Sunday, April 27, 2008

10 Diet and Exercise Myths--Busted!

As we pound the treadmills, deny ourselves dessert and snack on baby carrots instead of a candy bar in an attempt to lose weight, bear in mind that everything you think you know about weight loss and exercise isn't necessarily true.

Julie Bender, a dietitian with Baylor University Medical Center, and Phil Tyne, director of the Baylor Tom Landry Health and Wellness Center "weigh in" on the most popular diet and exercise myths.

1. Crunches will get rid of your belly fat.
FALSE. "You can't pick and choose areas where you'd like to burn fat," says Tyne. "In order to burn fat, you should create a workout that includes both cardiovascular and strength training elements. This will decrease your overall body fat content."

2. Stretching before exercise is crucial.
FALSE. Some studies have suggested that stretching actually increases muscles' susceptibility to injury. They claim that by stretching, muscle fibers are lengthened and destabilized, making them less prepared for the strain placed upon them by exercise. "You might want to warm-up and stretch before a run, but if you are lifting weights, wait until after the workout to stretch the muscles," adds Tyne.

3. You should never eat before a workout.
FALSE. "Fuel" coming from food and fluids is required to provide the energy for your muscles to work efficiently even if you are doing an early morning workout. "Consider eating a small meal or snack one to three hours prior to exercise. Load up your tank with premium 'fuel' and choose some fruit, yogurt or whole wheat toast," says Bender.

4. Lifting weights will make women bulky.
FALSE. "Most women's bodies do not produce nearly enough testosterone to become 'bulky' like those body builders on TV," says Tyne. If you find yourself getting bigger, use less weight and higher repetitions.

5. Fat is bad for you, no matter what kind.
FALSE. Contrary to popular belief, there are plenty of "good fats" that are essential to promoting good health and aid in disease prevention. "They are the ones that occur naturally in foods like avocados, nuts and fish, as opposed to those that are manufactured," says Bender. "Including small amounts of these foods at meal times can help you to feel full longer and therefore eat less."

6. Restricting calories is the best way to lose weight.
FALSE. Both cutting back on calories and moving more will help you lose weight and maintain the lean muscle mass needed to boost metabolism. "Drastic measures rarely equal lasting results. Start small and eliminate 100 to 300 calories consistently from your daily diet and you will reap the reward," says Bender.

7. As long as you eat healthy foods, you can eat as much as you want.
FALSE. A calorie, is a calorie. Although oatmeal is healthy, if you have four cups of oatmeal, the calories add up. "Healthy or otherwise, you still must be aware of portion sizes," says Bender. "You must limit your caloric intake in order to lose weight; however, understanding how to 'balance' calorie intake throughout your day can help you avoid feelings of deprivation, hunger and despair," adds Bender.

8. Exercise turns fat into muscle.
FALSE. Fat and muscle tissue are composed of two entirely different types of cells. "While you can lose one and replace it with another, the two never 'convert' into different forms," says Tyne. "So fat will never turn into muscle."

9. Eating late at night will make you gain weight.
FALSE. "There are no 'magic' hours," says Bender. "We associate late night eating with weight gain because we usually consume more calories at night. We do this because we usually deprive our bodies of adequate calories the first half of the day. Start the day out with breakfast and eat every three to four hours. Keep lunch the same size as dinner, and you will be less likely to overindulge at night, yet you can enjoy a small late night snack without the fear of it sticking to your middle," explains Bender.

10. You have to sweat to have a good workout.
FALSE. "Sweating is not necessarily an indicator of exertion. Sweating is your body's way of cooling itself," explains Tyne. It is possible to burn a significant number of calories without breaking a sweat. Try taking a walk, doing some light weight training or working out in a swimming pool.

--From the Editors at Netscape

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