There are plenty of health myths floating around in articles and magazines that lead people to develop restrictive habits out of fear they may gain weight or stall progress. The truth is, there is no one size fits all diet and every body is designed differently; each of us require different training and eating methods to reach our desired fitness goals and what works for one may not work for another. With that said, there are definitely five myths that have been spread around way too much to let slide. Below are a few myths you may have heard and even applied to you life. Don’t be fooled by these five standard lies, you must always remember your body is one of a kind and functions uniquely.
1. Eating carbs at night makes you fat.
False. Overeating processed, artificially sugar-filled foods can make you gain weight but simply eating carbohydrates at night will not make you put on body fat. The science behind this theory is logical, considering carbohydrates are the body’s primary source of fuel and energy. When you eat carbs, your body prepares to use it for fuel but if you go to bed shortly after eating, they are not “burned” off. Fortunately for us, your body does not realize it’s bedtime. Your metabolism will not stop simply because you’re inside of a bed rather than at a desk or at the gym. Your heart rate will be lower but your body will continue to metabolize the nutrients it’s given, whether you’re awake or not. The only thing you need to be picky about is the kind of carbohydrates you eat. Assuming you’ve been eating carbohydrates throughout the day, your best option would be a complex carb such as quinoa, brown rice or oats. Don’t fear the carbs!
2. The only way to get toned is to lift lightweight for higher reps.
Oh goodness, who started this one? Lifting lightweights for more reps is just one way to get toned. You can also lift heavy weights and develop tone. Again, it’s very specific to the individual, but the science for why you can lift heavy and become toned is very simple. The more muscle your body has, the faster your metabolism will be in order to feed your growing muscles. Lifting heavy weights will create bigger muscles that will lead to a faster metabolism and less body fat. On the other hand, lifting lighter weights for more reps will also create tone because the pace and volume of work will increase the individual’s heart rate and result in a speedy metabolism. Your metabolism will speed up from the heart rate increase and your body fat will decrease with time. Lifting lighter weights will not generally increase muscle mass like heavy weights will, but they will both lead to a decrease in body fat levels when applied properly. It’s best to switch between the two strategies several times per year. Build up muscle mass for awhile by lifting heavier and then switch to a lower weight and perform more reps to shock your muscle system and lead to further fat loss.
3. Do more cardio to develop a toned physique.
Unfortunately this belief has led a lot of females down the wrong path, spending hours and hours on the treadmill or elliptical hoping to develop an hourglass frame with 5% body fat. Cardio will not create tone; it will only reveal it. It’s a great workout for somebody that might be overweight or just want to drop a couple pounds because it will help them shed weight quickly. For those of you that want to look fit, you must first develop a base of muscle and definition in order to have tone. If you choose to only do cardio, you run the risk of developing a “skinny fat” physique, which means being thin but having no definition. Also, if you lift weights your metabolism will increase and you’ll be able to lose body fat without any cardio! Win, win!
4. It doesn’t matter what you eat, as long as you’re in a calorie deficit.
If you want to lose weight, you need to analyze your food choices first and foremost. If the calories you are consuming come from processed snack bars, sugars and fast food meals, the key to weight loss would be as simple as changing your diet. A calorie is not just a calorie, as some may say. It matters if you’re eating 300 calories of baked goods vs. 300 calories of chicken and sweet potatoes. The first step would be to clean up your diet and fill it with nutrient-dense foods. After cleaning out your kitchen and making smarter choices, the weight loss will follow naturally and stress free.
5. Fat makes you fat.
Ahh, the old “fat makes you fat” myth. How many times have you reached for a low fat salad dressing or snack in hopes that it would keep your weight in check? Did you notice if you were still slightly hungry after eating and wanted to continue to snack? If so, this is because your meal was lacking fat, a key ingredient to satiation and fullness. People that eat low fat diets typically struggle with weight gain because they opt for sugary carbohydrate-loaded snacks instead and avoid the one nutrient that could cure their hunger pains. Not only is fat important for satiation, but it’s also essential for healthy brain function, digestion, vitamin and mineral absorption, heart health and even weight loss. Eat fat to burn fat!
If any of these five myths have been controlling you, it’s time to let them go and experiment with different foods, eating times, and fitness routines. Don’t fear eating carbs at night or noshing down on healthy fats such as avocados, coconut oil, nuts or olive oil. Don’t worry about spending your days attached to a treadmill and instead try lifting heavy for a change. Do what works best for your body and ignore the endless amount of myths that are telling you what to do. Enjoy your health the way you think is best.