I also like to point out
that stretching exercise (which are meant to deform tissues) are not
necessarily the same as flexibility exercises (which are meant to increase
range of movement).

There are several interesting issues in Shrier’s article on stretching facts
and myths (THE PHYSICIAN & SPORTSMEDICINE - Vol 28 - No. 8 - Aug 2000), such
as this one:

< With respect to alleviating the pain associated with stiffness, the weight
of the evidence suggests that the decrease in stiffness is not as important
as the increase in “stretch tolerance”. Briefly, an increase in stretch
tolerance means that patients feel less pain for the same force applied to
the muscle. The result is increased range of motion, even though true
stiffness does not change. This could occur through increased tissue strength
or analgesia; however, increased stretch tolerance that occurs immediately
after stretching must be caused by an analgesic effect because tissue
strength does not increase during 2 minutes of stretching. Unfortunately,
evidence of a possible analgesic effect is recent, and the underlying
mechanism is unknown. After weeks of stretching, increases in stretch
tolerance could theoretically occur because stretch-induced hypertrophy may
increase tissue strength , and/or an analgesia effect may be present. >

*The use of the term “analgesic” may not be entirely appropriate. While
there may be an as yet identified analgesic effect associated with intense
stretching, this may be greatly overshadowed by an accommodation effect which
changes the Rating of Perceived Effort (or pain) with regular imposition of
progressively increased stretching loads. This happens with all lifting -
the load progressively feels lighter and the lifter then can execute more reps
or a heavier 1 rep max.

This is not necessarily the same as the so-called disinhibition effect which
is an objective altering of nervous processes in the body - it is an effect
that is more subjectively psychological in origin (even though it also
obviously involves neural processes).

Despite the very useful and interesting nature of this review, the reference
list was disappointingly small and it made no use of some really relevant
work by Russian scientists such as Iashvili (see Ch 3 of Siff & Verkhoshansky
“Supertraining” 1999).

At least, the high profile given to this article will tend to make the
fitness pros and sports coaches start wondering a lot more about all those
traditional ideas about stretching and warming up.
Dr Mel Siff
Author of Supertraining + Facts and Fallacies of Fitness

Meal Frequency and Gaining or Losing Weight

Mon, 03 Aug 2009 03:45:00 +0000

Some folk maintain that the most effective way of losing excess bodyfat is to
eat 5-6 smaller, well balanced meals a day? Interestingly, this is
precisely what some people advocate as the best way of increasing lean body

In other words, it appears as if the best way to both gain muscle and lose
fat is to eat more frequent smaller balanced meals. Maybe we need to change
our entire eating rituals to enhance our physical being, be it to lose
weight, gain weight or minimise the incidence of many diseases of modern

To determine what is the optimal frequency of eating for any given population
is under certain circumstances, we need to look back through history at the
evolution of eating customs over the years, as well as at how so-called
“primitive” people and animals eat. A great deal of eating in the wild
seems to be opportunistic - if it is there and you are genuinely in NEED of
food (i.e., are hungry), then eat it. Far too often we eat because we WANT
to eat (imagined need) or because it is expected socially of you on a given
eating ritual occasion called lunch, supper or dinner.

Far too often refusing to eat is regarded as “rude” or a sign of being ill!
Far too often parents induce their offspring to overeat by impressing upon
kids that they will fall ill if they don’t eat enough or “will never grow up
big and strong like dad unless they eat up!”

Some folk would have us wander a bit into some Freudian and related
psychology and suggest that many people enjoy filling their mouths with food
because they are still in the “oral-anal phase” of human development and are
using their adulthood to satisfy the need to eat, suck, smoke or otherwise
keep the mouth busy in some sort of pleasurable oral activity. The “anality”
of the syndrome may be expressed in the use of foul language and behaviour
relating to the nether regions of the body. However, let’s leave that to the
psychologists and attend to matters more physiological in orientation!

Is there any scientific support why we eat according to the custom of three
meals a day? Is the main purpose of “tridiurnal eating” one of social habit
and organisational convenience than anything else? Is there any reason at
all why we have to eat daily?

Then, why do we have to start a meal with something called “hors de-ouevres”
or “starters” and end with “dessert” or “pudding”? Is there any real need to
include these components or is there any good reason why we need to follow
any specific eating order? The very presence of these items on a menu is
enough to entice some folk to focus more on the frills and empty calories
than the “main” dish.

When I was speaking at a sports conference in Taiwan recently, I found it
most interesting that a very large array of different foods was served at the
same time and you could choose what to eat in virtually any order. I found
it a fascinating and relaxing way of eating and socialising - once I had
mastered using chopsticks! It stimulated me to seriously re-examine all of my
eating habits or those that my culture had programmed me into following.
Dr Mel Siff
Author of Supertraining + Facts and Fallacies of Fitness