When it comes to an effective fitness program, diet and workouts go hand in hand. Failure to eat right might result in counteracting your workouts, says Vaishnavi Narayanan
Misconceptions perpetuated by media, fads etc. make life harder by making one get confused and frustrated in their drive towards creating a healthier lifestyle. Amendment of such concepts is important so as to achieve fitness success. Here are 9 myths which most of us fall prey to with the mistaken expectation of gaining an instant hourglass figure.
Myth #1: Giving up on my fave treats will help me slim down faster
Total abstinence is a hard thing to live by; especially when it comes to foods we love. When you restrain yourself from your favourite nutritionally compromised food items for a month, at the close of those agony filled thirty days, your temptation might get stronger and you might end up on a bingeing spree. Fitness success is about long term goals and feeling happy within self. Instead of cutting out on all your favourites, allow yourself a number of predetermined cheat meals a month. By doing so, you will be able to notice a healthy progression in the fitness level and at the same time, be able to keep in track a lot easier.
Myth #2: Restricting all calories will lead to weight loss
One of the common blunders that we make is counting all we take in, with the idea of restricting the calories and grams of food. This is the exact opposite of a healthy diet, which is actually about putting in all things required by your body. Not consuming the right amount of calories in accordance to the daily activity can result in a poor fitness level. While it is true that the amount of calories in your diet will determine whether you gain or lose weight, remember that the type of calories you take in will determine how easy it is to attain your desired calorie level. The more healthy foods you eat, the less you crave for junk.
Myth #3: I should starve before my workout regime
It is a common belief that working out or exercising on an empty stomach will result in the utilization of stored fat in the body. Starving yourself before exercise is not only ineffective but it might also be harmful. The body burns roughly the same amount of fat regardless of whether you eat before a workout or not, but you are likely to lose strength-building muscles by exercising on an empty stomach. Not only that, without food to fuel your workout, exercise intensity and overall calorie burn are reduced. On the other hand, when you exercise with some food in your stomach, you are burning fat instead of muscle, leaving you with more energy and a higher calorie burn.
Myth #4: I can get all my nutritional needs from supplements
Although supplements can help improve and sustain health, they certainly cannot fully replace the complete nutrients obtained from real foods. Nutrients in foods do not work alone in isolation; instead they work together as a powerhouse team with other nutrients available in the same food. In modern society with our stressful lifestyles, diets, poor soil and toxic environment, supplements might help us to stay and be healthy. But just don't rely on them as your only means to optimal health and a replacement for whole foods.
Myth #5: Carbs are my foes in fitness success
Low carbohydrate diets that promise instant weight loss are on the rise. Some may adhere to extreme restriction of carbohydrates from food while some may limit their intake to whole grains and complex carbohydrates. The meaning of low carbohydrate varies from diet to diet. However, all carbohydrates are not used by your body in the same way. There are four different types of carbohydrates, each of which are metabolized and used up in different ways. In fact, a carb free diet can have the opposite effect by causing you to gain weight when you replace it with fat. Hence, eating a balanced diet that includes complex carbohydrates like whole grains, fruits and vegetables is the key to fitness.
Myth #6: I can eat all I want as long as I exercise
A long standing belief many of us have is that we can eat whatever we want if they exercise regularly. The logic behind this belief is that since we are exercising, our metabolism (our body’s ability to burn food as energy) speeds up and can handle more calories. While it is true that exercise ramps up our metabolism, it cannot compensate for poor eating habits because most low quality snack foods contain processed ingredients that create an internal environment which prevents fat for usage as fuel. Whether you exercise a little or a lot, you still need to follow a healthy, balanced diet and watch your portion size.
Myth #7: All diet charts will work equally well for me
It is quite common that we chose a particular diet because it worked wonders for our friend. But to achieve your goals you need a diet that takes into account who you are and what you want. A diet might be perfect for someone else, but their needs, their lifestyle and their food preferences could be completely different from yours. Hence, it is always beneficial to plan your personalized diet taking into consideration your diet history, medical background and available food sources.
Myth #8: I will eliminate fruit because of the sugar content
The idea that fruit is ‘loaded with carbs’ or ‘full of sugar’ needs to be put into perspective. While it is true that fruit does contain sugar, its natural fruit sugar and it will not spike blood-sugar levels like table sugar will. More importantly, the fructose found in fruits will help to re-saturate liver glycogen stores, and this is one of the deciding factors as to whether your body releases energy or not.
Myth #9”: Skipping a meal will reduce my overall calorie intake for the day
In order to lose fat it is important to eat fewer calories than your body is burning. However, skipping a meal, just because you are eating less food, does not mean you are losing more weight. In fact, you are putting your body into starvation mode and lowering your metabolism. During this time, while your body is in this catabolic state, you force it to use muscle for energy ultimately limiting your progression. Additionally, most people will overeat at the next meal, trying to satiate their hunger, and this overeating is what causes the extra fat.
While not all of us give in to all the above misconceptions blindly, we do blindly follow a cocktail combo of some of them, causing more harm to our body than good. Always consult an expert before embarking on any rigorous diet and fitness regime. A scientific workout and diet routine will make the flab melt away leaving you with a toned, fit, enviable frame.
(The author is a Chennai based Nutrition Consultant. Mail in your queries to )