As you dig deep into your fitness goals for 2013, I wanted to clear up a few myths to help you reach your goals quicker. When certain myths are accepted as true, they could lead to injury, muscle imbalance, possible malnutrition, and are basically a waste of your time. Consider the following myths and the real truth behind them.
Myth #1: If you eat after 7 p.m. you will gain weight.
Truth: Energy balance determines your bodyweight. If your energy intake (food and drink) is greater than your energy expenditure, then you will gain weight. If your energy intake is less than your energy expenditure, then you will lose weight. The time of night you eat does not make you gain weight!
G-Tip: I would suggest decreasing your carbohydrate intake later in the day and into the night when you are less active. Eat lean proteins, fiber and fats.
Myth #2: If you are a woman and you lift weights, you will get bulky.
Truth: Women do not have enough natural testosterone to build large muscles. You will only get harder, leaner and firmer! Lifting weights will also help you burn calories and fat, during and after your workout.
G-Tip: Lifting weights is an essential component in any fitness program. No matter what your goals are, lifting weights will help build not only an amazing, well-sculpted, firm body, it will also keep you strong and build overall confidence and self-esteem!
Myth #3: You have to be very flexible to do yoga.
Truth: Yoga can be as gentle or as challenging as you want. As you become more comfortable and acclimated to the poses, you will probably find that you are becoming more flexible.
G-Tip: Flexibility is a part of fitness and should be incorporated in everybody’s workout regimen. Yoga not only helps increase flexibility and loosen muscles, it also flushes out toxins and leaves you feeling refreshed and revived!
Myth #4: Crunches will give you washboard abs.
Truth: Your abdominal muscles may be developed, but until you rid yourself of mid-section fat, crunches aren’t going to help you see them. You can’t spot reduce fat.
G-Tip: For beautiful washboard abs, perform ab work two to three times a week and focus on a clean, healthy nutritional plan. Crunches all day long with improper eating aren’t going to cut it. Nutrition, Nutrition, Nutrition!
Myth #5: Drinking water during exercise gives you cramps.
Truth: During exercise, the body is losing fluids. To keep from getting dehydrated and to replenish the tissues in your body, you should re-hydrate by drinking water before, during and after your workout.
G-Tip: If you are doing a more intense, longer workout where you may be losing electrolytes, coconut water is a great way to replace your electrolytes and hydrate your body. Stay away from any sports drinks that are loaded with unnecessary sugars.
Myth #6: Eating candy bars, honey, sugar or drinking soda immediately before exercising will provide a quick burst of energy.
Truth: The sugar in these foods will increase the amount of insulin in your blood, causing the sugar to be removed too quickly from your blood and making you feel tired and weak.
G-Tip: Use real fruit to give you the simple sugars and instant energy to help provide a quick burst of energy in your workout! A fruit smoothie is a great pre-workout meal!
Myth #7: Cardio, cardio, cardio is the way to lose weight.
Truth: Cardiovascular exercise will help you expend energy, but if your energy intake (food/calories) exceeds your energy expenditure, you will gain weight!
G-Tip: You should perform cardiovascular exercise 4-6 days a week for 30-45 minutes. You want to ensure that you change what type of cardio you do and the intensity. Maybe some days you do longer duration, slower intensity and other days you go for less time and at a higher intensity level. It isn’t always about how much cardio you do as it is the efficiency of your time spent doing cardio. Use cardio as a supplement to your weight training and healthy eating program.
Myth #8: Nautilus or other weight stack machines are safer than free weights.
Truth: A weight stack machine may assist in helping you keep proper form, but you can still get hurt if you aren’t using it as it properly. Using proper form and lifting the appropriate amount of weight will ensure that you do not injure yourself while exercising.
G-Tip: It is common to have one side that is stronger than the other. If we are always using weight machines, it is very common to compensate with our stronger side, leaving our weaker side to not get the full exercise. For this reason, I suggest doing a lot of dumbbell work and incorporating single side exercises into your workout routine.
Myth #9: You can spot reduce fat.
Truth: Energy or caloric deficits cause you to lose fat. Your genetics will determine where this loss of fat will first appear.
G-Tip: You CANNOT sport reduce— period!
Myth #10: The best time to exercise is in the morning.
Truth: The best time to exercise is based on you. Some people are “morning people” and find they are most productive before noon. If this describes you, then you should exercise in the morning. However, others, whether through personal preference or due to their schedules, find it easier to work out in the afternoon or evening. This is what they should do. You will build the same amount of muscle in the morning or in the evening.
G-Tip: There are theories about when is the best time to do this or do that and everyone has their beliefs. For everyday lifestyle living, the bottom line is to get in your daily workouts— whether that means you do so in the morning, afternoon or evening. Everybody’s lives and schedules are different so you have to do what is best for you.
Myth #11: No pain, no gain. If you aren’t sore after a workout, you didn’t work hard!
Truth: Post-workout soreness is not a measure of how good an exercise session was for you. The fitter you are at a certain activity, the less soreness you will experience after. But as soon as you change an exercise that you are used to, such as increasing the weight or doing more repetitions, the extra stress may cause soreness. Soreness is different than pain. If you are sore after you exercise, ice may be needed. And sore or not, you should give your body 48-72 hours to rest and properly recover before focusing on that part of your body again. If the soreness occurs each time you exercise, you may be pushing too hard.
G-Tip: Soreness doesn’t equate to the quality of your workout. Just because you aren’t sore doesn’t mean you didn’t work out hard or have a good workout.
Myth #12: It isn’t necessary to warm up before exercising.
Truth: Warming up is an important component of exercise. It allows for needed physiologic changes that reduce the risk of injury, i.e., increases muscle temperature, improves blood flow, increases the elasticity of connective tissue, and prevents premature onset of blood lactic acid accumulation.
G-Tip: Take about 5 minutes to warm up on a cardio machine. Get your blood moving, heart rate up slightly and warm your muscles before performing your workout.
Myth #13: Cooling down and stretching after exercise is a waste of time.
Truth: The cool-down is at least as important as warming up. It allows the heart rate to slowly decrease, prevents sudden pooling of blood in the veins, enhances muscle relaxation, and helps range of motion.
G-Tip: Just as you spend a few minutes to warm up, you must cool down. This doesn’t have to be done on a piece of cardio equipment, but take a few minutes after your workout to stretch, use the foam roller and soak in all the positive benefits from your workout. I suggest you stretch and use the foam roller at least five times a week for 10-15 minutes. Simply stretch or roll while you are watching TV
Myth #14: A fat-free diet is optimal for good health.
Truth: Certain dietary fats are needed to function properly and to prevent symptoms of inflammatory problems, while others are necessary to carry fat-soluble vitamins. You need fat to lose fat!
G-Tip: A low-fat diet is a thing of the past. It is not about eliminating fats, it is about getting in the right types of fats in the right amounts. If you aren’t getting enough fat, your body may be holding onto fats. Eat a variety of good fats from nuts, seeds.,healthy oils (olive, avocado, walnut, flaxseed, etc.), avocados, fatty fish (salmon, trout, etc). Don’t be afraid of fats!
Myth #15: If you build muscle and stop exercising, it will turn to fat.
Truth: This is often said because exercise helps build muscle tissue and reduces fat tissue. However, muscle and fat are two different tissues. They can not “turn” into one another.
G-Tip: Adding fat and slowly losing muscle may shift your body composition, but one will not turn into another. If you don’t stop exercising, you don’t have to worry about this.
Myth #16: If you have fat and start exercising, it will turn to muscle.
Truth: See the truth to myth #15.
G-Tip: Exercising will start to shift your body composition over time, so you will start to shed body fat and gain lean muscle tissue, but your fat doesn’t turn into muscle.
Myth #17: Protein is all the same.
Truth: There are actually different types of protein. Whey is digested quickly and is therefore good for post-workouts to assist in recovery. Casein is digested slowly so it is often taken before bed. And soy, which is known for its isoflavones, is often used by those who are lactose-intolerant.
G-Tip: There are different types of proteins that have their place. For pre- and post-workout, a quicker digesting protein such as whey is a perfect source. Before bedtime, a slower digesting protein such as casein is a great choice. Personally, I am not a soy lover and don’t suggest it. Focus on getting in enough lean protein from turkey breast, chicken breast, fish, eggs and lean sources of red meat. Depending on your goals, typically .85-1.5g/pound is ideal.
Myth #18: If you didn’t exercise when you were younger, then it is too late now.
Truth: It is never too late to become an active person. As we age, exercise can help reduce the risk of bone and muscle diseases and also help enhance daily activities of life. You actually get better the older you get! It is NEVER TOO LATE!
G-Tip: No matter what age or goal is, exercise only adds to your longevity and creates a more balanced, happy and healthy life. Better to jump on board later than never!
Myth #19: Exercising during menopause causes more hot flashes.
Truth: Aerobic and resistance exercise are integral parts to being healthy. They help to prevent weight gain often associated with the changes that occur during menopause and to maintain bone mineral density. Expending energy does not cause hot flashes; however, it might make you sweat.
G-Tip: Exercising during menopause is one of the best things for you. Keeping yourself healthy and fit can only help keep your hormones balanced and most of all, keep you mentally healthy while you experience “the change.”
Myth #20 – Most low-fat foods are low in calories.
Truth: Low-fat foods often have added carbohydrates and proteins to help with their taste and texture.
G-Tip: Read labels. Don’t just focus on calories, low fat, low carb. Understand what you are eating, not just how many calories or grams of fats and carbs you are eating. Quality over quantity!
Myth #21: Coffee and tea are the best to drink before exercising.
Truth: While some people may benefit from the caffeine that these drinks provide, others will experience increased urine production, which can dehydrate them.
G-Tip: If you are a coffee drinker, be sure you are drinking plenty of water. Caffeine does give you a little extra boost but doesn’t replace your water intake. You want to ensure that you are staying well hydrated before, during and after your workouts. Aim for at least your weight in ounces each day. If you are exercising, I would aim for at least 3/4 of a gallon to 1 gallon.
Myth #22: If you can’t exercise for at least 30 straight minutes, don’t bother.
Truth: Exercising 30 minutes on most days of the week is recommended. However, the intensity of your exercise is often more important than the length of the activity. Something is better than nothing!!
G-Tip: No matter what, 5 minutes here, 5 minutes there all adds up. Ideally, you want to have an allotted amount of time, but if you are busy, you have to get it in when you can. A few squats here, triceps dips there can all add up!
Myth #23: Organic food is healthier than non-organic food.
Truth: Organic food refers to the way in which it is grown or processed. It does not necessarily mean that it has more nutrients than non-organic food.
G-Tip: There are a lot of studies and beliefs about organic foods. I suggest you eat organic whenever possible. In a perfect world, I would suggest eating all organic but that may not be completely realistic. Focus on at least purchasing these 13 fruits and veggies organic— they have been shown to have higher levels of pesticides: apples, nectarines, pears, peaches, cherries, grapes, berries, spinach, potatoes, bell peppers, celery, kale, lettuce.
Myth #24: Vitamin supplements can replace a balanced diet.
Truth: Vitamins do not provide the phytochemicals, fiber, and other nutrients necessary to keep you healthy. Eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep will help you be healthy. A vitamin supplement can be a part of your diet, but as a supplement.
G-Tip: Unfortunately, the quality of our foods has decreased, not offering the same high potent vitamins and minerals as it once did. To ensure you are obtaining all of the necessary vitamins and minerals, you want to be sure to supplant with a high-quality multi-vitamin. A vitamin doesn’t replace a food but rather is used as a “supplement,” hence the name.
Myth #25: Older adults should avoid resistance training because they could hurt themselves.
Truth: Resistance training in adults of all ages is one component of leading a healthy lifestyle. It helps older adults specifically by preventing falls, improving mobility, and allowing them to perform activities of daily living without assistance.
G-Tip: Older adults should absolutely focusing on weight training as number one, to ensure they are keeping their bones strong and avoiding osteoporosis (bone loss).
Myth #26: A calorie is a calorie. They are all the same.
Truth: One hundred calories of processed cookies has a significantly different nutritional value than 100 calories of chicken. It is better to eat nutrient-dense foods like chicken, which provide more nutrients per calorie.
G-Tip: A calorie is not a calorie! One hundred calories of raw almonds is not equal to a 100-calorie Oreo Pack. Quality over quantity. You don’t want to take this literal and go nuts with your nuts. But rather than focusing on the amount of calories in a food, focus on what is in the food. Eat things that are not processed. Look at the actual nutritional value of a food, not just the amount of calories it provides.
Hope this helps you with your fitness goals in the new year!