It is easy to become confused. Scrolling through social media, visiting your favorite websites or chatting with armchair experts exposes you to many nutrition and fitness myths. But it is important to know what is a fitness fact versus falsehood. Here are several myths that can actually undermine efforts toward achieving our fitness goals.
Myth No. 1: Carbohydrates are bad.
Balanced nutrition includes proteins, fats and carbohydrates. Even if you are setting a weight loss goal, carbohydrates are essential to a healthy diet as a primary source of energy. The key is the source — not all carbohydrates are created equal. It is best to focus on natural sources and minimally processed foods like fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, whole grains and dairy for your carbohydrates. For people with an active lifestyle, it’s the carbohydrates in your diet that fuel those workouts and ultimately help you be a healthier you.
Myth No. 2: A detox diet or juice cleanse is the solution.
A detox or juice diet sounds like a healthy and natural way to lose weight and improve your health. However, the body has an innate detoxifying machine: the liver. Detox and juicing may provide short term benefits, but your best detox method is to maintain a balanced diet, decreasing the workload on your liver. Reducing your intake of alcohol, sugar and processed food helps to improve liver function, ultimately boosting our body’s ability to reduce inflammation and increasing our energy. Maintaining proper water intake is also key in keeping the body functioning as it should.
Myth No. 3: You have to sweat for physical activity to count.
The main purpose of sweating is to cool your body down. Typically during exercise, as your heart rate increases, your body begins to sweat. However, this might not always happen, especially if you are working out in a cooler environment. Moving your body and raising your heart rate are the most important elements of effective exercise. As you increase your physical endurance and capabilities, you may start to sweat more when you’re active. Also, keep in mind that as you get older you may sweat less during similar workouts. The takeaway is that if you’re moving your body more than you usually do, you are working toward better fitness, sweat or no sweat.
Myth No. 4: Weight loss is just about diet and exercise.
Many people view weight loss as a two-part equation involving food deprivation and excessive exercise. However, there are several factors beyond diet and exercise to consider when you’re trying to shed some pounds. Some medications, including birth control or diabetes medication, can cause weight gain. Drinks like juices, coffee, soda, sports drinks and alcohol can lead to an overload on empty calories, so opt for water instead. Underlying medical conditions, including thyroid issues, can affect your weight, particularly if undiagnosed or your medication is not optimal. Stress can cause weight loss or gain, which can lead to a cycle of further stress and further weight fluctuations.
If you notice your weight loss journey is difficult despite a balanced dietary plan and physical activity, consult with your doctor. Approaching weight loss with a more holistic view can increase the chances of accomplishing your goal.
Nutrition and Fitness Myth No. 5: Lifting weights will inevitably make you more bulky.
Weightlifting helps build muscle, which in turn increases your ability to burn calories and lose weight. Strength training should be something that we all incorporate into our exercise routine. Unless you are intentionally trying to “bulk up” by lifting heavy weights, it is unlikely that this will occur. Also, women will not increase their muscle mass the same way men do. Use lighter weights and more repetitions to accomplish a toned body type instead of a muscular one. Don’t ignore those weights. Give them a try and see how they can fit into your health journey.