With all the food and fitness advice out there, it’s hard to know what’s true versus what’s a load of baloney. And when it comes to our physical health, conventional wisdom can be woefully misleading, not to mention, confusing.
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Read on to see if you’re still holding onto these outdated beliefs about fitness and nutrition.
Myth: Diet soda can help you lose weight
No calories = go crazy, right? It turns out diet soda isn’t a calorie-conscious consumer’s best friend. Experts believe that drinking sweet diet soda makes your body crave even more sugary tastes, which leads you to overeating. In fact, one study found that eating artificial sweeteners led to an increased caloric intake of up to 30 per cent. Switch to water, flavoured with a splash of lemon or lime if you like, instead.
Myth: Exercising makes you tired
Sure, you’re going to be beat after competing in a half marathon, but the truth is more people report having more energy — not less — if they’re physically active. That’s because exercise delivers oxygen and nutrients to your tissues, helping your cardiovascular system work more efficiently. When your heart and lungs are working well, you have more energy to go about your daily life. Additionally, the more muscle you have, the higher your metabolism will be at rest, and a higher metabolism means less fatigue. Not to mention the crazy effect that endorphins can have!
Myth: All calories are created equal
It doesn’t matter if you’re digging into a salad or a sundae if they’re equal calories, right? Wrong! Eating too many refined carbs can slow your metabolic rate, so you’ll burn less calories than you would eating proteins and
healthy fats. And yet, many people still believe that as long as you eat fewer calories than you burn, you will lose weight, no matter what types of food you consume. This oversimplification is severely flawed as the kind of food you eat is arguably much more important than the caloric content of the food. Different types of food can have vastly differing effects on our bodies and metabolisms. Not every individual body and metabolism is identical, and the same holds true for food. Not all foods are created equal, and our bodies react to them and process them in different ways as they move through different metabolic pathways.
If you are looking to lose weight, eating less is definitely a good idea. However, instead of counting and agonizing over every calorie, focus instead on eating real food, while consuming fewer processed carbs and sugar.
Myth: You have to exercise really hard, or really long, to get any health benefits
Many people have a “why bother?” attitude if they aren’t able to carve out a large chunk of time in their schedules to do super-tough workouts. Though it’s true that intense workouts, and working out often, can have great health benefits, you don’t necessarily have to go all-out, all the time, to be healthy. Even a quick walk, a short HIIT session or just 30 minutes of lifting weights can have a huge health and mood benefits. Every little bit helps, so go for that stroll, take the stairs and be sure to do physical activities you enjoy where you can, when you can.
Myth: Eggs aren’t that good for you
It was once believed that high cholesterol foods such as eggs were the culprit for high blood cholesterol. Now, nutritionists have recognized that high dietary cholesterol is not the cause of high blood cholesterol, and that a high consumption of eggs actually has no impact on cholesterol levels. Eggs are cheap, versatile, and have the highest biological value for protein, iron, vitamins, minerals and carotenoids, and are therefore an excellent addition to any healthy diet.
Myth: You should always stretch before you work out
Nope, says fitness pros. Most people still believe this old-school theory, however, holding a cold, static stretch before you exercise — a.k.a. before your muscles have warmed up — isn’t just useless, it can actually cause harm. Studies have shown that stretching before a run makes you less efficient, and it may also make you more prone to injury. Instead of stretching, try a warm up that includes some dynamic motions, like push-ups, jumping jacks and burpees, to warm up your muscles and get you ready to work.
Myth: Gluten causes weight gain
If you have celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity, even trace amounts of gluten (the proteins found in wheat, barley and rye) can make you sick, and you should steer clear. However, if you’re skipping gluten because you think it’s inherently bad for you, think again. Sure, too many refined carbs (like sugary cereals, white breads and pastas, all of which contain gluten) can lead to bloating and weight gain, but gluten itself isn’t to blame. Feel free to fill up on nuts, legumes and other healthy gluten-free foods, but there’s no reason though to avoid gluten like it’s the devil unless you’re told to do so by a medical professional.