December 29, 2020 5 min read
With the new year on the horizon, you are no doubt eager to put 2020 behind you and resolve to improve your lifestyle after nearly a year of isolation. However, if you’re resolving to improve your health, there are some health myths you must stop believing if you’re going to be successful in your endeavors.
People assume that the basic formula behind losing weight is to simply eat less and exercise more, but those experienced in fitness know that is simply not true. By eating less, you might end up spending a lot of your time feeling hungry and develop cravings as your body reacts to this sudden change in diet. This can lead to “yo-yo dieting,” in which case you crack and end up eating more, only to try again and have similar results because your body can’t adjust. Don’t eat less; instead, gradually alter your diet to include healthier foods, and cut out unnecessary junk foods.
Because eating healthily makes you feel more energized and refreshed, the myth that you should “detox” after eating indulgent, unhealthy foods has developed. However, your body has its own detoxing mechanisms in your liver and kidneys. Things such as juice cleanses don’t actually do anything to benefit or “flush out” your system; instead, these short-term crash diets can deprive you of nutrients necessary for your body to function at its best, and your body overcompensates to recover.
One of the most unfounded health myths people need to stop believing is that eating late at night will make them put on more weight. The theory behind this myth is that because you’re not active when you go to sleep, you burn off no calories and everything you ate simply turns into fat. Luckily, your body does not process food this way. If you’re eating late at night and find yourself putting on weight, it’s because you’re snacking too much, entirely independent of the time of day.
At lot of people measure their progress or set their goals based on physical appearance, and while a six-pack may be achievable for some, others might find their bodies just never develop six-packs no matter how hard they try. A six-pack is actually not an indicator of health or fitness; rather, it’s simply an aesthetic side effect for some. This one is on genetics, unfortunately. Genetics play a large role in the shape and appearance of your body, and while anyone can lose weight, not everyone can achieve that mainstream aesthetic. If you’re not seeing washboard abs form on your stomach, don’t be discouraged; you’re still making progress.
Because fruits, for example, are obviously much healthier than cookies, a lot of people consider the natural sugars within fruit to be healthier than the processed sugars within desserts and junk food. However, there’s no difference between the sugars other than there might be more sugar in the processed food. What makes processed foods less healthy is what else is in them. A strawberry has nutrients such as fiber, potassium, and vitamin C, while brownies have saturated fats, sodium, and carbohydrates.
The main takeaway is that your body does not discriminate between where your sugar comes from. All sugars get converted into glucose to provide your body with energy. Instead, take a look at the other contents of your food.
Unfortunately, the 10,000 steps rule isn’t true, either. This myth was born from marketing by a Japanese company selling the manpo-kei pedometer, which translates to “10,000 step meter.” Nothing magical happens at step 10,000, so it might actually be a relief that to get a good cardio workout, you just have to time your workout to be at least half an hour long. If you want a good way to track your progress or set proper exercise goals, you may want to invest in cardio equipment such as a vertical stair climber to ensure you’re properly pushing yourself toward a good workout.
Unless you have celiac disease, allergies, or an intolerance to gluten, there’s simply no basis to the myth that gluten-free foods are healthier than normal foods. In fact, gluten-free versions of food that are typically glutenous, such as pasta, bread, and baked goods, make up the difference by adding more sugar and sodium than normal. This makes gluten-free foods more processed, and you simply don’t gain anything by removing gluten from your diet.
How often have you heard this one? Your workout doesn’t need to hurt to be successful; in fact, if you’re experiencing a lot of pain during exercise, something is probably wrong. It’s normal to feel sore as you push your muscles to their limits, but you should take sharp pains as indications that something is wrong, and you should stop and adjust immediately. Ignoring the pain as part of the process will inevitably cause injury. These pains most commonly happen because your form is off, so make sure you know how to approach different exercise machines and exercises before you do them.
This might work for some people, in which case, more power to them. However, there’s no hard quota to keeping yourself hydrated. It varies daily depending on your circumstances; you keep yourself the most hydrated by sipping plenty of water throughout the day rather than just chugging eight glasses and calling it a day. Circumstances that could affect how much water you need include age, size, height, and daily activity levels.
Because many people begin to feel sick if they eat before working out, a lot of them try to avoid eating before their workouts. Some people also believe their workouts will be more effective if they work out before eating. This isn’t necessarily true; avoiding eating before working out is more a question of how you eat. When you eat right, your body will feel more energized and you’ll have a more effective workout. Working out on an empty stomach, however, can cause you to drain what little energy you have left and leave you feeling fatigued. Your body will clamor for nutrients and energy, so you might actually end up eating more than usual after your workout, which may erase all the progress you just made.
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