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Close your eyes and picture a world where you can eat what you want, when you want, without fear of turning into a morbidly obese slug. Now open your eyes and come back to reality. A reality where the only possible way to evade obesity, cancer and heart disease is to eat leaves, drink water and spend your life’s savings on a brand new celebrity diet. Unfortunately since you have read and digested the above information, a team of hyper-intelligent beings have congregated behind closed nutritional doors and published amplifying and unquestionably precise information. Information that dictates that eating leaves and drinking water can lead to obesity, cancer and heart disease, and when combined with celebrity diets it can lead to the immediate gain of 200 pounds followed by death.
Where do you turn? Does fat really make you fat? Does cardiovascular training performed on an empty stomach assist in fat burning? Is sugar really the devil? Do I need to spend my life’s savings on supplements to build muscle?
Confused? Good. Now read on and bask in the glory of clarity as I take you through a world of dieting myths. And please don’t worry.... you won’t gain 200 pounds and die.
Let’s start with my favourite.
Fat free products won’t make you fat
Fuelled by a constant onslaught of horrendous television advertisements, the whole world seems to be piling the shopping trolleys high with so called ‘fat free’ products. Confident in their nutritional choices, the world piles on the fat free products and then ironically, piles on the pounds. Unfortunately, most consumers whizzing round supermarkets are making constant and devastatingly poor nutritional choices as put simply, fat is actually a very useful fuel and without going into the science lesson of good vs bad, saturated vs unsaturated etc, etc; all you need to know is that it is necessary within a balanced diet. Fat may well yield an additional 5 extra calories per gram when compared to carbohydrates and protein however, it is still possible to become outrageously overweight on proteins and carbohydrates alone (fat free). It is not fat that makes you fat, nor is it proteins or carbohydrates. It is calories that make you fat, or simply; more calories going in than you have going out = you getting fat. If you eat enough of anything, you can get fat.
Eating before bed will make you fat
This myth originated as a result of monkeys with no self control eating sugary junk before bed, therefore adding additional and unnecessary calories. Calories are calories and no matter what time you eat, they add up. Ultimately, you can go one step better and eat in your bed if it really pleases you but just remember that junk food is junk food no matter what time of day it is.
Skipping meals causes you to lose weight
Studies show that people who skip breakfast and eat less throughout the day are often unhealthy and/or out of shape. On the flip side of the coin, studies additionally confirm that the majority of those who opt for eating breakfast and continually graze throughout the day are healthier and/or in better shape. It is believed that this is down to a number of reasons. One theory is that individuals who skip meals tend to feel hungrier later on in the day, therefore eating larger portions than they normally would. A second theory is that eating many small meals throughout the day assists people in controlling their appetites and cravings.
The bottom line is that we need food to function and actually assist in burning fat. The key to losing weight effectively has never been starvation but instead... just move more!
So called ‘healthy’ sports drinks are good for you
First and foremost please understand that no food or drink is truly bad for you unless of course you have a bleach drinking habit. If you are drinking bleach then you are an exception to that rule and your diet is indeed very, very bad for you... and weird. Whilst most sports drinks are not going to kill you instantly, they may just be adding a few extra calories than expected. Sports drinks are often full of sugar which if you are an Olympic athlete may be useful to you but my guess is that you are only an Olympian in your dreams and potentially after a few glasses of wine. If you’re looking for a healthy drink then just take advice from a lion and drink water. Water is time tested in its ability to keep you alive and comes in a fashionable clear appearance without requiring the need for sugar and toxic blue colourings.
If you are training hard, you can eat what you want
Initially I wish to congratulate you. Congratulations on deciding that you are training hard enough. The chances are that you really are not training anywhere near hard enough but perhaps you’ve got a couple of good mates that tell you you’re obsessed. Even if you train as hard as your loyal pals would lead you to believe, your poor nutrition will still get the better of you. You can never out-train a bad diet. Not only will a bad diet often yield more calories than you are burning off, but additionally it will not be balanced. If your diet isn’t balanced then it will not support your training and the whole snowball process continues. If you are serious about training then you will take your diet seriously too.
You need supplements to build muscle
Muscle building supplements are wonderful and if used correctly, can be very effective indeed. The clue is in the name with supplements. They ‘supplement’ a diet. They supplement a diet and are only truly necessary if the diet in question is lacking in a certain quality. The favorite is whey protein, used to supplement a diet if an individual has decided that his protein intake from his packed lunch isn’t quite adequate for gaining muscle. Unfortunately for the above mentioned individual, whey protein yields energy like any other food on the planet and whilst it will definitely add protein into a diet, it will additionally add calories. The extra calories may be uncalculated causing the unwelcome kind of weight gain. Additionally, a true look into the average balanced diet may suggest that enough protein is already available to the average gym fanatic whilst further protein can be sourced in the supermarket rather than forking out for overpriced, glossy supplementation. Put simply, supplements are brilliant if understood and the diet alone isn’t quite cutting the mustard, although most of the time the diet is adequate and that new muscle building shake you’ve just spent your life’s savings on is only adding placebo effect and body fat.
Carb cutting helps you to lose weight
Whilst cutting carbohydrates out of your diet completely will unquestionably assist in fat burning to some degree, it is by no means the best option when it comes to getting in shape for the summer. Starchy carbohydrates are a very useful tool within the diet and when cut completely will lead to lethargy and potential nutritional deficiency. In addition, your body will be screaming for energy potentially leading to giving in and binging on naughty treats setting you back to square one. What’s the answer? Keep the carbs and just move more.
Certain foods can burn fat
It would be nothing short of awesome if some foods did indeed burn fat. It would be equally as awesome if cheeseburgers gave me 21 inch arms and a bigger bank account upon consumption. Sadly we live the real world where real physics applies. The physics I speak of means that no food can burn fat. Some foods containing caffeine may speed up your metabolism; potentially leading to a faster use of energy, however they cannot cause weight loss. Remember the basics folks, food = calories.
Liquid calories don’t count
To most, this is a no brainer although you may be surprised to learn that the supposed sugar, fat and calorie free energy drink that you just can’t get started in the morning without is not only pumping you full of additional calories but potentially harmful additives and chemicals. Enough said?
Calories are calories
Let’s pretend for a moment that you are aware of exactly how many calories you can consume in a day. In this wonderful day of make believe you have a donut and a large chicken breast both yielding exactly the same energy density. So, it really makes no difference if you eat the donut right? I mean after all, 300 calories is 300 calories yeah? No. The donut and the chicken breast both go through different metabolic pathways and hold different effects on fat burning, hormones and brain centers that regulate appetite. The donut will additionally flood the bloodstream with glucose at high speed as the body effortlessly digests the refined carbohydrates. As the body breaks down the refined and delicious, glazed joy it finds that instant energy is right to hand. That energy is wonderful stuff but your body will only use what it needs with the rest being stored for a rainy day. Eating the chicken on the other hand requires a longer process of digestion providing a drip feed of energy which in turn assists in keeping hunger at bay for longer.