Exercise and Nutrition Myths

Here are some exercise and nutrition myths that you should be aware of. It is quite amazing how some of these myths remain as a part of our belief system in society. However, once you know what these myths are you can modify your lifestyle if need be and get back on track and head towards your goals.

Also, if you come across with any exercise or nutrition myths please let me know and I will add them to this list.

Exercise and Nutrition Myth 1:
Eating 'Low GI' is essential if you want to lose fat.

The Glycemic Index (GI) is a rating out of 100 assigned to foods containing carbohydrates. The rating is based upon how quickly they increase blood sugar levels. A high GI score indicates that the food consumed results in a sharp increase in blood sugar, whilst the opposite is true for a food that is low GI.

An increase in blood glucose induces insulin secretion by the pancreas, which stops fat burning and may promote fat storage. As a result, many diets recommend the consumption of low GI foods only. Unfortunately, this is a misguided approach. Even though it makes sense to do so there are many reasons why this approach should not be followed:

Exercise and Nutrition Myths

Not sustainable
Eating only low GI foods limits the amount of foods allowed, making it virtually impossible to stick to long term.

'Complete' meals
Eating 'complete' meals (meals containing protein, carbohydrate and fat) automatically lowers the GI of the carbohydrate-containing foods, making the GI virtually useless.

Nutrient deficiencies
Cutting out high GI foods entirely may result in nutrient deficiencies.

Portion sizes
Meal size probably has a greater impact on blood sugar and insulin secretion than the GI itself.

A far better approach is to simply emphasise low GI foods in your diet without entirely cutting out the high GI foods, ensure all your meals contain all 3 macronutrients (carbohydrate, protein and fat) and control your portion sizes.

Exercise and Nutrition Myth 2:
Fruit is good for fat loss.

Although fruit is a good alternative to lollies and cakes because it is high in fibre, low in fat and calories, and a great source of vitamins and minerals, people who want to lose fat should limit their intake of fruit to a maximum of 2 pieces a day.

Contrary to popular belief, the primary carbohydrate from fruit (fructose), which is also a low GI carbohydrate, gets easily converted into fat in the liver. The reason this happens is because fructose skips one of the regulatory steps in carbohydrate metabolism.

If you want to lose maximum amounts of body fat there is no need to cut out fruit altogether because it does provide many benefits to the body (mentioned above), just don't eat more than 2 pieces a day.

Exercise and Nutrition Myth 3:
Skipping meals will help you lose weight.

When some people want to lose weight the first strategy they employ is to skip meals. Whilst eating less does promote weight loss, skipping meals is definitely not a successful approach to long-term weight loss.

The human body has been designed to prevent starvation, so as soon as someone starts skipping meals in an effort to lose weight, the body takes steps to ensure it doesn't starve.

Here are the 4 main 'Anti-Starvation Mechanisms' the body employs:

  • Reduce thyroid output

  • Increase cortisol production

  • Increase appetite

  • Increase activity of fat-storing enzymes
  • Therefore, if you want to lose weight, reduce your food intake slightly but definitely don't skip any meals.

    Exercise and Nutrition Myth 4: Carbohydrates don't make you fat.
    It's what you put on them that makes you fat!

    This is a common belief held by many mainstream nutritionists. It was especially popular when the out-dated USDA Food Pyramid was around in the 1980's and 1990's, which recommended 6-11 serves a day of high-density, grain-based, complex carbohydrates like, bread, pasta, rice and cereals.

    It was common to hear them say, 'It's the butter or margarine on the bread that makes you fat, not the bread itself' or 'It's the sour cream on the potatoes'.

    The fact is, any food eaten in excess can make you fat no matter whether it is primarily carbohydrate, protein of fat. Fat is often the easiest to store as fat, followed by carbohydrate (mainly due to the action of insulin) and then protein.

    Exercise and Nutrition Myth 5:
    Cut out your carbs at night if you want to lose weight.

    This is a very popular recommendation in the fitness industry and whilst it does have some theoretical basis, it doesn't have much 'real-life' application.

    At night-time most people's activities are lower than they are during the day. Accordingly, the body's requirement for fuel is reduced. Carbohydrate is one of the body's main fuel sources so it does make sense to reduce it. However, if you've eaten potatoes, pumpkin, rice and pasta for dinner for the last 20 or 30 years and someone offers you this recommendation, what do you think the likelihood is that you will be able to stick to it long term and make it a permanent part of your lifestyle? Not very good.

    Plus, no-one wants to prepare two separate meals at night, one for them and one for their family, it doesn't make sense. Furthermore, if you exercise in the afternoon, the carbs you have for dinner will simply be used to replenish glycogen stores in your muscles and liver.

    A far better and more sustainable approach is to simply reduce your carbohydrate intake slightly at dinner without cutting them out altogether.

    Exercise and Nutrition Myth 6:
    Having fruit juice with breakfast is a good idea.

    Many people consider fruit juice 'healthy'. Even though it does contain some vitamins it is a highly concentrated source of sugar! There is about 25 grams of carbs in a standard 250ml glass of fruit juice! This of course will likely cause a huge insulin spike resulting in a halt to fat burning, potential fat storage and a reduction in your energy levels.

    Whole fruit is a far better option than fruit juice if you want to lose weight. The fibre content will help you feel full and will slow down the absorption of the carbohydrates from the fruit.

    There you have some of the top exercise and nutrition myths.

    If you want to find out the facts about exercise and nutrition, please get a copy of my e-book, Look Good, Feel Great!

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