5 Diet and Fitness Myths

20 Jan

Earlier this month I was asked to write an article for our company newsletter.  The company I work for distributes this newsletter monthly to all the employees.  Since this month’s issue is due to be released today I thought I would share my piece with you.

Is it that time again?  Another year gone by already.  Did you stick to your New Year’s Resolution from last year?  You know which one.  The one where you said 2011 was going to be your year!  The year you were going to start living healthy and get in shape.  Did you make it happen?  If you did, good for you.  If you didn’t, well now’s your chance to try again.

There are a lot of misconceptions out there surrounding diet and fitness and I am here to clear some of those up for you so that they don’t prevent you from reaching your weight loss goals.

5 Diet and Fitness Myths:

1.  “Strength training will create bulk.”

Let’s first start by tackling the myth that a pound of muscle weighs more than a pound of fat.  A pound is a pound, whether it’s made up of muscle or fat.  The difference is, however, that muscle is denser than fat and takes up less room so two people who weigh the same can look very different if one has a higher ratio of lean muscle mass to fat.

It is important to incorporate strength training into your routine so you burn calories at an optimal rate all day long.  Researchers at the Washington University of Medicine found that working out with heavy weights even for as few as 3-6 repetitions increased exercisers’ sleeping metabolic rate by nearly 8%.  That’s enough to lose about 5 pounds in a year, even if you did nothing else!

“Muscle weight is a good weight because you look firmer, smaller and more fit.  It’s also more metabolically active, so just having more muscle will boost metabolism throughout the day to help keep you leaner.”  Julia Valentour – program coordinator and media spokesperson for the American Council on Exercise.

2.  “I exercise so I can eat whatever I want.”

Even if you work out regularly, you can’t eat whatever you want and still expect to lose weight.  This may seem obvious but the desire to “reward” a workout is natural.  The idea that “I can have that dessert because I worked out this morning” is setting yourself up for failure if your goal is to lose weight.

It is recommended that if you are trying to lose weight you should be eating 250 fewer calories per day and aim to burn an extra 250 calories per day.  This creates enough of a calorie deficit to achieve an average weight loss of a pound per week which is a healthy and realistic goal for long-term weight loss.

3.  “All calories are equal.”

Having just mentioned the recommended daily caloric intake suggestion above, I am compelled to warn you that contrary to common belief, not all calories are equal!!

In scientific terms, a calorie (kilocalorie or kcal), is the amount of energy required to raise 1 gram of water 1 degree Celsius. According to that definition, bio-chemically speaking, calories from fat, protein or carbohydrates might all be considered equal. But when the physiological and psychological effects of calories from different foods are taken into consideration, the answer changes.

Quite simply, if two groups of people maintain a daily intake of 2000 calories and group A derives the calories from toast, coffee with cream and sugar, hamburger and fries, pizza, ice cream and sugared soft drinks and group B obtains the calories from egg whites, oatmeal, chicken, fish, green vegetables, sweet potatoes, brown rice, and sugar-free beverages, it doesn’t take a degree in rocket science to figure out that group B will look better, feel better and perform better than group A.

Some foods take more work to eat and therefore burn more calories while you’re digesting them.  Just the act of chewing fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein can increase your calorie burn by up to 30%!!!  Keep that in  mind before you reach for that bag of chips!

4.  “Avoid fat in order to avoid getting fat.”

Do not be fooled by foods labeled “non-fat”.  Getting enough fat in your diet (20-35% of your Recommended Daily Intake [RDI]) is essential for good health, but the type of fat matters.  Monounsaturated fats (MUFAs) come from healthy oils found in plant foods such as olives, nuts and avocados.  Studies have shown that a diet rich in MUFAs can actually help people lose small amounts of weight and body fat even if these individuals have not changed their caloric intake.

Limit saturated and trans fats in your diet as these are the fats that can lead to health problems.  Foods containing these “bad” fats include pretty much anything that is processed.  The FDA claims that as long as a product contains less than 0.2 grams of trans fat per serving (not per package), then the item can be labeled “trans-fat free”.  Buyer Beware!!! Always be sure to read the labels.  If you see the word “hydrogenated” in the list of ingredients then you know it contains “bad” fats. 

Another great tip…if there are words in the list of ingredients you can’t read…don’t eat it!  I don’t know about you but I like to know what I am putting in to my body at all times!!!

 5.  “Weight gain is unavoidable after 40.”

Yes it is true that it does get harder to lose weight as we age, but you can put some healthy habits into practice now to maintain your weight – or even lose – as the years pass by.  Fine tune your workouts and eating habits (at ANY age) and you will be able to shed those pounds – and keep them off!

· Exercise at least 4 hours a week

· Crank it up for 10 minutes a day (increase the intensity)

· Lift weights

· Skip the refined carbs (eat more whole grains and fiber)

Believing popular misconceptions can actually keep you from taking the right course of action to reach your goals.  Now that I have busted those myths surrounding weight loss, you have no more excuses!!  Get out there and get moving.  This is your year to make your dreams a reality.

Have a fit and fabulous Friday!!  Wishing you all a fantastic weekend.Lisa



One Response to “5 Diet and Fitness Myths”

  1. Connie giacco January 20, 2012 at 1:38 pm #

    Wow, awesome article, your company should be proud. I honestly read enough information in that 1 article to understand more about products I purchase!! Thanks xoxoxo

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