7 health myths that keep you from getting fit

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We have heard all of these myths before. Maybe we do not truly believe them, but our actions may suggest otherwise. Making that a habit will keep you from reaching your fitness goals.

1. Exercise can make up for dietary excesses

No! Put down the potato chips. Slowly… and then throw them away, really. A workout does not justify low quality calories. No matter how much exercise, you can still overeat. To get the right balance for your goals, start with an accurate look at your calorie consumption. Apps like MyPlate or MyMacros+ make logging your food straightforward. If needed, find tools for portion control that work for you like divided plates, smaller snack bowls or a food scale.

2. ___ is bad for you

Name the diet fad. It is probably nonsense. You need carbohydrates. There is a reason that your brain is mainly powered by sugar. You need fats. Enjoyment of food and satiety aside, absorption of many other nutrients depends on fat consumption. Even saturated fat and dietary cholesterol are not as bad as once thought. There is not a solid link between cholesterol consumed in food and the cholesterol in your arteries, probably because most of it in food is esterified and difficult to absorb. Turns out, the AHA recommendations for salt intake may be too low. Following them could cause more harm than good. In short, the diet answer everyone is looking for is not complicated. It's common sense and moderation.

3. Protein, Protein, Protein

Protein is the only macronutrient to largely escape restrictive diet fads based on the "science" of the moment. Because it has not been sullied by science, today's diets imply that more protein is always, unequivocally better. While adequate protein consumption in the context of a healthy diet is challenging, excessive consumption can be harmful, especially when it takes the place of the things you need in your diet. Again, moderation is key.

4. I do not have time to exercise

No one has enough time. Implying someone who exercises can leisurely do whatever they want because of all the "free time" they must have is just a way to excuse the choice (yes, choice) to not be active. Priorities dictate what we have time for, and health should be a priority. The stress relief and energy you gain from exercise will help you with all the other demands on your time.

5. When in doubt, stick to cardio

Kudos for getting to your workout. Now do not spend the whole time on the elliptical! Because the gym is an intimidating place, it can be difficult to get out there. Adding to your routine will improve your overall fitness and help you achieve better results. Group classes are a great way to start. No experience lifting? Try a class focused on resistance training. The more things you try, the more likely it is that you will find something you really enjoy, which is key to staying motivated.

6. Weights will make me bulky

Sure, they will… if you take steroids. The false idea that lifting will lead to bulk causes many women to ignore the many benefits of resistance training. Low levels of testosterone preclude building a ton of muscle. The small bump in testosterone that you do get from lifting is actually a really good thing for your performance and mood. Resistance training helps maintain bone density. The muscle you do build will increase your metabolism. This means burning MORE FAT even when you're not exercising.

7. I do not have time to meal prep and "eat clean"

There are so many resources in this area. It does not have to be time consuming either. Cooking ahead can actually save a lot of time AND money. One hour of work on Sunday means not spending an hour out and $10+ every day. Instead, I have healthy lunches for less than $2 each (chicken or tofu scramble, roasted potato, broccoli, done).

Article sources

1. http://neuro.hms.harvard.edu/harvard-mahoney-neuroscience-institute/brain-newsletter/and-brain-series/sugar-and-brain
2. http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-truth-about-fats-bad-and-good
3. http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/panel-suggests-stop-warning-about-cholesterol-in-food-201502127713
4. http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/899663
5. http://www.webmd.com/diet/news/20000425/protein-popularity#1

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