There is an endless amount of information available at our fingertips when it comes to health and fitness. For example, when I search “weight loss” on Google, I get thousands of articles on crash diets, fat loss pills, skinny teas, sauna sessions and more. There are so many opinions out there, that it can be very difficult to know what is true and what is not. In response, most people give up on ever reaching their fitness goals before they even start trying. So, we are going to break down those barriers by busting the top three fitness myths and identifying what you should really be doing instead.
Myth: carbs will make you fat and they must be avoided.
People have been trying to blame a single macronutrient for their weight gain for years. First it was too much dietary fat and now people are blaming carbs. I hate to break it to you, but the butter wasn’t the problem, and neither is the bread. People are gaining weight because of a sedentary lifestyle combined with poor overall nutrition practices. People sit all day at work just to come home and sit while they watch TV, before lying in bed to do it all over the next day. If you add this to an overly processed diet that is high in overall calories with not nearly enough fruits, vegetables or protein, then you have the perfect storm for weight gain.
The solution: Don’t cut an entire macronutrient out of your diet. In fact, don’t put any foods on the “do not eat” list. By restricting yourself from the things that you want, you will only put yourself in danger of binging on those foods later. Instead, fill your diet with at least 80% unprocessed foods like fruits, vegetables, potatoes, grains and lean proteins. The other 20% can be anything else that you want. Some days that might mean pizza and other days it could just be a protein bar. Remember: there is no such thing as bad foods, only bad habits
Myth: long hours of cardio are the key to weight loss.
I don’t know about you, but I am thrilled that this one turned out to be a myth because I get so bored on cardio machines. Luckily, there is absolutely no need to spend hours doing cardio. Not only is it completely unnecessary, it might actually be preventing you from reaching your body goals. As cardio helps to burn more calories, you will see an initial drop in weight. However, the body adapts and changes over time. Soon enough the cardio just won’t cut it and you will have to add some resistance training. Not to mention, long-distance cardio actually burns lean muscle for fuel over body fat, and since muscle is necessary to burn fat, metabolize faster, stay mobile, increase strength and more, this will not assist in reaching fitness goals.
The solution: Keep your cardio short and sweet and make sure to do your resistance training for the best possible results. The most effective form of cardio for fat loss is HIIT (high intensity interval training). HIIT involves short intervals of exercise, followed by short periods of rest back-to-back for a given length of time. I recommend starting with 30 seconds of exercise and 30 seconds of rest for a 5-minute workout. Increase as you get comfortable.
Myth: you will gain weight if you eat at night.
This rumor began because people were afraid that any calories eaten before bed would be immediately stored as their bodies were inactive and not burning calories for fuel. Luckily, this is far from the truth. Calories are calories, regardless of what time it is. There is no magic hour when our bodies just start storing calories instead of burning them. In fact, in combination with regular exercise, eating at night can actually be beneficial for protein synthesis and metabolic health.
The solution: Don’t go to bed starving because of a myth. If 9 p.m. rolls around and you’re still hungry, have a snack. If you stay late at the office and don’t get home until 10 p.m., eat dinner. Nothing will happen except for your body receiving the nutrients and energy that it needs.