Diet and Exercise Myths
Myth #1 - Sugar causes diabetes
Many people just assume that since diabetes means that your blood sugar levels are out of whack, then it must be ingesting too much sugar that causes diabetes. This is not entirely true. The major risk factors for diabetes is obesity and inactivity, 2 things our society is really starting to see the deleterious effects of now. The truth of the matter is that sugar or sugars (pastas, breads, candy, jams, etc.) can be highly caloric. A high calorie diet can lead to obesity, and diabetes. However, do not confuse blood sugar levels with dietary sugar. If somebody is very active and a normal body weight, the chances of developing diabetes are reduced because not only do they burn more calories, but their muscles soak up sugar like its going out of style. You can become obese, which can lead to diabetes from eating too many calories, which can include protein and fats as well. Just remember to keep a respectable, well-rounded diet and stay as active as you can, and you will greatly reduce your risk for diabetes.
Myth #2 - I exercise all the time, I can eat whatever I want!
Similar to myth #1, some people feel as though they can "splurge" and eat something crappy because they were "good" and went to the gym that morning. Although there are many variables, and things aren't so clearly black and white, for the most part, if you wish to lose weight, you must burn more calories than you take in each day. The problem seem to run into is that they drastically overestimate how many calories they burn during a workout. Just to give you a very basic example, a 170 pound man that walks for 30mins burns an additional 140 calories (approximately), that's like half a juice-box! I always try and tell people that if they wish to lose weight, they need to have a well-balanced diet and exercise, but cutting 500 calories out of your diet daily is much easier than 500 calories at the gym.
Myth #3 - Drinking lots of water flushes out fat
Staying hydrated is very important. But drinking lots of fluids in a day will just make you pee more, and no, your body fat will not be flushed out with your pee. Dehydration can cause a number of problems in the body including fatigue, so it is definitely important to stay hydrated, but water is not your saving grace when it comes to washing away fat. Having said that, there are a number of studies that have shown that people that drink more water have a better chance at staying thin. I think there are a few reasons for this. First of all, sometimes when you feel like snacking, your thirst mechanism is just mimicking your hunger mechanism, so often times when people think they are hungry, they are actually just thirsty. Secondly, the more water you drink, the less time/interest you have for other high-calorie beverages that can make your waistline explode. Drink more water for a healthier you? Yes. Drink more water to wash away fat? No.
Myth #4 - I am too tired to exercise, it is best to just rest
Wrong. Exercise can actually increase your energy levels. I know the feeling, many people get home from work and have absolutely no interest in exercising. If you are like me and dread working out after a day of work, then try changing your schedule to go to bed earlier, get up earlier and exercise before work. Now there's a novel idea! Yes, it will take some getting used to, but once you get into the routine, it will be just that, routine. Plus, I find my energy levels are higher on the days I exercise than not.
Myth #5 - If I want to lose weight, I should do more cardio exercise
Cardiovascular exercise is fantastic for your brain and heart and can burn calories. However, strength training raises resting metabolic rates for hours after a tough workout so you continue to burn calories long after you have left the gym! Unfortunately, most people seem to have 2 different training styles stuck in their head; cardio and resistance training. Why can't you combine them? Many people feel as though to burn calories and do "cardio", they should hop on the treadmill or elliptical, get their heart rate up to a respectable level and then keep it there for an extended period of time. Unless you are training for a marathon, there is absolutely no need to keep an elevated heart rate for an extended period of time. Instead, why not add some total-body resistance work into your training and perform exercises in circuit (moving from one body part to the next with little to no break) so that you never stop moving. That way, you are working your muscles, but also getting "cardio" work at the same time. Remember, cardiovascular exercise means that you have an elevated heart rate, your body doesn't care if that's achieved from running or pushups!
Myth #6 - After my workout, I should grab a sports drink
Soft drink companies are very clever in their marketing, by showing these intense athletes fueling up with all of these "electrolytes" after their workout. That is fine and dandy, but all "electrolytes" are are salts that can be attained from a regular diet, you know, fruits and vegetables? The general rule of thumb I try and tell people is that if your workout is under an hour, drink water and get something (healthy) to eat. If you are over an hour, then sure, a sports drink can be helpful.