Archive for February, 2012

Outsmarting the Diet and Exercise Myths

Monday, February 13th, 2012

By: Nikki Ditsch

As a fitness professional I have heard many theories on diet and exercise over the years.  Some ideas out there are pretty ridiculous, but there are some myths out there that seem like they might have some merit.  This article will hopefully help you to see the truth about some of the most common diet and exercise claims that I frequently hear, and will help you make some healthy decisions in the future.

Myth #1:  Doing abdominal work or crunches will get rid of belly fat.
Truth: Abdominal work is important, and it is good to strengthen your core as it is the foundation of your body.  In regards to weight loss in a particular area, such as your abdomen, there is no such thing as spot reduction.  Spot reduction refers to the idea that repetitive exercise for a specific area, or group of muscles will reduce fat in that one area.  Weight loss is simply not that specific.  As your caloric expenditure exceeds your intake, whether by diet, exercise or both, you will begin to lose fat.  No matter how you work out, you will lose fat from head to toe.   So go ahead and do your crunches, planks, and ab exercises.  I am an advocate for a strong core!  However, if you are in the process of weight loss expect it to come off of your arms, legs, neck, midsection all the same.

Myth #2:  Working out turns fat into muscle.  Sitting turns muscle into fat.
Truth: This is simply physiologically impossible!  Fat is made up of fat cells and muscle cells comprise muscle fibers.  Neither cell can convert to the other.  The good news is that working out can help reduce the size of the fat cells and can increase muscle mass.  While a sedentary lifestyle does not turn muscle into fat, it does atrophy the muscle and can increase the size of the fat cells if caloric intake is greater than caloric expenditure.

Myth #3:  Women will bulk up if they lift weights.
Truth: One of the key factors in muscle hypertrophy (ie, bulking up) is testosterone.  Women simply do not have sufficient amounts of testosterone to significantly increase the size of their muscles.  Weight training is actually an excellent way to help you lose inches! Therefore, women, pump some iron.  Strong is sexy!

Myth #4: Eating late at night makes you gain weight.
Truth: This is one that I hear often.  It can be disproven in a simple math equation.  Weight loss = calorie expenditure > calorie intake.  If I eat 2,000 calories all at once at midnight and have burned 2,500 calories throughout my day, I will lose the same amount of weight if I had eaten five 400 calorie meals spaced evenly throughout the day.  One calorie = one calorie no matter how you burn it, how you eat it, or when you eat it.  *Caveat: Waiting a long time to eat a meal may leave you very hungry. When meal time finally comes you may overcompensate for your hunger by eating more than you normally would if you had spaced your meals out throughout the day.  So as long as you do not overindulge, go ahead and eat a late night meal, it will count the same as if you had eaten it earlier in the day.

Myth #5: Carbs make you fat
Truth: Fat makes you fat, carbs make you fat, protein makes you fat.  Everything in excess makes you fat!  Anything that we eat that is not needed for energy expenditure is converted into fat to be stored for later use.  Or just stored for us to have something soft to sit on.  American diet tends to over emphasize carbohydrates, and they do tend to be eaten in more excess than proteins and fats.  If this is the case in your diet, and you are looking to lose weight, cutting back in carbohydrates may not be a bad idea.  However, know that overindulging in fats and or proteins will have the same ultimate effect as overindulging in carbohydrates.

It’s easy to get caught into the hype of a new fitness claim.  Sometimes it is not so easy to discriminate between the myths and the facts.  The good thing is Fitness Plus has a well-educated staff of trainers and fitness professionals. Don’t hesitate to ask our opinion, and don’t doubt your common sense! Losing weight, getting in shape and staying in shape is hard work, and hard work is hard work!  If something sounds too good or easy to be true, it probably is.