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10 Popular Diet, Exercise Myths


This month, millions of us resolved to lose weight, but many also will get frustrated and give up before meeting their goals.

Contributing to this problem is the host of bad information regarding diet and exercise circulating through gyms, workplaces and on the Internet. Two university exercise and nutrition experts seek to clear up the confusion by stating the 10 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. 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, our muscle fibers are lengthened, 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.

3. You should never eat before a workout. False.

"Fuel" coming from food and fluids provides 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.

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 you see on TV. If you do find yourself getting bigger then you would like, simply use less weight and higher repetitions.

5. Fat is bad for you, no matter what kind. False.

Contrary to popular belief, plenty of good fats exist out there 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. 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 lean muscle mass needed to boost metabolism.

However, often individuals think they must take drastic measures to lose weight, such as eating less than 1,200 calories, but this does not usually provide adequate fuel for the body and may slow metabolism. 

Drastic measures rarely equal lasting results, so start small and eliminate 100-300 calories consistently from your daily diet and you will reap the reward.

7. As long as you eat healthy foods, you can eat as much as you want. False.

A calorie is a calorie is a calorie, regardless from where you get it. Although oatmeal is healthy, four cups of oatmeal  make the calories add up and stick to your ribs.

Healthy or otherwise, you still must be aware of portion sizes.

"You must limit your caloric intake in order to lose weight," she said. "However, understanding how to balance calorie intake throughout your day can help you avoid feelings of deprivation, hunger and despair."

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, so fat will never turn into muscle.

9. Eating late at night will make you gain weight. False.

There are no magic hours. 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.

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. It is possible to burn a significant number of calories without breaking a sweat: try taking a walk, or doing some light-weight training or working out in a swimming pool.

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