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7 “Healthy Habits” That Are Overrated or Even Unhealthy

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7 “Healthy Habits” That Are Overrated or Even Unhealthy

If you want to improve your long-term health, avoid these 7 “healthy habits” and you’ll be better for it.

We all know that building long-term health requires that we build our lifestyle around healthy habits. And while that sounds simple–and it should be, really–once you start reading up on what is and isn’t (currently) considered healthy, it can get really confusing really fast.

Grains or no grains? Carbs or no carbs? High-protein or low-protein, and plant or animal sources? Supplements or no supplements? Resistance training and cardio or one or the other?

The list of questions goes on and on and chances are this year’s “expert opinions” will be quite different than next year’s, with both sounding equally convincing (and unless you’re willing to spend a considerable amount of time reviewing the actual research behind the many claims made, it’s very hard to know who to listen to).

Well, in this article I want to talk about 7 currently in-vogue “healthy habits” that just aren’t all they’re cracked up to be, and why.

1. Drinking bottled water.

The Institute of Medicine recommends that we get about a gallon of water per day, and while we do get a fair amount from food,  this requires drinking at least a couple liters of water every day.

While some people assume that tap water is totally fine to drink, research has shown that it is becoming more and more contaminated with all kinds of pollutants–bacteria, pharmaceuticals, heavy metals, and various types of poisonous chemicals.

Many of us are aware of this already, and thus mainly drink bottled water. This is not just exorbitantly expensive–it comes with other problems: research has shown that bottled water is chock full of chemicals. 

One study examined 18 different bottled waters from 13 different companies and found over 24,000 chemicals present including endocrine disruptors. Martin Wagner, a scientist at Goethe University Frankfurt’s Department of Aquatic Ecotoxicology, had this to say:

“Bottled water had a higher contamination of chemicals than glass bottles. There are many compounds in bottled water that we don’t want to have there. Part is leaching from the plastic bottles, lids or contamination of the well.”

This is why I recommend you invest in an effective water filtration device such as the ZeroWater pitcher or iSpring reverse osmosis system, and why I stick to filtered water.

Keep in mind that what you want to achieve with water filtration is very low levels of dissolved solids in the water, as measured in “parts per million.” The closer to 0, the better. (Tap water generally tests at anywhere from 200 – 700 PPM of dissolved solids.)

You can measure the levels of dissolved solids in your water using an electronic water tester like this one from ZeroWater. This is useful for keeping an eye on your water quality, so you know when filters need to be changed.

2. Eating gluten-free foods.

“Gluten-free” is quickly becoming synonymous with “healthy,” and this is simply marketing bullshit.

When you can buy gluten-free cupcakes, cookies, and even beer, and when just about every mainstream health and fitness magazine is telling us to avoid gluten as if our lives depended on it (in fact that’s what we’re told, in many cases), skepticism is warranted.

The reality is a gluten-free diet offers no special health benefits, and ironically, many gluten-free foods are less nutritious, tend to be higher in carbohydrates and fat and lower in protein, and lower in fiber than their gluten-containing counterparts.

This is part of the reason why research has found that people with celiac disease following a gluten-free diet often have micronutrient deficiencies–like a vegan or vegetarian diet, the gluten-free diet just comes with nutritional “blind spots” that must be knowingly compensated for.

Oh and another fun tidbit? Gluten-free foods are, on average, about 242% more expensive than their gluten-containing counterpartsBeing unhealthy has never been so pricey!

In my experience, many people turn to gluten-free eating to lose weight, but here’s the bottom line: Gluten-free dieting does not exempt you from the laws of energy balance, which dictate weight loss and gain.

You can get plenty fat on a gluten-free diet, and ironically, the lower fiber content can make it even easier to overeat (fiber induces satiety).

In fact, one study found that after 2 years of gluten-free dieting, 81% of celiac disease patients had gained weight and 82% that were already overweight gained additional weight (which is important because these weren’t underweight people coming into a healthy weight).

Another similarly designed study found that 27% of initially overweight celiac disease patients gained weight on a gluten-free diet.

The bottom line is you want to lose weight efficiently and effortlessly, you’re going to have to plan or count calories correctlySimply eliminating gluten or carbohydrates or any other nutritional bogeyman won’t cut it.

3. Following a low-carb, high-fat diet.

Remember when low-fat dieting was all the rage? When fat-free products flooded the supermarkets and “gurus” used to tell us that dietary fats were the reason why people are fat?

Well, that pendulum has swung hard in the other direction. Now we’re told that carbohydrates are the real enemy and that we should be eating copious amounts of dietary fat every day if we want to be healthy, lean, and strong.

What gives?

Well, the truth is dietary fats play a vital role in the body. They’re used in processes related to cell maintenance, hormone production, insulin sensitivity, and more. If fat intake is too low, these functions can become compromised, which is why the Institute of Medicine recommends that adults should get 20 to 35% of their daily calories from dietary fat.

That said, those percentages were worked out for the average sedentary person, who often eats quite a bit less than someone that exercises regularly.

For example, I weigh about 190 pounds, and if I were the average, sedentary type, my body would burn about 2,000 calories per day (which is what I would be advised to eat so as to not gain or lose weight). Based on that, the IoM’s research says my body would need 45 to 80 grams of fat per day. That makes sense.

But I exercise 6 days per week and have quite a bit of muscle. My body burns about 3,000 calories per day, and if we were to blindly apply the IoM’s research to that number, my recommended fat intake would skyrocket to 65 to 115 grams per day. But does my body really need that much more dietary fat simply because I’m muscular and exercise regularly?

No, it doesn’t.

The bottom line is your body only needs so many grams of fats per day, and based on the research I’ve seen, if you exercise regularly, dietary fat can comprise 20 – 35% of your basal metabolic rate (measured in calories) and you’ll be fine. Calculating this way, instead of based on your actual calorie intake, is more in line with the IoM’s research.

So, with that under our belt, let’s now look at high-fat diets, which are diets that have you getting 30% or more of your daily calories from dietary fat.

Marketers are jumping all over high-fat dieting at the moment, and one of the big alleged benefits is related to anabolic hormones. The claim is that a high-fat diet will increase testosterone levels and thus help you build muscle and strength.

As with most hormone-related claims, that’s not the whole story.

Yes, it’s well known that switching from a low-fat to a high-fat diet can increase free testosterone levels…but not by much. Not nearly enough to help you build more muscle. 

For example, one study showed that men getting 41% of daily calories from fat had 13% more free testosterone than man getting just 18% of daily calories from fat. The findings were similar to those of another study conducted a decade earlier.

While that sounds nice, there’s a problem: small fluctuations in free testosterone, up or down, don’t help or hinder muscle growth. This isn’t just theory—it’s been demonstrated in clinical research.

A study conducted by McMaster University with young, resistance trained men had them lift weights 5 times per week for 12 weeks and follow a normal, high-protein diet. The primary finding of the study was that the exercise-induced spikes in anabolic hormones like testosterone, growth hormone, and IGF-1, which all remained within physiological normal ranges, had no effect on overall muscle growth and strength gains.

All subjects built muscle and strength, but the natural variations in anabolic hormone levels had no effects.

Research conducted by Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science also lends insight. Researchers administered varying levels of anabolic steroids and a drug to inhibit natural testosterone production to 61 young, healthy men for 20 weeks, and tested their leg strength and power on the Leg Press machine.

What researchers found was that muscle growth wasn’t significantly affected until testosterone levels moved below or above the physiological normal range, which is between 300-1,000 ng/dl.

In terms of total lean mass, subjects on the low end of that range weren’t far behind subjects on the high end. A significant increase in muscle growth wasn’t seen until testosterone levels surpassed the top of “normal” by about 20 to 30% (until they reached the 1,200 to 1,300 ng/dl range).

So, with all that considered, let’s now turn our attention back to high-fat dieting, and particular to gains versus benefits.

When you increase fat intake to 30%+ of your daily calories, you ultimately have to decrease carbohydrate intake to balance your total calorie intake (to make room for all the fat). And you have to reduce it quite a bit because, as you probably know, a gram of fat contains over double the calories of a gram of carbohydrate.

For example, if you’re eating 2,500 calories per day with 30% of calories from protein, 50% from carbohydrate, and 20% from fat, that looks like this (approximately):

  • 190 grams of protein
  • 310 grams of carbohydrate
  • 55 grams of fat

If you switched to 30% of calories from protein, 40% from fat, and 30% from carbohydrate, it would look like this:

  • 190 grams of protein
  • 190 grams of carbohydrate
  • 110 grams of fat

By reducing carbohydrate intake this much, you will be impairing your performance in the gym as well as your body’s ability to build muscle. And what are you gaining by adding the fats? Nothing but an insignificant increase in testosterone levels, which will have no direct benefit in terms of building muscle.

It’s a double-whammy of fail, and it can be particularly troublesome when you’re dieting to lose weight, because, as you know, this primes your body for muscle loss.

4. Drinking diet soda.

An easy way for many people to reduce caloric intake is to simply switch from sugar-sweetened beverages to artificially sweetened ones, like diet soda. While this is an effective way to reduce the amount of sugar and calories one eats, it can cause other problems.

Namely, research has shown that artificial sweeteners can stimulate the appetite as well as sugar cravings, causing you to overeat in general and thus sabotaging your weight loss efforts.

The last thing we need when we’re dieting to lose weight is an appetite stimulant, so leave the diet soda out. Instead, stick to water and if you have a sweet tooth, indulge it my favorite choice: naturally sweetened green tea.

5. Drinking fruit juice.

Many people perceive fruit juice to be healthy because they assume it comes from fruit. Well, in many cases it’s little more than flavored sugar water. No fruit, just chemicals that taste like it.

Even if you choose 100% fruit juice, it’s still not a great choice of beverage for a few reasons:

Drinking calories is never a good idea when you’re trying to lose weight. 

Weight loss requires that you restrict your calories, and if you want to avoid hunger issues, you need to get as much satiation from those calories as possible. And drinking calories simply doesn’t make you feel full.

Instead, you want to be eating plenty of protein, low-gyclemic carbohydrates, and fibrous foods, all of which keep you satiated and less likely to overeat.

The natural sugars found in fruit are different than those found in the juice. 

This is because the sugars in whole fruit are bound to the fibrous flesh, which fills you up and slows down their absorption in the body. The bottom line is the sugars in fruit don’t pose a problem unless you’re eating ridiculous amounts of fruit every day.

Fruit juice is different, though–it allows you to consume much larger quantities of sugar, and it lacks the fibrous matter to slow down the absorption. For example, one cup of orange juice contains the sugar content of about two whole oranges, or a can of Coke, with none of the fiber mass.

So, enjoy a few servings of fruit every day, but stay away from fruit juice.

6. Staying out of the sun.

For many that are trying to be health conscious, it also means avoiding the sun’s rays as if we were vampires, slathering on copious amounts of sunscreen lotion until we have a pale, white shine.

We all know why people do this: according to “experts,” the more we’re in the sun, the more we damage our skin and the greater our chances of developing skin cancer are.

The first red flag with such a correlation is the simple fact that our ancestors spent much more time in the sun than we do, yet our skin cancer rates are exponentially higher.

Some researchers claim that ozone depletion accounts for this, but they fail to address the fact that the depletion and replenishment are seasonal and occur primarily in the Arctic, Antarctic, and equatorial regions of the planet, yet we don’t see higher cancer rates in those areas. Cancer is just exploding all over the place.

Well, while that scientific debate rages on, let’s look at what is currently known about sun exposure and skin cancer.

According to research conducted by the University of Texas, only 5-10% of cancer cases can be attributed to radiation, of which sun exposure is a small part. 5-10% of cases can be attributed to genetic defects, and the remaining percentage can be attributed to poor lifestyle choices, such as smoking, diet (high intake of unhealthy fats, processed red meats, etc.), obesity, alcohol, and physical inactivity; as well as other factors like pollutants, infections, and stress.

The relationship between sun exposure and skin cancer was the subject of a meta-analysis of 57 skin cancer studies conducted by the European Institute of OncologyResearchers found is that lifetime routine sun exposure was not associated with skin cancer. In fact, they found it had an inverse relationship–it reduced the risk of developing skin cancer. 

Two things were associated with an increased risk of skin cancer, however: intermittent sun exposure and sunburn. It’s also noteworthy that those often go hand-in-hand: people that only go in the sun occasionally are most likely to burn.

A pooled analysis of 5700 cases of melanoma conducted by the Leeds Institute of Molecular Medicine reported similar findings. Recreational sun exposure and sunburns go hand-in-hand, and are associated with an increased risk of skin cancer.

Other studies are in agreement as well, such as those conducted by the University of MinnesotaUniversity of Otago and University of Nijmegen.

If we’re talking about how the sun affects our bodies, then we have to talk about vitamin D as well.

As you may know, our body can’t produce vitamin D without sun exposure, and this molecule plays a much larger role in fighting disease than we once thought. Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with an increased risk of developing a wide variety of diseases, such as osteoporosisheart diseasestrokesome cancerstype 1 diabetes, and multiple sclerosistuberculosis and even the flu.

Well, according to research published by the Center for Disease Control in 2011, 8% of Americans are vitamin D deficient, and 25% are considered “at risk” of a deficiency. 

Other research published in 2010 showed that nearly 70% of breast-fed babies were vitamin D deficient at one month, which can be particularly harmful considering how important this vitamin is in overall health and development.

Now, when our skin is exposed to UVB rays, they interact with a form of cholesterol in the body to produce vitamin D. The more skin that is exposed to the sun, and the stronger its rays, the more vitamin D you produce.

Research has shown that, with 25% of our skin exposed, our bodies can produce upwards of 400 IUs of vitamin D in just 3-6 minutes of exposure to the 12 PM Florida sun. 

How much vitamin D should we be getting every day, though?

According to the Institute of Medicine, 600 IU per day is adequate for ages 1-70 (and 800 IU per day for 71+), but these numbers have been severely criticized by scientists that specialized in vitamin D research. They call attention to the over 125 peer-reviewed studies that indicate such recommendations are too low, and are likely to lead to vitamin D deficiencies.

A committee of the U.S. Endocrine Society recently convened to review the evidence, and concluded that 600-1,000 IU per day is adequate for ages 1-18, and 1,500-2,000 IU per day is adequate for ages 19+. 

Considering the fact that overdosing isn’t likely to occur until intake skyrockets to 40,000 IU per day for several months, or 300,000 IU in a 24-hour period, these are very safe recommendations.

So, as you can see, with just 15-20 minutes of exposure to the sun each day, your body can produce most, if not all, of the vitamin D it needs. But not if you’re wearing sunscreen.

Why?

Because sunscreen significantly reduces your body’s vitamin D production while you’re in the sunSo, it not only presents health risks, it basically negates a huge health benefit we derive from sun exposure.

If your diet is low in vitamin D, if you don’t supplement with it, and if you religiously wear sunscreen when you’re in the sun, there’s a very good chance you’re deficient, and will benefit from raising your levels.

You can raise them by going in the sun a bit every day if possible, or by supplementing–there’s no evidence that one is ultimately “better” than the other in this regard.

7. Stretching before a workout.

The common reasons for doing stretches that involve holding stretched positions for various lengths of time, or static stretches, before exercise are the beliefs that they help prevent injury, make you stronger and faster, reduce muscle soreness, and accelerate recovery.

While anecdotal evidence would seem to support these claims–everyone from peewee soccer players to professional athletes stretch before or after training–research says otherwise:

Static stretching doesn’t help prevent injury, doesn’t increase strength, speed, or muscle growth, and doesn’t reduce soreness or accelerate muscle recovery.

It does have its uses. If you’re going to engage in a sport or activity that requires a high amount of flexibility, then static stretching can help. It’s also best to do static stretches when your muscles are warm (like after exercise, for instance).

There is one form of stretching, however, that has actually been shown to improve strength, power, muscular endurance, anaerobic capacity, speed, and agilitydynamic or active stretching.

Unlike static stretching, active stretching involves movements that repeatedly put muscles through the expected ranges of motion, such as air squats, leg kicks, side lunges, arm circles, and so forth.

Active stretching accomplishes several things that improve performance: it increases the suppleness of and blood flow to the muscles, raises body temperature, and enhances free, coordinated movement.

It can and should be done before any type of exercise, and this is why I recommend several warm-up sets when weightlifting that progressively increase blood flow to the muscles that will be trained, before you load your working weight.

What do you think of these not-so-healthy “healthy habits”? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!

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  • Good post as always Mike!

    Would also chime in to say that low carb dieting hammers testosterone levels, so there definitely needs to be a balance between the two.

    I’m currently getting around 40% of my cals from fat and around 30% from carbs. Works really well for me in terms of testosterone and muscle building purposes.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks! Good point. I need to remember to mention that next time I’m railing on low-carb dieting, haha. 40/30/40 is a good breakdown. More carbs would improve your training though, FYI.

    • Utopianfreeman

      Why does low card dieting kill testosterone?

  • Vase

    In terms of drinking your calories I completely agree except for two exceptions (the reasons were mentioned in your article, but in different sections):1. low sodium vegetable juice (like Campbell’s tomato or v8) because of the high fiber content seems to make me eat less for several hours. 2. Protein shakes, because of the high protein content, also make me feel less hungry for several hours. Drinking carbs does nothing for my satiety, but drinking fiber or protein seems to work for me. Of course, eating beast (steak, etc) is by far the most satisfying way to go.

    • Michael Matthews

      Great points. I agree.

  • Renier

    agree in almost everything specially in the water thing!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks!

  • Boris Yankov

    Mike, I don’t think you’ve read the research you linked to in point #4. I did.

    It was performed on 14 people and lasted for 3 days. This is a ridiculously small sample size and duration, considering it is a very easy and cheap study to perform.

    Not to mention the last line:

    The research was supported by The Sugar Bureau. (which comprises of UK sugar manufacturers)

  • Romain

    Agree to everything except the gluten advice ! 🙂

    Gluten is well known to cause health problems (skin problems, digestion problems, auto immune diseases, fatigue problems…), and damage the intestine (it acts like a glue on the intestines), and following a gluten free-diet doesn’t mean lacking any micronutrients. I replaced all the bread and pasta i used to eat with rice, sweet potatoes and buckwheat. Lots of carbs, and better macronutrients.

    There are a lot of studies concerning gluten, and a very comprehensive book and, even if i’m not allergic to gluten, i tried a gluten free diet for several weeks and I noticed good changes. No more psorasis, less fatigue, perfectly clean face (i used to have some spots here and there). , and no more bloating after big meals. And no, it’s not placebo 😉

    Every one reacts differently to gluten, some won’t have any problems short term, but it’s different in the long term. For example, I don’t have any headaches, but a friend of mine who had headaches almost every week tried a gluten free diet on my advice. Guess what? No more headaches since ! 🙂

    I know gluten seems like a trendy topic nowadays, but it’s a real problem. The wheat we use today is not the same that we used at the beginning of agriculture, it’s been modified by men since 20-30 years only.

    Gluten must be reduced, or if possible eliminated, your body will thank you for it !

    But don’t buy gluten-free products, like gluten-free pasta or gluten-free bread : like you said it’s expensive, and it’s also disgusting ! Just replace them with something different 🙂

    I hope my english is good as i’m a French guy 😉 Have a great day !

    • Jake Tyler

      I want to see a legit study where gluten was proven to cause (skin problems, digestion problems, auto immune diseases, fatigue problems…) Thank you.

      • Romain

        Of course ! 🙂

        Actually i’ve ***** hundreds of studies, directly or indirectly related to the gluten problems. Here are some references i picked up concerning these problemes (there are others type of problems of course i haven’t mentionned, i’ve got studies for them as well) :

        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21224837
        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21957450
        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17597819
        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16181450
        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10651693
        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11594166
        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12650798

        I’ve got about 350 studies of these…

        But if you wanna know more (and understand french), check this book, written by a very good French author, considered as one of the best concerning health/nutrition for athletes : http://www.amazon.fr/Gluten-Comment-moderne-nous-intoxique/dp/2365490433

        • Hi, Romain, I copied a few excerpts from your studies:

          “Our results suggest that a significant proportion of patients with migraine may have CD, and that a gluten free diet may lead to a improvement in the migraine in these patients.”

          “Coeliac disease (CD) is a gluten dependent enteropathy with genetic predisposition. The introduction of the gluten with the diet leads to a damage of the intestinal mucosa losing the ability of absorption. (…) The neurologic symptoms are not frequent and regard seizures, headache, ataxia and psychiatric problems.”

          “Gluten proteins, prominent constituents of barley, wheat and rye, cause celiac disease in genetically predisposed subjects.”

          “”Non-celiac gluten intolerance” may exist, but no clues to the mechanism were elucidated.”

          As you can see, your studies (with one exception) prove Mike’s point: only people with celiac disease should avoid gluten. The exception was the psoriasis one. If I had that, I would be intrigued.

        • Tilian

          Yeah… My body feels absolutely miserable if I eat wheat products. I get gas, stomach pain, extreme fatigue, mental cloudiness, even word slurring. I think it might be a “to-each-his-own” subject. I have enough personal experience with gluten to know 100 per cent it acts like a poison to my body.

          But, just because I have have an allergy, doesn’t mean everyone will.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks for the comment! Unfortunately the gluten issue isn’t as simple/open-shut as you think.

      Check this out:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com/why-gluten-free-diet/

  • Ron

    Love number four! Thank you!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks!

  • Sarah Goran

    Hey mike!

    I have a question about the artificial sweetener one. Obviously diet soda should be avoided because it is soda, but I was wondering what your opinion is on the thoughts brought up by this guy in this YouTube video.

    http://m.youtube.com/watch?autoplay=1&v=Mf82FfX-wuU

    I am genuinely just curious about whether or not you think his claims hold any validity or not, I rarely use artificial sweeteners other than stevia so it doesn’t really effect me. Just something I thought I would share! Thanks for another great article!

    • Michael Matthews

      I’m on the fence about artificial sweeteners.

      I’ve spoken to some PhDs (dietitians) MUCH more informed than I am and the consensus is that if consumed in moderation they’re probably fine but it also depends what’s going on in your body. Some people’s bodies are already overloaded with toxins and stress and adding “little” things in can cause disproportionately large effects.

  • drpepper92

    Good list. Occasionally when I want to sweeten a tea or smoothie I use a bit of honey. I’d prefer the calories than the chemical intake. I also add raisins or honey, never both to plain greek yogurt. I stopped buying the one with the fruit and just add my own. I’ve heard dates are really awesome sweeteners too. Just add a few into a blender or with whatever you want to sweeten up.

    I’m going to start adding dynamic stretching to my routines too.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks! Honey is yummy. 🙂 Have you tried stevia or erythritol?

  • mike

    Typo, one is better than other. You wrote once in vitamin d section.

    • Michael Matthews

      Doh! Fixed.

  • Pasquale

    Hi MIke. Great info as always. I’ve been reading quite a bit on water which was one of your topics. I’ve read that there is something to be said not only for water filtration systems but also making sure your water is alkaline at between 8 and 10% depending on your body. I tested about 15 different bottles of water. Pol spring was god awful at 5.5 which was highly acidic. Figi and Evian were on point at 8.8. I’ve heard that keeping your body in an alkaline state makes it much easier to heal in all kinds of ways. Not to say going in the opposite direction to 14 or 15 alkaline levels would be good either since your body will naturally bring you back to 7.3 through homeostasis
    . Any thoughts? Pasquale

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks! I haven’t looked into it much but my guess is the water pH stuff is bullshit. The body regulates pH very carefully, like body temperature, and we can’t influence it by drinking “acidic” or “alkaline” water…

  • pmort

    As a very fair skinned redhead, I do take some umbrage with the staying out of the sun thing. People of my genetic makeup have generally lived in very cloudy & low sunlight areas. Sunlight wreaks havoc on us. We need far less of it than most other people.

    • Michael Matthews

      You just want to avoid burning, that’s all. Gotta make sure you get enough vitamin D though! I supplement.

  • brandon

    So I bought a zero water filter about a week ago after reading this article. It worked great until today. According to the box I need to replace the filter after only 6 days of use. I cannot really imagine spending 50 bucks a month on filters to keep this thing going. I did some reading and from what I read, it is because here in the Kansas City area the tap water reads 300-400 and that destroys the filter quickly. Lucky people who live where the water is not horrible.

    • Michael Matthews

      Yikes! Personally I would test the water (PPM) and see if it actually needs replacing that often. While I prefer sub-10 PPM I would be fine with up to 50 PPM before replacing…

  • William Lim Jr

    You nailed it again, Mike! Amen to all these.

    I’d add over-sanitizing – using antibacterial soaps (regular soap is enough, and the chemicals antibacterial varieties might even be more harmful), obsessively using hand sanitizers, using industrial grade antiseptics to clean a household kitchen or bathroom, etc. We did have to swing the pendulum towards ultra-cleanliness back when we had piles of horse manure covering the streets, but more recent studies are showing how we may have swung too far. A lot of the extreme allergies to simple everyday things (nuts, cheese, and so on) have stemmed from the body no longer being able to distinguish pathogens from mild irritants because of lack of exposure.

    I think the point is for us to not just be gullible to any claim. Investigate, and reinvestigate always and forever.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks William!

      That’s an interesting one! Thanks for sharing.

  • Cristy

    Eh, have to disagree with you on a couple of those. Mainly though – the high fat, low carb diet. You DON’T need carbs to build muscles, and if you feel like you do then you’re eating too many carbs. I’m female, used to be very obese and I have tons of muscle now (well okay, for a non-body-builder woman it’s a lot of muscle) and strength train just fine (as well as cardio of course). I eat a high good fat/moderate protein/low carb diet and I have tons of energy and no problem building very visible muscle.
    My resting pulse is about 50, my blood pressure is low (74/56 at my last checkup), my HDL is 100 and my total cholesterol was 185 last time I had it checked. My non-fasting blood sugar is usually in the low 60’s. I’m almost 40 years old btw, and I don’t exercise THAT much like you all do, just a moderate amount (probably at most 10 hours per week).
    And yes, my numbers used to be worse before I went on the high-good-fat diet. On a high-protein/low carb/moderate fat diet my HDL was 50 and my total cholesterol about 220, which is not terrible but obviously managing to double my HDL while lowering my LDL is much better.
    It’s all about getting the inflammation out of your body and a diet high in good fats and low in carbs will do that.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks for the comment Cristy! Great job on what you’ve accomplished too!

      That said, the scientific research is very clear: carbohydrates play an important role in building muscle. I recommend you read the studies I’ve linked in that section of the article. You might find them interesting!

  • Mylo

    uhmm… it may be a dumb question but exactly what is static and what is dynamic stretching?

    • mylo

      Sorry, I didn’t read it carefully enough. Dynamic is “air squats, leg kicks, side lunges, arm circles, and so forth”, so I guess static is the kind of stretching where you wouldn’t be making such rapid movements?

      • Michael Matthews

        Yeah exactly. Where you hold static positions.

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  • Guest

    Hey Mike!
    I was wondering, are there instances where fruit juice is okay?
    I have a hard time getting enough carbohydrates in because I have an abnormally high caloric intake (recommended for medical reasons by my doctor) I also have to work really hard at bringing my fiber down because I end up getting way too much from the carbs I do eat.
    The two points I saw made for not drinking juice are the fiber content and the reduced satiety.
    If I would like to get more calories in without filling all the way up and I seem to be good on fiber, are there any other reasons I should limit/avoid fruit juices?
    Thanks in advance!

    • You’re totally fine to drink fruit juice.

      As you said, it’s pretty high cal for what you get and not very satisfying, but if you’re struggling to get the carbs you need, fruit juice will definitely help.

  • dave

    hey mike. here in ireland we dont get the best sun exposure especially in winter so i have started supplementing with vit D. I take two servings of 60 uG which is equaling about 4800 IU. Do you think this is a good dosage. Ive heard guys taking 10000 IU during the winter dark months lol

  • wong jing wen

    Thanks for the article Mike. Certainly gonna try using Stevia with tea for the sugar craving. Have been drinking diet coke daily during my cut and this article gave me a wake up call. thanks mate

    • My pleasure! Good idea on using stevia with tea instead of the diet coke.

  • Steve

    Hey Mike,
    Sort of a totally unrelated question but what do I do to increase stamina? I have gained muscle and lost fat but I still fatigue quite quickly after a short run .

  • Alexander Mitov

    Sorry Mike, but I completely disagree with your take on susncreen and sun exposure. There is plenty of research showing that sun exposure accounts for up to 90% of the skin aging, that alone is more than enough to make wearing sunscreen every day a must. And there is also research that shows that UV rays cause skin cancer.
    Your Vitamin D levels will be lower, that’s true, but Vitamin D is very cheap and easy to supplement with, and you know it Mike.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3790843/

    • Good point Alexander. It makes sense to sunscreen your face for that reason.

  • TD

    You make a great point about how our ancestors spent more time in the sun but skin cancer wasn’t as prevalent. However, I’d guess that they looked quite a bit older than us due to sun damage.

    Personally, I’ve been putting on a moisturizer with sunscreen in it since my teens, and I get told ALL the time that I don’t look my age. People guess me to be 5-8 years younger than I really am. I have been spending a little bit more time in the sun lately for purposes of increasing my vitamin D naturally though. You just have to be smart about it.

    • Definitely a valid point and yes protecting your face makes sense if you want to keep looking youthful.

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