‘Google’ was officially added as a verb to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2006, but the search engine has been synonymous with finding out answers to random questions pretty much since its inception. From finding out what other movie that actress that looks so familiar has been in, to looking up the average temperature in Italy in February, we all rely on Google to answer every little question we have daily.
The internet now has over 1.7 billion websites with 200 million of these currently active. And of course, everything we read on these 200 million sites is fact, right? Just like a tabloid magazine, a lot of the world wide web is full of nonsense. It’s the beauty of the modern world – anyone can start a website and fill it with anything they want. So how do you find the fact from the fiction?
Relying on the first search result on Google as the absolute set-in-stone correct answer to your question isn’t the best idea. As with anything else, use multiple sources and where possible, find something with some scientific study to back up the information.
But fear not, if you don’t have the time or inclination to roam search engines for data, we’re here to help! Below, we’ve got some of the most searched fitness-related questions on Google, and the answers:
“Which exercises help with weight loss?”
Firstly, let’s remember that a balanced diet and regular exercise are the best partners in helping with weight loss. There is no magic pill or ‘one best exercise for getting rid of belly fat’, no matter what the clickbait articles might suggest.
The boring reality is that to lose weight, you need to take in less energy than you use up (or in other words, run at a calorie deficit). That means eating the right foods and exercising. High-protein foods (or using a protein supplement) will keep you fuelled in the right way, while exercise is great for both burning calories and building muscle. HIIT (high-intensity interval training) training, weight-lifting and even LISS (low-intensity steady state) cardio all have their own benefits for fat loss.
Weight-lifting will help you build muscle, and the higher your muscle percentage, the higher your caloric needs. HIIT training is intense and helps burn energy both at the time and can potentially increase your resting metabolic rate for up to 24 hours after exercise.
It’s important to look at your day as a whole. Are you exercising for 20 minutes in the morning and then sitting for the rest of the day? Increasing your output and doing more LISS (such as walking) throughout the day will help you reach your goals.
“How much protein do I need?”
How much protein you should have in your diet depends on a variety of factors: your lifestyle, age, muscle mass, how much exercise you do and what your fitness goals are.
Protein intake and improved performance/muscle building is not a linear effect. More protein in your diet alone will not make you build more muscles or improve your performance. It’s not a miracle powder. Instead, you need to balance, yes you guessed it, diet and exercise! So focus on high protein foods for muscle building, or a protein supplement if you need it, and a good exercise regime designed for your goals.
Protein is important though. When you’re training, your body uses protein available to rebuild damaged muscles and increase muscle mass. Correct exercise and nutrition will increase lean muscle mass – basically burning off fat and building muscle – which leads to a more toned physique.
A good guide to protein intake: if you train regularly, you should be aiming for 1-2g of protein per kg of body weight. Yes, that’s a wide range, which should be adjusted depending on the frequency, intensity and type of exercise you do. Let’s break that down to make things clearer:
Using 1.6g/kg as an average protein intake and an average male weight of 75kg: 75(kg) x 1.6(g/kg) = 120 grams of protein a day.
Also, in order to maximise the body's absorption of protein, you can pair with carbohydrates, ideally in a ratio of 4:1 carb:protein. This is where protein shakes can come in handy!
You can have too much of anything and protein is no exception. The important thing to remember is that your use meets your demand. If you’re training hard for an event, your requirements may change. It’s always best to consult a trainer or nutritionist to keep you on track for your goals and make sure you have all the information you need.
“How to shred belly fat fast / How to lose weight fast?”
Click bait articles LOVE you googling this. We’re here to crush all the quick fix dreams though: there is no such thing as how to lose weight fast (at least in a sustainable, healthy way).
It’s incredibly motivating when you can see changes happening quickly, but sustaining weight loss is about making lifestyle changes so your new diet and exercise regime is sustainable. Crash diets are the reason (as statistics suggest) 95% of diets fail. No one can give up all carbs, sugar, etc forever. Make small changes that are easy to keep to, then add to them over time. Example: skip dessert on weekdays and exercise moderately 3 times a week. Once you’ve created a habit, you can increase frequency or intensity. Reduce your sugar intake again, or cut any fried food from your diet. It’s not all or nothing!
In short: you can’t spot reduce belly fat with endless crunches or low-calorie diets. Gradually decrease your body fat percentage with smart nutrition and training (making sure you’re in a slight energy deficit – see above!) and your body will change – it just takes time!
“Best HIIT workouts?”
HIIT workouts – High-Intensity Interval Training – are popular for a reason. They’re short, effective, and can be done anywhere – perfect for hectic days.
HIIT is a cardiovascular exercise which alternates short periods of intense anaerobic exercise (your heart rate and breathing increases) with less intense ‘active’ recovery periods. The idea is that your session ends when you’re too exhausted to continue. Usually, your workout is around 30 minutes.
The secret to a great HIIT workout is your effort. It’s as effective as the effort you put in and if you’re not pushing yourself to a higher heart rate and heavy breathing, then you’re not doing it right!
You don’t need any equipment for HIIT workouts (although you can certainly use some if you want!), meaning they’re accessible to all. Bodyweight exercises and sprints are a great way to get your cardiovascular system working hard. If you do have access to equipment, you can try Tom Kemp’s HIIT workout here.