So you’ve made the commitment to eat better, exercise more and live healthier in 2015. Why do it with outdated information or rely on that thing you heard from your co-worker who she heard from her local barista who he heard from Ask Jeeves in 1998?
We asked the ones who know best to bust these diet and fitness myths so you can start and end the year healthier and happier than ever.
Six Common Fitness Myths
Certified Personal Trainer
NPC Men’s Physique Competitor
Myth No. 1: Running on a treadmill puts less stress on your knees than running on asphalt or pavement.
Running is a great workout but it impacts the knees, and it’s the force of your body weight on your joints that causes the stress. Running on a treadmill is the same as running on asphalt! Cardio is great for weight loss, so vary your workout by trying the elliptical machine or ride a stationary bike. This will reduce the impact on your knees.
Myth No. 2: Doing crunches or working on an “ab machine” will get rid of belly fat.
Visible abs have to do with overall body fat percentage. Ab-crunching devices will only help strengthen the muscle around your midsection and improve your posture. Combine cardiovascular activities with an ab workout and you will have visible, washboard abs!
Myth No. 3: Swimming is a great weight loss activity.
Swimming is great for increasing lung capacity, toning muscle and burning off excess tension. But unless you’re swimming for several hours a day, it may not help you lose the weight you were expecting. The buoyancy of the water is supporting your body so you’re not working as hard as you would if you were moving on your own, like you would on an elliptical.
Myth No. 4: If you’re not working up a sweat, you’re not working hard enough.
Sweat is your body’s way of cooling itself. It’s not an indicator of exertion. You can burn a significant number of calories without breaking a sweat, like with activities such as taking a walk or light weight training.
Myth No. 5: Machines are safer to exercise with because you’re doing it right every time.
Only if the machine is properly adjusted for your weight and height will you be using proper form and function. You can make as many mistakes in form and function and have just as high a risk of injury on a machine as you would working out with free weights! Have a certified personal trainer or coach assist you to insure that you’re using proper form.
Myth No. 6: More gym time/longer workouts are better.
If your workouts are intense every single day, you could be over-training and could possibly injure yourself. In order for your muscles to rebound and your body to improve, you must allow at least one day of rest or work out every other day. Always vary your workouts—this will prevent injury and lead to better results.
Six Common Diet and Nutrition Myths
Myth No. 1: Carbs make you fat.
Carbs are essential for the body to function properly and are your main source of fuel. And it’s not just white starchy foods that contain carbs—so do whole grains, fruits and vegetables. It’s refined carbs that can lead to weight gain and increased triglyceride levels. So limit carbs from foods like white starchy rice, white potatoes, pasta and chips and stick with carbs from whole grains, fruits and veggies.
Myth No. 2: Gluten is bad for you.
Many people don’t even know what gluten is or what foods contain it. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. Those with celiac disease—an autoimmune condition where the body cannot digest gluten—need to follow a gluten free diet in order to stay healthy and not suffer from serious nutrient deficiencies. And those with gluten sensitivity can also benefit from a gluten free diet. But if there is no real medical reason, there is no real need or reason to eat a gluten free diet.
Myth No. 3: Fasting/detoxing helps cleanse the body of toxins.
Our bodies do not hold or store up toxins in which fasting or focusing on a particular food or nutrient for a period of time will boost the body’s detoxification process. The liver and kidneys function for this reason and filter toxins out of the body for us. The best way to cleanse the body of toxins it to take fewer of them in.
Myth No. 4: A high protein diet is a healthy diet.
Proteins play a variety of roles for the body including building and repairing muscle. But unless you are a body builder, an athlete or training for a competition, there are no benefits to a diet high in protein nor is it necessary or a healthier alternative to a well-balanced diet. High protein diets may not provide the variety of foods that are needed to meet our nutritional needs. The recommended amount of protein is seven to eight ounces per day for most people.
Myth No. 5: Juicing helps you lose weight.
Juicing can be an easy way to pack in the daily recommended amount of fruits and veggies, but the calories can add up. Fruits still contain sugar and calories, and juicing can strip away the fiber from fruits and veggies, which can distort that fullness feeling and leave you feeling hungry. If you want to try juicing, be mindful of what you put in it and try to still eat one to two whole fruits per day to get that fiber in.
Myth No. 6: All fats are created equal and are not essential for a healthy diet.
The body needs fats in order to dissolve vitamins and nourish our bodies. Certain types of fats such as saturated and trans fats can raise cholesterol and triglyceride levels, but good fats can actually lower bad cholesterol, improve insulin and blood sugar levels and help prevent clogging of arteries. Stick with mono- and polyunsaturated fats and omega-3s such as olive or canola oils, nuts, avocados and fatty fish like salmon, tuna and mackerel.